As one daughter is toilet trained and the other looks like starting any day now, my urgent need for public parents rooms is starting to dwindle. I have in the past used these extensively and have to say it was not always a comfortable experience. If I am in a workshop, car yard, toy shop, or any other awesome place that will amuse me for hours I feel right at home, as I am sure lots of dads would be the same. However walking into a parents room, even if it is stone cold empty always gives me the feeling of passing over the 7th gates of hell into a dreary abyss that I have no idea on what I am supposed to do and that i definitely don’t belong too. The sensation does vary on how flashy the room is, the more bling the stronger the feeling.
Walking into a 30yr old shopping centre finding a parents room is a mission in its self, but once I locate the toilet with the stick figure parent holding a bundle of joy on the door and the plastic fold down table, I feel relatively good about myself. Almost a feeling of success that I have progressed far enough in life that I can stroll into this cubical, child in tow, chest puffed out, proud as punch I have joined “the club”. The fact that the room is dirtier than a Sunday afternoon rugby clubs change rooms is beside the point. My child needs to be changed and I have the pass (a child) that stops me being questioned by people’s eyes in society (I know I am imagining all this).
The dodgy 30yr old change rooms are fine, now let’s skip across the tracks to the latest flashy Westfield’s shopping centre just completed in the nice part of town. First time I walked into a new one I dragged my child to the parents room, not because she needed it, but because I wanted to have a look what was behind those sacred doors that I dare not walk through before I had a pass (the child). Honestly it was like entering into a parents wet dream. Carpeted floors, a play area, scalloped benches to stop said child rolling away and hitting the floor, just on this, dropping your child off a change bench in a public place is akin to punching mother Teresa in the head and carries the same scorn looks from mum and dads alike, tip for young players…… Don’t do it!!!! Sorry where was I? That’s right, scalloped benches, large glass panels and chairs, big comfy chairs. The lighting was soft and there was playful music playing through the sound system. I had stumbled into a bad Danoz direct advert.
I was truly amazed at the level of comfort, once I saw the microwave it was too much, second tip for young players: Microwave is for breast milk and other child assorted liquids and pastes, don’t dare think about heating a pack of 2 min noodles or your dodgy lasagna from last night, you will be exiled from the parents room, ok maybe not exiled but the room does get rather hostile and chilly very quickly…… These rooms were heaven and the mums that were in there were guarding it fiercely. It was their haven from the outside world and a man just strolling in and wandering around was not accepted!!!! However add a young child to the picture and the man becomes a dad and the hostilities soften a little. If said dad then manages to change a poo nappy without rolling the child off the bench or heating his lunch in the microwave then he is elevated to awesome status and is instantly accepted into the soft lighting haven. I now enjoy going to these rooms and proudly walk in as if I own the place.
When I see first time dads sneaking into the rooms like a teenage daughter sneaking back into the house after being out all night, I give them a reassuring nod, knowing how they feel and that they too must learn the skills to be accepted and finally comfortable in these parent retreats.