Hygiene Issues with Kids at the Park

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Little boys being allowed to pee in the bushes at the park

Jan 2009

I would like some opinions about this -- I was at the park today with my 2 little girls. I saw this mother and her 3 sons (or 3 boys she had with her), ranging in age from about 2 1/2 to maybe 6 or 7. She had them all lined up with their pants down, peeing side by side into the bushes next to the park. When they were done she handed each of them a wipe. She loaded them up into the van and drove off. I was so appalled and disgusted I didn't even know what to do...

So I am wondering to other mothers of little boys -- is this normal, or is it disgusting? I think it's even illegal, right? Has anyone had any experience with this? I have seen this woman at this park before...I am wondering if I say something to her?
Mother of Girls, Wondering...

Ummmm -- I allowed my little boy to pee in the bushes, but discreetly. No display of buns in the park or by the roadside. Maybe it's because of my rural upbringing, but peeing in the bushes (unlike defecating in the bushes) does not seem like a health issue to me. If it were an area where smell can start to accumulate (a stairwell, an underpass, a BART elevator -- ugh) I would object, but not under the clear sky (with modest bush-cover). Now that my little boy is twelve, I would not let him pee outside in an urban setting, but certainly out in the country he could, and... ahem.... I do, too, on hikes or cycling tours when there is no bathroom available for miles. I know that some people (some of my cycling buddies) find that offensive, too, and others think it's totally OK. Again, I make sure that there is no public display, I don't leave crumpled up paper in nature, I don't think I leave a trace. Personally, I will take a woodland site (carefully checked for poison oak) above a gas station restroom any day. In urban settings I wouldn't do it as an adult, because an adult (unless totally inebriated, but that's another posting) can hold it until a more sheltered setting is found. So I think that the mother's sin (if there was one) was public display, not urination au naturel. nature girl

I, as the mother of a boy, absolutely do not allow him to pee in the bushes in a public park. He uses the bathroom, even if it's less than savory, and then washes his hands (or uses the wipe to clean his hands). The only exception is when we are far, far away from anything resembling a bathroom and the only alternative is to wet his pants, and even then I try to take him far away from anyplace people would go (e.g. the middle of a stand of trees far from the path on a long hike).

I think it is disgusting and irresponsible to allow your kid to pee someplace that other kids might play -- and remember, many small children do not just play on the play structures, but like to play in and around those bushes (my kid's one of those).

I don't care if you have a germ-phobia, and the bathroom's a little dirty -- that's what that wipe is for. You could try to say something, but I'm guessing you won't have much luck changing the behavior. There are a lot of people who just figure that, if the bathroom's not pristine, they're justified in doing whatever they like. Disgusted

Well, I'm usually a little more discreet about it than the woman you saw, but I have been known to let my boys pee in the bushes in public places. Usually only when they were potty training and/or they really had to go and there was no alternative, and I wouldn't do it after they were about 5 or so. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see it as that different from people who let their dogs pee on things. Better the Bushes than the Pants

I think it's totally fine. It's no worse than dogs. I think it's gross and disgusting when a dog pees on a tree and it runs all over the sidewalk. I wish dog owners would make their dogs go in bushes and other areas where people don't walk.

They're little kids - get over it. Besides, you might find your daughter needing to go RIGHT NOW at some point and need to hold her over the bushes so she can go. Mother of boys and girls that have peed in the bushes

It seems lots of parents will do anything rather than interrupt an afternoon at the park. If your kid has to pee and there is no bathroom around, leave! Would YOU pee in the bushes? If your child is not in diapers, have him or her use the bathroom before you go to the park. Any kid can hold it for 2-3 hours which is plenty of time for an outing. Boys who pee in the bushes will grow up to be men who pee in the alley outside the bar, in my opinion. It's totally unnecessary, and yes, it is disgusting. Even dogs aren't supposed to pee in parks where kids play. I never let my son do it, and I never faced the need for it, either. Possibly it's because I didn't see the need for him to be sucking on a juice box all day long either. Maybe this is a side-effect of the 'must have beverage at all times' culture we've got going on...

Pee before you leave the house!

Not sure why you think peeing in the bushes is disgusting. I don't see a problem with young kids--maybe 7 years old is getting a bit old and he could hold it until regular facilities are found. But they should try to be a little bit discreet about it. Oakland dad

Frankly, I've seen just as many moms with little girls doing this at parks, so I wouldn't try to work the mother-of-the-fairer-sex angle. For the record my husband is on your side, he thinks it's disgusting and won't allow our boys to do it. I think if you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to go pee, go pee. Free to pee you and me...

In my opinion, if you wouldn't complain about a dog doing it, there's no reason to complain about a child doing it.

I'd like to also add that some children are terrified of public bathrooms. Sometimes this leads to outdoor peeing because there just aren't any other options. You may not know the whole story of this mom and her kids.

Having kids can be so hard. I'd say let's ease up on being appalled at each other. As long as someone is caring for his/her childen well, and not hurting anyone else, why not let the disgust go a bit? Maybe, one of these days, you'll need someone else to cut you a little slack, too. one momma, one pee pee boy

I have to say, I think it's pretty common to let boys pee in the bushes. Being a mom of 2, now much older boys, it's pretty convenient....and it's make or break between peeing in their pants cause there's no bathroom available or finding some privacy behind a bush or tree. I'll say that i used to try to find some privacy, not right out in public.

Many parks do not have bathrooms, or they are locked, or they are really disgusting adn sleezy, so the bushes seems a cleaner option. We do it camping, so...why not? I never really thought about how it might affect mom's of only girls. wish it were that easy for girls

I think it's a disgusting habit and I've noticed it seems to be tolerated, even celebrated (I've actually seen clapping and a big deal made over this ''accomplishment'') in this area. I say if you wont pee there yourself, then don't let your kid do it. I understand if it's an emergency on a long car ride or something, somewhere remote, but public streets and playgrounds?! They're not homeless or drunk frat boys. They're children who can be taught where to go. yuck

I think you are probably over-reacting. I have a daughter and a son, and I let my son pee in bushes when there is a need and we are too far from a bathroom (I try to be as discreet as possible). All sorts of animals are peeing in these same bushes, so what is some more little kid pee? Christine

As the mom of a boy, I have to admit that when we were first potty training I did let him pee in the bushes a few times. I don't really appreciate having my parks smell of urine though so I quickly got into the habit of taking our potty with us in the car to avoid messes and the public peeing thing too. Once he was able to hold it we would just find the nearest bathroom. guilty

I let my kids pee in the bushes (my daughter, too) when they were young. But by about age 4, they have to suck it up and wait just like I do. Sometimes they need to pee, sometimes they need to wait

Did this happen at Jordan Park or another park that does not have a bathroom anywhere nearby? If so, I think you are being way too uptight. I have three who are under 6 (two boys and a girl). I require them to go before we leave home and we often bring a little potty with us, but it's not always possible to rush one/two of them to the parking area and just leave the other(s) unattended if I'm alone. As long as it's in the bushes away from the play area and the kids are young, I don't think it's a big deal. Please, it's hard enough with three--we are short on arms--do not torture that poor woman by lecturing her about it.

