On a very hot day recently my husband, *Kyle, decided to take our six-year-old daughter, *Isla, to our local public pool.
While usually I would have gone too (because who doesn’t like swim on a 30C-plus day), on this occasion I was busy and couldn’t.
So, Kyle was solo fathering, and from the pictures I kept receiving in between dips, he seemed to be loving every minute of it.
For the most part, everything was pretty straight forward, just a dad and his child going for a swim in the summer to have some fun and cool off.
But it didn’t stay that way.
After a few hours, Kyle decided that it was time to head off.
He collected the bags and towels and ushered Isla into the men’s change room to have a quick shower and to get dressed.
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When they entered the change room, despite it being busy outside in the pool area, the change rooms were empty and the showers which were often occupied, were not.
Kyle decided that he would grab the opportunity for Isla and himself to have a shower and wash off the chlorine.
He also decided to give her hair a quick wash, something I usually did after a swim to prevent her thick hair becoming ridiculously knotted.
But as they stood together under the water, Kyle helping rinse Isla’s hair, a man in his 50s walked into the change room and saw them.
Immediately, Kyle realised that this stranger was not impressed about what he was witnessing, describing the man’s face turning from a casual expression to one that could only be described as completely disgusted – his eyes narrowing and lips curling into a frown.
As Kyle was about to ask the man if he was OK, the unimpressed man spoke instead:
“Not really the right place for your daughter is it?” He asked in an accusing tone. “This is the male change room, not the female. She shouldn’t be showering like that in here,” he added.
The man’s tone was critical, and it clearly insinuated that there was something wrong and inappropriate in what Kyle was doing – with him and Isla, a father and daughter, showering naked in that change room.
Kyle stood still and in a state of shock at what he had heard, was unable to utter a reply.
The man grunted and walked off into a toilet cubicle. Once he was out of sight Kyle quickly finished showering Isla and himself, got dressed and promptly left, managing to avoid the man as they exited the facility.
‘I BECAME ABSOLUTELY INFURIATED’
Later that evening, Kyle explained to me all of what had transpired.
He then asked me if I thought that him showering naked with Isla was inappropriate in the men’s change room.
He explained that while he hadn’t given it a second thought at the time, that now he was second guessing himself and his decision to do it.
He told me that he was worried that perhaps he shouldn’t have taken her in there and instead worked out an alternative.
While I was also shocked hearing this experience being recounted to me, I was not unsure of Kyle’s decision, I was completely confident that what he did was fine, normal and practical.
Instead, I became absolutely infuriated at this man. Not only was I infuriated that he had made this remark to a father caring for his daughter but infuriated that now my husband was insecure in his own parenting abilities and the decision he made.
“How is a father helping his six-year-old daughter shower in a change room after a swim wrong?” I replied to him. There is nothing inappropriate about it, especially in this particular context.
THE MOST RESPONSIBLE OPTION
The fact is, at this pool, the showers are open – there are no private cubicles, there is no family change room and my daughter is only six years old, too young to be sent off into the female change room by herself at the public pool.
The most responsible option is for her to go with her parent and in this situation, it was her father, it’s as simple as that.
To see the way that this rude, inappropriate and out-of-line remark impacted my husband, a brilliant father who was looking after his daughter made him feel like he was inappropriate made me livid and made me hurt for Kyle too.
I understand that everyone comes with their own views and beliefs and perhaps if Isla was older and could have gone into the female change rooms unsupervised I would have understood where this man was coming from.
But she is a six-year-old girl and nothing about her using a public change room, even if it is the men’s, with her father, is wrong.
This article originally appeared on Kidspot and was reproduced with permission
*Names have been changed