Granted, it’s a first world problem, but for many parents, we’ve all been there…standing outside the loo wondering which gender toilet to send your child into while weighing the pro’s and cons of safety, convenience and propriety.
Well, for one Noosa father it ended in an interesting national debate that shaped up a little like this…
According to ABC news, Eli Madigan is a Noosa dad with a 21/2 year-old daughter. When nature calls and there’s no parents’ room available, he escorts his little girl into the women’s toilet. Why? Because she’s a big girl in training and that’s what she wants.
Awesome work Eli, I say (kudos to a dad working with his daughter to navigate the complexities of life). Apparently not, according to a lot of women who got their half-mast, women’s-only knickers into a total toilet twist.
Surprisingly, in 2018 the toilet debate was “aflush” with constipation consternation about the fact a man could walk into the sanctity of the women’s loos.
When asked which toilet a little girl should be taken to by a dad, some women responded like this: "If she’s old enough then the women's room but stand outside and wait. If not, take her to the men's room. I do not wish a man to walk into the women’s toilets thank you”.
Others suggested Eli should entrust his daughter into the care of any woman who could help her into the bathroom on his behalf.
Meanwhile, a psychologist noted Eli could well be transferring his own issues to his child by enabling her preference for the ladies’ loos.
Touch a nerve, much?
Brief pause while my husband and I debate this in earnest…
With two daughters and a son, up until recently my husband would take the young girls into the men’s loos. There’s the obligatory conversation about the urinals and a rule everyone must wear shoes.
Now they’re older, he waits outside while the eldest girl goes to the ladies on her own.
With our seven-year-old son, I’m a little more forthright and perhaps more circumspect.
If I can’t see under the stalls, I will “sweep” the toilet - ascertaining whether there’s anyone in there. If not, he’s good to go. If I can’t easily check or if the toilets look busy, it’s off to the ladies, thereby creating a dent in his rapidly developing male pride.
Would I entrust him into the care of a man to take him in? Hell no. No offense but: My child. My watch. My responsibility.
Would I take a little girl into the ladies on behalf of her father? Absolutely and, yes, I get the double standard here.
Would I be offended to see a man in the women’s with his daughter? Nope. Come on in Eli and any dad doing their best to operate in a fast-changing world fraught with social commentary.
But let’s be frank, there’s a whole lot of issues raised in this seemingly innocuous subject. And many get to the heart of the endless questioning that is parenting.
Do I know what’s right? Absolutely no idea. But I do know what works for us at this moment in time. To Eli, my advice would be the same. Bugger the comments. If it works for you and your family, then that’s what you need to do.
We’d love to hear your thoughts…which loo, what gender child? What worked for you?
Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer with 20 years’ journalism experience. She loves a good old-fashioned story and getting to the heart of a great yarn. She’s also a mum to three children who have encouraged her to hone some secret skills. Nimbly navigating Lego pieces left on her loungeroom floor and creating stylish Barbie attire from all manner of household objects are just a couple of credentials she’s recently added to her resume.