Monday, June 9th, 2014

How Not to Let Your Small Child Pee in a Public Park

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer Gabe Roth tells us more about the perils of letting your preschooler pee in the park.

Gabe! So what happened here?

We were at Brooklyn Bridge Park, at a picnic to celebrate the end of my daughter’s first year of preschool. It was about six in the evening, just starting to cool off after one of the first hot days of the summer. There were maybe 40 parents and teachers sitting on blankets eating hummus and maybe 25 kids running around on the grass. At the bottom of the field, behind a wire fence, was the East River, and beyond that the skyline.

They held a similar picnic in the same field at the start of the school year, so this was one of those time-lapse events that let you mark how your kid has changed. (Her school is really good at staging these things.) I was standing on the grass watching my daughter wrestle with two of her friends from the Yellow Room, getting to see a part of her life that’s usually outside my field of vision. And then she stopped wrestling and walked up to me and said “I have to do a pee.” (This was a good moment because she was demonstrating competence and maturity, and thus publicly validating my parenting work.)

I swiftly reviewed the options. There’s a restroom at the top of the park, maybe a five-minute walk if I carry her. Can she hold it in for five minutes? Maybe. Will the restroom be disgusting? I think this one is OK, but I’m not 100 percent sure. Do I want to miss 10 minutes of this precious golden hour with her friends in the park in front of the skyline? Not really.

The field is bordered by shrubbery on all sides, but there’s a little gap in the shrubbery where the field connects to a path, and this little gap is grassy and somewhat secluded. So I picked her up and carried her there, saying, “We’re going to do a pee right over here!” I set her down and pulled down her shorts and underpants, and she squatted down, and I held her under her armpits and helped her lean back far enough that she wouldn’t pee all over her underpants, and then she started peeing.

While she was peeing I became aware of a car rolling slowly by on the path, about three feet from us, emblazoned with the livery of the New York City Park Enforcement Patrol. I wasn’t really worried, because what could be more blameless and innocent than a three-year-old girl urinating on some grass? She finished peeing, and I stood her up and pulled up her underpants and shorts, and she started back toward her friends. I was turning to follow her when a voice from the car called “Sir!” in that way cops have.

He was a white guy in his forties or fifties with very short grey hair, not smiling. I remember him looking like the late character actor James Rebhorn, but I suspect my memory has cast Rebhorn in the role because he played so many unsmiling authority figures rather than for any physical resemblance. I picked up my daughter and turned toward the car with her wrapped around my upper body like a koala.

“Do you know that’s illegal?” the cop asked me.

So how did you respond? Did things get heated?

The stereotypical thing to say here would be, “When I was a young hothead I would have gotten in his face and given him attitude, whereas now I am older and more even-tempered so I apologized to him in a respectful manner.” The truth is kind of the opposite: When I was younger I was very easily intimidated by authority and would have immediately done everything I could to mollify the guy, whereas now I am old enough to have the courage of my convictions, so I really wanted to say something entirely appropriate like Are you serious? What the fuck is wrong with you?

Fortunately, I was able to recognize that saying the appropriate thing would have bad consequences, so I said, “No, I didn’t realize that. I’m very sorry.” I said it in the tone of voice of someone who is not in any way sorry but who is saying the words of an apology to avoid getting in trouble. I was amazed at how insincere my apology sounded.

In a situation like this, you’re always thinking about what kind of emotional interactions you’re modeling for your kid. I didn’t want to model belligerence, but I didn’t want to model craven submissiveness either. My own father was great in this kind of situation and would have displayed a calm, unwavering dignity that I can rarely manage. I ended up modeling transparent insincerity, which I guess will be part of how she sees me from here on out.

The cop looked at me for a long time, coldly, then said, “There are bathrooms up there.”

“OK, I’ll use them next time,” I said in the same unconvincing tone. He kept looking at me for a while—me holding my daughter, neither of us smiling at all—and then he rolled slowly away.