I DO draw the line at pooping though! -Guilty of the same on occasion

As the mother of three boys I have direct experience with this issue! Our rule has always been that peeing outside is the last resort! ONLY if a bathroom is not available and the child cannot wait to get to one should they pee outside. Three boy mom

Its fine. Its also fine for girls, just harder because they have to squat. They didn't pee in the middle of the sandbox - they were off to the side, in the bushes as you said. I assume there was no bathroom around - what do you expect her to do? The kids had to pee! If I were her, and you said something to me, I would laugh in your face. anon

As the mother of a boy I have let him pee in a bush when there were no other option. I've worked with children for years and little girls have much more control of their bladders so I can see why you may just think this laziness or disgusting, but it is neither. There is no waiting and no warning from little boys and they generally have much less control. So if we have to, we will stop and let him pee in a bush if there are no bathrooms around rather than have him wet himself and feel out of control. Kids have to pee when they have to pee and I think it abusive to force them to hold it until a time that fits in with my adult life.

Also remember you are in a park - there is animal pee all over the place so it cannot be the pee that is really bothering you. Is it the nudity? The different parenting approach? And definitely don't say anything to the parent - she is likely feeling embarrassed and just hoping she can get her little ones bottom covered and out of there as quickly as possible. After all it is not like she came to the park so her boys could pee - she was in a situation where it was the only option. Ahhhhh the joy of being a Mum

If there is no bathroom at a park, and a little boy or girl needs to pee, then use of the bushes is fine. If there is a bathroom, then, of course, the bathroom should be used. And the parent should make sure the kid isn't peeing anywhere that babies/kids are likely to go: i.e., no peeing in the sandbox, but off in as distant a corner as possible is acceptable. That said, having one's boys line up sounds like prophylactic/preventive peeing to me, not an urgent need to pee, so I find that a bit odd, but who knows, maybe they were heading out for a two-hour-long car ride? Also, I think peeing in the bushes should be avoided a little more strenuously in summer, since then there's no rain coming to ''wash things clean''. you gotta go when you gotta go

OY, I'm glad you wrote this. I had a less civil version I drafted and set aside. here is what I wrote (it does not seem so bad now)

Subject: Boys [mostly] urinating in our parks.

So, um, er, what's with all the kids, (mostly boys) urinating on trees in parks. Urban parks, _often with functioning bathrooms_ bathrooms we all pay for with taxes, often pretty good ones - often right in sight?

My child (a girl) asked me (her dad) why they do not use the bathroom. The most diplomatic answer I have come up with is that maybe the kid has not yet fully figured out the toilet, but then I got the, ''why no diaper then?'' Which is a fair retort.

What is not fair, I think, is chancing upon your kid's urine when exploring parks. I sometimes miss the memos about new norms, and I know sometimes you've just gotta gotta gotta go. But really? Help me understand, and explain, what is going on.

Must I, at this tender age talk about male privilege? ''Well dear, having a penis is license to make the world into your toilet, boys will be boys after all...'' Moms and Dads, SAY IT AIN'T SO! Please tell me you are working on it. It is too early to lower the expectation bar for boys, isn't it? I know I'm over-sensitive, but really, help me understand what is going on here. We've got some 'splainin' to do. whole family toilet trained - How about yours?

I am sure there are a wide range of opinions about this. Personally, when my childcare coop (4 kids, 2 girls, 2 boys) went to the park, we let them pee in the bushes when they had to go (the boys AND the girls) because there's no bathroom there. In fact, I have let my daughter pee in the bushes on many an occasion that there wasn't a bathroom readily available. Since she's only 3, I didn't think making her ''hold it'' was going to work.

Also, pee is sterile when in comes out, and it soaks right into the ground, so I don't think it's so disgusting. Now, if they were peeing in the sandbox, I'd be inclined to object, but since no one plays directly IN the bushes, where's the harm? When a Kid's Gotta Go, A Kid's Gotta Go!

Hi, I have little boys and I occasionally let them pee outside. Not a lot, but when they are desperate. Listen, raising kids is hard. Raising 3 little boys is VERY hard. We are all doing our best. My boys have terrible trouble not wetting their pants. Controlling urine is something that tends to be harder for boys than girls. In general, I don't think it should be a habit, but if the kid is desperate and you try to be inconspicuous about it, then I think its OK. That said, no one should be peeing inside a playground or on playground equipment. But I think ''disgusting'' is too harsh. Remember, its very easy for the mom of one girl to be sanctimonious and judging of the mom with 3 boys. Don't do it till you walk in her shoes. Lets give each other a break! Leave that poor mom of 3 boys alone!

Your post really made me laugh. Really i don't thnk it's a big deal. That said, as the mom of a 3 year old boy, this is what i do. First i always ask when we are near a restroom if he wants to go. that way i rarely have to come up with a quick solution in the middle of nowhere. Second if we are at the park and he asks, i check to see if there is a restroom. If there are none, i take him somewhere he cannot be seen and where people don't go play and i let him do it. If she was alone with 3 kids and they all wanted to go then she had no choice. I mean what would you do if your daughter just had to go? have her go in her pants? so i think if you have no choice it's ok once in a while. but it shouldn't be the first choice. mag

I have two young boys and I do what I can to avoid having them pee in the bushes. But sometimes kids just have to go and there's no other option. Cats and dogs pee and poop all over the place, that seems more disgusting to me and I think pet owners should be held more accountable. AS

I have both a boy and a girl and yes, I let my 4.5 year old boy pee in the bushes at the park if the bathroom is too far away or if there isn't a bathroom all together. In general, it totally doesn't bother me at this age or younger but I can see how it would be off-putting to see older, school-age children who clearly have the attention and impulse control to make their way to the bathroom. parent

Can a mother of a little girl (4) and boy (2) reply? My girl has peed outdoors many a time and now that my son is in undies, he does too. When there are no public restrooms and my child tells me s/he needs to pee I try to assess the ability to wait and length of time to get to a potty. If s/he really needs to go, we drop trou. I do try to pick a spot less likely to irritate others - we pee in the gutter or a remote bush, not where people are likely to sit. yeah, it is probably illegal, but what is the choice? I do have my children potty before leaving the house and I try to know where public potties are - but there are places without potties, or with locked potties, or with potties just too far away for my kiddos. I do sometimes carry a portapotty, but then still have the wheretoputthetrash problem. If it helps, 99% of my kids' poop has gone down the potty not to landfills -- it's illegal to put human waste in the trash :) peed in closed costo parking lot on Monday

