A while ago I was waiting in line for the restroom and in walked a woman with her son. Not so unusual, except for the fact that the boy must've been about 10 years old. He looked mortified and I was a little uncomfortable with it, too. As the mother of two young boys it got me thinking about when it would be appropriate to send a boy into a public restroom by himself. I've talked about this with some other mothers and most think 10 is too old to be in a women's room, but the fact that some people DON'T just weirds me out.
This all brings me to the fact that I sent Ben into a public restroom by himself last week. We were having lunch at St. Louis Bread Co. and halfway through the meal Ben said he had to go to the potty. All our food was laid out, as well as our coats on the chairs and my bag on the floor. Sam was happily eating his lunch and I didn't want to disrupt him by dragging us and all our shit into the bathroom.
So I quickly assessed the situation and decided Ben could go on his own. I walked him to the men's restroom and told him to meet us at the table when he was done. And guess what happened? He went to the bathroom and came back. No abductions, no injuries, no molestations.
Now, not every 4 year old could necessarily do that. If a kid gets nervous by himself or is very timid around strangers it might not work out. But Ben's pretty mature and he's not shy at all about asking people for help and he doesn't get scared easily. I knew he'd be able to handle it.
I'm proud of myself for not giving in to the culture of fear that permeates parenting these days. I know my kid and what he's capable of and I used that as my guide, not baseless mistrust of everyone around me. Hopefully more parents will start doing that.