Public Restrooms and Other Parenting Problems

URINE: waste material that is secreted by the kidney in vertebrates, is rich in end products of protein metabolism together with salts and pigments, and forms a clear amber and usually slightly acid fluid in mammals but is semisolid in birds and reptiles

It’s sunny in Seattle.  A couple of families from Son’s school were heading to a local lake to swim yesterday, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I’ve lived in Seattle for years but never taken myself or the kids swimming at our urban man-made lake.  When I told Son and Daughter about our plans, Son looked confused.   He clarified, “You can swim in lakes?”  Poor northwest urban kid.  Yes, you can.  On approximately 17 days a year.

The day was a success.  Both Son and Daughter were more adventurous in the water than I expected.  Daughter (3) even announced that she wanted to jump off the high-dive.  She changed her mind when I told her fish floaties weren’t allowed beyond the ropes.  Toward the end of our afternoon, Son announced that he needed to pee.  I responded with a loving, “How bad?”

Answer: Bad.

We hustled to the ladies room to find a line of about 20 women extending beyond the entry door.  I have no idea how many more were inside, but it didn’t look promising for an urgent pee situation.

I explained to Son that the line for the bathroom was really long and that if he couldn’t wait ten minutes, this one time it was acceptable to swim out in the lake and just pee in his swim suit.  I figured at least 40-percent of the kids swimming in the lake had already done so.  What was the harm in another ¼ cup?  Son was not impressed with my suggestion.

He looked me in the eye and announced firmly, “That is disgusting.  I will not do that!”

Son is five.  I take him in the women’s restroom with me when Husband isn’t around.  I’ve never sent him in to a public men’s restroom alone.  But I was left with the choice between trying to make something wrong sound right or giving him a crash-course in city-savvy bathroom procedures.

We hurried around to the men’s restroom (no line…of course!) as I told him the basics:

Go into a stall.

Pee as fast as you can.

If anyone talks to you or makes you nervous, yell “Mom!” as loud as you can.

Wet your pants if you have to, but run out of there if anything looks or feels unsafe.

Everything turned out fine.  But, I confess that I would have preferred he pee in the lake.


10 thoughts on “Public Restrooms and Other Parenting Problems

  1. We find a nice tree to “water” in these situations. My son actually likes it better than the washrooms, and the only problem with that is trying to explain why you can’t do it in the winter… 🙂

    1. I’m all for watering trees (it’s one of the advantages of having boys, I figure). Sadly, all the obvious choices were surrounded by picnic blankets and I wasn’t prepared to say “Excuse me, could you move your potato salad for a brief moment?” Tempted. But not quite that bold. 🙂

  2. It would hard to explain why you can’t pee in the pool but you can pee in the lake! My son is almost 4 and when he’s swimming and has to go, he runs over to the grass, takes his swim trunks completely off, spreads his legs as far as he can and does his business, within full view of whoever is swimming with us. I’m dreading the day when I have to send him into the men’s room by himself.

  3. Thanks for the laugh. My son is happy to pee anywhere outdoors that I let him- not that I turn him loose outside and say, “Have at it, my boy!” Our problem is the loudness of the hand driers at Target after he pees.

  4. Here’s how I got around the issue of why it’s ok (sort of) for The Kid to pee in the ocean (or lake) but not the pool. “Fish pee in the ocean so you can too!” Everything was fine until I noticed The Kid taking a break from sand castle building standing only up to his ankles at the ocean’s edge, legs slightly spread, with a stream of urine coming down. As I was at a distance from The Kid, I had to supress the urge to shout, “Wade in farther before you pee!” Ah, the subtleties of ocean peeing etiquette…

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