I honestly don't see how it is worse for children to pee in the bushes than dogs and cats. Just because it is normal to see a dog peeing in the bushes and not normal to see a child peeing there, it sometimes is a bit shocking. However, peeing in nature adds nitrogen and water to the soil and in my opinion this isn't such a bad thing. The soil and plants absorb the pee and it shouldn't leave any lingering odor, and besides, pee is sterile. oakland mama

I also have 2 girls, now 9 & 7, and a 4 year old boy. I think I've let him pee outdoors once or twice, and never in sight of anyone else. We've been pretty desperate sometimes, but we always try to find a public restroom, as tempting as it is to just let him go anywhere. We also keep an empty plastic water bottle in our car and he goes in there occasionally. I think you're right--urination in public areas is illegal. If it's a very young boy in a very desperate situation, I would probably look the other way, but the mom lining the kids up like that, right next to a playground, is just wrong. Heidi

Oh boy! I'm not that lady, but I sure have been there! The real question is does that park have a potty? If not, then yeah, occassionally it's ok. The park I frequent, in Redwood Heights Oakland, is a great park with enclosed gates, nice parents and playarea. And yes, routinely you will see parents sending their kids (boys and girls) off to the bushes. I know its not something one would do or encourage anywhere else, but as long as they are peeing somewhere other kids are not likely to be, if a kids gotta go, he's gotta go. If they are peeing in the sand, play area, etc - certainly tell the mom something. Otherwise, yeah its a bit gross - but as a mom of two, surely you have seen worse things with bodily fluids! another mom with a bush-pee kid

I laughed when I saw your post as I thought I was the only one who thought it odd. I have a boy and a girl 9 and 5 and no we don't pee in the bushes. We have a camping potty , its a super small thing that unfolds and has a liner for emergencies. We make it part of our routine to always 'check' before we leave home, restaurant...

In our area they lock the bathrooms at the schools where the kids play their organized sports on the weekends and the boys do go pee behind some structure out of view. I am not a fan but in an emergency I do think its acceptable. But out of view and its semi supervised. No, I don't want to see the behinds of other peoples kids. We try to teach that our body is private, so...Not to mention peeing in the area where folks are playing is kinda gross. Not a mountain gal

Kids that age... I have no real issue with that. There is a real dearth of public toilets in the bay area. I know that this is not exclusive to boys either. A dear friend has a daughter who would pee in the bushes at the local playground when the need arose. Dogs pee everywhere. A little kid peeing in the bushes.... I don't see a problem. Not Squeamish

Do you likewise get disgusted when you see dogs urinating in parks? How is this somehow not disgusting? Maybe you should just look away.

I have boys and I don't think it is disgusting. What is disgusting is parks without restrooms, or parks with nasty restrooms. Yes, I would rather have my child pee on a bush then enter many pubic restrooms.

I also have a girl and would have her squat and pee. I don't really care if you think it is disgusting. Urine is sterile. It is only when it pools that bacteria can grow in it. It is actually quite good for plants in that it is high in nitrogen. I think maybe you should maybe not watch little children pee, since it is evident from your post that you were glaring at them and not giving them some privacy. Which I think is kind of weird. there is a reason they say When Nature Calls...

Oh man, I was just thinking about writing a post like this myself!! I agree that it is totally disgusting not to mention encouraging inappropriate self-exposure in the kids. Illegal, I have no idea, and maybe people will think I'm uptight, but I hate it too. And just for the record, I have frequently seen both girls and boys doing this, usually with their nannies, at the little local playground in my neighborhood (the Mandana Green, FYI). I have sympathy for the nannies and moms with little ones who are out of diapers but not yet fully potty-trained, and there aren't any public bathrooms around there, but come on!! I was just glad I witnessed it so I know never to sit or let my kid sit in the dirt or grass around there! pee in the potty, please

If there was no safe, clean public bathroom at this park, then I think you're over-reacting. I don't have a boy, but my daughter has had to use a bush or two during her short life. Unless there is a bathroom right there, it's sometimes hard for a small kid to hold it. Many of the parks around here don't provide adequate bathrooms. In some areas, you even need to pre- purchase a key to use the restroom! I would hope that a parent would take their kid(s) as far away from other people as possible when using the bushes, but otherwise, I'm not convinced that this is so horrible. been there, peed there

Yep, normal. Sorry, mom of girls. I have a 5-yr girl & 4-yr boy. My son, especially if there's no potty around, will find the nearest bush. I was actually impressed the mom gave her sons wipes. Girls can generally learn to hold their pee earlier & easier than boys & when boys gotta go, well they gotta go. However, I am teaching him where & when a bush might or might not be appropriate. But for the most part, at age 4 I can simply only hope that he gets his pants down & finds a semi-private bush. Mommy of Public Peeing Boy

I think it's fine - I wish it was so easy for girls to pee on the go. anon

My family is from Europe, and little boys peeing in bushes is no big deal. For me personally, it's quite normal and sometimes cleaner and more hygienic than having kids use dirty toilets. I have a young son and once he becomes potty trained, I'll have no problems letting him pee outdoors. It's unfortunate that this country seems to take the prudish approach about such a natural thing. Plus, they're kids, not grown men peeing for everyone to see. Anon

What I think about peeing in the bushes is that it's not much different from someone walking their dog and letting them pee there. That said, I don't like dogs peeing in my yard because my kid plays there, and likewise I don't let my boy pee in the bushes. If there is an emergency need to pee, In a secluded or private spot, I let him pee into a plastic bag I carry with me. I seal it tightly and put it in a paper bag for privacy, carry it with me and empty it out into a toilet when I get home. Then the waste can be treated properly. So, yes, I think it's gross to let your kid pee in a public park just like I wouldn't let my kid pee in your front yard. There is a reason why public parks have public restrooms and signs that say NO DOGS. Proper Pee Planning Promotes Positive Peer O-Pinions

I let my 4-year-old pee in the bushes all the time. Basic rule of thumb: private=good, public=bad. I always have him go in as private a spot as possible.

We're in a pretty serious drought here. I'd rather let my boy tinkle outside than waste more precious water because someone might see his tushy for a few seconds. Can't let the yellow mellow in a park bathroom

Coming from another culture's perspective, it is 100% normal to let your kids pee (and poop) in the bushes at the park in Germany: if you kid has to go, and there's nowhere to go, what do you do? Frankly, I would think that in an emergency, you would do this, too. kevin

I think it's completely natural to pee outside and is particularly helpful with potty-training, though I'd like to see people using public restrooms if they are available, especially the older you get. I would be really put off to see a teen or adult peeing in a public place, so I think it's situationally appropriate. I'm sure there will be many who are disgusted, as you are.