As I set her down, my daughter asked me, “Why did the policeman say that?”

“I don’t know,” I said. And then she ran off to play with her friends.

Lesson learned (if any)?

There wasn’t much of a lesson, just a reminder that some of the people who choose to go into police work are power-tripping assholes, and that in my experience this is especially true of pseudo-cops like NYC Park Enforcement Patrol officers.

(I should say here that my daughter and I are white, and as such we have the luxury of not having to encounter this kind of cop as often as some people do. Also, yes, #NotAllCops. Whatever.)

When you’re a parent of young kids, you take up a bit more room in the world. It’s inevitable. If the bus has to wait while I fold the stroller and make sure she doesn’t drop her Elmo or spill her milk box or pee all over my hand, I realize that I’m slowing everybody down. Some people smile at us indulgently, but most people are just trying to get to work on time, they’re not in the mood to be charmed by me and my kid. I get it. I’m folding the stroller as fast as I can. It’s fine, it’s New York, we’re all in it together.

But when you’re a park cop, and you’re confronted by a fucking preschool picnic, and instead of a foot patrol you’re doing that slow-drive-around-the-park thing that isolates you and makes everyone uneasy because you’re driving a car on a pedestrian footpath, and you decide to get in my face about letting my three-year-old daughter pee on the grass . . . what is that? What has gone wrong in your relationship to the world?

Just one more thing . . .

In one of my kid’s books, there’s a gorilla named Gorilla Bananas who steals some bananas, and Sergeant Murphy puts him in prison “until he learns that it is wrong to steal from others.” Every time I read those words to her, I feel bad that I’m lying to her about what a brutal nightmare our criminal justice system is. So maybe this incident will stick with her enough to give her a vague feeling of apprehensiveness about the police without tarnishing her overall sense of joy and wonder and trust in the benevolent nature of the adult world. That’s my hope, anyway.

Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York.

66 Comments / Post A Comment

Josh Michtom (#6,069)

In one of those Richard Scarry books, Bananas Gorilla actually gets profiled and wrongly arrested. That was one of my favorite teachable moments when my kids were younger.

Moff (#28)

I just want to point out that the gorilla's name is actually "Bananas Gorilla" and he also steals Sergeant Murphy's motorcycle (I mean, props, guy — those are some serious cojones — but also, you know you're flirting with substantial prison time there) AND he pretends to be a table in a restaurant, which carries the possibility of a much higher penalty than you would suspect.

queensissy (#1,783)

@Moff Is this Great Big Mystery Book? Pies were involved? The one where in the other book Sam Cat goes undercover as Sam Sack Of Potatoes?

Moff (#28)

@queensissy: No, I don't know if it appears in any other books, but this one is part of a set that also includes the story of Uncle Willie and the Pirates and Mr. Raccoon's Very Bad Day.

holdup!holdmyphone! (#274,038)

uhhhhh lmao

I think you're New York City's greatest monster actually.

frontsidebus (#5,387)

My favorite Bananas Gorilla story is the one where Bananas Gorilla commits suicide in prison after struggling with heroin addiction

abd5a171a8000000 (#250,668)

Isn't Bananas Gorilla the guy that murdered his roommate and injected him with Drano?

KeithTalent (#2,014)

Richard Scarry's granddaughters being "socialites" is a strange fact

Tanya (#277,844)

I have a 3 year old. I bring a portable potty with me. You know why? Because I also have an infant who likes to roll around in the grass, and I prefer to limit the amount of strange pee she's exposed to.

Seriously, portable potty. There's a solution for this, and it doesn't involve having your kid pee on public parks.

@Tanya You know dogs have probably peed on that grass that your infant is rolling around in and or taken a nice juicy poop that may not have been completely picked up. Also, your portable potty idea is completely unrealistic. What do you walk around with it strapped to your back? How do you chase kids around like that? ANd WHAT do you do with portable potty filled with urine?? Do you gingerly balance it while chasing your kids around and then dump it in the grass? Get real.

