Tuesday, March 26, 2013

you’re two. and you’re terrified

 

So I sat on this for awhile.

You know… with that totally illogical fear that by the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, the person you are writing about will stumble upon your little blog, recognize themselves, and be totally ticked off at you?

 

But this is eating at me.

 

I’m not really offended by people who might call me a helicopter parent.

One: it takes someone who has experienced years of infertility (who WANTS a baby) to understand what it is like to suddenly have a huge miracle laying in your arms.

Two:  It takes someone who is deaf to understand that my eyes are my ears… and if I can’t see or hear my child, your imagination doesn’t do justice to the guilt I feel when he IS hurt and I cannot find him.

 

And since most of you probably aren’t two for two on those, I don’t feel all that terrible if you roll your eyes at the tight Itty Bit radar I keep when we are out in public places :)

 

 

Scene:

A very busy children’s museum during the weekend.  Chaotic would best describe it, so my job was simply to not lose track of my kid.

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Who suddenly had to pee.

(of course… remember his public restrooms quest?)

 

Insert Helicopter Mom:  there is no way the kid was going to go to the men’s room by himself in a very crowded public space.

So I ushered him into the women’s restroom – which was uncharacteristically empty.

 

Except for one little boy.

 

Insert six degrees of Kevin Bacon (or person who I’m going to tick off)

I knew this little boy.

 

He was two years old.

And he was crying.  Frightened sobs.

 

Tearfully trying to shake a stall door open with real fear in his eyes.

Mama Mama Mama Mamamamamamamamamamama.

 

I saw his mother’s shoes behind the stall door and suddenly realized that she had intentionally locked him out.

 

I was stunned.

 

I immediately stooped down and reassured him over and over that his mommy would be right back.  I tried to keep the shock off my face as I wondered why the stall door didn’t fly open for Mama Bear to check who was talking to her little one.

Somehow, the fact that he was still a breastfed little one made him seem all the more vulnerable; and the situation all the more confusing.

 

Recall what my kiddo looked like at two years old?

 

IMG_1585

 

 

He looks so teeny.  Now picture him crying his head off because he’s scared, been left alone, and now some woman he doesn’t recognize is talking to him in a strange bathroom.

 

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IMG_1591

 

 

The poor kid had tears and I was absolutely helpless.

 

I got Itty Bit into a stall and I kept an eye on the abandoned little one.

Another woman entered the restroom and sympathetically looked at the distraught toddler.

And as overly-careful as I can be accused of being, I was still trying to figure out why someone would trust a huge building full of strangers with her beautiful defenseless boy.

 

 

Call me paranoid, but as someone who has firsthand experience in vetting criminal histories for people who target these kind of places… one time is too many.

 

I feel ill even writing this. 

And quite possibly there will be backlash in real life – depending on who reads this.  I hope they know this was written in genuine concern. 

 

What do you do?

 

Would you have handled this differently?

At what age do you send your son into the boy’s restroom by himself?

 

Am I paranoid?

 

.

 

(and for the record, I’m not a mean mom who takes pictures of her kid crying :)  here’s the original blog post about his little freak out)

27 comments:

Angelwithatwist said...

Are you flipping kidding me?? No you are not an overprotective parent. Hello I like time alone in the bathroom too and I don't even get that at home, I dang sure don't expect it out in public. At least ANSWER the child. Talk to him through the door and tell him it is okay, not that I condone leaving him out, perhaps he had hit that stage when he starts asking why your stuff is different from his stuff. OK so be it, every kid does it, we move on and answer the question or say not here let's talk about this later mmmkay. WE DO NOT LOCK THEM OUT OF THE STALL AND THEN IGNORE THEM WHEN IT IS APPARENT THEY ARE TERRIFIED.

melissa said...

wow.

Rachel, I agree totally with you on this. I STILL bring doty in to the woman's bathroom with me if pa is not with us. AND I WILL UNTIL HE IS SAY 18!
We just went bowling last week and sat near the bathrooms. Each man that walked in I just COULD NOT IMAGINE letting my little boy ( who is 8!) go in there with. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW! and I am not EVER GOING TO KNOW! At least this is my prayer, and I will do my part. Good post Rachel, Good momma!

