You may have seen the headlines recently about an 8 year old girl who was choked to the point where she passed out by a male assailant while in the bathroom alone. Luckily, her scream alerted a response before additional crimes occurred.
This winter we were traveling to Utah and while in the airport terminal, the kids decided last minute they needed one more bathroom trip. My husband stayed with the carry on luggage and I walked the kids down the terminal. Unfortunately, it got very busy and the bathrooms were not close by. No family restroom was in sight and we did not have much time. So I had to decide how I was going to manage the three of us safely and quickly using the bathrooms in this really busy terminal.
At that moment, I became the mom who had to drag her older son into the restroom where he certainly looked out of place. He stood off to the side by the entrance where he was half in the door and half out. He refused to use the ladies room. As we were walking back down to catch our plane, I could clearly see he had to use the bathroom and had to decide what I was going to do. I sent him into the busy men’s bathroom and his sister and I waited outside. A few minutes passed and I thought, “What am I going to do if he doesn’t return in another minute?” My husband was too far to get and send in to retrieve him and the idea of my stomping into the busy men’s room didn’t seem like a viable option. Luckily, he walked out just after I started to panic. He was followed by a man who immediately looked my concerned face. He said, “He was fine, I watched him for you the whole time.” Evidently, another father who must know the dilemma.
The answer for this would be single use family restrooms at all venues, but let’s be honest that is neither likely or an economical solution for most public places. So what is the cut off age for your opposite sex child tailing you into the bathroom? When is it safe to send our school aged children into the bathroom alone? I agree that yes there is a slight chance that something terrible will occur to anyone of our children while in the restroom alone. I also know that in that one moment where they could encounter a predator the trajectory of their lives could be changed forever.
For now I remain cautious and try to make judgement calls on when he can go in alone and when he can’t and hope for the best. Is it too much for me to send him in with a whistle around his neck….