2307552276@twitter (#277,845)

Um, what?! Don't let your tiny monster piss on public property. That's just unhygienic.

Moff (#28)

@2307552276@twitter: Totally. If you're wandering around New York City, that approximate quarter-cup of mostly water soaked into the dirt near some bushes is at least among the top five environmental hazards you're being exposed to. Great comment.

justhere2upvote (#233,597)

This guy is a real fucking piece of work.

to_here_knows_when (#277,847)

God, you're an asshole. The world revolves around you and your kid. When people complain about someone "being white," they're talking about you.

BadUncle (#153)

I'm letting my dog run around grass which a child has marked? The horror, the horror.

Moff (#28)

@BadUncle: Seriously, portable dog potty.

Incidentally (#6,730)

In lieu of knee-jerk aspersions, Gabe, let me, as a father of precious little ones in my own right, nudge you toward a shift in logic to a fourth option: Do I want to ENJOY 10 minutes of this precious golden hour with MY CHILD in the park NEAR the skyline, REGARDLESS OF THE ACTIVITY? Yes, yes you do, Gabe, every moment with your kid is special, including those moments teaching your kid to be a responsible citizen.

@Incidentally : As an inveterate aspersion-caster, I'll just call this out here :

… what could be more blameless and innocent than a three-year-old girl urinating on some grass?

Uh, yeah no.

Moff (#28)

@Incidentally: Jesus Christ, yes, that's what we need in this country, is more of a focus on teaching our kids to be "responsible citizens." We have such a dearth of "responsible citizens." It totally makes sense to pack up a 3-year-old for a 10-minute round trip that might end in her wetting her pants regardless, because otherwise HORRORS, TRACES OF MOSTLY WATER ON THE GROUND (in a public park. In New York City). This kid is probably gonna be peeing on everything from here on out. She's ruined. As ruined as the rest of that evening was for all the unfortunate souls WHO HAD TO BEAR WITNESS TO A SMALL CHILD'S BASIC HUMAN BODILY FUNCTIONS. If they noticed.

Look at these fucking comments—at present at least seven, by my count, more interested in shaming a dude for letting his kid take a secluded pee outside (BECAUSE RULES! AND: ISH, YUCK! (again, in New York City!!!)) than in acknowledging that MAYBE, JUST MAYBE it is fucked-up that we live in a society where an officer of the state thought it necessary and acceptable to make a thing of it. (Yes, I'm sure he was thinking, Boy, if I don't set this bougie white father straight, he'll probably just let his kid pee all over the place every day from here on out. That will probably happen. That's a reasonable conclusion. Thank goodness I headed that off.)

Now go Tumbl a Maurice Sendak quote about being an iconoclast and retweet Ta-Nehisi Coates complaining about respectability politics or something, and then wonder why things aren't getting better, you jackasses.

Moff (#28)

I mean, it's fucking sad, is all, that this many people would feel it necessary to make it known they come down on the side of RULES. “IF YOUR 3-YEAR-OLD DOESN'T FOLLOW THE RULES, 90,000 PEOPLE COULD START PEEING ALL OVER NEW YORK CITY!!!

Incidentally (#6,730)

@Moff He made a choice from among three. None took into consideration anyone other than himself. I proposed a fourth that also took into consideration other people, that was in the spirit of the one he chose anyway.

And, yes, I favor rules against garbage on the street because someone is too lazy to carry it to the bin on the corner, loogies on the sidewalk because someone doesn't carry a tissue, and bodily waste in the grass because a dad can't be bothered to walk five minutes with his child.

timbo (#277,855)

@Moff I think rather than coming down on the side of RULES, people are commenting more on the passionate reaction of someone who was breaking a minor rule and suffered no consequences other than a man whose job it is to enforce rules saying "you're breaking a rule."
The interaction was probably unnecessary and definitely annoying, but as long as the officer wasn't belligerent or unprofessional, maybe look at it as a minor inconvenience endured when you're technically in the wrong.

