This post was inspired by a debate with my wonderful, smart neighbour. Thanks A!
I am not a modest person. Anyone who knows me well knows that to walk in to my house unannounced is to likely walk in on me without pants. I believe and have tried to teach my 6 year old, Leif that our bodies are not something to be ashamed of (and I have a few low cut bar shirts to prove it). However, I think I may not fully grasp a new trend in recreation facilities across Alberta: the Family Change Room.
I remember when I first started bringing Leif to the swimming pool when he was a new baby: I would bring him in to the ladies change room and feel completely normal walking in, getting us both suited up, stowing the car seat by the lockers and going for a swim. And yes, it was a little weird when the Aqua size faction would come over in various stages of undress and coo over the baby, but I moved on. I was not permanently scarred by this, nor do I think Leif was. And yes, it was a little awkward when the Aqua size ladies got to hear Leif ask about my “vagiant” as we got dressed (his words, not mine), but we all got over it.
Little did I know I was really engaging in a modern parenting faux-pas. There was an entire change room for people like me. A place where parents and children change together in loud, crowded, chaotic semi-private, poorly drained pods; and those without kids would feel the freedom of drying their jumblies without the prying, judgemental eyes of babies and toddlers.
I understand there are families that may feel more comfortable all together, or may have one parent to a few children of different genders in which case it makes sense to use the family change room. Or perhaps the family change room doubles as the accessible change room – also makes sense to use it. I can’t imagine that these factors make the experience any more enjoyable, however.
In this place of family changing and togetherness instead of feeling more comfortable I feel more cranky and wet, quite frankly. The stalls are awkward and the shower sprays everywhere. One time when Leif was about 3 he pulled open the door while I was changing and ran out, giving a poor Dad, who was just trying to put a Dora towel in to the lockers a full view of a very angry, very naked me. After that situation I stopped using the family change room altogether and it was back to the relative peace of the ladies room for us.
One time, my family and I went to a goliath water parks in a giant mall. There were a few adults and a few kids, and we were all mixed genders so we thought it might be easier to use the family change rooms. All of the children we were with were too young to change in the male/female rooms by themselves, which I always assumed, was the general rule for the family change room but apparently I was mistaken. Aside from being dirty and littered with vodka bottles (much like my house on a Saturday morning) there were also large sixteen year old boys walking around. Last I checked, if you’re capable of hurtling down a 1000 ft twisty waterslide by yourself you can go in to the regular change room and stop ogling the single moms.
So now, Leif uses the men’s change room, and believe me I get some funny looks as he runs in by himself and then lo and behold emerges on the other side, changed, ready to go and unscarred. I can predict the amount of time it takes him to change to the second, and he doesn’t seem particularly upset about having to change without me, considering he never changes with me anywhere else. And the best part: I get to change in peace because all those pesky kids are in the family change room.
Note from preschool teacher Re: correction to Leif’s anatomical vocabulary
Dear Mrs. Copley
Can you please discuss with Leif the appropriate anatomical terms for the human body. Unless you are suffering from some sort of medical condition I believe his use of the term “vagiant” should be curbed as soon as possible.
Thank you for your consideration