The politics of public restrooms

I was at the Chicago History Museum last weekend and about halfway through the Lincoln exhibit (which, if you haven’t been, is surprisingly well-done given the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with, you know, the history of Chicago), I had to use the restroom.

I’m opening the door to the women’s room, and out comes a mother and her son, who was easily 11 years old.

Now, not having any kids of my own, I know I’ll never really understand the logistical challenges of a day out with the kids. And I try my best to sympathize when those challenges crop up (screaming kids in airports, being rammed in back of the legs by a stroller on the El), thinking that as annoying as this is for me, it’s far worse for the parents.

But to me, this kid was way too old to be anywhere near the inside of a women’s room. He actually had acne! And the museum was nearly empty. If we were at Six Flags on a crowded summer day, maybe I’d understand. But I fail to understand why the mother couldn’t have let her son go into the men’s room, which was right next to the women’s room, and waited for him.

My guiding principle here is when your son is old enough to think going into the women’s room is cool, he’s too old to be there.

What do you think: How old is too old to bring your opposite-sex child into a public restroom?

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