Another episode of "I Just Don’t Get It"

So, we had a lil incident last week that’s been rollin around in my mind/emotions/psyche for a few days. And part of the reason isn’t just because it was kinda ugly, but also because I really don’t understand.  Really.  I DON’T.

Long story short.  we were at the Y, my kid had to go potty, I took him into the women’s locker room and was there accosted by an older woman who was “mortified” that my son might see her in her post menopausal glory.  Which honestly *I* didn’t wanna see either, but that’s another story.  She did not accept my gentle excuse that my son has autism and couldn’t manage the male locker room–WHERE HE HAS ACTUALLY NEVER BEEN–by himself.  Also, he’s 6.  SIX.  As in JUST OUT OF KINDY.  SIX.  pre-pubescent.  VERY pre-pubescent.

Amidst this brow beating, she mentioned she herself has an autistic son. And would I be ok with his 21 year old self coming in here? to which I replied “*I* don’t have a problem with it”

And here’s the thing.  I really don’t.  Nudity doesn’t bother me like it bothers others.  I helped support myself through college sitting for art classes.  YES–THAT KIND OF ART CLASS. Maybe I’m just a hippie, but all this nonsense about separate bathrooms where children are concerned seems so silly to me.  Yeah–I understand the whole older man/teen girl or boy thing, and I won’t deny that there are some serious pervs out there in the world.  But this was NOT that situation.

As a woman, I wouldn’t care if a boy from the ages of newborn to preteen saw my naked body if I changed at the gym. (which I don’t actually, not because of propriety but because that locker room is a little skanky to be honest.  That, and I’m usually wrestling a 6 year old autistic boy who’s upset about leaving the pool, so I try to get out of there ASAP and do the whole shower and change thing at home)  I’m also a firm believer that our obsessions with sexual segregation is part of our problem as a society.  If boys and girls saw the natural human form, in all shapes and sizes, maybe they wouldn’t grow up with such strong body image problems?  Just a thought.

But here’s another thing.  This outrage seems selfish to me.  Maybe because I was on the receiving end, but I still don’t understand. Why is it more acceptable to some that my son go into a male locker room ALONE rather than together in safety with me in the woman’s locker room?  Why is some woman’s sense of virtue and propriety more important than a child’s safety?  And I’m not just saying my kid.  Any boy.  Or any girl with her dad in the man’s locker room?    You know where my kid gets to go to the bathroom alone?  AT SCHOOL–because I know the school is 90% safer than some locker room in North Hollywood.

And before you shout “you’re just paranoid!”  let me remind you of this story.  A 9 year old boy goes into a men’s restroom in Oceanside while his aunt waits outside.  And he was murdered by a crazy man.  Oceanside aint’ far from here folks.  Pardon me if I’m affected by both the proximity and the horror of that story.

So, my son will be accompanying me to any and all bathrooms–unless his father is with us, natch–until he is old enough to call for help, and/or be embarrassed by being in a woman’s bathroom.  Or until more family bathrooms are available for use.  And if any old bat is worried about the virtue of her sagging tetas, she might end up with an earful from me…

Categories: Uncategorized | 47 Comments

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47 thoughts on “Another episode of "I Just Don’t Get It"

  1. My kid trumps your dignity any time.

  2. I’m really stunned by that womans reaction. If I’m out with my NT 6 yr old and he needs to use the bathroom I take him to the womens bathroom and I stand outside his stall. If we needed to use a changing room, I’d certainly bring him into the womens one with me. And he’s fully capable of yelling for help and can fend for himself where self care is concerned and he has told me “Eww mom, that’s the girls bathroom”. I DON’T CARE! If his Dad isn’t there, he comes with me and that’s that.

    Screw that old bat.

  3. Exactly. I do not understand the whole kids must use the separate locker rooms at the pool starting at age 6. That’s TOO YOUNG. Like the story you posted, and there are many others. Boys as old as 12 being accosted and worse in public bathrooms when alone. Add in autism, and you have a whole other layer that people don’t usually understand. Sure, my older son may look and chronologically be 12, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he has the skills and understanding in all situations of a 12yo. Mine go with me to the bathroom if their dad isn’t with us. I try to use the family bathroom when we can, but there are stalls. With doors even. People are free to use them if they don’t want anyone to see them naked instead of parading around the open locker room.

    • Kaytee

      Me? I have no issue with an older kid (say, over 6 but under 10-11; heck, any grade school boy) using the women’s washroom or change room when he’s at the Y/JCC with just his mom, if no stand-alone change room or washroom is available. Doesn’t bother *me* in the slightest — but it would disturb many, many of my neighbors and fellow Y/JCC-goers.