Stacy said...

Well, I let Kai go into restrooms by himself and have for a few years. I think it was at 6 or 7 that I stopped bringing him with me every time, but I stand outside the door waiting for him. He's been through that whole "stranger danger" indoctrination at school and home. At 2, he would have been in the stall with me. I can't believe that woman! Toddlers have a tendency to just run off unexpectedly...he could have been to Idaho by the time she caught up with him!

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Life with Kaishon said...

I think 2 is too young to be out there all alone. Did you ever talk to the mom? Did she come out of the stall eventually? That would definitely freak me out. I hope the baby was ok once he was reunited with his mama.

I sort of like helicopter parents. I just like any parent that loves their kid more than life itself.

Furry Bottoms said...

That mother must have had a whopper of a secret that she did not want her kid to see, however young. But you're right, I would NEVER have left a 2 year old outside a locked stall in a public bathroom!! I wonder if that mother wanted the kid to disappear on purpose. Grrrrrrowl!!

Rachel said...

Quick note: I stayed until mom left the stall (many minutes later). By then another woman had entered the restroom and was hanging out near the sinks. I was not comfortable leaving the toddler in there with another person and mom predisposed.

When mom came out, she struck up an immediate conversation with the other woman while the little boy clung to her legs.

I wimped out... not wanting to create a scene with the other woman there. I was rockin' an ear infection and knew I wouldn't be able to understand her clearly.

I mentioned it to a mutual friend, so I hope that there was some kind of explanation.

I know, wuss. Totally kicking myself.

AKg said...

Well, can't have children myself. Have nannied for a parent who could have cared less about her 3 beautiful daughters. Have taught preK for 2 different schools and experienced about every parent subtype there is. An overy protective parennt is by far, BETTER than one who ignores their child. ESPECIALLY a 2 yr old toddler in a public place with some serious stimulous overload. Teaching helped me develop my radar and I am glad to see I still have it and it automatically flicks on when I'm. Around little ones. I have been hollered at many times for disciplining children for parents who are too busy on their phones or chatting with friends to actually watch their kids. I don't care either.

Rachel; I would have done the exact same thing! I would have done my momma hen routine until that parent stepped out from her personal moment. I would have also said something. That kind of treatment is traumatising to a 2 yr old. It is confusing to a child having extra treatment with somethings and less in others.

Parents do what they hope is best for their little ones. Having a backup plan is all a parent can do to help keep their kids as safe as possible. There is no instruction manual but there is common sense and the parent you are speaking of just skimmed by with a D+ in my book. I hope that your concern does not turn into a big drama situation loosing sight of the issue. A parent should understand people are dangerous and you, Rachel, have seen the worst of the worst. People just don't get how fragile their little bubble really is.

Dyann said...

Good grief.

And 6. That's when I started letting my kiddos into the public restroom alone. And it's scary. But I also keep an eye on who goes in, who comes out when, and have no problem asking complete strangers to check on him. One time, when #3 was taking a terrifying long time, a guy came out & said, "Little guy? He's washing his hands." Bless you perfect stranger!

robin said...

That was so sweet of you to watch over that kid while it's 'parent' did her thing in there.

My two boys are 8 and almost 5. If we're somewhere and there are one or two stalls for the men and nobody else is in there, I'll let my older one go alone. Sometimes I still take him with me into the ladies restroom with me. Of course, I will hurry him in and out so nobody (or very few) notice and/or that he won't be embarrassed. I always take the 5 year old with me.

I don't take any chances.

Oh, and I think the mom who was 'busy' should have immediately said THANK YOU to you instead of starting to talk to someone else! That was very thoughtful of you to do that for her even though she didn't appreciate it!

Allenspark Lodge said...

As much as I enjoy reading the annon-spam stories, and as little as I like the Word Verification, it may be time to turn it on (at least for a little while).

