Public restrooms are again in the headlines – they are seldom in the headlines to reveal their innate cleanliness. The whole Senator Larry Craig-in-public caused me to reflect back on raising-children-in-public.
As you know I have always been a big YMCA supporter. You and your sisters learned basketball, soccer, gymnastics, and swimming at the local Y. I think I took children to that YMCA every Saturday for about nine straight years. Now I find myself at the YMCA with my grandchildren. There was always a problem with your sisters. When they were fourteen I had to quit taking them into the men’s locker room (Hey folks, I am just kidding about the age) But seriously – at what age do I quit taking them with me to the men’s locker room, 5? 6? or 4?
The local YMCA staff and Board has struggled with this issue for years. There are men who will not leave their six year old daughter to the happenstance of the women’s locker room – so they take them with them to the men’s locker room. Some of the men just go into the public restroom off the lobby to help their daughters change. The Staff and Board have debated the issue – their most strenuous act was to limit the age of girls in the men’s locker room to five or younger.
The idea of a Family Locker Room has been presented several times – but the cost is always deemed to be too great. (They have a nice steam room, Sauna, jacuzzi, and massage room for the rich fat white men – and this is a United Way Agency.)
There were many times when I stood anxiously waiting for your sisters to emerge from the women’s locker room. This particular Y is designed so the locker rooms have a front door to the lobby – and a back door to the exercise facilities and pool – so I would wait in the lobby. When the anxiety boiled too high I would find a female Y staff person – or just some lady walking by – and ask them to check on my daughters. They were always OK – obviously – found in the locker room combing their hair or packing and repacking their gym bag.
The idea of my girls using the public restroom at the local Mall always troubled me. What could I do? I would usher them to the women’s room and then stand guard at the door. I received some weird looks, hanging around the women’s rest room – and I found myself apologizing – trying to explain myself. Your little sister was a special person – always very small – she was old enough to go to the restroom by herself but she could not open the door to get out – I had to stand by the door and she would knock when she was ready so I could open the door for her.
The idea of a Larry Craig hanging around a public bathroom sends chills up my spine. What are parents to do? I will say this for sure – thank God for the Minneapolis Police – thank you for patrolling those dark corners of humanity.
Son – I am happy that my grandchildren have parents like you and your wife to protect them.