      However, I live in NYC, belong to my local JCC and live in a neighborhood that is probably 90% Ultra-Orthodox Jewish: married women wear shaitel (wigs; only their husbands see their real hair), dress very conservatively (long skirts, never pants/shorts) and a post-upsherin boy (Orthodox boys get their upsheirin, or first haircut around age 3 — is the de facto transition from “babyhood” to “little boy-hood”) in the women’s locker/washroom for *any* reason simply would not fly. So, yes, the vast majority of my fellow female gym-goers would vehemently object to a 6 yr old boy in the ladies locker room. At this particular gym, as a matter of cultural respect, it’s just not done.

      This is a whole lot of words to say that the middle aged lady who was offended by a male gradeschooler in the ladies locker room may have a reason for it — and isn’t necessarily a b!tch.

      (I’m neither Jewish nor religiously observant enough to dress uber-conservatively and have twin 8 yr old boys, who are now old enough to manage the men’s locker room unaccompanied. When they were little and hubby was unable to take them to swim class, I just had them wear swim trunks under their clothes — after class, they put their clothes back on and I got them showered/cleaned up at home)

      • confessionsfromhh6

        Yes, and I’m betting in a primarily Orthodox community, the community looks out for each other too. It’s not like the majority of selfish society where that doesn’t happen anymore on the regular.

  4. MelissaB

    This is absolutely ludicrous. If my husband is not with me and there is not an individual one toilet/one locking door bathroom, my almost 11 year old comes with ME into the women’s bathroom. This also has absolutely NADA to do with his autism (which my son also has), but because there are insane, crazy, perverted people out there and he ain’t leaving my sight for a SECOND. My husband even makes my son go into a stall (instead of using the urinal) because he has not mastered the art of not pulling his pants down to his ankles, and my husband refuses to let any pedophile get even a glimpse. That woman at the Y is really much too self-important. Screw her.

  5. As a single parent I don’t have a choice if there are no disabled facilities around.

  6. Yeah, um… What? He’s SIX!!! SIX! Honestly, it shouldn’t even matter that he’s autistic. He’s. Six. Years. Old. What the crap? I’m just now allowing my eight year old autistic son go into public restrooms by himself. We’re talking small grocery stores and maybe, just maybe, gas stations AFTER I check to make sure that there aren’t people in there. Otherwise, that kid is coming into a restroom with me. He freely gives out the personal information I’ve been trying to train into his head for the last year. We live outside of New Orleans- that’s scary, kids disappear all the time. Nope, sorry. You were on the right side here. That woman can take a flying leap and get over herself.

  7. People are ridiculous. What a gift for this lady that THIS was her big deal for the day!

  8. Are you kidding? That is crazy that she tried to compare a 6 year old child with autism to her 21 year old adult son with autism. Like you said, autistic or not – a 6 year old should not be sent into the men’s locker room alone. Norrin is 7 and he’s a big kid and he comes into the ladies room with me if my husband isn’t around. And let someone say something to me about that! So sorry that you had to deal with that horrible woman.

  9. This just pissed me right the hell off. You didn’t owe her any explanation,and she should just mind her own goddamned business. If she was really that upset, she ought to direct her huffy little temper tantrum to the YMCA for its failure to provide a family-friendly bathroom. What the hell did she think you were doing – giving B an anatomy lesson. What mom stands outside the communal bathroom with her kid and contemplates taking him/her I’m there for any goddamned reason but USING THE TOILET. Does she think my husband ENJOYS taking my daughter into the men’s room, past the urinals, to a stall?

    Also, if – and I do mean IF – she raised an autistic son, she would know full well that in addition to safety issues, we don’t leave our children alone in bathrooms, because they are physically incapable of self-care or because they are fascinated with the bathroom as a playground of sorts, and cleaning up poop smears in public places is just not high on the list of shit we gotta do. (Pun intended.)

    More than that, though, you think she’d have just SLIGHTLY more compassion for a fellow special needs parent.

    /rant

  10. The woman was an idiot
    Shrug it off
    Kid safety trumps nut job

  11. Heather W

    That woman has issues that go much further than him seeing her in a locker room. I can’t believe she would sacrifice a child’s safety for her own insecurity. She obviously has very little power in her life and can only exercise it (no pun intended) by making others feel less-than, or that you were doing something wrong. I was living in Oceanside when that little boy was murdered and I think of that every time I need to drop everything to take my daughter to the bathroom in a public place. Every time.
    Long story short, some people just suck.

