Pee happens

At right: Fig. A. The Triangle of Safety at work.

All’s I’m sayin’ is, it’s not like the moment she started peeing directly into the toilet — rather than into the bazillionth, or the bazillion-and-oneth diaper that I fastened onto her — everything was suddenly all peaches and cream. In my haste to schedule a zeppelin to circumnavigate our metropolitan area, emblazoned with the breaking news (“She’s potty trained! She’s potty trained!”), I overlooked one small detail: the Adjustment Period.

Silly me.

She teased us regularly, in the lead-up to this breakthrough, by pronouncing — almost always when we were out and about, and almost always, by uncanny coincidence, when we were at an establishment whose restroom hygine would make old-school pit-toilets look quite savory by comparison — that she thought she was finally ready to Pee on the Toilet. In I’d march with her, a fresh wisp of air playing upon the embers of hope still glowing in my heart. Maybe this time. She was Lucy with the football propped for a place-kick; I was Charlie Brown, tenderly considering the possibility that this time, finally, she won’t yank it away at the last minute (a brief history and an amalgam of Peanuts football gags can be found here).

We would arrive to the restroom, the lil’ monkey and I, and invariably I would scan the place and spot myriad sources of bubonic plague quivering in anticipation of her indiscriminate toddler touch. I would try to rinse the fear from my mind, and get down to the critical work of de-pantsing and de-diapering her before her fit of enthusiasm would wane. Then — because, as I’ve said, invariably the restroom available to us would lack fundamentals like toilet seat covers — I’d establish the Triangle of Safety. The T of S (as I like to call it) consists of three delicately placed strips of toilet paper — see Fig. A, above.* (I think I got this term from a Joan Rivers routine I heard as a young gal, in which she ridiculed the stick-to-it-iveness of this device, alongside legions of folks’ stalwart dedication to it nonetheless.)

Carefully would I lift the lil’ monkey up onto the Triangle of Safety, and balance her there, discreetly glancing to the side when she would announce that she needed privacy. And then? No dice. No nada. Not ever.

Needless to say, re-diapering and re-pantsing her under these conditions was always far more difficult than removing these items. The stand-up diaper change is something I may only finally master in the lil’ peanut’s last month of diaper-wearing. But the post-pee stand-up diaper change was part of the price of admission, and I paid it every time.

Now, let us traipse gaily to the present day, the rosy-fingered dawn of the toilet-peeing era. Let’s us imagine that I am out and about, say, last week, erranding with the lil’ monkey. Let’s say we had just passed a delightful time at one of Baba’s favorite hot spots, the hardware store. Let’s imagine that Baba and daughter whiled away the time there zipping through the aisles (the location of whose contents Baba knows by heart, naturally; that’s a matter of some honor for your average man at a hardware, and therefore of significant honor — if not necessity — for your average mannish lesbian at a hardware store). When I say, “zipping through the aisles,” I want you to picture the lil’ monkey parked in the child seat of one of those pint-sized shopping carts they have at some hardware stores (or at least that they have ’em at our hardware store), only I’m driving it from behind, and she’s at the prow of it, going “Whee! Wheee!” and giggling to herself as we make our rounds.

Picture us now, sated by our hardware store romp and driving back home, when from the jump seat of the truck comes the very worst announcement you can hear from a toddler in the Adjustment Period of her potty training regimen. No, no, not “I have to pee!” No. That’s the second worst announcement you can have barked at the back of your ear. No, I’m talking about “I’M PEEING! I’M PEEING!”

“Jesus H. Christ on a Raft!” I think to myself, resorting to one of the more favored profanities of my dearly departed mother. I deftly manage not to utter this new turn of phrase out loud to my velcro-eared toddler, though. Not just yet. (Baba’s learnt her lesson, part of which, courtesy Att, is the directive to mete out the good cuss words, like annual bonuses for the kids getting older.)

“Jiminy Crickets!” I say to her. “Ho baby! Hang on, hang on!”


“Hang on! There’s a gas station, right there!”


“Hang on, you can do it! Come on, come on, just another thirty seconds!” I shoot her what I hope will be an encouraging glance.

She winces bravely.

I swerve into the gas station parking lot, jerk the truck to a stop all akimbo next to the bathrooms. Out I burst from my door, no hearty “Ahoy!” to the guys in the garage. No time! And time’s a-wastin’! I swing open the door to her side, and fumble her seatbelt off and haul her out. With a hitch or two, of course. Such as a foot jamming up underneath a seat lever. Thank the deities she was too mesmerized by the mania of my extraction to notice the pain it might have inflicted upon her.

