At the weekend we were at a children’s party and as we were leaving H and I visited the toilets as it was a bit of a drive home. He ran ahead of me to the toilet block, but one of the other mothers turned him away from the ladies toilet, telling him that he’d got the wrong one. I was rather surprised at this, afterall H is still only 5 (almost 6), but it got me thinking about the whole issue of which public toilets a child should use when out with a parent of the opposite gender.
At the moment I always take H into the ladies if he is out with me on my own and we need to use the public toilets. He will usually go with his Dad into the men’s toilets if he’s out with us both. He likes his independence and goes into the cubicle alone and locks the door. I either wait outside or use the next cubicle myself if I need to (although I would probably go in with him if it was a busy place with lots of people like a motorway services).
Back to the day of the party: On this occasion H needed some assistance with the equipment. The toilet paper had run out and you needed to push a button to release the new roll – H couldn’t reach even though he knew what had to be done. If he had been in the men’s I wouldn’t have been able to help him. Often sinks, taps and handdryers are too high for him still, so he needs help there. So apart from worrying about his physical safety in public toilets, there are also logistical problems to contend with.
Obviously at some point the logistical issues will fade away as H gets older and taller, but at what point do I make the call on the safety issue? After all he can’t use the ladies toilets forever. Even if you have girls, there must come a point where you have to decide to let them use a ladies public toilet alone. What do you do with your children? How would you deal with the issue?