I have also talked to moms waiting for their 6 year olds- "Washing his hands now, using LOTS of soap".

Hard call. It takes a tribe.

Bill

Emmy said...

Well thank goodness you were there and not some crazy person! Seriously though, what was this lady thinking? I would maybe maybe have my 6 year old daughter stand right outside the stall but seriously, I don't know if I would even do that-- especially if for some reason she was crying or scared.

What if he wandered off while she was in there?? What was she going to do then? That is just crazy!

Danielle said...

My boy is 3 1/2 and I take him in with me. I dont care whos in there, or how many people. For one, i dont trust him not to run off (he doesn't comprehend stranger danger, he thinks everyone is his friend), and two, even if I live in a small town where everyone thinks there is hardly any crime, I dont trust anyone with my baby!
She's lucky that someone as awesome as you came in, and not some scumbag who would take advantage of that opportunity.

sara said...

I honestly have no words. It has made me sick to my stomach reading this. And if this is what happens IN PUBLIC what kind of neglect might be happening at home? so hard to understand.

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stephanie said...

not paranoid. that just breaks my heart, my babies cry and "I am momma hear me roar" kicks in! I am that crazy doesn't take my eyes off my kids momma and that is perfect for us.

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RaD said...

My son was seven when I started letting him use the men's room by himself. We had many stranger danger talks (and still do) and he was pretty secure in being able to handle using the bathroom without mommy around. I stood outside of the door waiting for him. He's eleven now and takes himself, but he knows I keep track of the time and will walk to the door and holler in if he takes too long, so he does his business quick.

RaD said...

My son was seven when I started letting him use the men's room by himself. We had many stranger danger talks (and still do) and he was pretty secure in being able to handle using the bathroom without mommy around. I stood outside of the door waiting for him. He's eleven now and takes himself, but he knows I keep track of the time and will walk to the door and holler in if he takes too long, so he does his business quick.

Jeremiah 31:3 said...

Sometimes busy humans need to be reminded how precious their little ones are...

Floortime Lite Mama said...

ugghhhh you know what makes me really mad - is that life is so unfair - there are all these mums I know who struggle and struggle to have children and they would make AMAZING mums
ANd then some mums just dont care and they have kids that they dont even treat right
Mother nature does not behave right sometime

Candance said...

Not responding to the little kid was mean. I would go in the handicap stall and take Max and Grace in with me until they were about three or so.

I started letting Max go to the bathroom alone when he was six, and I stood outside the door. I also told him to pee on anyone who might try to touch him. But, I think if I were deaf, I would be just as careful as you are. You're not a helicopter mom-you're just a good mom.

The Lady Wolf said...

Wow... I'm glad YOU were there. Someone was watching over him. If you haven't been there, who knows what would have happened. (Shudders)

I understand having sons and bathroom issues are a lot harder than moms and daughters. But that mom!!! Ugh! She needs to take a parenting course on that subject. The world is a scary place, especially for a 2 year old.

On the other hand, I wondered if she was changing her tampon and didn't want him to see that?

Rissa said...

WOW.... WOW...this has me completely sadded by the lack of concern some parents have for their kids.. Praise GOD you were there. And she should have thanked you for watching him...

And I have no clue as far as the public bathroom thing... I would say age 8 would be reasonable.. but then again I am right there with you..Paranoid :)

Your a great mama Rachel!
Email me.. Love ya!

Julie said...

I don't think you're over protective.. or maybe I just am! I don't know. D is 9 (with Autism which changes things) but he's not ready to go into a public men's room by himself. We try to find a family restroom, but if one isn't available, he comes in with me... and we all troop back to the big stall and if I have to go I tell him to turn around or count the tiles or whatever. I used to work in a public library. There are CREEPS out there and people are oblivious. We (the people who worked at the library and the police) couldn't do anything until the "creep" did something... so we would watch the creeps watch the little boys. You're NOT over protective. You never know what could happen and you can't get innocence back. Be the helicopter parent and own it. ;) <3 <3 <3

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