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public toilets vs newly potty trained girls and boys

Do you know what this is? 

A public toilet? Wrong. It is the enemy.  

It is especially the enemy of newly potty trained boys and girls, who are completely inept and unready to battle it. As are the parents.  

Back in the early days with Crappy Boy, I couldn't wait for him to no longer use diapers. To be diaper free! 

Diaper free sucks.

Don't fall for that potty training propaganda. Keep them in diapers as long as possible. 

This is what it was like to take Crappy Boy to a public bathroom when he was very newly potty trained...


So I take him into the women's bathroom. Because I'm a woman. This means there are no urinals. Just a single toilet like the drawing above.  

The first mistake I make is that I lift the seat. Which reveals this:

And I didn't really need to see that. 

The problem with boys is that they pee standing up. 

The reason this is a problem is due to the height of an average potty training boy versus the height of an average public toilet:

Either the toilet is a tad too high, or it matches up perfectly so that the tip of his penis will make direct contact with the disease caked rim of the bowl. Lovely. 

And so I have to help make him taller:

By picking him up and dangling him in front of the toilet. 

Have you ever peed while being dangled in the air? Me neither.

He physically can't pee this way. Plus my arms are getting tired. 

So I use my knee to give him a little seat to perch on:

And this doesn't work either. 

Finally, he puts his feet down on the toilet bowl rim:

And we have pee!

(And now people finally understand why we are a shoes-off household. Because even though I didn't draw shoes, believe me, he has them on to protect from foot herpes.)

Right around this time, I get together with a friend who has a child the same age as mine. We commiserate about potty training and I whine about penis to toilet bowl height. She has a daughter.

She is a good friend so I make fun of her endlessly for this recent addition to her mama supplies:

Especially since she was the one who spent an entire trimester of her pregnancy carefully deciding which fancy designer mama bag to get. 

The bag that now carries a toilet. 

But on this particular occassion, she doesn't have it with her. Probably because I tease her too much.

I have to go to the bathroom to wash my hands and her daughter has to pee. So I offer to take her. 

She wishes me "good luck" and hums a smug little happy song as we walk away. I roll my eyes, thinking she has no idea how much harder it is to take a boy to the bathroom. Her daughter will be a cinch. 

When we get into the bathroom though, it occurs to me that her little girl can't masterfully squat above the toilet seat without touching it like I can. 


The toilet seat cover dispenser is empty. But this doesn't scare me. I remember back before those were common in bathrooms so I know what to do. 

I get to work making a toilet paper patchwork quilt on the seat. 

I have to work very fast because she is doing the pee dance already. 

I help pull down her underwear to her ankles and start to plop her on the toilet. 

And then realize that she will just fall straight in if I let go:

Why is her butt so tiny? This is no good. 

Oh, I see the problem!  Her underwear can't be on both ankles because she needs to spread her legs to anchor herself and balance.

So I slip it over one shoe and leave it around the other ankle. I continue to hold her steady. 

And we have pee! 

I did it! Take that, friend with a daughter. I totally handled this.

As I'm patting myself on the back, I notice her foot. The one with the underwear clinging to it. It is swinging. 

With two little shakes, the underwear slips over her shoe:

And it falls onto the sticky, urine laquered floor. Inside out. The part that touches her parts is contaminated.  

We walk back.

With weighted shoulders of defeat, I hand my friend the underwear:


I will never again make fun of the toilet in her fancy purse. 

And in return, she agreed to not say "I told you so" anymore. 

We made a truce and joined forces. The public toilet is the enemy! 

There is no competition for who has it worse when it sucks for everyone.

And it does. Oh yes, it does.





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You guys should just be happy your kids will even consider using a public toilet. Those stupid autoflush toilets have essentially ruined proper public urination for both my boys.

I'm teaching my son to pee sitting down. That's all there is to it. I've done the girl potty training thing and I think I've got it mastered. But the whole standing and aiming thing? No way.

