Terry SanchezMy son turned 8 earlier this month, putting him well past the age I used to think I'd let him enter a public restroom by himself. Each year that passes though, I still just can't do it and drag him -- now red and embarrassed -- into the ladies' room with me. Horror stories like this one out of Louisiana make me uncertain I'll ever be able to let him go alone ... at least with any peace of mind.
Last Friday evening a 12-year-old boy entered the restroom of a Burger King around 7:30 p.m. in Thibodaux, Louisiana. There he was allegedly raped by a 51-year-old man, Terry Joseph Sanchez. There his life was forever marred in those terrifying moments.
How it could happen is unimaginable. It was 7:30 p.m. where likely plenty of people were just feet away chowing down on Whoppers. He wasn't a toddler; he was 12. So many parts of this story blow away any kind reasoning I typically see in stories where I can tell myself this would never happen to my kid. This could happen to anyone.
Of course, bad things happen, and we can't prevent them all or suck all the enjoyment out of life trying. But public restrooms are just one of those places where the unthinkable can and does happen, and I can't bring myself to let my son enter one by himself. Of course, I worry about over-sheltering him and fostering unreasonable fears in him, but when I see stories like this, I feel like that's the lesser of the evils.
He's already fighting me on it, and protests loudly when he has to go with me into the women's room. And I can see the looks -- especially from older ladies -- who think he has no business in there. I rejoice when I see family restrooms or "one-person potties" as we call those that are just a single room instead one filled with stalls.
I know I'm eventually going to have to give in on this one, just like I'll eventually have to let him spend the night at a friend's house, cross the street by himself, drive, and plenty of other frightening and potentially dangerous things we have to let our kids do. But when it comes to entering the men's room alone ... maybe next year.
How old do you think is old enough for a boy to enter a men's public restroom by himself? Do stories like this change your mind?
Image via Thibodaux Police Dept.