How old is too old?

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Remember when we were young, how much easier life was? It might not have seemed like it at the time but if you take a look now, it was simpler, right?

We could roam the streets with our friends and play chasey (or tiggy) and hide and seek (or 40/40), we could ride our bikes until curfew, which was usually when the streetlights came on. As long as mum knew where we were, all was good and right and safe in the world. We were free and happy.

How sad it is now that my kids don’t have those same feelings of fun and freedom I did as a child. There’s a new breed of creeps and bullies and weirdos that spoil it for everyone and now the kids cannot be out of our sight, even for a second. We’re constantly exposed to horror stories of taken children, lost children, injured, abused (and worse) children. It’s turned us into these extra protective, hyper aware and super critical sentries who forgive little and question everything, all in the name of preparing for and protecting our children against the seemingly endless list of ominous possibilities that now exist.

Gone are the days where everyone was “mates”, when we’d chat to anyone and our children could speak to a friendly stranger as long as they used their very best manners. Now we (not all) second-guess everyone and everything. The questions that run though our minds like a freight train, interrogating each and every aspect of a stranger. We smile and nod but gently move an arm across the front of our babies even though this unknown person may be completely harmless. It’s not the same anymore. And it’s sad.

I read a story the other day about a sign that was placed up somewhere (the location remains undisclosed), requesting that boys aged 6 and older must use the men’s room. It has caused much debate and raised a lot of questions.

A biggie for me at the moment is my eldest, Jack (6), using public toilets. I find myself pulled between allowing independence and protecting him from the unknown. Protection wins every time right now.

Don’t get me wrong, he won’t be a 17 year old boy still heading into the ladies with his mama. It’s just he’s still so little, to me. He is a smart kid who is aware of more things now, himself, his surroundings, but that doesn’t mean he has the ability to become alerted to something sinister. Besides that, women conduct their business in their own little cubicles. Not that I’ve frequented men’s toilets before but I assume there’s urinals in all of them – a room full of boys and men standing around peeing in wall sinks. Is this too confronting for a 6 year old?

As a mum of two boys who is, more often than not, alone with my boys when we’re out and about, I take them into the toilets with me. We squish in a cubicle if the bathrooms are busy and if not, Jack will go in the one next to me while I deal with Hayden and his poor aim and need to touch every single surface. We’ve never had a problem with other people taking issue with Jack coming into the women’s toilets and Jack has no problem coming with me, in fact he prefers it.

I’m wondering though, how old is too old to be coming with mum to the bathrooms? And what about dads with daughters?

What do you do?

K xx

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