This image popped up on Facebook today and it took my breath away. Americans are currently debating whether people who are transgender should be able to go to take care of business in the bathroom of which they identify or not.
For the record, I support transgender rights and hope this ridiculous issue goes away.
But that is not why I am writing today. For me, the picture brought back years of worry and stress over Braden going to the bathroom and made me think, are we asking the right question? Should we even have single sex bathrooms?
When Braden was much younger, it was never an issue bringing him into the female restrooms with me. All moms do this. It’s very natural, and no one has a problem with it. Once a child hits a certain age, however, it is expected that he/she goes into the proper bathroom identified by the silly sign in the front.
As Braden grew, the looks I got from strangers when bringing him into the bathroom with me were terrible. The judgemental, “Don’t you think he’s a little old for you to be bringing him in here” comments were heard often. One woman even threatened to call in a manager if I didn’t remove my son from the bathroom, despite my pleas that I had no choice.
What was the alternative? Braden was a runner. I couldn’t trust him to go in alone to a bathroom,
take care of his needs, wash his hands, and join me on the outside of the door. If I was alone with my son, this was my only option.
Once Braden reached about the age of ten, I knew that I could no longer bring him into the restroom with me.
So what do I do now? I take Braden to the door. I suck in my breath and hold it…hold it until he returns safely, so worried that something is happening in there. He doesn’t understand bathroom etiquette. What if he walks in on someone in a stall? What if he stands right next to another man at a urinal and starts stimming? What if he starts his hysterical laughter and people become afraid of him? What if he makes a mess in there (refer to an earlier post, “My son is full of Sh*%!.)?
And that’s only the times where Braden and I are together and just he has to use the restroom. It really gets complicated when I also have to go. Here is my routine. I take Braden to the bathroom door. I say, “Okay, Buddy. Go potty, then wash your hands, then WAIT HERE for me. Don’t go anywhere. Stay here. Wait for Mom.” I then run into my bathroom, pee as fast as I possibly can, for fear he will finish before I do and then head out into the mall or the movie theater or wherever we are without me. Rushing out of the bathroom, I either breathe a sigh of relief that he is there waiting, or continue to hold my breath waiting. He has taken off a few times on his own. For the most part, however, he waits…thank goodness.
Earlier I mentioned silly bathroom signs. This has been a pet peeve of mine. Why does every single
bathroom sign have to be unique? Think of it this way. There is a universal symbol for STOP. Can you imagine if you learned that when you see this sign, you should stop, but then on each street, someone has made the sign different- one is decorated with flowers, the next is the color purple, another is circle-shaped, and all of the fonts are different… and at the next street it’s even more creative…the stop sign is a shoe. Why not, right? It’s cute…and funny…and exasperating for someone who has learned that a stop sign means stop.
That’s what Braden sees every single time he goes to use a bathroom in a restaurant, or a mall, a hotel, or wherever. EVERY single place has a different sign. I try to take pictures of all these signs. Braden responds well to pictures, so I can show them the signs and teach them what each one means. But, is it worth it when every single sign is different?
For now, it is okay as we are always with Braden. We can point out which bathroom he needs to head into… What happens later…when we’re no longer around?
So I guess I’m asking, “Are we asking the right question?” Why are we worrying about transgender bathrooms? Can’t we just have bathrooms that don’t need signs? A universal design benefitting everyone…it makes sense to me.
Maybe you’ve never thought about this before because, quite frankly, you’ve never had to. This is a good time to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and ask, “Do I really care who I pee next to?”