Life With Ladybug: Powder Room Protest

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama

So, apparently I wrote a lot of Life with Ladybug posts about searching for a new SUV. A lot. But this is the post that’s going to change all that! I’m not even going to mention the word RAV4 here again. At least not until I mention how I got that sucker into my crap-laden garage mere seconds before the hailstorm attacked.

Our other car got beat all to heck, but not one ding on the … new vehicle.

OK, done. We’re already eating McDonald’s in the rig, so I’m over it.

Onward and upward! Let’s talk about how Ladybug started 2nd grade yesterday! Can I just say that sounds really old? Her, not me.

She’s really pumped about her new teacher and the fact that one of her bestest friends made it into her class. She would have liked to have Addie and Teaghan, too, but one close friend is better than nothin’. I just hope she can keep quiet. As I live with this child every day – and witness her motor-mouth up close and personal — I don’t see how it’s possible. But I digress.

She loved the first day of second grade. Congrats, Little Lady. You got up, got dressed and we made it there 20 minutes early. It will probably be the only time all year.

New subject. About boy parts.

restrooms-4593t.gifSo, I have a question. For those of you with boys, what’s the cut-off age for taking your son into the women’s bathroom? I don’t have to deal with this since my daughter can come into the restroom with me, no problem.  I understand that little boys don’t need to be going into the men’s room by themselves. And I understand why they need to come into the women’s restroom with their mom to avoid that.

But at what age do you send them to their gender-appropriate toilet and say, ‘I’ll stand right out here and wait for you”?

I’m really asking. Does it depend on the kid? The mom? The location of the bathroom?

This issue is on my mind because three times in the past few months I’ve been in a couple of awkward situations. In one, I was in the Hobby Lobby bathroom alone and a mom sent her [hard to tell his age, but maybe 8?] son in by himself. She waited outside with his sisters (?). I finished up quickly and left the restroom.

Then, when we were at Dave and Buster’s in Tulsa last week, a mom and her two sons came in while Ladybug and I were using the bathroom. Even more awkward: the boys were probably 10 and 12.

There’s also the time I was at a hotel for an event and a mom brought her two sons, probably 12 and 13, into the bathroom and insisted they stand facing the back wall. Uncomfortable. Of course, it probably didn’t help that I often walk out of the stall still zipping up. Oops. I swear one of them was peeking.

Of course, I know some boys look wayyyy older than they really are. And I know I’d be worried about sending my son into the men’s room, too. (Ladybug once ran ahead of me and straight into the men’s room at a restaurant when she was about 3 and I had no qualms about popping right in there to bring her out.)

So, inquiring minds want to know: how old is too old?


  1. Hmmm… that is a tough one. But you’d have to wonder what the mom of the 12 & 13 year old were thinking! I mean, c’mon! LOL
    Seriously, I can’t answer, either as I have all girls. =D

  2. Oh, gah. This is just one more thing I hadn’t thought to worry about yet. I still take Mojo into the bathroom with me (he’s 4 1/2), and I don’t think that’s too old. I guess it does depend on the kid, but I would have to say that if the boy has hit puberty he should probably have long since stopped going into the (multi-stalled) ladies’ room.

  3. A very interesting topic. In our situation I brought my son into the ladies room until he was about 7. I didn’t feel uncomfortable about him being in the ladies room as much as I was uncomfortable about him being unchaperoned in a mens room. There are still some situations where I will not allow him to go into a mens room alone such as certain gas station bathrooms when we’re traveling or if we are at a large public event. When he does I wait outside the mens room door knowing that I’m not afraid to go inside if I feel it would be necessary. For me his safety comes before modesty. He never expressed feeling weird about being in a ladies room. I have never seen boys beyond the age of 8 in a ladies room. Especially if there’s more than one boy, safety in numbers; I think letting them wait outside is reasonable and respectful to the ladies and girls in the powder room.

  4. I meant to mention why 7 was the ladies room cutoff for my son. At that point, I felt he’d reached the maturity level and had the ability to discern for himself if he was in a potentially dangerous situation. I think that would vary from child to child. Obviously if a child with disabilities or needed special attention is a different scenerio. But in general I think people need to be fair to the boys. Does a 13 year old really want to go into a ladies room & face the wall? I’m thinking no.

  5. I have 3 boys (18, 15, and 6). The 1st two didn’t go in the men’s room until they could go together. That was probably at about 8 and 6yrs. The youngest one still comes in with me if his brothers or dad are not around. But, there will come a time when he’ll have to go by himself. Not sure when that will be. I think 10 is too old to be in the ladies’s, though. I think I’ll just look for “safe” situations where he can go in by himself. You know, nice clean, not very frequented bathrooms. Actually I remember now that a couple of months ago I let him go in the Supercenter by himself. It was really busy and he was taking a really long time. Finally he came out and I asked him why it took so long I was starting to worry but kept telling myself the place was full of men and surely nothing could happen in that situation – right?). He said that the other guys looked like they were in a hurry so he let them go first! THAT won’t happen again.

    Anyhow, what I have come to be concerned about is how the other little girls in the bathroom feel when they see a boy about their age. I just have become sensitive to it with my younger son so if there are younger girls in there I will tend to “wait” outside until the coast is clear.

  6. I guess the question “How old is too old,” creates another question:
    What message are we sending to our sons, if we don’t feel they are safe in a men’s public restroom? What if we left it up to our boys to decide? “Son, do you feel comfortable going into a public restroom alone?” “Not quite yet, Mom.” “Okay.” Kids and choices… Let’s give them the small choices now, so they will be prepared for those bigger ones down the road, like getting into cars with friends who’ve been drinking or saying “no” to drugs.

  7. I finally let my son, Ellison, go into the Walmart (UGH) bathroom by himself last year when he was 7. I knew it was time when he was old enough to talk about women’s body parts. Before I released him into that bathroom, I gave him the speech about not talking to strangers and not letting anyone “touch” him, etc. He responded with the teenage “Oh please, Mom.” After waiting way too long for him and starting to panic, I sent a nice-looking, older gentleman (total stranger) to check on him. Everything turned out fine, he was just constipated.

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