Friday, November 17, 2006


Recalling a freak out moment...

I was just reading a post by Northern Girl about feeling all weird and uncomfortable about going to the loo when a male was in the Ladies and using the other cubicle. (Open door - ewww!)

That story slammed back the memory of a real freak out moment I had, as a parent, back in July this year.

As a background to my paranoia, the most gut wrenching and awful murder had been in the news only a few days beforehand, and parents round the country were reeling from it. An 8 year old girl had been in a shopping centre in Perth with her uncle and a brother. She'd skipped off to go to the Ladies - and never came back. They got worried, and a search finally found her body in the Disabled toilet. She had been raped and brutally murdered.

I'm pretty sure I speak for most parents in that we are always extra vigilant about our kids going to the loos in public parks and the like. But I know that in a big shopping centre I have let my kids - as young as 6 or 7 even - go to the toilet themselves. Shopping centre, lots of people around... always well lit, etc etc. Surely it's safe. No wonder the Australian public were in shock.

I tried not to let the above case make me ridiculously paranoid... and just determined to be a bit more watchful of them when they used public toilets anywhere. Any parent knows that eternal dilemma about letting the apron strings out (and when) despite all the godawful stories you hear.

Days later, at the beginning of school holidays, we travelled down to Newcastle for Caitlin's rep netball (State Age)... Cait wasn't with us, she was with the team, so it was just Marc, me and the younger two (then 7 and nearly 11).
We'd booked into a motel attached to a pub with a bistro, and we went to the bistro for dinner.
Like many pubs, the family bistro dining area is separate, but adjacent to the public bar. We were eating our dinner, and the girls needed to go to the loo.. so.. watching the door of the Ladies from.. oh.. maybe 15 metres away (max).. I continued my meal, talking to Marc. I can't remember now but I may have even been telling him about my paranoia about letting them go to the loo themselves since that awful event. He had been away overseas, and then away locally (we had actually had to drive down and meet him at this place at the end of a work field trip) so he tended to miss out on a lot of current affairs.

Next thing Alison comes out of the loos, without Zoe, shaking her wet hands, and she says to me "There's a man in the toilets!"

OMG, I don't think I have ever moved so fast.

I met Zoe on the way out, and they filled me in. There had been a man standing outside the stalls talking on mobile phone, but he wasn't there anymore. I went through.. it turned out there were two entrances to the toilets.. one from the bistro, and one from the public bar - and each entrance had its own basin area.. but the stalls were common.

There was no man there anymore. He had obviously taken a call on his phone in the bar.. couldn't hear, and absentmindedly walked into the wrong toilets in an attempt to get somewhere quiet.

My stomach was churning, though, and I had the tears welling up. I had to do something, so I went to the bar, and reported it. "In the light of recent events, I just thought you should know..." The poor security guy was sent on a wild goose chase, and I knew it wasn't achieving anything.. but I still didn't stop shaking for a while.

I think Marc thought I was over-reacting. Maybe it was just a mother thing. Maybe he was more numb to it because he hadn't been in the country when that particular news story broke.

We did talk to the girls about handling weird situations like that though. Told them if they ever EVER saw a man in any Ladies loos to just turn and run and get one of us. Even if they are busting. And to always go with someone. 99% of the time it will be as innocuous a reason as our experience. But don't take chances.

And so you have to let them continue to go to the loos in "safe" places... They need to grow up being able to be reasonably independent, but with some street 'smarts'. By the time they are in high school (or younger) they might be going away on school or sport trips. And you won't be there to hold their hand every inch of the way.

And men should watch which bloody toilets they go into so they don't send women prematurely grey.


I'm sure I don't need to tell you - you'll remember - how this story affected me. Still does, truth be told. And we still haven't been told what's going to happen to the accused.
Yes I do remember Karen. I'd have even linked to it but it was your old diary I think. I really felt for you.. and then I went and got the anxiety thing happening with that little incident.

Sometimes the only way to cope with that stuff is to take the supremely rational approach.. By the time your kids are the age mine are now, you'll have heard a whole heap of horror stories that you will have taken in with a different set of ears, almost, because now you aren't just somebody's daughter... you're somebody's mother as well. Takes it all to a new level. Not that you don't care before.. it's just even more intense.
Holy sh*t. Sorry - that shocked me. I didn't even THINK that a man could be in the wrong bathroom for nefarious reasons...

but then, there have been similar situations that resulted in kidnappings and such. I need to get my head out of the sand.

Thanks for sharing this 'freakout' moment.
I am a total freak out. My kids are getting older and I am trying to equip, not freak out. It is a tough transition.

Found you at Micellaneous-mum, found her at very mom. Nice to read ya!!
I guess I'm lucky, as my 8 yr old son can last hours without needing to go to the toilet. We've probably had to use public toilets twice and that was on holidays. And he's still young enough to take to the ladies' with me.

How about this though...he's made a best friend at school whose parents I don't know. Quite frankly I don't fancy letting him go play at their house without me there. And I don't like the idea of the other child being at our house without one of his parents, just in case anything was ever taken out of context. Am I being overcautious?
Twice? You either don't go out, or that's some touring tank.

I know I don't have to worry about it with all girls, but at what age does it not become appropriate for boys to go in the Ladies ?
We go out, yes. But as an example, he had a school sleepover the other week, and when he went to the toilet when he got home around 9am, he said he hadn't been since before they went ten pin bowling which must have been around 7pm. Melbourne Cup day, he went at home around 11am before going to my boyfriend's parents' place and he didn't go again until about 7pm that night, two or three hours after we got home.
janjanmom, I agree, it's a rough transition. We live fairly close to the school, and our neighbour has a path to the alley which then makes the walk a mere jump from the door. Recently we've had notices from the school division come home, about a pedophile that hasn't been caught (tried to nab a 5 year old) and so despite the fact that one of my older children was actually walking a neighbor to school when she was 10, I feel I have to watch my youngest get to school safely even though he is now 10. Logic tells me anyone could be in an alley waiting in a vehicle and what chance does even a 10 year old have after that? Damn pedophile freaks. They should punish them when caught, by sticking them in a room full of mothers! Better hell than jail any day.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?