It's such a tightrope walk - such a delicate balance - so difficult to misstep as I try to tell my story without telling too much of Bud's, as I try to seek input and advice and guidance without imposing on my son's right to privacy - and without compromising any of his dignity.
So I hope I am staying on the right side of discretion when I ask this question: What do you do if your son gets to an age where it becomes less appropriate to take him into the women's restroom, if he is not able to manage the men's room on his own?
Obviously, I have a mental list of every "unisex" or "family" bathroom in a fifty mile radius, and when we can, we head for those. But sometimes we can't. Sometimes we're in a place that simply has big, crowded, public restrooms, and one or both of us needs to use them.
Right now, we're still getting away with using the women's room, but with the rate at which he's growing and developing, I know that our days are numbered. Bud will be 10 in September. Pretty soon it won't be okay.
These days when we're in crowded women's rooms, I use the "running monologue" approach. As soon as we enter, I start talking as I steer Bud toward a stall - "Okay, buddy, we're okay, let's head for that big stall over there, you're doing a great job, here we go, right in there, that's great.... now let's go to the sink and let's wash hands, make sure you use soap, okay dry them good, good job, buddy, now we're all done and right out the door." My purpose is twofold: 1) it keeps him focused on the task at hand; and, 2) it says without saying to anyone in earshot, "this is not a typical nine-year-old and we have a valid reason for being in here."
So far, it has worked. But six months from now? A year? Two years? My hope, of course, is that the issue will resolve on its own, and Bud will be able to manage the bathroom experience independently. But if he's not?