Moff (#28)

@Incidentally: Yeah, but as I mentioned, your fourth choice does not at all take into account the entirely likely possibility that the child will wet her pants en route to the bathroom (have you dealt with a 3-year-old's capacity for judging how badly they need to go to the bathroom lately? I HAVE), thus turning a minor interruption into a hassle. Who is inconvenienced here by a young child peeing mostly out of sight in the bushes? Again: This is something that if a dog did, no one would bat an eye, even though the pee in question would be way stinkier, and the dog is going to do it over and over again throughout its life. And it is a bullshit argument to suggest that "expecting police officers to distinguish between genuine legal infractions and 3-year-olds going potty in the bushes" = "WANTING CHAOS AND PANDEMONIUM TO RULE THE DAY."

@timbo: Sorry, no, it's that whole mindset — the one that says, "Well, he was technically in the wrong," "Well, it's just a minor inconvenience," "Well, it is the policeman's job" — that's the problem. Gross. Please let's not insult our collective intelligence here by pretending that a 3-year-old peeing in some bushes is worthy of a cop-stop. That this was a necessary thing, and that it's all OK as long as no one got fined or arrested. When we act like the police officer was right to make an issue of this with the bougie white dad, and like the bougie white dad should be happy he didn't get in trouble in this situation, we are implicitly validating the same kind of police conduct that does cause real trouble for minorities.

timbo (#277,855)

@Moff Sorry, no. Don't compare this nonsense to very real violations of constitutional rights. Gross.

Moff (#28)

@timbo: It's not a comparison, like "Oh, this is just as awful as stop-and-frisk." Obviously it is not as awful. But they are rooted in the same structure. When our reaction is that it's acceptable for cops to harass privileged white people about stupid bullshit, a natural consequence of that is that it also becomes acceptable for them to harass people of color for stupid bullshit — which inevitably turns out worse for people of color.

The problem, as has been pointed out in numerous places, is the general attitude of law enforcement in this country. When people with privilege don't push back on it, then of course it's going to be even worse for the people who don't have privilege and can't push back. Do you understand that?

timbo (#277,855)

@Moff Agreed wholeheartedly about the general attitude of law enforcement. Don't pretend that this is an example of pushback, though. 1000+ words on what you wanted to say at the time changes nothing.

I also agree that a 3 year old peeing in some bushes absolutely does not warrant a cop-stop. But I bet there are some things I think do warrant a cop-stop that you might not and vice versa. Which is why laws exist. Do you understand that?

Moff (#28)

@timbo: OK, my apologies: Sometimes I find myself in these discussions, and I don't realize right away that I have to walk the other person through each of the relevant points. Because, for example, they might cloak their lack of acuity with rhetorical devices like sarcastically repeating back a phrase from the comment of mine they're responding to. (You've done it twice; we're probably good now; let's not pretend you've stumbled on to the Hadouken or something, commenter #277,885.)

Real quick because I have to go care for a 3-year-old now, who is almost certainly wetting his pants:

I didn't say that this post was an example of pushback. My point is that when the majority of comments (that aren't about Bananas Gorilla) are coming down on the side of the cop—that is validating a larger, pernicious mindset with consequences ranging from annoying to genuinely ugly. The comments here are people not pushing back. Because (I would guess) they're mostly interested in asserting their distaste for bougie white dads. (If Lana Del Rey had written this post—oh my god, you guys would be actively rooting for the cop to have cracked her with a nightstick.)

As I hope is gradually becoming apparent (I know I hope too much), yes, I am smart enough to understand the rationale behind our legal system. (It doesn't actually remove subjectivity, of course; at best it just minimizes it.) And I know we're in Internet Comment Land, where everybody is supposed to accept even the most absurd proposition as an at least somewhat viable argument. But I'm not going to do that. There is no compelling reason for the police officer to stop in this case; but there is a culture in this country of police throwing their weight around. When you and the other commenters here put the burden of justification on the dad instead of the cop, you are helping perpetuate that culture.

