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Kids Peeing in the Grass: No Biggie or Big No No?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Do you let your kids pee in the grass in the summer? I flip flop between thinking it’s a necessary, harmless summer rite of passage…and thinking it’s kind of gross. But before we rush to judge, let me paint you a picture:

Your young kids are in the backyard running through sprinklers or splashing in the pool when they suddenly stop, sopping wet, and announce that they have to pee. You’re busy tending to another child or setting up lunch or attempting to have a conversation or, I don’t know, sitting down for the first time all day, so when your kid starts jumping around grabbing himself, you:   

A: Make him dry off, then take him (and potentially your other child if there’s no one there to watch her) inside to use the toilet.

B: Tell him to go to the corner of the yard and pee on a bush as discreetly as possible.

C: Let him drop his bathing suit wherever he’s standing and relieve himself at his leisure.

With Alex, we usually opt for B, depending on who’s at my house or whose house we’re at. So yes, Alex definitely pees in the grass sometimes. Allowing him to do it helped him potty train, in fact. But he’s good about asking and being quick and discreet. We would never let him do it at a party (remember Brandi Glanville’s son who peed in the middle of a Real Housewives party? I actually didn’t think it was that big of a deal and that, once again, Kyle was a mean girl about it, but Brandi should have at least acted appalled). My sister and my parents have a pool and Alex swims well but he still swallows a lot of water, which means he has to pee about every 12 minutes. It’s easier for everyone if he does his biz outdoors—and safer, frankly (think about the wet slippery floors if her were to traipse inside). To me, peeing outside is a necessary evil/awesome bonus of boyhood (and, let’s be honest, manhood) and one that makes me jealous. But is it…wrong? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’d also love to discuss this kicker: What if the kid in question is a little girl?

Over the weekend my sister’s kids were over playing in my backyard and a few adults were sitting at the table. Nora was sitting with us having a snack and then abruptly got up, walked into the grass, pulled off her pull up, stuck her belly out and peed (like a boy/not squatting). Then she walked to the hose and washed herself off. “I have to fray my giney, mom.” Nick and I were kind of shocked, as we often are with Nora, but I wasn’t sure if I should reprimand her and tell her that wasn’t allowed, particularly when she knows her brother does it (also, I wasn’t equipped to have the you-have-different-equipment chat). Of course when she tried it again last night, I picked her up and carried her to the toilet and told her that’s where she needs to pee. I’m hoping the girl-peeing-in-the-grass thing can be a special-occasion occurrence, like when we’re at my parents’ pool and the bathroom is too far away. It’s definitely a double standard, though. And peeing outside is kind of a fun summer ritual for kids, regardless of your gender (at least it was for me—peeing while hiking/camping was a highlight of my childhood!).

As I’ve mentioned on here before, I don’t have many super-strong parenting convictions about seemingly-harmless stuff like this. I’m a stickler for bed time, good manners, eating healthy and nutritious food and being kind to others. Beyond that, I’m still figuring out how I feel on a lot of these hot-buzz parenting issues (including Nora’s potty mouth). That said, I am curious about how you guys handle this particular issue and what you think is appropriate when it comes to kids relieving themselves outside. Have yours ever done it? Would you let them? How about the girl/boy debate?