Last summer I took my girls to a new playground in another part of town where they splashed in a play “river.” Trying to keep cool, I sat on a bench in the shade next to a water fountain. Despite the blistering New York in August heat, we were having a lovely time — until a little girl squatted next to me and urinated beside the water fountain.
If this had been a tiny tot who didn’t know any better, I might not have been as disturbed. But the girl was maybe 5 and her parents encouraged her to pee right there in public. I was tempted to say something to the parents, but I didn’t want to start a fight. And quite honestly, I was speechless.
When did it become okay for kids to pee in public? In this case, it was not only rude, but also incredibly unsanitary and unhygienic — she was urinating right next to the water fountain and not far from the rest of the playground.
Apparently, I’m not the only one grossed out by this trend of public peeing. Over at The Stir, K. Emily Bond writes:
Isn’t it just a bit uncouth to lean your recently potty-trained toddler over curbs, shrubbery, and boutique shoe stores to pee? Yes, public peeing.
They’re toddlers, not street vagrants or dogs. What’s with this public urination trend that’s taking over my city? I’ve even seen some parents cradling their kids’ butts in such a way that they can poop in public!
Thank goodness I haven’t had to witness a child defecate in public. I don’t think I can handle that. After all, I can’t even stomach the sight of a diaper change on a table at a Dunkin Donuts.
Bond blames the public pooping and peeing on premature potty training. I don’t think that’s the problem. Rather, I think it’s a case of parental entitlement. It’s this sort of behavior that gives today’s parents a bad name.
I know it’s tricky when your kid has to go and there’s not a bathroom in sight. Believe me, I’ve been there. If you happen to be in the woods, feel free to tell your kid to squat by a tree. But if you’re out in public, please make the extra effort to find a bathroom — even if it means packing up your stuff and leaving the playground (yes, there should be more public bathrooms, but that’s another story). And don’t forget to bring a change of clothes in case of accidents.
I’ve seen some folks who bring a kid size “port-o-potty” to the park with them. That might be the best compromise. Their child is learning not to pee or poop anywhere they like and the parents don’t have to frantically search for a bathroom.
I know a lot of parents will disagree with me on this point (including my fellow Strollerderby blogger John). But I wonder at what age is it no longer okay to urinate or defecate in public? As a city dweller, I’ve seen adults do it and believe me, it’s pretty nasty.