Your response to the NYC father’s potty question was pitiful. I KNOW my readers have a better solution. Below, I have outlined my concerns with your response. My commenters will provide the rest!
Logging on yesterday, I came across this post. A thoughtful, concerned New York City father was caught in a conundrum. He struggled with which restroom to use when his two daughters, ages 1 and 4, just had to go. Not wanting to expose them to men peeing, he would wisk them into the women’s restroom. Most people understood, but there was still the occasional glare.
Dear Prudence had the following to say:
“ Dad, you need to get out of the ladies’ room. It is cleaner and nicer, but even though you’re accompanied by your little girls, you are going to freak people out. I also agree the men’s room is not ideal. But you can quickly glance inside, make sure there is no one at a visible urinal, and whisk the girls into a stall with you. Ideally, you should get in the habit of anticipating toilet needs so that before it’s an emergency, you have a chance to see if you can locate single-stall facilities that allow you to lock the door. Sometimes there are special handicapped or family toilets at museums, etc., that would work. In a year or so, when you feel your older daughter shouldn’t be entering the men’s room at all, you can stand outside and wait for a mother and child and ask the mother if she will keep an eye on your little girl while she does her business.“
1. As a mother, I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with a man escorting his daughters (young women) into the women’s restroom. We do not have open urinals. We have stalls. We’re safely tucked away, doing our business in private. Hopefully, we’re all zipped up and ready to go once we open the stall door. No harm done should a man or young boy happen to be in the same area. (As is with my case when I have to escort my two young gentlemen into the women’s restroom)
2. I disagree (with both NYC father and Dear Prudence) that the women’s restrooms are cleaner. I have cleaned up restrooms and locker rooms after many a swim meet and I’m here to tell you, women are slobs once they are away from their own homes. It’s as if they think “Hey, I pick after everyone else at home now it’s YOUR turn to clean up after me!”
3. Your suggestion to “quickly glance inside (the men’s room)” to make sure no one is at the urinal? Highly impractical. What if there is someone at the urinal? Should the 4 yr. old simply hold it? What do you tell the potty training toddler, clutching and hopping?
4. “Ideally, you should get in the habit of anticipating toilet needs” Are you kidding me? My 6-yr-old STILL will suddenly blurt out in the middle of the mall “MOM! I have to go potty NNNNOOOOOWWWWW!” after I have prepped, prepared, propositioned and prodded him to potty. “But I didn’t have to go back then,” is his clever response. Anticipate toilet needs? I don’t think you have children, dear Prudence.
5. Yes, family restrooms are ideal. I have them scoped out in every establishment I shop. Nordstrom’s is my personal favorite. I actually park at Nordstrom, go immediately to the family restroom and have both boys try before we go anywhere else. It’s also our last stop before heading out to the car. But did I tell you about my 6-yr.-old? Oh yeah, I did. Remember? Point #4.
6. And “in a year or so” when your oldest is 5 or 6 let her go in the women’s restroom with a stranger (that also happens to have a child, presuming (I’m guessing) that this stranger is “safe” simply because she has a child) and asking said stranger to accompany your child? Are you crazy? First off, no stranger is accompanying MY child anywhere. And to expect a stranger to have the same cleanliness standards as you do is unrealistic. She may let your child sit bare-bottomed, clutching the seat with her hands for support. Will she help your child reach the sink to wash her hands, too?
As you can see, Dear Prudence, I’m not satisfied with your response. You can anticipate. You can hunt down the family restrooms. But there WILL be times that your young daughter will have to go NNNNOOOOOWWWWWW. And this mom says, Come on in!
But what do my readers say?
(You can find Dear Prudence weekly at Washingtonpost.com)