I sprint to the open bathroom door, holding the limp-with-mesmerization little critter by the armpits. I kick it open with my foot.

You’ll never guess what greets us! A bathroom which, if it were assigned a Homeland Security Threat Advisory level, would be RED RED RED! We’re talking SEVERE risk of pathogenic microbial attack on the soon-to-be exposed cheeks of my wee charge.

“That’s a funny looking toilet, Baba!”

“Yes, well, Buttercup. That’s a special kind of a toilet called a urinal. It’s for people who prefer to pee standing up. Usually boys and men.” I mean it’s not like I’m gonna limit either of my kids’ options. If she wants to pee standing up, god love her. Plenty of gals do it. Some guys prefer to pee sitting down.

“Look, Baba! No door on the stall! That’s funny!”


“What’s that on the wall? What do those words say?”

“Mmm.” No toilet seat cover, of course. Also no toilet paper! Triangle of Safety, foiled!

“Okay Punkin Lamb, we’re gonna have to freestyle it a bit here.” I squat and pull down pants and undies. “Now I’m gonna hoist you over the toilet seat here, and kind of hover you above it.” I prop one forearm underneath her knees and steady her torso with the other hand.

“No, I can sit!” She’s proud of her expanding bathroom agility, which is beginning to include the capacity to perch at the edge of a grown-up-sized toilet without slipping in, ker-splash.

“Um, yes. Well.” I’m still hovering her above the toilet. “It’s pretty kaka-poo poo in here. So how ’bout not in here, not today.” I’m wondering how high a pathogenic microbe can jump.

“I can’t pee, Baba.”

“Can’t pee dangling in the air like this?” Hover hover.

“Can’t pee at all.”


“I peed it all back in the truck.”


“I peed it in the truck Baba.” She looks to be approaching the verge. We visit it daily. She tipples over it probably every other day. It’s juuuuuust okay on the one side, all heck-in-a-hand basket on the other side. Tears, misery, the lot.

“Well, yes. Well then. That happens. Pee happens.” Her lower lip quivers as I tug her undies and pants back up.

“My undies are all wet.”

“Oh, sweetie, yeah. That’ll happen. Figuring out how to hold your pee takes a while.” Internally, I berate myself for not remembering to check in at the hardware store’s bathroom. We peed at the errand before, but as soon as we got inside the hardware store all I could think about was fun fun fun with the shopping cart, and showing off how I knew where everything was. As if she might have noticed. Well she might, one day. Or the lil’ peanut will. All part of the campaign to show that a lesbian dad can be just as capable as a regular one in a great many of the manly arts. Such as hardware store navigation.

Then I think to myself about some of the unsavory side-effects of menopause. “I totally understand about the peeing, sweetie. And I’m sorry we didn’t catch it earlier. Let’s go on home and we can change your pants and play with the fun stuff we got at the hardware store.”

The lower lip slows to a stop. I’ve got her hoisted on my arm now, and we’re on our way back to the truck. I wave to the gas station folks with the free hand.

“Didn’t need it after all!” I call out to them, as if they were dying to know how things turned out.



* Others might know this term’s medical use, as a descriptor for “the area at the lower left sternal border where the pericardium is not covered by lung.” FYI: Not what I’m referring to.

13 thoughts on “Pee happens”

  1. This made me laugh and laugh and laugh, and then reach for the Yellow Pages, where I’m desperately searching for Boarding Schools whose curricula include Toilet Training, as I now plan on sending my 10 month old daughter to one in about a year. Or maybe I’ll just ship her off to your house, as you’ll be an expert by then.

  2. oh lordie, we have reached the adjustment phase THREE TIMES NOW. And each time there’s a couple accidents like that and Sassa decides that the adjustment period takes a few more months to think about and she stops trying at all.

    In case you didn’t know, I was told after an accident like that one, that a diaper turned so the absorbant side is down against the peed-on surface and then weighted (such as placing said pee-er back on it) will super-duper suck all the pee up. Works, too.

    This story had ME peeing in my pants, I can so see it. Even to The Hover. Ah The Hover, I know it well.

  3. I laughed so hard when I read this. I have public bathroom phobia. And… in the land of Europe public bathrooms are also few and far between. The little one has become an expert at al fresco peeing, although we had a hysterical time in France, when the police pulled up as the little one was peeing. I suppute that they thought that we were trying to gain access to an industrial zone.

    It’s even better when they pee in the car and the car chair is completely wasted. We had to fashion one on holiday from a blanket and the car chair frame after such an incident.

