Kids and public restrooms

Remember the yearly discussions about what to do about Santa? I took them over to the Christmas site. Last week it was what you tell your kids about Santa, and this week is how to deal with your child's belief in Santa ending.

Today's question is from Andrea, who writes:

"How do you handle it when you are out with your boys and they need to use the washroom? Or you do? My 5-year-old son recognizes the Men and Women symbols and sometimes refuses to go into the bathroom with me. Obviously I do not want him going to the men's bathroom without me. Equally obvious is that I do not want to go into the men's bathroom either...."

My kids are old enough, and there are two of them, for me to send them into a public restroom together. I'm still standing right outside the door, talking to them the whole time, but they know they have to stick together. Since they're usually punching each other the entire time they're in the restroom, it's easy to keep track of them and know that they're not being approached by anyone.

But it's harder when you only have one. And when that one is young enough that you don't want to go into WHY you are apprehensive about their being alone in the men's restroom.

The trick I have heard (and used when my older one was going into restrooms alone when his brother wasn't) is to have your child count or sing a song the entire time they're in the bathroom. You can stand outside and listen to the counting or the song, and if the child stops you can rush in.

Does anyone have other ideas? This is a headscratcher, but is time-delineated, so at least there's that.