LMAO this is SO funny and hilarious and spot on and just awesome! You are my hero.

Yes! I have four girls. I friggin hate the stage where I have to carry the extra potty seat around with me. One of my girls actually learned to straddle the potty and pee on it sitting backwards out of desperation.

Yes! My daughter is terrified of those! And hand dryers.

Well now I know how to take my son to the bathroom! Course he won't be needing this for 2-3 years, but still - I don't remember how my dad took me at that age.

One time I was in a public bathroom and I saw a little boy struggling to use the urinal. As a good samaritan, I wanted to help the little guy, but as an adult male, I knew how bad that would look to help him out. When I was leaving the bathroom, I saw him grabbing onto the rim of the urinal and pulling himself up so that he could pee into it. I sincerely hope he washed his hands.

This is very true. My son's parts happen to be the same height as the toilet. This leads to peeing on tip-toe with parts resting on the bowl! ugh! And yet he told me he needed to pee and then he I am happy as well as disgusted.

AH, but that is super hard to do! They have to point their penis down otherwise it shoots straight out in front of them! Very tricky and complicated.

So funny I could pee! Oh, wait.... ;)

LOL! I thought I was the only one who had my boys stand on the seat. Really, it's the only way...

Before my son was tall enough to pee in the toilet without propping his penis on the bowl, I made him taller by making him stand on my feet. That gave him the few inches he needed to have clearance!

I have found it's just easier to let boys sit on the toilet when they're still small enough that bowl height could be a problem, this is also useful because sometimes I'm told, "No, My don't hafta poopoo" and out comes a little poo while he's peepeeing.

We do that too! It really IS the only way when they are tiny.

Couldn't be more true!
I used to keep my niece, and I dreaded having to take her to a public toilet. I would only make the quickest of trips and make sure she pottied before we left...But of course, it didn't always work.
I have a little boy now, and I am only just now beginning to contemplate the horror taking him to a public potty...thanks for that thought today!

This post couldn't have happened at a better time. I locked myself away in my house with my son from Friday until today to potty train, and we visited our first public restroom today. Although I must say the bathroom was spotless (thank you again, Costco), let's just say it wasn't smooth sailing. I forgot how long of a process this whole potty training thing is.

I sooooo feel your pain, BOTH of you! I have a 9 yr old son and a 5 yr old daughter. And now, I have the added joy of having to take my guessed it, one boy and one girl! That dang potty seat is NEVER leaving my backpack!!

The only thing that makes this worse is when you're finished laying all the toilet paper on the seat and then reach for some to wipe.. and uhoh.... You can't let go - baby will fall in. You can't go get some - Baby will fall in. It's poop - You cant NOT wipe.. You are literally up shit creek in a public toilet.

I agree it is easier to keep them in diapers! I too once carried a toilet with me, it could fold up and I could clean it at home. I also had some seats that you could stick on and throw away. I still use the tp covering that you so masterfully drew. I let my boys stand on my feet so they could reach and I covered the toilet with paper in the front. Public bathrooms are unpleasant. I dread when we are away and they need to go number 2

Around here we also have the added fear of the "loud potty" (versus a "quiet potty"). In airports where the toilet commonly is one of those loud-sucking-you-in-automatic-flush kind of potty, we often carry noise canceling head phones. Quite the scene.

Hilarious! I have 2 potty trained girls and I'm putting off training my boy as long as I can! My biggest problem with the girls is that they are terrified of the auto flush toilets! Have you encountered this?

Put a post-it note over the sensor and the auto flush wont flush until you remove it! (a friend gave me this tip when my oldest was potty training.)

Yes, those are the worst.

If you put a sticky note over the little sensory it will keep it from flushing too soon. :)

I totally agree - diapers for as long as possible! I haven't gone as far as a potty in my purse, but we do keep one in the back of our van. I feel a little ridiculous when non-parents see it, but they just don't know!

