I could write pages on the horror that was my trip to the grocery store with the kids this afternoon. But there may only be one interesting thing to share – the culture of the men’s bathroom when a little kid is in there by himself.
We’d gone through more than half the store when Hugo (age 5) announced that he had to go to the bathroom. Jack (22 months) was in the cart and the one-stall restroom was empty, so I told Hugo to go into the men’s room by himself. We waited a few minutes, poking at the clearance-priced baked goods, when I opened the door to see what was up. Hugo was in the stall with the door wide open, saying he still had to go. I told him to lock the door.
Some time passes. A man who looked at least 80 goes into the men’s room. When the door swung open, I see that Hugo now has the door locked. When the elderly man comes out the door soon after, he says that I need to go in there because my son can’t reach the soap. (Hugo is jumping up and down in front of the sink). Jack and I look at each other. “I can’t go in there,” I say.
“Well I can’t help him. I don’t want to be held responsible if something happens.” Um, what? I pull the cart up close to the door, tell Jack I’ll be right back, and dart in. I quickly pumped some foamy soap in my hand, slapped it into Hugo’s hand, yelled at Hugo when he started whining that he wanted to do it himself, and ran back out.
What would have happened in the women’s room? Maybe a woman who happened to be in there with hopping Hugo wouldn’t feel up to lifting him, but it’s not such a bother to pass him some soap, is it?
It reminds me of a camping trip I went on with my family when I was little. My mom sent me to get my dad, who was in the men’s bathroom/shower building. I stood outside the door calling “Dad? Dad!” and was ignored by all the men inside, as well as those coming in and out. My dad was out of earshot, as it happened. My mom said that if a child called “Mom?” outside the women’s room that every woman would come running out to see if it was her child, or if she could help.
I didn’t understand at the time. Now I made sure to tell Hugo that if he gets lost and can’t find someone he knows to look for a mother with children to help him. I’m glad I read that somewhere, it makes sense!