    I’m glad to report that we are day-dry since April 2007, but extremely night-wet… We’ve been told that this may last until she is six. Ack. More diapers. So much for our ecological footprint, eh.

    As for the hardware store: it’s my SO’s first stop when she goes home. She bemoans the absence of Home Depot in Europe.

  4. Ah the who, how and why of public toilets- I’ve often wondered.

    Mmh still doing grown up things with children in tow. Are you ever tempted to go the whole hog with the mannish lesbian thing and make a play for hardware shopping to be something that is, of course, an absolute necessity, impossible to do with children??

  5. Oooo. That’s a tough one. Before we even had kids, some of my fondest dreams were that I would stroll around the hardware store with — Junior, some random generic kid, not sure I even knew whether Junior was she or he — teaching her/him about, well, stuff. Fixing things, making things. Proper use of tools. Whatever it was. But there was something about a hardware store trip.

    One variant on the dreaming was that, on special occasions, we’d go there with $10 or even $20 (USD), and we’d see what fun adventuresome things we could purchase and come home and make. One of my favorite gifts I gave my nephews was a “spy kit,” all of which was purchased at the hardware store: a small flashlight and a very strong magnet at the end of one of those key chain thingies that attach to a belt and have a long, spring-loaded chain on ’em. The kind that the janitor wore in my Elementary School. They were befuddled for the first 12 hours, then each of them played with theirs for months, if not years. After several years and trans-Atlantic moves, my younger nephew — the surviving one — still knows where his is.

    Part of taking them with, to my mind, has to do with the lesbian dad being an improvement on aspects of the stereotypical, regular one, who has typically been more preoccupied with things than with people. Meaning that, for the lesbian dad, some of the absolute necessities of masculinity are redefined.

    Now, a trip to a cafe to read and write. So far, that’s a solo jaunt. But hope springs eternal. (Dreamy image: the both of ’em sipping their herbal teas, lost in their books or their writing.)

  6. Toilet training nearly killed me this time. My daughter was reliable and then she wasn’t. She was proud and motivated and then ambivalent. I made two mistakes this time around…1)I believed everyone who said that girls are easier than boys to potty train (for the record, my son was MUCH easier and was done – night and all – at 2 1/2) and 2)I forgot that potty training is not a linear process – there are fits and starts.

    Over Christmas, I felt like we were finally, officially done with it all. Then, school started again and she and a little boyfriend of hers decided to have a literal pissing contest (a joyful one) each day which resulted in numerous bags of wet clothes coming home. Thankfully, the teacher put an end to that somehow and things are back to, well, I should stop now or jinx it all.

    You are in the home stretch, my friend!

  7. Ahhh, Vikki, you remind me of my times walking into pick up Max and pre-judging how the day went by the number of plastic bags I spotted hanging in his cubby.

    I must say, with no experience potty training girls, it seems logistically simpler with boys–having the whole aim-and-shoot advantage. Max seemed to think it was pretty neat to melt a hole in the snow during an emergency stop on a road trip this winter. . . See what you have to look forward to? OK–minus the snow!

  8. well, your li’l monkey is a bit older than Sassa, so perhaps she just saved up all her ambivalence and is now convinced that this is the right course of action. And thus won’t turn back when the going gets hard. I’m sure that’s it.

    I’ll bet you’re loving the toys from the hardware store column that’s been making a regular appearance at Mombian. You should write up the spy kit and see if Dana’ll put it up!

  9. I’ll keep a mental record, for when 1-4 are a bit older of the $10-$20 hardware store lucky dip as well as the spy kit (tempting though it is to practice now…). It’s frustrating at times still being in the ‘happier’ mache/ cardboard construction ( or in 2’s case everything you make I’ll destroy haha) and inside den phase.

    Any chance of some kind of a spy kit diagram just in case we accidentally make a rocket launcher or strange torture device from the constituent parts you describe? I was always such an attentive student when my Dad was inventing things, changing the car tyres, fixing the lawnmower etc etc.

    Why saddle oneself with the yoke of improvement when, by breaking the gender steroetype one is freed to enjoy the feminine/ masculine pick’n’mix?

  10. O my heavens, that is just too fabulous. “Feminine/ masculine pick’n’mix” is very likely to be what I’m going to be scratching in, next to [M] [F] checkboxes on forms. That or xylophone, per smurf’s suggestion.

    I will see what I can work up in the way of a spy kit diagram. Meanwhile, I can tell you that a barrel o’ monkeys’ worth of fun can be had with the magnet alone, which just happens to be the self-same one at the business end of my Baba’s Little Helper v.2.0, pictured in action here.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.