When a father is out with his kids, is it ever acceptable for him to venture into the mysterious land of the ladies’ lavatory? That may sound like an odd question to ask, but I have my reasons.
You see I was out with my kids the other day. With no working kitchen, I had decided to take them to a local, family-friendly pub for a bite to eat.
My youngest daughter, Elizabeth, declared she needed the lavatory. Helen, her older sister, said she would accompany her.
I wasn’t entirely in love with the idea, but I was sat down and they were both on their feet and several paces ahead of me. Before I could get up out of my seat they’d disappeared through a door and into the disabled conveniences. I had no reason to question what they were doing as this is where they usually go when we visit this particular pub.
Only thing is, they hadn’t gone into the disabled conveniences at all. Big sister had taken her younger sibling into the ladies. For my eldest, this was nothing out of the ordinary. She is quite capable of taking care of herself. While my youngest is perfectly toilet trained, you still need to be on hand to assist.
What is a man to do when his daughters hide themselves away in a public space that is, quite justifiably, denied to men? My blood pressure rocketed and sweat formed on my brow. What was I to do? Anything could be going on in there. Things got even more tense when Helen casually strolled out of the lavatory leaving her little sister behind.
“Where is Elizabeth?” I asked
“Still on the toilet daddy,” came the response.
I knew the handle to the lavatory door was too high for Elizabeth to reach. The decision was made for me; I simply had to go in and find out what my youngest daughter was up to. She was, after all, stuck and couldn’t get out.
It was rather like that scene in Father Ted when the priests all get stuck in the lingerie section of a department store. I knew I shouldn’t be there and I didn’t want to be there. I simply wanted to get this over with, stat.
As luck would have it, my fears were academic. No other women were present and nobody came in while I dealt with Elizabeth who was, by the way, doing her best to wash her hands. It could, however, have been much worse. I once had to pull Elizabeth out of a toilet when she sat on the seat and fell through the middle.
When I cast my mind back, I remembered another scenario when Helen was younger and I took her and a friend out on a play date. Both girls must have been four years of age and they dashed off to the ladies loo.
Unbeknown to me, however, my wife had put a belt on Helen’s trousers and she couldn’t undo it. I hadn’t noticed it because it was under her jumper. A kindly woman heard the two girls inside the lavatory discussing this, saw me hovering outside the lavatory, figured out what was going on and dashed in to quickly undo Helen’s belt before she had an accident.
The other classic scenario is where us guys take our kids to change a child’s nappy. Not that my kids wear nappies any more, but when they did, I frequently found the change facilities were in the ladies.
Should a guy refrain from using the ladies’ conveniences if that’s the only place to change a nappy? If you take a look at the chat forums on Mumsnet, this is a massive issue of debate with many people saying common sense should prevail but an equal number saying they find the thought of a man in the ladies’ horrifying.
One must also play fair. A mum with sons could easily find herself in the reverse situation. Would I be horrified at a woman using the gents with her son? Personally speaking, no I wouldn’t (although the presence of urinals as opposed to cubicles would arguably make it more awkward).
Where do you stand? If you’re a woman, would you feel upset at a guy using the ladies to assist their child or change a nappy? Perhaps you’re a guy who has been in this very situation. Maybe you’re a mum who has had to enter the gents to assist your son. Please leave a comment below.