  12. I had an issue with the gym I belonged to. No one said anything directly to me, but after I raised the issue via a comment card to the owner, signs were discreetly posted all over the gym stating that kids 5 and over must use the gender appropriate locker rooms. BULLSH!@! This world is not a safe place! I will NOT send my 8 year old Aspie in a locker room (when he doesn’t know ANY strangers) and have him talking to naked men! I kindly mentioned that if they had a “family dressing” area, there would not be a problem. No matter where you dress, you have to enter through the lockeroom. In this day an age (with numbers on the staggering rise) Why can’t more businesses/retailers feel our pain?

    • 1) I never called her a bitch. I just said that i didn’t understand it. I did not chew her out because i WAS trying to take into consideration her feelings. I was also trying to make sure my kid did not piss his pants.
      2) talking down to people is kinda douchey. Questioning my advocacy is kinda douchey. i know what my options are. again–i am saying that i don’t understand what the problem is. I have already taken steps but didn’t publish any of that because i was, again, SHARING MY EMOTIONS and where i am coming from on this.
      3) you tell us to take our business elsewhere. That’s all well and good for people like me in a large city. what of those who are not? Are they just expected to keep their child at home and not allow them the experiences that typical children have?
      4) if you are NOT a parent of a child on the spectrum, don’t tell me how to be one. I’m not looking for advice–i am sharing an experience. In return i will not tell YOU how to parent.
      5) don’t belittle people’s fears. read the comments on here. I am not the only one struggling with this. If you are not a parent of a child on the spectrum, you don’t know what our daily fears are like. Especially those with non verbal children.

      6) seriously–i don’t think this blog is for you. there are a GAJILLION other mommy blogs out there who no doubt share your viewpoint and opinion. I do not think you will find that here.

    • confessionsfromhh6

      If this can happen in an open area while a mother’s back is turned for just a minute, what would happen in a locker room or restroom where a child is totally alone? It is very much a valid safety issue for any child. http://cumberlink.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/casa-volunteer-arrested-for-touching-toddler-in-york/article_4b829d56-efdd-11e2-a364-0019bb2963f4.html

      • Brody's Mom

        If any person DARE touch my child while I am out, just let me see them do it, and they will not need to worry about the court system….cuz I will personally rip off their face with my bare hands.

  13. Ben's Dad

    Print this page and its comments. Make about 10 copies. Then tape them around the locker room. Cuz that cowardly, intrusive woman deserves to be publicly ridiculed.

  14. Oooh, I like Ben’s Dad’s idea. Because this defies all sense of logic. Or compassion. You know you did the right thing (it wasn’t even a question), and it sucks someone had to question something that is so very benign.

  15. GottaLoveYCamp

    If there is any kind of pre-k program at that YMCA, I guarantee you that the teachers take the whole class into the women’s locker room on a regular basis… unless there’s a male teacher, I guess.

  16. This EXACT thing happened to me! The woman in question actually started off with a little fake scream of shock at seeing my 6 year old son- who never even looked up at her thru the whole thing. I was stupid and let myself be hurt by that and it was a long time before I went to the pool again without my husband to do locker room duty. I lived about a mile from that bathroom where that sweet boy was killed. I was pregnant with my first son then, and we heard the helicopters in the area all night long. (On USMC base Camp Pendleton) I have never forgotten how horrifying it was and I NEVER let my boys go into a public bathroom alone until they were older. It isn’t overprotective, it is reasonable caution.

  17. Brody's Mom

    My AS son is 10 and has not mastered the art pf bathroom etiquette yet. He also has ZERO sense of personal space, and will talk to anyone about anything. For as much as we CONSTANTLY remind him about never striking up conversation with, and/or giving strangers lectures on not smoking, etc. etc. HE STILL DOES IT!!! I do sometimes still take him into the bathroom with me if I am with my other children so that he does not take off, or get taken away by some weirdo. There are also times I wait and wait outside the men’s room door wondering what the heck is taking him so long. I have opened the men’s room door many of times and spoke loudly to him and asked if he was indeed OK. If anybody should be SYMPATHETIC to your cause….IT WAS THAT WOMAN. If she indeed had an autistic son who was 21….she would have *got it*. I believe she was just full of a lot of hot air and BS. Always do what you need to do to feel comfortable for your child’s safety. Like I always tell my kids….SAFETY FIRST!!!