Oh it gets better....then you have 2 kids. Which means one is crawling around on the urine caked floor while you are trying to get the other one to pee, all while trying really hard not to think about all the germs they're picking up.

My daughter used to be terrified of the autoflush toilets. Now they are "magic"....she still hates the hand dryers though. :/

On the recommendation of a friend of mine. Post-Its. Put over the autoflush part and it will no longer flush at whimsy. Of course, since your boys are already petrified, perhaps this won't work!

Hahaha! Great minds think alike.

This is freakin' hilarious and oh so true!!

My girls were laughing hysterically. Ah, you forgot to mention the automatic flushing toilets! My kids' worst fear...(and I'm short, so I've gotten flushed too!)

I hold my daughter up by making my arms into a seat and hover her over the toilet that way. Also if you spit on some TP, you can hang it over the sensor on an auto flush (and not worry that it will fluff away, held by the spit) and then it won't flush spontaneously from sensing movement, scaring the crap out of the kiddo!

OH. MY. GOD. That was hilarious. Retweeting.

I once let my son go alone into the mens room. He was 4-ish. He came out and told me "Momma there's no toilet paper by them funny toilets." He pooped into a urinal. I don't know HOW he got his little butt up there and didn't fall. I still shake my head and laugh.

Imagine the horror that me, a nonparent, goes through whenever my nieces use the restroom.
It happened on cold blistery day in a Wal Mart in the not too distant past. My 3 year old niece Harley looks up at me and proudly exclaims "POOP!" Great... her mother and father are no where around and she has this look of terror on her face because she has to go bad. I pick her up and run into the bathroom. Go into the handicap stall to find it covered and caked with.... Onto the next stall in line where she looks at the toilet and glances at me and shakes her head "No this one is scary". Finally we both agree on the third stall. She pulls her pants down while I am placing the paper quilt onto the seat and it flushes automatically, scaring her to death. Now she is afraid of THIS toilet- so we run back into the second stall (yes, pants still down) and I do the paper thing again, promptly place her onto seat and realize (as above) she doesn't fit. So I hold onto her. And hold. Begin tapping my foot and she says "I'm waiting on you to look away". How am I supposed to hold onto her AND look away at the same time?! I close my eyes and she goes. She bends over at the waist showing me her poop covered butt so I can wipe her. I have no baby wipes, just single ply toilet paper. Finally cleaned up, washed hands, and pants pulled back up, I carry her back into the store; more proud of MY accomplishment than hers. I mean, everyone poops on the toilet right?? Did I mention I am childless?? lol

You missed the part about how obsessed kids at that stage get with public toilets! I can make my kids pee two seconds before leaving the house and the minute they see a public toilet they suddenly, desperately have to go. RIGHT NOW. Even though we all peed not ten minutes prior.

This also applies in restaurants when food is being placed on the table. Hot, delicious, I-can't-get-this-at-home and it-tastes-like-camel-poo-when-cold food. And the more delicious and expensive the food, the more likely the washroom visit will be a #2.

OMG this is so funny! I love everything you write, please write a book!

My daughter once fell into the "kid" toilet at the mall. Unfortunately, I was on the adult toilet at that time, mid-pee, so all I could do was laugh. Because I'm a horrible mother.

Then we went home and she had a bath.

Also, other boys in school (when he gets to school) will make fun of him if he pees sitting down. Trust me on this.

Dang. I would never let a 4-yo go into a public restroom by himself.

Mine is terrified of the auto flush, and seems to believe all public toilets have this feature, whether they do or not. As soon as he's done peeing he is in a big hurry to run from the stall, lest he be terrified by the toilet flushing monster!

This is why I take my boys to the nearest tree. Happy days for all. Maybe not the tree.

I would always have my son stand on my feet. The worst though was when he was afraid of loud noises too, so he would cover his ears and try to flush with is elbow.

The trick I learned with the autoflush toilets is to carry a pad of sticky notes in your purse. Stick one on the motion sensor so it won't go off while the balancing act is in full force. It's awesome!

