My son wobbled like the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. His hands were between his legs, and eyes scrunched in pain.
“Mom, I need to go potty.”
“I know, I know.” I said while pushing the stroller though the maze of blue cafeteria chairs. “Did I tell you to try and go at home?”
“Yes,” he said slowly.
He sighed. “No.”
“Why not?” I asked when we reached the bathrooms.
“I didn’t feel it then.”
A wail came from the stroller. My always happy ten-month-old’s mouth quivered in terror, tears pouring down her cheeks. I picked her up, kissed her wet face, and hummed a lullaby.
“Ok, buddy,” I told him, “You have to go by yourself this time because baby is scared of the noise.”
But which bathroom?
I rocked baby and stared down the hallway, feeling ridiculous. Left or right? It seemed like a simple question since he is a boy, but I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable with him being by himself around strange adult men. Plus, what if he needed help? I couldn’t walk in there when some guy could be doing his business. Besides, ew.
That settled it.
I peeked into the sanitary woman’s bathroom and saw no one.
“You can go in,” I told him. “I will be sitting right here by the door if you need me.”
My four-year-old walked into the public bathroom. By himself. He was too big, yet too small. As a mother, I couldn’t help but worry.
I comforted myself by comforting my daughter. She smiled, showing her four half-grown teeth.
While I waited, recent controversial news came to mind. I started wondering how I would feel if I saw a man dressed as a woman, yet clearly a man, walk through that bathroom door while my son was still in there? It made my heart flutter. There are demented people in the world who do despicable things. I wouldn’t hold it against anyone to take advantage of the rights transgender men and women have been given lately. Of course a man could walk into a woman’s bathroom before, but it is becoming easier now. Legal.
All of a sudden baby squealed with joy. My son bounced out unharmed and smiling. My tense muscles relaxed. I ruffled his brown hair, kissed his forehead and felt a twinge of sadness for having to worry about such mundane things.