I gazed out the kitchen window this afternoon to check on the boys as they played in the backyard. I was startled to see my nearly five-year old standing in the edge of the woods with his coat open and attempting to pee in the snow. He’d encountered an unexpected obstacle in that he’d forgotten that his snow pants were the overall kind. He couldn’t seem to figure out how to get those straps off without taking his winter coat all the way off. So far he was being smart enough not to fully disrobe as it was 35 degrees outside.

“What are you doing?” I yelled as I slid down the window.

“I’m twying to go potty but I can’t get this off!” he screamed with increasing frustration. “Come help me!”

“No, come inside to the bathroom!” I hollered back.

He began hopping up and down, now realizing the severity of his situation but still not yet sure which course to take. Finally, after a bit more coaxing and my threats that he would get sick, he relented and shuffled up the yard and into the house for a more civilized (and warmer) solution to his problem.

The great thing about being a boy (well, at least one of them) is that you’ve always easy access to the plumbing (unless you’re wearing snow pants). That said, as with most things in life, accessibility does not always coincide with suitability. My middle son has a peculiar habit to (usually) hold going to the bathroom till the last possible minute. We might be in mid-superhero battle in the basement playing or playing Wii at the TV, when suddenly a serious look of desperation moves across his face and he takes off for the bathroom, shouting out explanations and instructions for us to hold whatever we’re doing as he runs. This pattern isn’t such a problem when we’re in the living room, but is more difficult when we’re at Home Depot on the opposite side of the store from the restrooms. He combines these quick exits with an uncanny ability to have his pee hit the toilet within a nanosecond of crossing the threshold of the bathroom door. I’m not entirely sure how he pulls this off (and have been hesitant to get in his way to investigate further), but he seems to for the most part be a straight shooter and makes it work.

When we potty trained our oldest several years ago, we put the process in high gear during our week long vacation at the beach. This provided a convenient and warm environment for him to walk around sans pants when there weren’t too many people around and make a quick dash to the nearest sand dune as needed. The downside to this method is that for a while thereafter, every time he saw sand, he considered it a good time to drop his drawers and relieve himself. Sometimes even being outside in general would bring this on (still does actually), and we like to laughingly recall the time he decided to fertilize the bushes in my parents’ backyard without warning, much to everyone’s surprise.

Even Daddy is faced with challenges in this department now that our 11-month-old crawls, scoots and walks just about anywhere he wants these days. The boy has a knack for barging into the bathroom to visit me, and is drawn to the mysterious sights and sounds of Daddy standing near the open toilet. He’s a determined little bugger and it takes no end of creativity to position one’s self to prevent him from joining in the “game”. It often feels like blocking a basketball player in the paint as Daddy maneuvers himself around the bowl to keep the little guy from interfering.

I have no idea how these things work with daughters, but in our house with three little boys, it keeps things interesting. I’m sure that some of these small adventures will gradually fade as they get older and a bit more self-conscious. I know one thing for sure – I’d much rather be training the boys how to use urinals in the public restrooms than traipsing a little girl into the men’s room and explaining what’s going on.

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