Seriously, I love this. As a mom with a potty trained girl (now,of almost 6 months) I can so relate to this. I am a public restroom freak. I didn't leave the house for over a week after we were first potty trained b/c I was so afraid of the public restroom with a little girl situation. I felt confident enough to venture out once my own set of disposable toilet seat liners came in the mail. I made up a kit with extra panties, seat liners, and post it notes. Post it notes? Yes, those can be used when there is a monstrous auto-flusher in place. Blocking the sensor with a post-it should shut down the flushing mechanism...I am in slight awe of people who are able to cart around the potty seat. I just couldn't do it b/c I feel like I would be taking a little bit of the public restroom with me...the last thing I want to do.

Wow. This is so true. My 2 year old boy LOVES to go potty in public toilets. I have no idea why, but it drives me crazy. He's good about sitting down aiming into the bowl, but it is hard to do without letting him touch anything.

Every time we go somewhere, he has to go potty NOW. Argh.

Can't wait till our 1 year old boy can join him.

I got our boys to pee sitting down but turned around to face the back of the toilet. They don't squirt out the front and they pretend they're riding a motorcycle or a horse. win win.

Super easy trick, tear off a small length of toilet paper and put it over the sensor. It tricks the toilet into submission. :)

I would tell you about one of my first instances with my eldest daughter but it is too traumatic - I have blocked it out! Put it this way though everytime we go near that particular toilet my daughter now tells me "not that toilet, theres lots of poo" :(

I've taught my boy to pee sitting down and tell him to keep his pee in the potty. He knows that means to push his penis downward while peeing. He pees sitting down at home, too... I don't want to clean all those messes!

I'm right there with you!

No way. Sure, public restrooms are a nuisance. But once they can use the potty at home, that cuts out like 60% of diaper changes (at least it did for our family). No contest. If we were having another (which we're NOT), I'd potty train him/her at a year if I could.

Toilet paper over the sensor also works well.

On the way to a family wedding we spent 30 minutes trying to convince daughter that she would be ok in the public rest area toilet with autoflushing toilets and hand dryers. Had perfect strangers trying to convince her.

She tried so hard, poor baby, but was completely traumatized. Finally drove to a deserted parking lot and let her pee behind a building, propped on my knees.

now we go anywhere different and it's "momma, is that a potty or a LOUD potty"

I am SO at this point right now with my oldest. He is not only afraid of public toilets, but any toilet that doesn't have his "Pooh bear" seat on it. GAH! So far, I've resorted to pull-ups while shopping. And that is going to get old very soon.


That is a good trick!

I should know better than to read your posts at work. I am silent shaking laughing with tears... Though I shouldnt be - we start toilet training soon!!!
(Kind of reminds me of the nightclub days too)

This should be included as a manual when you leave the hospital with a new baby.

My favorite public restroom moments are the times when I have to go too. I've learned to pee really fast, because any idle time he has goes to opening the stall door and/or trying to explore the tampons in the stall trash bin.

Fortunately the autoflush toilets are only in fancy places here that I avoid. Oh, and airports. Which I also try to avoid.

1) They make portable toilet seats? and 2) I'll have to carry one?! Eeeewww! So not looking forward to potty training (we've got a 4-month-old). My husband and I are both too repressed and germaphobic to deal well wiyh that stage.

Yes, and them trying to open the metal box with tampons in it. "Don't touch that!"

Now that is some serious skills.

Amanda, you get an Aunt award for that!