  18. Bethany

    Do you live in Oceanside, ca? We just moved here and go to the YMCA every day, that isn’t interrupted by ABA.. :). I have a 2 yr old with asd and would love some advice on therapies, doctors… Etc. we r using CAC for ABA…. I loved this and totally agree with you… And if it’s the same YMCA I go to, their is a huge changing area anyway, that lady is crazy….. I wouldn’t let my 5 and 7 year old kids go to the bathroom by themselves!

  19. Suzanne B.

    I faced this same conundrum at the JCC where my son received adaptive swimming lessons. I knew the policy (I think the cut-off was age 6) but I wasn’t a member of the club — instead, my son was receiving private lessons from someone who offered them at the J. (And, no, there weren’t other adaptive swimming instructors within a 30-mile radius, so I was “stuck” with this instructor who is also awesome.) After realizing the situation (no family restroom), I tried to avoid having my son change clothes in the locker room, but there were still times he needed to use the restroom. And if he went alone into the men’s locker room there is no telling when we would see him again (the instructor and I are both female). He would explore, play with water, open lockers, etc. So aside from the safety issue, however “remote” some may believe, it was truly a “we’ve got to get this kid back to his lesson and/or out of the J and into the car home at some point!” Fortunately, they created a family restroom opening into the pool area that we could use together without any concerns. My only advice is to try not to let that lady get to you and to speak with the office about creating a family changing room for parents to use.

    • Cherri

      Speaking as a (non-orthodox) Jew- I totally bet there would be exceptions made to these rules for people with disabilities. Jewish law is very flexible when it comes to matters of health and safety and children with disabilities are particularly well loved and cared for in general in the context of an Orthodox Jewish community – I’d try talking to management about the situation. I’m glad they create a family restroom for you, too!

  20. My son was not fully toilet trained until he was 21 and that is on a schedule. I spent a lot of time with him in public restrooms. From my experience I will say that women are BY FAR much more nasty regarding a male child in a restroom than men are to have ME a ,30 40 50 yr old mom in a restroom. Women need to LIGHTEN UP and get a clue. There are REASONS for this. This woman was out of control and should be ignored.

  21. My son is 12 and I still take him into the women’s restroom if Dad isn’t there. It is absolutely not safe for him in a public restroom by himself. He has zero boundaries and no idea if personal safety. That’s why there are stalls in public restrooms and most of the locker rooms I have been in have stalls for the rest rooms and showers. He could care less about someone’s body.

  22. sherri elkaim

    I would say don’t give this lady’s reaction another moment of consideration. As moms, we do what has to be done. Sometimes it rubs other people the wrong way, sometimes it rubs us the wrong way – but we do it anyway. Because it has to be done. Maybe the lady in the locker room was embarrassed, but really — who cares? You’ll never see her again. The world is full of stupid people – but also full of some really kind and interesting people. You are a kind and interesting person. Your kid is a kind and interesting person. I know because I’ve met him :-)
    that’s all I have to say about that.

  23. We used to bring my NT brother in the bathroom with us, no father with us at the time, it was for his safety. Here in Colorado they have family bathrooms, I think that either way, whatever is safest for the child is what should be done. I wouldn’t care what other people would and have said. You should hear what I would have said to that lady!!!

  24. I’m with you, momma!

  25. I’m in your corner. Thanks for writing this great post of your experience, because people need to get a clue! I will repost on my fumbling thru autism page.

    At Ikea, a woman came in with her son who was around 8 as I was exiting with my 5 year old daughter (who has autism). She looked at me and I looked at her…from her facial expression it seemed like she was tense and half expecting me to say something about her son coming into the bathroom. I told her “they have the hand-dryers from hell in there.” She gave me the biggest knowing smile.

  26. We don’t have a lot of family restrooms in the UK so I expect that as my son with autism gets older I will have a few looks too but nevermind. I wouldn’t dream of sending any child in on their own, who knows what loons there are around. Better to be safe. x

  27. iiammoon

    So why don’t you take your son into the men’sroom if you don’t have a pproblem with nudity? That woman “post-menopausal glory” is her business. She is entitled to her privacy. Sound s like a tad bit of ageism.

    Understand I applaud your need to protect your son. Safety is important but it doesn’t have to be either/ or! Perhaps talking with the director about a family room could be something to explored so yours nor the woman sensibility be compromised.

    • if i thought they wouldn’t kick me out of the Y, i would. Bringing my son into this womens’ locker room seems to be a lesser evil in my opinion. that and i figured WOMEN would be more understanding. perhaps i am wrong on that account.

      also, as a woman, i must also take MY safety into consideration, and a woman alone in a mens’ locker room is hardly the safest bet.

      perhaps my comment was a tad ageist–but i was trying to be snarky toward the woman who attacked me. had it been a young woman, i’m sure i would have had something equally snarky to say.

