Question: If a Dad of little girls (3 to 6yrs approx) is out and about with them, as the sole adult, where does he take them to the toilet?
A woman brings little girls, or boys, into the Ladies with her. I came across a situation lately that really made me think – what does a Dad do?
We were on holidays, in Ireland, in a town where a festival was taking place. The streets, pubs etc were all packed. My 9yr old daughter and I went to a pub loo together.
I opened the Ladies door to be met by a man standing by the hand-basins. My initial thought was that one of us had taken a wrong turn, so much so that I starting backing out. Catching my reaction, the man quickly said that his wife was busy watching something at the festival so he had to bring his girls to the loo. Two girls, age approx 4 and 6 then came out of a cublicle together and proceeded to wash their hands. We carried on using the facilities and that was that.
But thinking this over afterwards, a lot of things struck me;
- If I was this man I would have insisted that his wife bring them to the toilet
- I would also have waited outside the toilet for them to come out. They clearly did not need his assistance.
- If another man in this situation ever asked me to ‘keep an eye’ on his girls while they went into the Ladies, that would be fine by me too.
- If my daughter had gone to the loo on her own, as often happens, and had come back to say there was a man in the room, what would I have said/done?
But not to focus just on this one situation, there is a bigger picture here.
What does a Dad of little girls do? If they are young enough to need help, where do you bring them? And what about nappy changing of babies in general. I don’t remember my husband ever saying he saw a changing table in a men’s room. Some places have baby changing facilities as a standalone, but this is rare.
Which is worse – Dad bringing his 3yr old girl into the Mens or the Ladies? He has to bring them somewhere.
One solution, which is more common abroad, is the unisex loo. ie a single cubicle just marked ‘toilet’ with handwashing etc outside in a communal area. I have seen them in petrol stations and shops, usually where space is at a premium. Modern public pay-per-loo, of the ‘Tardis-like’ variety, are also unisex. They both certainly solve the problem above.
Public toileting arrangements probably stem from the quainter days when Mammy did all the childcare, and kids would rarely if ever be out with just Dad. While Mens and Ladies are still a requirement, I think planners also need to drag themselves into the 21st century. Family friendly facilities please!