I had to run to a Best Buy today. So my son and I jumped in the car and drove in a horrific rainstorm because I have no patience and neither rain, wind nor snow will stop me from getting what I want RIGHT NOW, DAMMIT.
Anyway, while we were in the store I told my son that I needed to use the restroom. I walked to the back of the store and entered the hallway that contains the restrooms.
In that hallway I saw a wet, exasperated mother surrounded by four equally as wet and exasperated young boys who obviously just got to the store. They were all telling mom that they had to go pee. The mother, clearly a bit overwhelmed asked her kids how badly they needed to go, could they wait until they got home, etc. They were all about that age that makes them to young to be out of moms sight, but too old to use the women’s room. The look on her face was both of concern for the boys to go alone, and of having the group of them goof around in there and tear the place up.
As I watched this, the first thought in my mind was too tell the mom “don’t worry, I got this”, and take the group of boys into the restroom to make sure they do their business and behave. It’s the fatherly instinct in me I suppose, but it’s also from the memory of having small kids who make you worry about everything.
But I didn’t. Because while I know what my intentions were, I completely understand how creepy I would have looked. In this day and age, any man who offers to take your kid to the bathroom for you is looked upon with deep suspicion. Rightly so, I suppose. It’s just so sad that, while the world is advancing by leaps and bounds, it’s also becoming a dark suspicious place; a place in where even the most innocent of gestures can result in strange looks and even jail time. If this had happened years ago, maybe when my son was a small boy and I was holding his hand, she may have let me keep an eye on her sons. But now my son is a teenager and I no longer have to hold his hand.
In the end I went in, peed, washed my hands and left. They were all still in the hallway when I left, only now two of them were doing the pee pee dance. I felt bad for her. I felt bad for them.
But mostly I felt bad that as an experienced parent who has raised two boys and a girl from babies to teens, that some innocent gestures of help are viewed as weird, sick and even criminal.
I hope they didn’t pee themselves. Because from the looks of it, that would have been all she needed on top of everything else.