In October, Logan turned 8. Which by the rules of the pool where he has his swimming lessons it means that he can no longer change in the female changing rooms. This is a pool affiliated with a school, so it is not used to day to day swimming and so therefore has no family changing rooms or cubicles and it is all open changing like in a school gym.
Here’s the thing, I hate it. I think it’s important to say I have nothing but good things to say about the pool where Logan swims, I think the lessons and teachers are excellent. This is also not a policy specific to their pool, I have seen it displayed in many different pools. But to me, 8 just seems too young to be responsible for changing by yourself. He’s only been doing this for a few weeks, but so far Logan has managed to lose a swimming hat and pair of goggles (about £20 worth). But I also have a number of concerns:
- The changing room is unsupervised, other than some Dads who are changing with their children, but I don’t know them and the teachers are out teaching the next lesson.
- I cannot go into the changing room – so if he’s mucking about, behaving inappropriately, I cannot go in to look after and educate my child. A couple of times I have actually had to send Aria in for him.
- He is left unchaperoned with Dads I don’t know. He is naked, he thinks waggling his willy about is hilarious, you know he’s 8, but the other men in there aren’t DBS checked.
- He keeps losing things, it’s driving me crackers.
- He’s not old enough to know what’s appropriate, to behave responsibly all of the time. As this pool there was an issue in the boy’s changing room of boys putting people’s clothes deliberately in the wet while they were swimming. It’s been resolved now but I think it does highlight part of the issue I am trying to discuss.
When I put this on my Facebook though, some friends had some great counter arguments, and I am always happy to educated. Personally, I think 8 is too young and think 10 would be a more appropriate age. Another friend thinks that 10 is too old.
A consideration is of course the older girls in the changing rooms, at what age do they start to feel self conscious about boys being in the changing rooms with them? My daughter is only 5, so we haven’t reached this stage yet. At 8, Logan really doesn’t care, but I know it will come at some stage. I know for these girls they need to be given a measure of dignity and respect when they want to change. With no cubicles for them, this is a big issue.
I know that Logan needs to learn responsibility for both his things and behaviour. I know now that he is in juniors now and he needs to learn more independence, and as a mother my role is to teach him that in order to prepare him for life. But I can’t get let go of the fact that in many respects he is still very young to me, young to be naked and vulnerable in front of other adults unsupervised. Young to be left unsupervised full stop.
I have spoken to the swim school and they are unequivocal in their rules and I don’t want to move my children to somewhere else. For now I am going to send Logan swimming in swim shorts with a onesie over the top and then he only needs to put the onesie on quickly when he is dry. Less faff and less items to be responsible for. This seems to be the best solution that I can come up with.
I do think we sexualise children far too early and personally think that 8 is too young, but perhaps I will change my mind when my daughter is older? 8 seems to be a pretty standard age after a bit of googling. So I suspect as with most things in parenting, it’s a case of adapting and learning to let go.