Sunday, June 24, 2007

More on Bathrooms.

So here's a new wrinkle: Jack won't use girl's bathrooms anymore.

When we went out to dinner on my birthday my mom took Jack and Sam to the bathroom. When they came back she told me that Jack had refused to pee because he wanted to go to the boy's bathroom. Initially I thought this was something I would easily be able to remedy, so then I took him.

No go. Literally. He cried, started to scream, refused to listen to me or the other mom in the ladies' room who tried to convince him that it's the rule that four-year-olds go to the bathroom with their mom. Eventually I gave up, instructed him to hold it, and waited (successfully, thank God) until we got home. At the time I thought it was a fluke.

Not so much anymore. Because Alex is out of town, I had to take Sam and Jack to swim class today, something Alex usually does. And because I am a girl, we had to use the girl's locker room. This was NOT okay with Jack. With Sam, when he doesn't want to do something, I can usually reason with him. With Sam, he doesn't want to do something. With Jack, it's like he can't do something. He's not really expressing a preference so much as an requirement. For some reason that he can't express, he has decided this is not an okay place to pee. And that is the end of that. You can lead a boy to a toilet, but you can't make him pee. Or stop screaming. Or even stand up.

But now I'm worried. One time is a fluke; two times is the start of a pattern.

Today I dealt with it by using the girl's locker room, but had Sam take Jack into the men's locker room to go to the bathroom before swim class. Then by the time class was over, Jack seemed to have forgotten his objections. He wouldn't shower in the girl's locker room, but he let me get him dressed and he did eventually go to the bathroom.

I'm not quite sure what to do. I refuse to let Jack go into a public restroom by himself, for several reasons. I have this fear of predators hiding in men's rooms waiting for unattended children. I don't even let Sam go to the bathroom by himself, and he's the responsible one. With Jack, even if there wasn't a predator lurking in there, he would happily wash his hands for six hours, possibly stick his head in a urinal, and maybe never come out. He might even forget to pee altogether.

And even though I did it today, I'm not going to make Sam take him. Because, first of all, Sam is not exactly a defense against the evils of a men's room. Nor should it be his responsibility to take care of Jack. That's my responsibility. And if Sam did take him, when Jack got stubborn and refused to do what Sam said—and that would happen sooner or later, probably sooner—Sam is not strong enough or persuasive enough to drag Jack out of the bathroom. And again, nor should he have to be.

I guess my plan now is to wait and hope that the pattern doesn't continue. And to take Jack to the bathroom prior to leaving the house. And then wait to see what little quirks pop up next.

Ah, the adventure of parenthood.

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