I've seen both little boys and little girls pee in bushes or near trees at the park and it doesn't bother me at all. Kids, especially toddlers, often have a hard time holding it! And how is it different from all those dogs peeing all over the park? urine is sterile

Wow. I think you need to lighten up. It's pee, for goodness sake; it's not like they're defecating all over the place. And they are little boys who, no doubt like your little girls, have a very short time between when they realize they have to go and when they are actually going. I thank my lucky stars that I have the option for my boy to pee in the bushes rather than in his pants. If there is a bathroom where we are or close enough that we will make it, we go; if not, he drops trou and pees in the bushes, taking care to be as discreet as possible. Fewer accidents, fewer times we have to leave a park earlier than he wants, fewer hang ups about his normal bodily functions. Half the world pees in the bushes

It sounds like the mom could have tried to find a more secluded spot for her boys to relieve themselves, but almost every mom of boys that I know does allow this. Honestly, it is one of the best perks of having a boy! My son is now 8 and I do wonder at what age it ceases to be cute and starts to be gross--or maybe even illegal. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this! I will say that we always find a private spot where no one can see and also where I am sure no one will see or step in the wet spot afterwards. Sometimes when we are pulling into our driveway he can't even make it into the house, and he has hidden spot in the yard where he can pee on dirt and/or juniper. So I feel like I'm not a hypocrite since I allow it in our own yard. Also, I always make sure he only pees on dirt or weeds (or juniper) -- never on nice plants. thankful mom

I would say that it is appropriate if public restrooms are not available. Because if you have a toddler who needs to go to the bathroom ''now'' it usually means they really should have gone 5 minutes ago. I have done this (in emergency situations - we always use public restrooms when they are available) but we generally find a tree or bush that will conceal us and my child's privates. And on the occasion that my daughter has had a bowel movement, I pick up after her. When you gotta go, you gotta go!

It is unclear to me from your post if you are interested in looking at your reaction to this or if you are looking for something else. Just so you know where I am coming from, the only thing of interest here to me is your reaction- appalled and disgusted. Do you have any idea what it is about this event that leaves you feeling appalled and disgusted? Is it the urine on the ground? Would you expect to have the same reaction if this woman was supervising 3 dogs peeing on the ground? Or does it have something to do with these little boys butts and penises possibly being seen? Is that appalling and disgusting? Or does it have to do with some judgment about the kind of woman that would do something like this? (Of course only you can say what the something is.) Sounds like you want to make this woman wrong and put her in her place. Do you actually think that police resources should be allocated to telling little boys not to pee in the bushes and penalizing their care providers?

In my experience the only thing of value to be seen or done with a loud reaction like the one you had is inside oneself. This is a call from something inside you asking for your attention. If you take the time to really look with sincerity and curiosity you will find a gem but if it isn't already obvious, the path won't be pretty or comfortable. anon

Hi. I am a mother of three sons. What you describe is appalling and, yes, disgusting. I would call her on it. She could be charged with indecent exposure. Speak up, please, as there are sanitary, health issues also considering it's a public park. I wouldn't trade my sons for girls because I love my boys but I'd suggest you speak to the parent. And if she gets upset, oh, well, but at least she'll know people are watching..If you've seen this woman before,say something and get something done or say nothing and don't complain. momof3boystoo

I really don't think this is a big deal. I some times see parents of little boys AND little girls directing their kids to pee in parks or near a playground. It doesn't happen often and when it does, the parents and the kids are always very discreet and mindful of others around them, so I doubt a lot of people even notice it. I don't know about your kids, but mine, when they were young, would usually tell me that they have to do #1 when they really had to do it, without an advance notice. So what do you do if there is no public bathroom in the vicinity? In my case, we would jump in the car and drive home like maniacs hoping they can hold it for the next however many minutes, because my kids were always really freaked out about using any other bathroom (let alone bushes) but our own. I imagine that's why some parents do what they do. So in my opinion, when it comes to little kids, I think it is totally acceptable if it's done in a discreet manner and no more disgusting that let's say witnessing dogs doing their business on a patch of grass. anon

I have a little boy and would never allow him to pee in a park (or any public place) unless it was an extreme emergency. Disgusting and disrespectful. Mother of Boy

If there is no bathroom around (or if there is only a disgusting outhouse), I see nothing wrong with boys (or girls) peeing in the bushes. As long as it is away from where kids are playing. Some parks in the area have no bathrooms and that is the only option, other than holding it in. Not all moms bring portable toilets and pee is sterile anyhow so I really don't think it's a big deal at all. Hey, if you gotta go, you gotta go, and no one wants their kid to have an accident! Pro-peeing outdoors

That is disgusting! Signed mom of three boys, ages 8,6 and 4. anon

I'm the mom of two little girls. And on occasion I've had to let *them* pee in the bushes! When you've got to go, you've got to go! That said, I do bring a potty in the minivan and if we are near the car we'll get to it. But sometimes it isn't possible. If they were peeing on a sidewalk that would be gross because it would smell but what harm is done in the bushes? I would call it mildly annoying but nothing to lose sleep over! ...''Gross'' mom!

I let my 4 1/2 year old son pee in the bushes. He usually waits until the very last minute, and then it's either his pants or the bushes (and I don't think he's the only boy who does this). Obviously, if the park has a clean bathroom, I'll take him there. But if not, I think the bushes are fine, as long as he pees away from the play area. I think watering the bushes is fine

I have two sons and have two younger brothers. Never in my life did it ever occur to me that anyone, even a male, would pee outside unless they were in the middle of some big outdoor camping thing where there were no bathrooms for miles. I am not a frequent park goer, and it was not until my sons were older and we were at park playdates with other moms that I ever saw someone encourage their boys (and mine) to do this. However, considering the urgency a 4yo will have to use the bathroom at the last minute, and the fact that so many parks have locked their restrooms to reduce vandalism (and other ''stuff'') I have given in when it is an emergency and the alternative is a child wetting himself at the park or in the car. But in general I am not in favor of it, and if I found my kids doing it when they had another sanitary option they'd be in trouble... how is that for a conflicten answer. usually no p in my 'ark

Wow, weren't we polarized on this question? In a way, it was refreshing to see the often same-thinking community stand on entirely different sides of an issue. Clearly there are significant cultural and personal differences on the issue, more than I would have thought possible. But as a mom who did let her little boy pee in the bushes, the exchange made me aware that there are people out there who are sincerely upset and disgusted by it, which, had I known it at the time, would at least have made me more careful about finding cover for him! So a useful discussion, I thought. still a nature girl, but more aware

