I didn't anticipate how hard this would be, and once he emerged, totally unscathed from the Target bathroom, that I'd cry.
Parenting SPM/MM

Letting My Son Use the Men’s Restroom Alone

I didn't anticipate how hard this would be, and once he emerged, totally unscathed from the Target bathroom, that I'd cry.

By Jessica Garvin of Live and Let Mom

Never in a million, trillion, gazillion years would I have ever, EVER thought that one of the biggest decisions of my life would be when and if I should let my son use the men’s room. Without me. Alone in there. With men. It never even occurred to me that this would BE an issue. OR raise mass amounts of anxiety in me when the time came. But, it was here and he was asking and he is turning 9 in two weeks and he is starting to really, really NOT want to go into the women’s room.

The first time I allowed him to was with resistance. I hid it well from him, as I didn’t want to fill him with the gamut of dangers in my head and freak him out totally. It was at Target, and I told him to go in first and come back and tell me if there was anyone else in there. He did and said there was one guy, who left as we stood outside the door, so I said, “Okay. I’ll wait right here.” And then I couldn’t help myself… I continued, “No one helps you in there, no one looks at your privates in there, don’t talk to anyone… do your thing, wash your hands and come right back out, yes?” and he nodded and off he went. It seemed to take forever. It was quiet. Two dudes went in there after he did and sort of stared at me oddly as I stood near the men’s room door, but I didn’t care. I shot them the look like, “My kid’s in there; if you fuck with him in any way, I will cut you.”

Then he emerged. As fine as when he went in. And I felt sort of silly, but proud and relieved, and then I cried. Not like a weird 90′s sitcom cry, but I teared up knowing that this was just the beginning of things that I was going to have to let go of a little. I’ve trained him well. He’s a good kid. A smart kid. I felt like it was some scene in a Mission Impossible movie:

Me: Whaddaya do if someone grabs you?

My son: Scream, kick, bite, fight, NEVER get into a car.

Me: Whaddaya do if someone touches your body?

My Son: Tell them no freaking way and tell you immediately.

Me: Whaddaya you do if they threaten you and say you’ll get in trouble?

My Son: I will never be in trouble if I tell you the truth; you will always be on my side. No matter what.

Me: What happens if we get separated in a crowded area?

My Son: I sit down and stay put; you will find me.

Me: Good. Good. Ready? Break!

Then the weird blue-lit montage fades away and real life is here and my son, my boy, my first true and real love is becoming a dude and this dude wants to pee with other dudes. And I have to not only trust him and myself … I now have to trust the world a little more.

And I’m scared. 

There are types of restrooms (i.e. road trips/gas stations) where I’m like, Sorry, man, you’re staying with me and the ladies. And he rarely fights me on it. Rarely because he knows he will lose these battles with me. He sees it in my eyes now. He’s old enough to watch me watching our surroundings. If someone stands too close, he notices now that I will put myself between them and my children. When we cross a street, he notices now that I will walk on the outside, so the traffic is closest to me. He sees these things now. He’s starting to get it.

I don’t want him to distrust the world so fast. But I do want him to be aware that not everyone is looking out for him. And whether or not he agrees with me and my decisions, HIS best interest is in my heart and he’s growing to trust that.

This post was originally published on Live and Let Mom.

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About the Author

Jessica is a comedian, writer and single mom of teen and tween. Realizing very quickly that she truly has no business being in charge of humans… she started and Co-Hosts the Podcast “Live And Let Mom’ where you can listen to her try and navigate her way through this mom thing and tries to inspire other moms to live their truth in humor and embrace the fact they may be doing it all wrong. Follow her on Instagram @liveandletmom or read her rantings on liveandletmom.com OR come to a live show where she and her Co-host of the podcast take questions they have no business answering about parenting… and other things… ( I say this only because there is a weird amount of questions she receives about anal).