Parenting – locker rooms and restrooms

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Parenting – locker rooms and restrooms


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.


There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. I am a poor fat white man and I enjoy the sauna, jacuzzi, and massage room probably as much as you enjoy the inexpensive and easy to maintain raquetball courts!
    Completly agree on the bathroom issue. Absolutely cannot stand the situation of sending one of my defensless kids into any public restroom or locker room without myself or someone who will look out for them. The public bathroom as a whole with childern is probably the least favorite part of any outing. If you accompany them, you then have to make sure they dont touch all the neat and interesting things such as the urinal cake- had that one happen with my youngest while I turned my back for the slightest second to help the other child. Been there by the way, the creepy guy standing a foot away from the womens restroom door for apparently no reason.

  2. Joe,

    Great comment. I am also a fat white man who enjoys the jacuzzi, steam room and a weekly massage. I just so enjoy the visual imagery of rich fat white men. And I wish the YMCA would offer a family dressing/locker room with curtained stalls.


  3. I applaud you on your asking such a great question. I say take the little ones with you. Talk to them before you go in about some of the things they might see (naked men, urinal cakes, etc.) stay right with them, and watch them carefully. Wash their hands really well when you are through. No big deal. Small children must be with thier parent/caregiver at all times. They are not old enough to go it alone.
    Once a child has turned 8 or older, you could send them by themselves into the ladies restrooms/locker rooms – but plant yourself right outside the door and do not leave until she has come out!

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