A friend of mine recently visited the Mall of the Americas AMC Theater with her 9 year old son.
She was told by an employee that he was too old to go into the ladies' restroom with her.
At first glance, I understand the policy. My child is 9 years old and he goes, by himself, into the men's room.
As a family policy, we've decided that he can articulate any safety concerns to us, we are right outside the door, and I have another kid that I can send in to "check" on him. That seems reasonable, right?
But there are real problems with such a policy on a corporate level.
Kids 5 and Up May Be Too Young
The policy at that particular theater is that kids under 5 may go to the restroom with an opposite sex parent.
I'm imagining Loki at age 5, surrounded by grown men who are strangers to him, trying to get the toilet paper unstuck. I am picturing him having seizures and forgetting where he is, without his older brother or mom or dad to guide him out.
No chance of a good outcome.
Actually, forget about age 5. What about now that he is older?
Kids May Have Exceptionalities That Mandate An Adult Companion
With epilepsy, Loki gets lost in familiar places. He forgets why he is there or what he is doing. He could fall and hurt himself during a seizure, or even just as a side effect of a seizure.
Even at school, he always has a bathroom buddy. The teachers escort him through the halls. 99% of the time, he doesn't need the extra help. The rest of the time, he does need it.
I love Loki's school. If a teacher messed up, in good faith, and he got lost for a second, I'm not going to be the mean lawyer mommy storming the castle. I'll reeducate the teachers, know they are humans, and KNOW they care about Loki. The school has worked tirelessly to demonstrate that love. I would show them mercy and understanding.
But if the movie theater mandated that he go alone to the bathroom and he got hurt or lost. I would sue them so fast. After all, they are not caring for my kid (or, really, the others in the restroom with him) by sending him in alone.
(Understand, my friend ignored the theater's rule and this Momma Bear would, too. But IF it happened, in hypothetical land...)
My friend's kid? He has some exceptionalities that derived from a significant seizure episode. He needed his mom.
There are laws that protect those with disabilities and do not require disclosure of a disability by the patron. That is the theater's legal issue to address, instead of addressing the non-issue of a 5 year old boy entering a stall with his mom.
No One Cares
Seriously, if mom or dad is present and properly supervising any age child or an adult with disabilities, NO ONE OBJECTS.
The theaters around the country are not getting a rash of calls about little kids going into the bathroom with mommy or daddy.
Honestly, the objection probably came from the theater out of worries about unescorted teenagers or as a result of politics regarding gender identity.
Those issues are better dealt with with compassion and with family or gender-neutral restrooms.
Nobody is calling the theater to complain that a 9 year old boy went to the restroom with his mom or that an 8 year old girl went into the men's room after dad checked that no one was at the urinals.
(Speaking of, at least women's restrooms have private stalls. What's a dad to do?)
If you agree with this post, please consider Tweeting it with the tag @amctheatres so that they can consider a more reasonable policy for the safety and dignity of their guests.
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