Given the number of kids in Berkeley urinating on bushes, and the small amount of rain we get nowadays, I'm surprised the local parks don't stink more. Hey guys, this is an urban area. Please use the sewer system for urine! (Or a diaper! Or a porta-potty!) Mom of 3 boys who pee in the toilet

Disgusted? Seems a little harsh. I have three boys and one girl. My first two boys knew that 'going potty' outside was reserved for camping and 'if there was no other alternative'. My 3rd boy has always pushed the envelope and has been known to pee in our drains outside and literally right outside a public restroom. I have learned to pick my battles so to speak. If there is a clean viable alternative to urinating in public, we use it, if not we don't. That includes my daughter by the way, who just this morning peed in front of our car at the beach (she wasn't going to make it otherwise). My advice, lighten up (until you've been there). Sounds to me like you're being a judgemental mom who only has girls (yuck). There are worse things

I read the responses to your question and had to reply. I think this is a gross thing to teach kids -- regardless of whether a bathroom is nearby. And for those that compare human behaviors to dogs? That too is twisted logic in my eyes. A dog is an animal whose owners are supposed to clean up after their pets. A child is a human whose parents should know better.

Have your kids go potty before they head to the park and if they need ''to go'' then please leave. As hip as the Bay Area is, no one wants to see your kid pee. party pooper

There should be family bathrooms in parks! San Ramon's Memorial Park is an example of correct public bathroom building (2 wheelchair-friendly, stroller-friendly, family-friendly onesies). How old is a little boy before it's safe for him to go to the men's room alone, if it's a men's room where someone may be in their shooting up or sleeping or having sex? I say never, really, but I just grit my teeth and worry while my little boy goes in alone. I am so angry that we are building parks with no bathrooms and no budgets to keep them clean and safe. I myself have had to pee in the bushes at parks, and then I never go back to those parks! One time I had to poop! You bet it was disgusting! People have to go, so what is the deal with parks and other establishingments thinking they do not have to have public restrooms! No wonder America is dehydrated! And constipated! It's not just a problem for kids. There's long stretches of urban highway with no public bathrooms open at night. Fortunately I'm well-spoken and nice-looking so people usually let me use the employees-only or customers only restrooms, but I wonder what the less attractive people are supposed to do? What are homeless people supposed to do? signed, Irregular

Just keep a potty training type potty in the back of your car if you are frequently going to public areas with no suitable public bathrooms. Solids can be transferred to plastic bags, liquids can be sopped up with a wad of paper towels, if there is no toilet to transfer it to before driving. That said, I have two little boys who pee in the bushes when no one is looking and a suitable toilet isn't available. Bear in the Woods

Encouraging/allowing your sons to pee in the bushes at the park is disgusting. Use the public restrooms or portapotty and above all, go before leaving home! Kids, adults, everyone... I lived in SF for many years and often saw mothers drop their kids pants in the middle of the sidewalk, a few of the more discreet would head over to the curb... I am not making this up. And, even worse, grown men pee on the BART platform at 16th and 24th street stations, (not even off the platform onto the tracks). You can tell where the uric acid has eaten away the shine at the end of the platform-I've confronted them to no effect. They just whine about the restrooms being locked up, but that has been true for a long time so why not be prepared? What are we, animals? dianao

Parent let her child poop in the park

Sept 2006

Is it just me or does any one else think this was totally inappropriate? I didn't say anything because I was too stunned. What does one say in this instance? As I was leaving Thousand Oaks park about two weeks ago I heard a young girl, about 5 or 6, say ''mommy I have to Poop'' The mother was on her cell and wasn't paying much attention. The girl repeated herself and the mother directed the girl to go behind the tree near the fence and trash cans, drop her pants and poop right there. By this time my children, 2 and 4 (potty-trained), both saw this and said why is she pooping there, in the park? (when there is a Starbucks with a toilet close by) There are many things wrong with this which most of us, educated, living in the middle class, get. I recently returned with my family from living in India, with a developing economy. I never saw a middle class child with a checked out parent, pooping in a place where children play. Would you confront the mother and tell her to get off the phone or what? Maybe i am too uptight but, I didn't care that this woman picked up the pile and put it in the trash can -open in a wipe. I have seen squirrels go in and out of those trash cans and climbing through the toys. Is this just the way people act? grossed out

It may not be just you, because I'm sure there are lots of people who will agree with you -- I can hear collective noses wrinkling all over -- but in my humble opinion, who the hell cares? If she picked it up and put it in the trash then she's doing better than many dog owners, and where was she supposed to put it, in her purse? You know nothing about this other mother, except that she can use a phone -- she may have had other, younger children in the park, or not wanted to risk her daughter having an accident, or just not damn well felt like trekking over to Starbucks. It's only poop!! Those squirrels you mentioned? They poop in the park, too, probably directly on the toys! Jeez louise, lighten up Not Scared of Poop

EWW! That is TOTALLY inappropriate!! I can't believe anybody would do that. What a lesson that mother is teaching her child, to just drop trou and poop right there behind a tree. I don't care how ''Berkeley'' we are, you don't poop in the park, especially if there's a bathroom within walking distance!! I'm with you

YUCK. I was thoroughly disgusted with the mom when I read your post. I hope she reads this and realizes that her behavior was not acceptable to the many others who frequent that park, and especially not to her daughter. She essentially treated her daughter like a dog Disgusted

You are not alone! I've seen this happen on a couple of occasions lately and I think it's so nasty! In one case, at Joaquin Miller Park, a mom let her child poop right next to the play structure (in the dirt, but next to the rubber mat area) and she was planning to leave it there! Finally I stepped up and ask her about it and only then did she move it to a faraway tree (not good enough). The other time was an older kid at Jordan Park who pooped in the ivy near were the kids run around the tall trees. No mom in sight. I went around the park until I found the mom, gave her a poop bag and directed her to the poop. My kids would never be allowed just to drop pants wherever and dirty up the park like that. I don't even let them pee at the park. We carry a little potty and if they need to go, they use the potty and I pour the pee out away from where people are. I hate kids peeing all over the park too. Last week we were at Aquatic Park, a five year old kid peed on the play structure where we were playing. Some parents are obviously not paying attention AND are teaching their kids the very bad, disgusting habits. If you are one of them, please be more consider to the many other users of the park.

By the way, I do think that the city of Oakland in particular needs to be far more accommodating to families by actually putting in bathrooms in some of the larger and better used parks. It's a disgrace that this hasn't been done. I've never seen anyone peeing or pooping at Piedmont's Dracena Park.... maybe because there is a nice, clean bathroom five feet from the park! Grossed out mom

You are so not uptight for this to bother you and what you saw is so seriously nasty I'm sorry to had to witness it! I'd be surprised if anyone writes in to tell you to loosen up. Just thinking about of the host of parasitic worms that can be transmitted by contact with human feces should be enough to let you know your hunch was right.

