Never in a million, trillion, gazillion years would I have 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 restroom. Without me. Alone in there. With men.
It never even occurred to me that this would be an issue or create mass amounts of anxiety for me when the time came. But, it was here and he was asking. He is turning nine in two weeks and starting to really not want to go into the women’s restroom anymore.
The first time I allowed him to go into the men’s restroom was with resistance. I hid it well from him, as I didn’t want to give him the gamut of dangers in my head and totally freak him out. 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 returned and said, there was one guy, who left as we stood outside the door. So I said, “Okay. I’ll wait right here.” But I couldn’t help myself. I continued on, “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 restroom 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, 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 more things that I will 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.
My Son: Am I ready?
Then the weird blue-lit montage fades away to real life 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 not only do I have trust him and myself, I now have to trust the world a little more.
And I’m scared.
There are times with different types of restrooms (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 because he knows he will lose these battles. He sees it in my eyes now as he’s old enough to watch me and our surroundings. Someone stands too close and he notices that I will put myself between them and my children. We cross a street and he notices 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 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.