A sign asking “boys over six to use men’s bathroom” taped to a wall in a public toilet in a US shopping mall has sparked an online debate between parents. At what age should you let a child go into a public toilet by themselves?
Although Master A, who is seven, insists that he is old enough to go into the men’s restroom alone whenever we are out, there is not a chance I will let him.
He harrumphs, whines, but that doesn’t stop me from grabbing him by the hand and pulling him into the ladies’ – even though he wriggles like an eel and his embarrassment palpable.
Most of the mums who have boys I know are of the same opinion. We’d rather not let them go off on their own into a place that is potentially so exposed – literally.
With dark thoughts rampaging through our minds about what can happen in men’s toilets – hygiene is just another issue – we cling just as tight to them as we walk them into the ladies’ loos. No place is safe.
The mums who have girls I know are more relaxed; happy to let their daughters toddle off into the ladies’ loos unaccompanied.
It says a lot about our society and those we imagine being the main perpetrators of lewd offences.
On holiday in Greece last year, we made friends with a family who had a son the same age as Master A.
On one occasion, we were out visiting a local landmark, the boys wanted to go to the toilet. I walked them both over to the public restrooms.
However, when we got there, Master A’s new friend made a beeline for the gents.
I politely asked him to go into the ladies with Master A. He was having none of it, loudly announcing: “I’m not a girl!”
His mother, a psychologist, came over.
“He’s right,” she smiled, before adding: “It’s important not to project our own fears and anxieties onto our young.”
Working Mum, believing it’s equally as important to protect them from the perverts who live and move slyly among us.