But I wouldn't bother confronting the mother of this kid, at least, not unless you're ready for a war of words. She'd probably just be defensive at best, maybe even aggressive. When I was pregnant and emboldened by hormones (or so I tell myself) I confronted a well-dressed and obviously middle-class man in Wholefoods who was grazing the fruit and nut bins with his bare hands. But he didn't change his behavior and he just got in my face and was super-aggressive about it being his own business (despite the signs asking people to refrain from grazing).

You could, however, complain to the school district, which apparently runs the park. A bunch of kids in San Jose became ill recently after getting an infection from recycled water in a fountain downtown. The culprit was reportedly kids wearing poopy diapers running through the fountain Grossed out too

dear grossed out, i might have been able to respond to your concerns had you not distracted me with your very classist generalisations. You used ''middle class, educated'' in such a way as to imply that working class, uneducated people may not know better, or may have lower standards than you. I find that very offensive anon

Hah! You could have been writing about me--I'm guilty as charged. I see no problem with this, IF: 1. The poop was solid and thus easy to pick up without leaving a smear. Leaving a smear on the ground would be unacceptable. 2. If it was done out of sight. Nobody wants to watch somebody pooping, nor should they have to. 3. If it was done in a place where nobody else is likely to be afterwards. 4. If the poop is picked up in a bag that is then turned inside out (like dog owners do) and thrown away.

What you described sounded like she did it in a place where nobody plays or walks, so that's good, though the child should have been hidden better (sounds like you watched her do it, which is bad manners in my book). Also the mom should have bagged it.

Mine have pooped outside more times than I can count, but always with my 4 ''rules'' in effect. (Yes, it's easy to guess in advance how firm the stool is likely to be if you're the one with the kids all day, knowing exactly what they've eaten/drunk and how healthy they are.) Frankly, most public bathrooms horrify me so much that I often prefer my kids to go outside. I'm wicked too

Sorry but you really are uptight. I could understand if this mom left the poop there and walked away, but she did clean it up. Maybe thats not how you would have handled it, but she was not totally checked out if she took care of it to that extent.

I find that middle class city dwellers get so caught up in shoulds and shouldn'ts that they forget to be flexible, nonjudgemental, and understanding of others. anon

Eeeeeew! I am with you, that is gross. At 6, she needs to wait to poop while the mom hustles her off to Starbucks, or very very secretly go poop somewhere else and pick it up and throw it away. I am not too worried about the poop in the trash can, although it would be nice to wrap it up as well as she can. My daughter is newly potty trained (only goes on the little potty, not the big toilet) so I just take the potty everywhere and if there is a bathroom use it there and flush the waster. If there is not a bathroom, we scoot away from the crowds and I will put the waste in a trash can. I don't know what that mom was thinking...maybe an extension of the picking up dog doo thing? Eeew, too.

I also saw the girl pooping in the park. I must come to her mom's defense. There seems to be two issues that are bothering you. One is that her mother was on the phone. The other was how gross it was that this child should be pooping in the park. First, you obviously did not notice the mother was having a CRISIS and was on the phone with the POLICE. Her child was next to the fence, near the trash cans, in an area where MANY kids use as a bathroom -not in the common play area that your email suggests. Third, the mother cleaned it up,and threw it into the trash can which, by the way, is FILLED with diapers. Do you have a problem with all the diapers in the trash too? Or is that ok because the babies can't help pooping in the park? You rudely imply that the child was ''5 or 6 and should have been able to hold it to go to the Starbucks bathroom like your children''. I know that the child is 3 turning 4 and that apparently she cannot ''hold it''. Your comment about ''middle class mothers'' not behaving this way is classist and obnoxious. Obviously, no mother wants their child to go to the bathroom publically. It's too bad you couldn't be a little more understanding that this mother was having a crisis at the exact momment her child had to poop. I guess we all can't be a good mothers as YOU! No Harm Done

No No NO! It is absolutely NOT okay! Even if she picks it up afterwards, some of the E.Coli and other stuff is still there on the ground. She can't get all of it! And the thing about squirrels going in the trash that copuld spread the germs - you bet! I'm not a super clean Mom and my kids do get dusty and muddy - but human feces is a total other matter! It's bad enough that people let there dogs poop in kid parks and at schools, but a fellow human!? Bad idea health wise - REALLY bad idea. And if the child has a virus - evn worse! So what would I do? I would stare at the mother with my jaw gaped open. I would walsk over to her and say to her while she is on the phone, ''Excuse me. I see that your child needs to poop. I'd be glad to take her to the bathroom at Starbucks if you are not able to.'' If the mother said ''no Need'', then I would explain to her WHY pooping in a kids park is absolutely not okay. And of cousre I'd say this in an extremely calm manner while my blood pressure climbed rapidly. Sure hope that mom reads this! EEEEEEyewwwwww! Mom

If I were at the park, and my 5-year-old son told me ''Mom, I need to poop RIGHT NOW'' I would spend about 2 seconds wracking my brain to figure out where a bathroom is, and then I would do exactly what that mom did that you are complaining about. When they gotta go, they gotta go.

Maybe everyone but me knows there is a Starbucks near all the parks in Berkeley that don't have bathrooms. Maybe everyone but me already has this all planned out in the event of a poop emergency. Personally I think the mom responded remarkably well, especially considering she was on the phone. (And anyway, how do you know it was something other than an emergency that she was on the phone about?)

Here's the real question: how come there are parks that have no bathrooms? What are ''middle-class'' kids, and all those other kids too, supposed to do if they need to suddenly go poop? Just hold it till they get home? Rely on surrounding homes and businesses? The real crime here the failure to put a bathroom in a park where kids play. Ginger

Okay, my kids are a little bigger now (6 and 8) but I spent a lot of time in parks in Berkeley when they were smaller and I'm glad to say I never saw parents letting their parents shit in the park. So maybe this is a new trend? I'm as flexible and accomodating as the next guy (probably more so) but all my openess goes out the window when it comes to such things as, say, imposing health risks--most importantly--and a view of bodily waste--less importantly--on other people. In our society, we've got the idea that sanitation matters to keep people healthy and to maintain our collective quality of life. Accordingly, we teach our children to shit in private places where their waste can be flushed away. We have lots of freedom, but there is also the good for all of us to consider: the average park goer's right to expect that a leaf she picks up there won't have a smear of human shit on it. The self-centerness of allowing your child to go to the bathroom in the park is extraordinary anonymous

i had to comment on this post because it made me laugh. i think you are forgetting one important thing it is just a child. it's not like you saw an adult pooping in the bushes. kids are not aware it grosses you out. so please find it in your heart to forgive. maybe the mom had to let her kid poop in the park. you have no idea what was going on. it's rude to assume. you never can say never. that's my motto. i would let my child poop anywhere if they had to. i mean like it's an emergency. maybe starbucks was busy and then the kid would of pooped in their pants. then what would of happened? you live in a city with many different people and you need to figure out how to tolerate it. poop is natural

