Being a stay-at-home dad with a daughter has particular “challenges.”
Don’t get me wrong—I love my daughter. She can be the sweetest, most compassionate, caring, and loving person. I cannot describe in words how much I love her hugs and kisses.
While I love spending time with her, as she grows older certain things have become…interesting. For instance, which bathroom does she use? Every time we are out, I always pause before deciding what to do. She knows which is the “boys” room and which is for “girls.” And she always wants to go into the girl’s room. Do I just let her go by herself? What if she locks herself into the stall, can’t turn on the water, or reach the soap? How do I not look awkward waiting patiently outside the girl’s bathroom?
Especially in public places like airports and parks, I prefer to take her with me into the men’s room. However, when she has to go, she has to go! One time, we were at a park where she just ran into the women’s room, and as I ran after her, I stopped in my tracks when I saw the security camera at the entrance—I didn’t want the cops to show up and arrest me for going into the girl’s room!
I was almost arrested once when the men’s room was closed for cleaning at Santa Monica Pier and my daughter was about to pee her pants. I stood at the door, yelling inside every thirty seconds to make sure she was ok. Just as she finished up, a cop car showed up to “check” that I wasn’t some “weird guy” on the pier, but once he saw my young daughter, he totally understood my predicament!
Taking her to the men’s room can be equally awkward now that she knows that boys have penises and girls have “jinas.” She asks why boys get to pee at the urinal and she cannot. Sometimes she walks up to other people while they are using the urinal. I realized that the concept of privacy isn’t inherent; it has to be taught! Add to that the judgemental looks you get from others when a father is helping their daughter to the restroom. Those looks of indignation that “mom” should be doing it (or the assumption that there is even a mom) or that unsolicited advice on how to raise your child. You can see why it is such a challenge!
Another challenge is when I have to go and ask her to “stay put” for just enough time to allow me to finish my business. Most of the time, she listens. One time, however, we were visiting the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. She was so thrilled by the experience of seeing the bridge that she forgot to tell us she had to pee, and she started to pee in her car seat. We quickly jumped out of the car to go to the restroom and clean up. It was a big public restroom with dozens of people coming in and out.
After I had cleaned her up, I asked her to wait while I used the facilities. But she wanted to see the bridge again! I almost peed my pants as I ran outside—
zipper still down and screaming her name—to catch her. Thankfully, I caught her just before she stepped into the road to cross the parking lot. It was a very scary experience!
I breathe a sigh of relief when a family restroom is available because we can all use the restroom together without challenges—I can change my toddler, we can both go to the restroom in private, and I don’t have to worry about her running out the door. It’s nice to see more restaurants, malls, and public sites have family restrooms. Sadly, too many non-family people use them for the same reason that I like using them–privacy. It is frustrating when I have waited patiently, too many times, outside the family room just to see a non-parent come out and don’t care even to apologize when they see a family waiting–even when my daughter is doing the “potty” dance. We need more family rooms made available and stricter enforcement of rules around them so that actual families can use them.
Fellow dads—how do you navigate going to the restroom in public facilities? How do you address privacy issues? Do you have any fun stories to share? Post them in the comment section!