Manners Matter: Bathroom Protocol for Kids Outside

Dear Mary Pat,

We were enjoying a picnic lunch at the Sister Bay beach when two little boys stopped right in front of our blanket, dropped their swim trunks and urinated into the sand at the edge of the water (facing away from us). I was startled because they weren’t small toddlers – maybe three and four – and their parents were not right there with them. I turned around; the mom and dad were about 15 feet behind our blanket and saw what was going on. The fact that they didn’t run over to scoop them up in an effort to take the boys to the public toilets led me to believe that this was a common practice for them.  

I’m sorry, but I don’t think you should let your children drop their drawers just anywhere to pee in the sand. If they were too lazy to walk to the bathrooms, they could have at least helped their children find a more discreet spot. I don’t want to walk in someone else’s urine, and it’s inconsiderate of others around you. 

Just so we are clear: My issue isn’t with the children, but with the parents. Unlike their sons, they are obviously old enough to know better.


Peeved with the Parents

Fish Creek, Wisconsin

Dear Peeved with the Parents,

Potty training is challenging, and it’s better to encourage children to go when nature calls versus having an accident. That being said, I do agree that this situation wasn’t appropriate. If these boys were already fully potty trained, then they should tell their parents when it’s time for them to find a bathroom. If they are still potty training, then it’s up to the mom and dad to ask them frequently whether they have to go. Granted, it’s not necessarily convenient or easy.

Apart from the less-than-sanitary aspects of this situation, parents sadly have to consider that predators could be around. Ninety-nine percent of the people on the beach wouldn’t harm a child, and of that 99 percent, maybe only 10 percent of the people nearby even noticed this happen.  Still, a little prudence goes a long way in looking out for a child. 

Good luck,

Mary Pat