I know that sounds really heavy. I understand that the reflexive reaction is "How fucking stupid is this guy? It's just a cop giving a warning to some asshole who let his kid piss outside. That has nothing to with the real problems people have." I would suggest you mindfully try to quiet that reflexive reaction and ask yourself if maybe it does have something to do with it. I don't have a lot of faith that you will; I'm pretty sure, knowing people, that it's way more important for you to be right (never acknowledging that in none of your comments did you demonstrate that you had really thought through or understood what I was saying). That's OK. You're just a person, and so is everyone else here, and it makes me sad that nobody seems to see a problem with taking the side of the literally uniformed, gun-wielding agent of the state against the ordinary citizen over a little girl peeing outside at an event where you were not present—but I'll get through this, so be it. GOOD DAY.

timbo (#277,855)

@Moff Yikes. I'm sorry my commenter number is so high. I've never commented on a blog post before, mostly because I assumed it would only lead to me getting into a long meaningless back-and-forth with someone more interested in being condescending than having a discussion. For the record I did understand what you were saying in your posts, and although I have a slightly different opinion, I think we're mostly in agreement here. I bet if we had this conversation in real life, it would've been much more pleasant.

Moff (#28)

@timbo It wouldn't have. I am a jerk.

Incidentally (#6,730)

@Moff In your zeal you missed the part where I disclosed I'm a bougie white dad. It's hard enough in this world being a bougie white dad without the Gabes of the world perpetuating the incumbent stereotypes. Dude got called out, and he's blaming the guy who was doing his job for being on a power trip. I was just suggesting there maybe was a lesson to be learned despite his refusal to do so.

Moff (#28)

@Incidentally: I didn't miss that; it's not relevant. I am also a bougie white dad. (I guess you missed that?) Why do you even think it matters? (I can only imagine how hard it really is with all the Gabes and their stereotype-perpetuating. I mean seriously: I can only imagine it. Because my life is not exactly full of strangers darting accusatory glances my way when I'm with my kid, as if they expect that at any moment I might suddenly tell him to urinate on something. I don't even know what you mean about "incumbent stereotypes." I guess probably some people think I listen to a lot of Wilco. I don't, but I do own four or five of the albums.)

Listen: You don't actually know who was in the right or who was in the wrong here. Neither do I. That is a given. It has been a given since before we started arguing. Because we weren't there; we are getting all our information from a single source, whom as far as I can tell neither of us knows at all.

What I am saying disturbs me—what I have been saying this whole time disturbs me—is how the majority of pertinent comments here, made by people who were no more present for the actual proceedings than either of us, come down on the side of the cop. Nobody here is saying, "Hey, that's kinda fucked-up that a cop would even bother stopping." More to the point, multiple people are saying, "Well, he deserves it for being a douchey white dad who think he's special."

That is actual privilege: being able to take the police's side against your own people because you know nothing really bad is going to happen to the other dad, and because you know that nothing really bad is ever going to happen to you in a world where a 3-year-old peeing warrants a lecture from a cop. (And it's also, since you're so worried about how you're perceived, the epitome of bougie-white-dadness—this instinctive acquiescence to a power structure where the tough guy holding the gun is automatically and primarily deserving of respect. "Don't wanna rock the boat, guys!")

Whether there was "a lesson to be learned" is outside of my purview here; I know I can never answer it definitively, and I know you can't either. So I don't give a shit. I just think the reaction here is depressing.

Incidentally (#6,730)

@Moff No, I caught on real quick that you're a bougie white dad. One who really doesn't like cops and power structures, lots of words there, I get it. But we're talking past one another rather than arguing. The cop is incidental to the story where I'm sitting. Doing the right thing needn't ruin one's day with their precious little ones. But rather than owning up, dude says, well, we people with kids take up more space, so deal with it. That's the attitude that's getting called out.