Yes, we have resorted to trees at a few parks with well-known nasty bathrooms!

all the ideas to master the auto flush are cracking me up! i had the worst time with my daughter in public restrooms because of that stupid split in the front of public toilet seats. i would get her pants down, get her on the toilet, and then something about her posture, or her anatomy, and she would pee straight forward through that split and all over the back of her pants which were around her knees. either that, or she would hoist herself up on the seat, but because of that stupid split, she would inevitably drag one cheek and the back of one leg across the nasty, exposed part of the bowl. what is the deal with those splits? why, God, why?

wow... I have 3 daughters and I have never had issues like this with public toilets. Maybe because I don't use public toilets that are filthy, or maybe because I have read a lot of important scientific research that explains that toilet seats are really not that germ infested and there is really no reason to only dangle above one. What you should really be afraid of is the handles on the sink and the back of the bathroom door.

Oh god, I am dreading toilet training. But at the same time I am hoping it will mean he will be less interested in what is in his nappy. He likes to "draw" with it's contents. There is not enough hand/surface sanitizer in the world for that stuff.

I am potty training my oldest son right now. I am DREADING the situation you have described - because his younger brother is also showing interest. How am I going to manage this with two of them?

Currently he is peeing sitting down - is it hard to transition to standing up? I like the standing on my shoes idea.

I had a "toilet paranoia" of my own as a kid, so in keeping with the "getting paid back for everything I ever did" mother's curse, I am fully expecting this to manifest in at least one of my sons. BRILLIANT idea on the Post-it Notes for the auto flushers... I hate those things. I didn't even think about them being scary for a potty training kid.

yes! why can't they put those trash bins up just a little higher? i understand that it wouldn't be quite as convenient for users of said trash bins, but keeping kids' hands out of them would be priceless.

I'm so glad I didn't deal with the fear of the autoflush like so many of you! Which means it is probably a given that Crappy Baby will be terrified of them.

This could not have been a more perfect post. Spot on.

Thank goodness my son sits to pee! And to solve the tiny butt/super long toilet seat w/open split situation he sits on the toilet sideways...hard to explain, but it works. As long as he washes his hands on the way out, I feel fairly confident that he won't die of some horrible disease!

Oh, I'm DYING. This is so true and so hilarious. Moms of boys need to carry a stool around in our bags. AND toilet seat cover for when they need go go #2.

Thanks, I am so sticking sticky notes in my purse from now on!! Even at 4 and 6 my kids are terrified of the autoflush.

i let both boy and girl stand on the toilette seat. who wants to stand on the underside? i'm also lucky because in Hawaii every public bathroom almost has toilette seat disposable paper cover things.... but my little girl won't sit on them. So, both my girl and boy stand on the seat to pee.

You failed to mention the absolute desire of every toddler to touch every inch of the toilet before they sit down, stand, whatever. I begin my mantra of "don't touch anything" on our way to any public bathroom and continue it over and over again once we have arrived, all to no avail. They inevitably go in and all but lick the seat, roll around on the floor, pick up whatever they find on the floor, etc. All in all, a totally gross experience for everyone but them. We have yet to enter a public building where we haven't peed before leaving. There must be something that triggers the pee response in these buildings. Kinda like having to go when you go out in the cold!

Laughing so hard I'm actually crying in the public library. Hilarious.

My oldest loved it too! Every time we went anywhere he wanted to use the damned toilet!

You are putting the girl on the toilet the wrong way. Take her to the handicapped stall and let her hang on to the bar while sitting on the side of the toilet. You only have to paper one side of the toilet, which is good when your daughter is doing the pee-pee dance and you have limited time to paper said toilet seat.

I read a tip once to put a post it note over the sensor so they don't go off mid-pee. Good luck!

I do that when we're out a la long trip in the car and have to stop on the side of the road for a pee. Don't judge, everyone's had to at some point lol. Me and my daughter call it 'watering the plants', we've made it a challenge to see if she can 'write her name' so she's usually cracking up laughing while I'm waving her around some bush.
I've never really had too many problems in a public loo because of this, she's now quite comfortable peeing while dangling (quite still in this case), and her brother can't wait for his turn to write his name now, but I'm holding off a bit so he's really keen to toilet train.

