I’ve just returned from a three week whirlwind trip home – the first since we’ve moved. With two families itching to see Caleb and friends scattered throughout the country it felt more like a being a band on a concert tour than a peaceful trip home. But it was, in the end, wonderful to catch up with family and friends.
I’ve done these trips enough to not be too much a victim of culture shock. I get it. It’s always more of a shock coming to the place you grew up because you are not bracing yourself for anything to be different. This is “home” and you’re an expert at the cultural navigation bit. You could give tours.
So then it’s a bit jarring when you finally see with fresh eyes the obscene extravagance of living rooms that no one uses or the embarrassment of choice in the cereal aisle. I get it. Going away from home you brace yourself for the differences. You handle the dirt floors and wandering livestock with aplomb and a sense of adventure. Going home life catches you off guard.
But this is old news by now. I was expecting to be mildly outraged by the absurd luxuries of the wealthy world (e.g. “skinny” white chocolate peppermint mochas with whipped cream), at least until the desire to indulge in them overwhelmed my outrage.
The one thing that caught me off guard this trip home was the public bathrooms.
I’m a pretty brazen bathroom-goer and as long as I can hold my nose and don’t have to step directly in any human excrement, I’m pretty much game. But having a child in diapers changes the whole equation. In Kenya, I never expect public bathrooms to have toilet paper, and changing tables are out of the question. I’ve never seen one here.
I’ve gotten used to changing Caleb in the back seat of cars, a patch of grass and on restroom floors on whatever I can find to make it more appealing for him. I typically bend to the floor and fashion what I think is an inviting little space out of other diapers, old clothes and paper scraps from my back pack, and ask a very dubious Caleb to lay down for a change. Caleb invariably looks at me, at the makeshift changing “table” and then back at me and declares: “No change diaper mama. Chafu. (dirty)” So, it’s a struggle.
So, imagine my intense pleasure when arriving in Heathrow we were treated to a “family bathroom” with a padded changing table, rolls of sanitary paper to cover the table, a garbage pail, sink and a toilet for mom. With toilet paper. I felt like staying in there our whole 4 hour layover to revel in the experience.