Moff (#28)

@Incidentally: I like cops fine; I really do. I just understand that part of a healthy democratic society is putting the burden of proof on the people who carry the guns. But here, a handful of this dad's peers read his story and their first thought is not "Wow, that's fucked-up, he shouldn't really even have to own up to anything, his 3-year-old took a pee is all" but “This guy thinks he's so special.” It's indicative of a larger cultural mindset that is seriously dismaying.

You've made it clear your chief concern here is being "a responsible citizen" and "doing the right thing," and that the cop was just "doing his job." I have no issue with any of those things — I'm for them! — but I think it's kinda stupid where you and other commenters have chosen to draw the line. (And if your response is "Maybe I'd feel differently if Gabriel Roth had presented himself differently, but he just sounds like an asshole" — well, that's even more stupid.) We live in a time where so many presumably thoughtful, socially conscious people are more invested in policing their peers and bullshit signaling to distance themselves from the taint of white privilege than in examining how their own assumptions perpetuate that privilege. Sorry, we don't get someplace better by taking a stance against 3-year-olds peeing in public, no matter how unsympathetically the kid's dad relates the story. Because 3-year-olds peeing in public are not a problem; the general attitude of American police right now is. (And no, I'm not saying we would magically improve society if everyone commenting here had been appalled by the cop's behavior; I don't have quite that much faith in the power of comment sections. I'm saying that no one being appalled by it — to say nothing of writing it off as "[not] exactly a nightmarish police state," and attacking the citizen who got rolled up on — is evidence a lot of people aren't even pointing in the right direction for improvement, no matter what they think.)

Moff (#28)

I mean, it's darling, really, the commenters here all getting the vapors over a child of that age going potty. "Oh! But have you ever seen Brooklyn Bridge Park? Urine on the grass! Hold me, Thaxley — I believe I may swoon!"

Moff (#28)

"Why, earlier today I watched as a little boy dropped his popsicle stick on the ground. Father didn't pick it up. 'Too sticky,' I suppose. 'Trying to get home before nap time' or some such thing. Fortunately, a constable was on the scene in an instant. Set him right straight, he did. Mmm, these entitled white folk. They make all the rest of us look bad."

"Indeed, indeed. I saying just that down at the monocle shop this morning."

MR. MALADY, WHY WOULD YOU PEE IN THE PARK? That's a terrible thing to do and you are terrible for it.


timbo (#277,855)

A cop asking if you know what you're doing is illegal and then giving you information about a legal alternative isn't exactly a nightmarish police state.

hershmire (#233,671)

Really, these kinds of laws exist not because one person doing it is necessarily bad, but because New York is a city of 9 million+ people. If just 1% of them decided to pee in the park, that's 90,000 people doing it. That's a lot of urine.

There are a lot of laws in the city that don't make sense until you imagine a million people breaking them.

@hershmire I am 100% sure at least 90,000 people pee in public in NYC daily.

169536421@twitter (#277,856)

@antarctica starts here And come the end of July, we'll be able to smell every single one.

BadUncle (#153)

@hershmire Yes, 9 million people do carry a great deal of urine. And there are what – 3? – public toilets for all of us?

@BadUncle : 9 million people do carry a great deal of urine.

What the hell. In the spirit of public knowledge, let's do the math.

Normal urine output volume is about 1.5 liters/day and the standard frequency of urination is between 4 and 6 times per day, so we can assume that the average person voids 300 ml of urine 5 times a day. This seems reasonable, considering that the micturition reflex is usually triggered by a volume of 300 to 400 ml of urine in the bladder.

We should also assume that the average bladder is slightly more than half-full at any time — let's say 60% full — since the volume of urine in the bladder is constantly increasing but the micturition reflex can be voluntarily inhibited for a period of time even when the bladder is full. For ease of calculation, we'll disregard cases in which the bladder is less than full but voiding is voluntarily stimulated, and cases in which the person is too young to voluntarily suppress voiding.

