Benihana bathroom breakthrough

Last week we went to Benihana to celebrate the end of the school year. Just as our drinks came Billie needed to go to the bathroom. (Right on cue — this kid’s regular as clockwork, probably because she eats three pounds of cherry tomatoes. Every. Damn. Day.) She likes me to go into the bathroom with her but not watch her, “so you don’t smell it.” (Ponder that logic for a minute.) At home I sit on the edge of the bathtub and read a magazine. If it’s the same one she’s given me for months, I pretend. It’s only polite.

At Benihana I followed her into the stall and, lacking a bathtub to sit on, turned my back to her for privacy. With my nose about an inch away from the door and epic techno beats reminiscent of a Kuta beach nightclub circa 1995 bouncing off the bathroom walls, the obvious thing to do was dance. So I did.

I started with a basic hip wiggle. Which turned into a shoulder sway, and before I knew it I was really going for it. I mean, I threw down in that tiny stall. If I’d had a few more inches I would’ve whipped out my legendary running man right there in front of my pooping child, who, I could only imagine, was mesmerized by my simultaneous hilarity, rhythm, and unbelievable moves.

I was mid-way through a combo that totally would have landed me right in front of the American Bandstand camera with Danny and Sandy when she said, in a frighteningly teenage tone for a not-quite-five-year-old, “Mum, stop dancing.”

I froze mid-shuffle and stared at my warped reflection in the silver door, crushed. I really thought I was entertaining her. I tried to be a grown up and let it roll right off me but the truth was, she hurt my feelings. I mean, she pulls out some pretty whack dance moves herself but I’d never ask her to stop. That’s just mean.

That’s when it hit me.

Standing there in the bathroom at Benihana I realized that my entire job as a parent is to raise her with love and support so that she’ll grow up to be a strong, confident woman who knows she’s awesome no matter what other people say or do to her, so when she has kids of her own she’ll be able to withstand them shitting all over her at every turn, just like she’s doing to me now. It all makes perfect sense.

I raised my chin and folded my hands, waiting patiently for her to finish and contenting myself with moving my shoulders in time to the music. Not enough for her to notice, just enough to reassure myself that I am a fucking badass, even if my kid doesn’t see it. Then I dutifully wiped her ass clean and held her hand as we walked back to the table together, ready to watch some knives fly.

Our chef’s name was Juan. I like to call him Juan-san.

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