Wow, poop in the park really got us all going!! I think many parents chimed in because so many local parks are **lacking decent bathroom facilities**. Does anyone have suggestions as to what can be done about this? I personally travel with a little potty in the trunk and take it almost every park we visit. Even at Montclair Park, which has two bathrooms, it is a push to herd two toddlers clear across the park or up the stairs to the rec center (when it's open, that is) to get to a bathroom in time. My kids use our potty and I dump it into the trash or if it's just pee, bushes where no one walks or plays. I try to bag poops, but as another poster pointed out, the trash is already full of diapers. Dog parks have plastic bag dispensers, but that would not be safe with kids around. How about better trash cans than those filthy cardboard things? Something with a lid, perhaps? Doing infant potty training with my younger child has really shown how inadequate the bathrooms are at most parks. God help pregnant moms at the park with their little ones in tow if they should have to pee. As for the mom of the park pooper, I totally understand. How can we improve park bathroom availability for us and our kids? Montclair Mommy

I'm surprised that no one raised the issue that human fecal waste does not belong in our landfills!! While it's great the mom ''cleanedup'' after her child, might she have done a better job? Fortunately I've yet to be stuck in a similar situation, but a few more minutes of time and energy would result in a better solution for all.

Why do you dump your dipaers in the toilet at home? human fecal matter needs to be processed (that's why we have sewage plants) before it is again safe for the environment.

I certainly agree withthe one response asking why are there parks without facilities, but poooping in public is not the way to make positive change. :) dumping poop in potties

Just a suggestion for those out there at parks without bathrooms. This sometimes comes up for us at Jordan park and I use a plastic bag (just keep some in the car) and have my son hold the front end while I hold the bag end to make sure the poop makes it into the bag, then baby wipes which also get deposited into the bag and voila! It definitely solves the issues of E.coli or parasites Wish all parks had bathrooms

I read all of the recent posts and had to chime in: Yes, poop is gross. Poop in the park is gross. But hasn't anyone noticed that life with kids is often gross? Or is it just my life? I've been puked on, bled on, peed on, pooped on, and had boogers wiped on me. My clothes are always dirty about 2 minutes after putting them on. I had to get rid of all of my post-partum clothes from my first kid because he spit up so much that my clothes were so stained that nothing would fix them. This same child picked up cat poop in our backyard (we don't have a cat) and threw it at me a few months ago while yelling, ''Catch!'' I know a kid who would stick her fingers in her anus (because it was itchy), and then would try to stick the same fingers in her mom's mouth while she was nursing. Gross! A few weeks ago my kid screamed ''I HAVE DIARRHEA!'' at the park (despite having absolutely no sign of sickness beforehand) so I picked him up, ran to the bathroom, which was locked, pulled down his pants (too late) and he squirted poop all over his pants, legs, socks, and shoes. Then I dug through the trash and wiped him off with old napkins (which were covered with ants, by the way) from someone else's picnic. Gross! Did I feel good about this? No...but really, that's the best I could do. (Did I mention I was holding my 4-month old at the time?)

Am I a person who doesn't value cleanliness? I don't think so...I bathe regularly. I teach my kid to wash his hands at the right times. I have been known to use Purell. I make sure to really really clean the kitchen after dealing with raw meat. And, I myself do not just take a crap wherever, whenever the urge strikes me.

So here's my point: I think that the folks who think that there's a way to avoid all this yucky kid stuff are kidding themselves, because there are a lot of people like me running around, trying the best we can, but probably spreading germs all over the place. And, if your life with kids truly happens to be non-disgusting, well, good for you. Consider yourself luckier than most parents I know

Moderator Note: The Pooping in the Park thread was going down the toilet. The subject is now closed.

Toddlers' bottoms in the water play table at Totland

May 2006

Enjoying a nice day at Berkeley Totland today... and it's hot! There were a few mothers/caregivers with their children at the water table (supposedly a table meant for water play with hands) and inside an inflatable pool. There were two toddlers IN (like sitting in) the water table, at one time naked, at other times in non-swim diapers (at least they looked non-swim... very saggy and full of water). The children in the pool were either naked, or in diapers.

I moved to Berkeley a year ago, and sometimes I wonder whether it's me or not. Isn't this really disgusting? Is this what happens every hot day at totland? So I have to spend the summer making sure my son keeps his hands out of the water table? I just don't know what to think. Should I have said something? Or is this another one of '' let the spirit of the kid run free'' things that my jaded, non Nor-Cal mind can't wrap around? Looking for some guidance,
Sign me as Yuk

The Totland park is unique in this area in terms of ''Berzerkeley behavior'', and no, I do not think that you are being uptight. It is not safe nor hygenic to allow toddlers to put their bottoms in a public water play area! It is fine at home, or in a place with chlorinated water, but not at a public park. Last year on Memorial Day my son got Rotovirus from that very water play station- he was fully clothed, and only splashing around with his hands, but put a wet plastic toy in his mouth before I could stop him. Rotovirus is transmitted via feces, and lives a very, very long time in water. And it is a really serious bug. When we do go to Totland, no water play for my son. We have our own water table and inflatable pool at home. You can't tell the other adults there what to do, that would be a pretty ugly scene, so just keep your kid as safe as you can and follow your own good judgment safe, but not uptight

I don't think you're uptight, everybody has different comfort levels with regards to what's yucky, but I'm afraid that yes, this is a ''let the spirit of the kid run free'' thing; especially at Totland. It will happen on every hot day and if you want to keep your son away, you're going to have to watch him. Sorry Jill

I agree with you 100%! I am amazed at what some parents allow their children to do in public spaces with little or no consideration for the other children at the park. To allow your naked or dirty diapered child to play/sit in the water in indeed gross! I believe it puts ALL the children at risk for who knows what! I'm also pretty peeved at those that allow their children to slide down public slides with no clothes on (we all know how clean most toddler butts are, right?) I think this is definitely a problem of being too ''Berkleyish'' . The idea that kids should keep their clothes on while in public places seems completely alien. Maybe getting the word out that there are some of us out there who do not appreciate the health dangers you are exposing our children to will get people thinking Not a fan of feces