Our back-of-the-envelope calculation gives us the following result : roughly 8.5 million people in NYC (2013 census estimate) are each carrying 60% of their 300 ml urine capacity at any given time, which means that the carrying volume of urine in NYC at any given time is roughly 1.53 million liters total.

Considering that an Olympic-size swimming pool holds 2.5 million liters, you are currently surrounded by a more-than-half-full (~60% full) Olympic swimming pool of urine, sloshing around in the bladders of everyone around you.

Interestingly, your fellow New Yorkers are currently urinating at a collective rate of 17,700 liters per minute, or the output of nearly 4 (~3.77) Class "A" rated fire engine pumps. This astonishing rate is exceeded only by the rate at which your fellow New Yorkers ingest water through drinking, eating, and aerobic respiration : a staggering 21.25 million liters of water per day, just short of 30,000 liters per minute.

You can thank me later; right now, I have to go pee.

canonizer (#278,008)

@hershmire you're neglecting the commuters, which surely must push the population upwards during the week.

ejcsanfran (#489)

First, they came for the blameless and innocent three-year-old girls urinating on some grass… And I said, "Yeah, I'm pretty much OK with that."

Your daughter was druuuuuuunk!

169536421@twitter (#277,856)

I was a dogwalker. Every so often, as my charges left spreading pools of unsanitary liquid waste below helpless street trees, I'd think,"this is pretty ballsy," but there it is, dogs don't have formal pissoirs here the way they do in *parts of* Paris.

So your kid's half-cup of recycled Soymoo doesn't add up to much, but you know what? You can't teach dogs to go pee before they play, just in case.

As a very small girl, I made certain misjudgements, involving time, distance, compulsion, and once, a leather armchair. A properly placed clump of bushes would have saved me a long period of self-recrimination and remorse.

So your daughter has all my sympathy as a fellow-offender. Especially since she doesn't have the advantage I did: adult people who tried emptying me before I leaked, however many minutes of precious playtime basic maintenance robbed from me.

So yes, mistakes were made and they weren't momentous. But rather than lie to The Law and consider yourself the most adorable piss-criminal ever to be unjustly spoken to unsmilingly, how's about being straight with your three-year-old as well as the cop? "I'm sorry, Officer, I wasn't sure she could hold it" to him, and "he wasn't happy because you're not supposed to pee in the park" don't seem nearly as humiliating as the verbal melvining you gave yourself.

gavster (#277,858)

I don't think anyone is really that upset about a three-year-old peeing in the park. The problem is that this Gabe fellow, in just a few short paragraphs, comes across as completely loathsome in his sense of entitlement and indignation. Such a tired cliche of a liberal, white, privileged helicopter parent, it oozes from every sentence. Your daughter telling you she has to pee is not "a good moment," and it demonstrates nothing of your parenting skills. I'm willing to bet that the three-year-old children of destitute crack whores are able to announce when they have to make. A good moment would be to teach your daughter to have enough self-control to hold it in for five minutes, because the world is not hers to piss on. Instead, at three, she has already learned that civic courtesies (forget that it's a rule) are not for her or her family. My hunch is that, through osmosis, that's something already deeply ingrained.

Moff (#28)

@gavster: This is a comment you will look back on with shame and regret when you actually know what dealing with a 3-year-old is like. Good luck.

169536421@twitter (#277,856)

@Moff My, you're certainly worked up about this non-disciplining of a man who decided to lie to his kid about the non-disciplining he suffered.

gavster is overestimating the ability of 3-year-olds to control their insides, which is why it's called potty-training, but he's right on about the sense of entitlement the dad is so proud of (BTW, announcing you're aware of your white privilege AS YOU USE IT isn't nearly as adorable as the writer thinks).

Kid probably knew he wasn't telling her the truth, too, because, and if you have a 3-year-old you know this, the only being better at sussing out prevarication than a cop is a 3 y.o.

