Cathy asks: If you’ve got any advice for parents of teens turning into young adults, what would you share? A beneficial bathrooming tip? A sound shopping suggestion? A clever communication cue? Share something you’ve experienced in the comments below. Want to just vent instead? Share that in a comment also. I love that on the good days we can learn from each other. I also love that on the bad days we can just be an ear to listen.
By Cathy Jameson
This was a first: I had to ask a security guard to watch a door for me today. Ronan and I were about to head home from an appointment, but I needed to use the bathroom. It would be an almost 2-hour trip for us. With two cups of coffee in me, there was no way could I make it home without having to stop. Easily, I could pull over into one of the stores along our route home, but sometimes Ronan doesn’t like to go in stores. It would be better for both of us if I used the bathroom at the older clinic. I couldn’t find a family bathroom in the building we were in though. The only women’s bathroom I knew of had 4 stalls in it. Usually, I just take Ronan in with me, but this time, I worried. While short for his age, Ronan’s a teenager now. He’s not a little boy anymore. Bringing him into a women’s bathroom in a public place could get us more angry stares than looks of compassion.
Standing in the hallway needing to make a decision, I saw a young security guard and asked where I might find a family bathroom. “Oh, you won’t find one in this building yet.” I said, “That’s going to be a problem – he (pointing to Ronan) needs to come in with me. I can’t leave him unattended.” Without hesitating or judging, or wasting any time, the guard said, “Ma’am, there’s a bathroom over here to the left. Check if anyone is in there. If it’s empty, go. I’ll stand at the door make sure no one goes in until you both are out.”
Speechless, I took Ronan’s hand and walked into the ladies’ room. I didn’t have to, but I’ve never peed faster than I did that day!
Washing up, I said to Ronan, "Okay, buddy. Your turn. Then we can get on the road.” As I pushed the bathroom door open, the security guard was standing right outside in the hallway as he said he would. I smiled and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much for your help.” He said I shouldn’t think anything of it. But I did. Our kids are growing up. Many of us moms won’t be able to take our teenage sons into ladies’ bathrooms without being given the stink eye, being questioned, or worse – being stopped from entering.
For my son, he doesn’t look typical – he usually wears noise-cancelling headphones, he's got blue-tinted glasses to block out bright lights, he's got a slow pace and an odd gait. Right now, all of that is on our side. But I can see that for other teenage boys with special needs who’ll grow up into strapping young men with special needs, it very much could be a problem. It will be a problem for the boys, and it will be a problem for their moms when they can't find a family restroom.
My problem was solved today thanks to a kind soul who thought quickly. For those random strangers who understand and who help instead of hinder, thank you. That kindness will always be appreciated.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.
If you’ve got any advice for parents of teens turning into young adults, what would you share? A beneficial bathrooming tip? A sound shopping suggestion? A clever communication cue? Share something you’ve experienced in the comments below. Want to just vent instead? Share that in a comment also. I love that on the good days we can learn from each other. I also love that on the bad days we can just be an ear to listen.