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Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Thing a Single Mom Can't Teach Her Son

My wife and I agree that parenting is the toughest job we've ever had. I can only imagine the exponential magnitude of the challenge for a single parent of either gender. 

I applaud and I'm humbled by any single parent who's working to keep their family clothed, fed, sheltered and together.

However, there is one thing that I witnessed first hand several months ago that has left an impression on me about the value of two parents raising a child.

This has to do with something that occurred in a public men’s room where a little boy, possibly four or five years old, walked in seeming very clueless to men’s room etiquette.  Typically a boy that young is escorted by an adult male who helps out.

In this instance, the boy was alone and was wandering around for a little bit.  I was the only other person in there.

I was washing my hands at the sink and getting ready to leave, when I noticed in the mirror that the boy stopped in front of one of the wall mounted urinals. He had not begun to do his "business" but rather he reached his hand into urinal and removed one of the sanitizing discs FROM the urinal and brought it up to his nose to smell it. 

I'd never seen this boy in my life. He wasn’t my son. But I freaked out a bit when I told him to drop the compacted cake of moth ball crystals that untold gallons of urine had washed over.

I then regained composure and ushered him over to the sink to wash his hands. I explained that those were very dirty and he should never touch them. I asked him where his daddy was, but he said he didn't have one.

He further explained that this was the first time he’d gone to the bathroom in public by himself – his mom always took him with her into the ladies' room but she felt he was too big to do it any longer. He said he'd never seen a toilet hanging on a wall before and said it looked like a "funny drinking fountain."

My heart broke a bit for this little boy and his mother. 

I gave him verbal instructions on using the lower-mounted urinal just like he'd use his toilet at home. Then I exited the bathroom. I found a woman pacing outside the restroom - I assumed it was his mother.

I asked if that was her boy inside and she said yes, I told her what had occurred and that she might want to use anti-bacterial hand gel when he came out since he couldn't reach the sink. She seemed very grateful, yet embarrassed.  I told her she was doing a great job raising an articulate and smart young man on her own.  

That moment continues to linger with me as a pointed example of the different needs and roles that only a mother and father can fill in the lives for their children. Again, I applaud any and all single parents who are raising a family, but I'm saddened that instances like this bathroom episode occur as a result.

Question: Do you think it matters whether or not a child has both a mom and dad actively engaged in their life?

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