You are not uptight; it is GROSS! I imagine here in Berkeley my response with be in the minority... I think that if there are naked toddlers or toddlers in non-swim diapers in the pool or on the water table, anyone playing there is, in all likelihood, playing in urine tainted water. In a place like Totland, which we've decided to stop visiting, I don't see any way around it. Some mothers and caregivers just don't care or don't know that their child is contaminating the playspace for others Elizabeth

OK. That is totally gross. So your kid is supposed to play in the same water that is swooshing around some other kid's butt? Yuck. Sometimes Berkeley moms are just too ''free spirited'' and crunchy for their own good. I wouldn't say anything but I would probably look at them a little oddly and then move my kid away (I know, I'm a little passive agressive I guess) anon

Hi, I haven't made it over to Totland, yet. But if what is happening is just as you described, I will be keeping my daughter away from that area. I have lived in this area all my life and love it. I also don't consider myself too uptight about these things. I can assure you that there are many native Nor-Californians that do not consider this appropriate for a public place Anon

Ah Yes, the disgusting water table and seething germ bath disguised as a wading pool. It is gross, and I, not being a let it all hang out, live and let live Berkeley native, have had a very hard time deciding when to allow my toddler to splash around in the muck. What I can tell you is that we've done the drill for 3 seasons and so far we've all remained healthy. I do however make sure my child wears something on her feet, has a clean diaper or swim bottoms and never, ever let her go naked. The naked issue is more about protection from pedophiles than from germs. Law inforcement professionals (and I have worked with many of them) will tell you that pedophiles have a tendency to focus on particular children. And letting your child run around naked in a public park is putting them at an increased risk of being targeted. So in our family we keep our clothes on in public places. We also scrub like the dickens when we get home! Yuk too, but we enjoy just the same

I grew up in Berkeley and I don't think I'll ever quite understand some of the outrageous things I've witnessed there. I admit that parents everywhere have different styles but you'll see a lot more of this uniqueness and anything goes attitude in Berkeley. Anyway, I'm in your boat and I would work hard to distract my kids away from the scene you describe. I think it's quite inconsiderate of the parents/caregivers to allow their children in full diapers to sit in standing water where other kids have access. I know public pools probably contain quite a bit of urine but they also have a lot more water and are chlorinated AS

It may be gross, but I don't think there is much you can do about it but to avoid Totland on hot days or keep your kids away from the water (that's what I try to do, I tell them we'll go to the pool or lake some other day to help them stay away from the water...) anon

That is totally disgusting. You are not uptight at all. It is totally wrong to let your child with with their dirty bottom or dirty diaper in a small water table meant for other children to play in. Its not like a pool with gallons and gallons of water that are treated with chlorine. Kids DIE from e coli poisoning. Even in kiddie pools that are treated with chlorine. Other things to think about are pinworms and other bacterial infections.

I think parents, probably including myself, have trouble remembering that other people may think their children's naked butts are anything but cute. We had a similar situation where certain friends would come over and their daughter would always strip naked. Then she would sit naked on our couch, our carpet, on our beds on our laps. The final straw came when I found her naked sitting on my bed directly on my pillow! Her parents saw nothing wrong with it. She was 4 years old and we all know how 4 year olds wipe! Like you, I didn't know what to say so made sort of a joke about it which they didn't pick up on then promptly washed my sheets before I went to bed. Needless to say, they were friends who were also inconsiderate in other ways, so we don't hang out with them anymore.

After seeing what you did, I don't think there is any way you should let your kid play in that water table. There are a lot of other nice parks around besides totland that don't have waterplay. In the mean time, these situations just make me try to be more conciencious about making sure my own kids don't gross others out. disgusted too!

EWWW....to me that is really gross. I would not have allowed my kids when they were toddlers to go anywhere near that water. That is how lots of diseases and bacteria can spread, including e-coli. E-coli is now showing up in bagged lettuce due to unsanitary workers and situations. You wouldn't let your kid play in toilet water, and who knows, a naked child can turn any water into toilet water! Anon

I think it's gross. There are a lot of things that children can catch from feces if those kids have pooped in the water. Even in swimming pools, you are required to dress your child in diaper-style swimwear. In any case, these tables aren't meant for baby/toddler soaking. If I were you, I'd say something to the nannies when/if you see them doing that. It's really unsanitary baths should be in pools and tubs

Yeah, it is inappropriate that diapered and naked children play in the same water that other children will play in with their hands. But the water would be fairly yukky anyway. Public, wet environments that children use like water fountains are primary hotspots for transmissble disease. I would suggest avoiding these things altogether, and invest in a water table, pool, sprinkler slide etc for your own kids at home

I was born and raised here in the Bay Area and yes, I too find it to be pretty nasty. In fact, I read your post this weekend and the first thing I did this morning was ask our nanny NOT to let our kids sit in that nasty water at Totland - especially in a diaper or naked! I hope it wasn't my kids you saw there!!

When I was a SAHM, on hot days I thought that water looked a bit questionable. I usually told my kids that they could play in the water table at home. My nanny told me that they change the water pretty frequently??? I never thought this. I guess I don't mind if they put their hands in it or if they play with the running water there but I don't want them sitting in that water! Grossed out too by totland water area

Yeah, it's gross. I'm from here, by the way, so not all of us are complete hippies.

From a scientific standpoint, just so you know - urine is sterile so your child shouldn't catch anything if kids are peeing in the water or have pee in their diapers - but again, gross! However, you really don't want your kid playing in water contaminated by feces.

Honestly, I've given up on most parks altogether. If it's not your water table issue, it's the politics of toy sharing - see recent agonizingly long discussion on that - or the oneupmanship (oneupwomanship?) about how organically you are raising your child anon

You are not uptight. When my child was a toddler, I was completely grossed out by the sight of kids' bare bottoms sharing a common (and self-contained) pool of water, and even further grossed out by the sight of toddlers in non-swim diapers submerging their bottoms in same body of water. I stopped taking my toddler to Totland on hot days shortly after seeing this happen on more than one occasion. And don't even get me started about parents/nannies that change their kids' diapers on the picnic bench tables! I'm pretty sure that a Berkeley health inspector would have a thing or two to say about Totland on a hot day. I don't have a problem with letting the spirit of a kid running free as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of other kids to play in a park that meets basic sanitary conditions Totland No More

Sitting IN the water play table, naked or in a diaper, seems out of line. You're right, it's for playing in with your hands. The germs on everyone's hands are bad enough, without thinking about all the rest...

But if there's an inflatable pool, of course kids are going to go sit in that, so I think you have to let that go. A swim diaper is not stopping urine from getting in any pool. It's only purpose is to not become a 10 lb. weight on your baby, compared to a regular diaper. So if you're sharing a ''public pool'' those are the hazards...

Maybe this post will open a few people's eyes who hadn't considered the other side fan of reasonable cleanliness