Letter to the Editor

Eastern superintendent quickly reacts to mother’s concern

Monday, February 4, 2019

To the Editor:

The superintendent of Eastern Greene Schools, Ted Baechtold deserves some extra praise this week. Back on Friday, January 18, 2019 I attended the Eastern Greene vs Bloomfield Homecoming game at Eastern Greene High School because my younger brother, Eli Boyer, was nominated for King.

I welcomed a precious baby boy, Hudson, into the world on Nov. 14, 2018. I had decided to not take him out in a public setting until he was at least 8 weeks old and receiving his first set of vaccinations. He received those vaccines on Jan. 14, 2019. My husband and I decided this would be Hudson’s first public outing, to go watch his uncle Eli with the rest of our family.

As you can imagine, our first outing was a bit stressful and, as always, I overpacked the diaper bag to try to prepare for every scenario. I packed plenty of diapers and wipes, a changing pad, extra clothing, blankets, burp cloths, and formula. Everything was going great until we had an accident.

With babies, you never quite know what you are going to get. Not long after we got to school, paid admission, and found seats on the bleachers (carefully choosing a section to accommodate the large group we were with as well as thinking of other fans, we sat somewhere that would accommodate Hudson with easy access to get up and down to go to the bathroom to change him or get up and walk with him if he got fussy.)

After finishing a bottle, Hudson has a massive blowout. I am talking the kind that ruins clothing by going up the back and out of the diaper. I grabbed all the supplies I needed: diaper, wipes, a new outfit, even a disposable changing pad so I could just throw it away after we were done changing him. My mother and I went to the bathroom near the main entrance of the gym, this is when I discovered we had a big problem on our hands.

Once I walked in, I noticed my mother was standing in the handicapped accessible stall waving me in there. I was quite confused as to what she was doing. Then, after looking around for a minute or so on every wall of the bathroom, I realized, there was no diaper changing station. I was thinking “How can this be? Well obviously it’s in the large handicapped accessible stalls like some other retail places.” Well, no. I was very wrong. There was no diaper changing station in that bathroom at all. My mother and I had to change my 8 week old baby boy on a dirty, unsanitary bathroom floor. I was furious. So furious that all I could think about was “How is this happening right now?” I had read several articles from various sources about men requesting changing stations in the Men’s bathrooms in public places, which I am totally on board with. However, I never considered the fact that I, a mother, would be so dumbfounded when I walked into a women’s restroom at a large public facility that had no accommodations to change a child.

I realize some think I was probably overreacting, but I strongly disagree. It is 2019. We love in a technologically advanced society, yet mothers and fathers have no way to change their children when they attend functions in public.

The rest of the evening, I chose to change my son on the bleachers behind me, however, these were only wet diapers, much faster and easier to change than dirty, smelly, messy diapers. Not to mention, little boys have a tendency to see how far they can pee and just what they can hit! Also, although I understand he is a baby, I still felt uneasy baring my child in front of such a crowd. The only reason I was able to change him on the bleachers in the first place was because my family was taking up three rows on bleachers. Had I not had my family members sitting behind me, I would have had to have asked a complete stranger to move their feet, possibly their purse, and to try to not be too upset if they got peed on. As you can see, extremely inconvenient, for everyone involved.

After the game was over, my husband, son, and I went home. Before choosing to compose an email full of anger and resentment, I chose to reach out to social media to check with other parents to make sure I was not missing anything. I wanted to make sure there was no diaper changing station, not only at the high school, but I learned there were none at the elementary school or middle school. One mother reached out and shared her story: she is a mother of a daughter who has sports practices and games, but she also has other younger children. When she is there and has to change her children, she has to change them on the bathroom floor. She was not the only one who shared her frustration with me. I had a large number of mothers/grandmothers/sisters/relatives who all agreed: there were no accommodations for changing a child. Many of them use the floor. Come on. How disgusting is that? But when you have no other choice, what are your options? Of course, during warmer weather, changing your child in your vehicle seems like the best option out there. But, why are we subjecting ourselves to such a low standard, especially for our children. They deserve better.

After receiving such information, I decided to reach out to the superintendent of Eastern Greene and express my concern. The next morning I had an email response from Ted Baechtold, apologizing for the inconvenience and unhealthy situation and that he would look into getting accommodations in place. And that, is exactly what he did.

Today, I received another email from Mr. Baechtold that brought the wonderful news that the diaper changing stations had been installed at the high school in the bathroom near the gymnasium entrance, but not only in the women’s bathroom, a changing station was installed in the men’s bathroom as well. I have such an appreciation for this man and his overwhelming commitment to the Eastern Greene Community and its members. It was less than two weeks from the time I emailed and the installation took place. Mr. Baechtold also followed up by saying he is working on implementing them in the Elementary and Middle school as well, but the high school accommodations were completed first, but the other schools will have them for sure.

If other schools and/or businesses in our community do not have diaper changing stations, I can only request you install them. Silence gets nothing done, let your voice be heard. I did. One simple, well composed email led to a big, beneficial change.

Again, I just want Mr. Ted Baechtold, superintendent of Eastern Greene, to be recognized for this kind gesture and his commitment to this community and truly listening to the members of our community. As a mother, an alumni, and a member of this community, I thank you!

Riley Good