I had an interesting experience in a family locker room recently. Have you seen Mr. Mom? That 1980’s film where Michael Keaton does a disastrous/hilarious job as a stay-at-home dad? Remember the scene in the elementary school parking lot? “You’re doing it wrong!” Well, that was me. Except it wasn’t in a parking lot. It was a locker room. And I was naked.
Here’s the situation – I joined a new gym last month. In addition to the adult men’s and women’s locker rooms, there’s a family locker room. It’s coed, which sounds more weird than it is. The common areas – toilets stalls, sinks and hallways – are coed, but then there are private shower and changing rooms. Additionally there is a “Mother’s Shower Room” that is only for moms and young children. It’s less private (several shower heads on a wall with no partitions), but much more roomy than the tiny shower/changing rooms.
So, it was our second day at the new gym and the kids and I hit the family locker room after the pool. We headed straight to the Mother’s Shower Room, because I wasn’t about to repeat the scene from the previous day when my kids and I shared a shower head in a private shower room. I’ll sacrifice privacy for sanity any day. The kids and I were the only ones in the shower room. Each of us was standing under our own shower head (naked) shampooing our hair. The water was warm, the kids were smiling, likely one of them was even humming a happy tune. I was thinking about the poor suckers with multiple kids squished in the private shower rooms. “They don’t what they’re missing.”
A few minutes in, I looked up and noticed two tween boys standing by the entrance to the shower. Twist. Now, the shower room was not private, so I was expecting other moms and kiddos to join at anytime. But these dudes seemed a little too old to be showering with Mama, let alone somebody else’s Mama. I stared at them… and they stared right back (and up and down). My mind was working over a response – I felt like, “What? Haven’t you ever seen a naked lady?” was inappropriate, but couldn’t seem to come up with an alternative – when their Dad walked in and joined the staring contest. I was quicker on my feet this time, rapidly moving into the fetal position to cover the goods. After a few (too many) seconds of standing there, he ushered his kids out the door as I hollered, “EXCUSE ME! This is the Women’s Shower Room!!”
To which he responded, “No. It’s actually the Men’s Shower Room.”
You’re doing it wrong.
The locker room is not a place I want to do it wrong. I’ve learned my lesson and doubt that I’ll ever botch things up in coed locker room again. But what about the women’s locker room? I just want to be normal and follow protocol. But, from my observation, protocol looks like hiding behind a much too small towel and making every effort to avoid a nip slip or moon landing. And while senseless nudity (i.e. doing makeup or hair in the buff) can be obnoxious, the privacy emphasis seems like overkill.
You know the anonymous naked person who minds her own business? Yeah, that’s what I’m aiming for. Not worried about staying covered, but also not strutting around unnecessarily. Just a normal, practical amount of nakedness.
But, I am wondering what the general consensus is regarding locker room protocol? If you would be so kind, please chime in here. What level of nudity do you think belongs in the locker room?
Also, my new parenting goal: Raise children who, by the age of 10, give me a head’s up if I am about to walk in on a naked man and his naked sons showering. That’s it. That’s what I’ll be focused on for the next 5 years.