So funny and so true. My son peed sitting down for a year and a half. He would take his shoes, socks, pants and underwear all the way off so he could straddle the potty widely enough to be able to lean forward just a bit to aim down. In public bathrooms, I of course didn't want him to take everything off, so I sat him on the toilet and pushed his penis down for him (fearing that if he tried to do it himself, he'd pee on me!). Once he grew tall enough to comfortably pee standing up, he started to do that and public bathroom experiences are much better. Now my daughter is almost 2.5 and I plan to start potty-training soon. Yikes!

Lol! I tell my daughter to keep her knees together n I loop my elbow under her knees and hold her above the toilet. Gross but keeps the toilet from actually being touched.

Absolutely! My 5 year old daughter is still terrified of those things! When she sees one she refuses to go and I have to put my hand over the sensor (even though I'm pretty sure it doesn't stop it from flushing). The things she'll be discussing with her therapist one day :S

Totally. I dated a man who peed sitting down. Yup, you read that right. He also let his mom do his laundry because "she loves doing my laundry when I come home".

No handicapped stall in this particular bathroom, but I will keep that in mind if I'm ever dumb enough to offer to take my friend's daughter when there is one!

I just about peed myself laughing though this entire post!

My mom loves to tell the story of when I was terrified to use the black toilets in the public restroom. (Black toilet seats? I was only 4! Someone was obviously trying to F with me!) Resourceful mother that she is, she finally figured out that if she used enough seat protectors, the seats were white enough for me. Clever lady. I have a couple years until potty training, but I've become quite a pro at using the public restroom with a 20 lb 4-month-old in the moby wrap.

No wonder parents have strong arms.

This is just gross. Funny. But gross. Ha!

I try as much as possible to have my son pee outdoors. We don't have to touch any bathroom doors, bathroom floors, bathroom sinks, bathroom walls, little boxes attached to bathroom walls, etc... I realize that while he's little it's cute to see a little boy's bare bottom as he's peeing in the bushes behind a store, but this will not be so cute as he gets older. One time recently I had to take him to a public restroom in a restraunt and my little girl (17 months) is standing there so nicely while I help him and then all of the sudden...she LICKED the stall door. WHY??!!?? What do you do with that? You can't sanitize their least you shouldn't. :)

My son is terrified of those stupid splits. If the potty has an "owie" he will scream and refuse to even try using it.

I would have laughed too!

Amber, as always, you are SPOT-ON.

I carried a folding potty seat, encased in a zip loc bag, with individually-wrapped hand-sanitizer wipes in the diaper bag, all the time, even at Disney. Don't leave home without 'em! Yeah, one time I had to take Oldest to the potty at a gas station on the way home, with the Baby in tow, and the precious folding potty seat FELL INTO THE TOILET when she got off it. I almost had a panic attack. :-) What else sucks? Airplane bathrooms, which require contortionism to wipe small butts.

Tips on covering the sensors, and boys standing on your feet are priceless, and I will totally remember that when my next nephew gets potty trained and Auntie has to help him.

I have tears, literally, streaming down my cheeks from this post!

I must be the luckiest mom because when I tell my 4 year old not to touch anything in the bathroom he actually listens to me. He isn't even allowed to flush on his own when using a public bathroom. Just gross!!

Actually, I find the hand over the sensor works quite well as long as you don't move your hand. My daughter only hates the auto-flush if she's still on the pot, and she's big enough to balance herself,so I don't need to move my hand while she uses the toilet. I will look into getting some sticky notes before daughter #2 starts potty training, though...

Your comments section has some of the best parenting advice I've seen...

If only the public bathrooms were the oldest would hold it until we were walking out to the car with a cart full of groceries. Then he would wait until I was busy loading the truck to annouce he had to pee, as soon as I turned around, there he was "watering" the tires....and not always the ones on our car... I was afraid of getting banned from Walmart for awhile there....

Yeah, I've done the arm cradle for my daughter when we were out in the woods. I haven't yet had to do it for a public toilet, but we make a lot of toilet paper seats.

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