      • Cherri

        There is an age issue involved. Sorry if this seems agist, but…

        We get the most crap from older people and have since my son was very young.

        Here’s how I see it; they come from an era when people with disabilities ( especially children) were sent to institutions and they truly don’t understand community inclusion – it’s just not part of their shared experience and they have to be taught to think about what they are seeing. In general, not bad people, just genuinely clueless.

    • Going to the men’s room sounds very unsafe to me. Please don’t do that! The other women can just deal with it.

  28. Cherri

    I am so with you! Mom to a fully pubescent 14 year old boy who happens to be significantly impacted by autism, epilepsy and dystonia. He COULDN’T cry for help if he were being molested, having a seizure or just unable to manage his clothing ( a very real problem since he doesn’t have very good control of his hands). So in we trudge to the ladies room, usually waiting an inordinate length of time for the “big stall” to be available. I don’t call it the disability stall because it is apparently now the “family, stroller, baby change, three teen girls at a time, employee on break , whatever …” place to be and as such quite popular in most venues. So we wait while others move in and out of the line- frequently staring for a few seconds and then catching on when he starts to hum or rock or when an arm suddenly and spastically reaches for the ceiling. Thankfully we have NOT been accosted like you were. Although there have been very dirty looks.

    The answer to all of our dilemmas is to pressure public spaces to place family style restrooms and to maintain those already in existence. I’m not sure how we go about changing building codes – but that’s probably what needs doing.

    I’ll get right on that. After I fashion a transition plan for my son, get the insurance company to pay for his meds, meet with his next years teachers, write some goals, lobby Sacramento to restore the services cut in the last round of budget cuts, talk to my Congressperson about the ABLE act ….

  29. He’s SIX. Maybe the problem was that she was a hundred and four and doesn’t remember. And is an idiot.

  30. I had written a long post~ non verbal 14 yr old, totally support you, rip off bitches face that messes with my kid, etc. etc but it didn’t post. I’ll just say LOVE your blog and your stones! Suck that haters! :)

  31. Seriously, if I took any of my nephews out and they had to go to the bathroom, you bet your ass I would take them in the women’s restroom or locker room. I don’t give a shit what ANY woman of ANY age in there said. Safety trumps personal comfort no matter what.

  32. ChaCha

    I’m with you! I have to do it often (and at *shock* the “Y” here) Luckily they have a door to the women’s bathroom so we do not have to go into the locker area (as they don’t want you trotting to get into the locker area wet from the pool (sure women still come into the bathrooms from the locker room door and I get stares – but have yet had anyone say anything (double.dog.dare.them) and I change my son then my daughter then myself (while they stand at my stall door (the BIG one) sometimes if crowded we’re all three in there. I have had times and instances though (since my son on the spectrum as well but verbal) has asked to use the “mens” room (I have to undress him and he can do 1 but for 2/3 I get the pleasure of the paper *lol*) and I have opened the door and said “HELLO….any one HANGING out as I’m bringing my SON in” and walked in I have and did – and of course not everywhere just certain “decent/clean” places (and without my daughter). I’m a divorced mom of two – I have my kids all.the.time and I do what needs to be done and I will not allow my children to go in alone for the same fears etc. I feel the lady was out of line. If she was so aghast she should have brought it up with management (not to you) to me the “Y” should make family bathrooms/changing areas (as ours also has) or allowances for such situations – since I believe they are a “religious organization” and well, after I do all that was listed above from IEPs, meeting new teachers, making social stories, school shopping for supplies and clothing, along with doctor appointments, tests and so much more not to mention what my NT daughter also has – I’ll be sure to bring that to their attention and file a complaint that would shed some negative news on them (which they would not want). I just feel this lady was totally OUT.OF.LINE and not exactly living up to that “christian” lifestyle of what the “Y” is all about et al. With that I put my fingers on each side of my head and say “booga.wooga.wooga” and traipse on back anyway hoping she walks out with toilet paper either stuck to the bottom of her shoe or hanging out of her skirt/pants/knickers since her bloomers were obviously in such a wad!

    Sorry for the bla bla bla’ing mess as I had to take my son to the bathroom and did not read back :-)

  33. Asshat. She’s entitled to her privacy and Dawn’s entitled to keep her son safe. If you think her geriatric cooch is more important than a disabled child’s safety, you don’t deserve an opinion. Also, ASSHAT.

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