Moff (#28)

@169536421@twitter: No, I am worked up about the readers of a nominally liberal-leaning, pro–social justice website who don't see the problem with taking the police officer's side here. I am also a little worked up over some people's level of reading comprehension and general intellectual ability. Pretty easy for me not to get worked up over the parental lying because (1) every parent will do it at some point, or something like it, we're all imperfect, and (2) it is not at all germane to my point. Great comment, though.

Mr. B (#10,093)

Hey, did anyone hear the story on NPR this morning about how ONE OUT OF EVERY TWO people in India crap outside? Like, even when there are actual facilities available?

Also there was that afternoon last summer when I had to hop over some dude's extremely yellow and actively flowing stream of urine on a Thompson Street sidewalk, while said dude (facing the building) yelled "Sorry! Sorry!" at passersby.

I love this city.

gavster (#277,858)

@Moff: You presume I don't know what it's like to deal with a 3-year-old. I know it's difficult, and annoying, and frustrating at times. I also know people have been doing it for eons, it isn't the heaviest burden in this life, and not every parent feels compelled to slather him/herself with such a heaping helping of praise for doing it. There's no shortage of self-involved parents out there, so do we really need another one giving himself a pat on the back because his kid had the wherewithal to announce she had to take a leak?

Besides, as I stated before, I could give two shits that Gabe let his daughter pee in the park. It's his attitude about himself, his daughter, his hummus-eating peers and how "magical" he seems to think they all are, coupled with the sanctimonious way he describes his encounter with a surly policeman, that irked me. Maybe if parents like this spent more time modelling how not to be an insufferable twat their children would be better off, and so would the rest of us.

24915865@twitter (#277,862)

I can't help but consider this episode from the perspective of the PEP officer:

* Man in bushes with young girl with underwear off *

Of course, in this case, there is a reasonable explanation.

But is it fair to slam the guy for confirming that by asking two innocuous questions – and then seeing how you (and your daughter) respond?

Its not as fun of a story, but couldn't one chalk this up to "guy doing his job."

@kerns (#12,164)

The backlash you are getting for this is pretty crazy. How is hauling a small child who really has to pee on a 10 minute walk in which she might pee herself and the (more public) ground beneath her being more responsible? What about dogs and cats peeing in public? Why is that not a sanitary problem? Americans can be so incredibly puritan and phobic.

But I agree with @timbo, you were warned and advised – in a dickish and unnecessary way to be sure – but without a fine or citing it's difficult to muster more than a head scratch. If you'd been fined as I sort of expected based on the use of "busted" in this story's headline, you'd have my full sympathy and outrage.

@kerns (#12,164)

Sorry – "busted" was the word used in your tweet, not your story's headline – my mistake.

solongefarewell (#277,965)

@@kerns It would only be a ten minute walk if he was going to go all the way to Starbucks 3 blocks away. Brooklyn Bridge park is not a big place.

solongefarewell (#277,965)

I think you have to know what Brooklyn Bridge park looks like to realize what an unbelievable asshole this guy is. There are little strips of grass that are covered in people sitting. There is no giant field of grass, just tiny sitting areas that are covered in signs that say that the area is for sitting only (no dogs pooping, no sports). This is an area that is explicitly for sitting or if he was on the promenade, the only grass is technically someone's backyard. This dude is an entitled fuck.

abd5a171a8000000 (#250,668)

I think the real problem here is people are having children in New York. Can we address it from that angle?

Dilworth (#525)

as a parent of a graduate of this very same preschool I'm here to mention something implicit in this post which is that this particular preschool is REALLY fucking expensive, so like fuck all y'all.

damen (#278,240)

Please click the twitter link below the author's name to see more self-absorbed asshole posts. I'd like to tinkle in his mouth. Bring back the Bananas Gorilla thread!

salvo (#8,697)

Giving the guy the benefit of the doubt for being a slow walker while carrying a 3-year-old, the longest relatively direct distance you can walk in Brooklyn Bridge Park is around 1/8th of a mile, which should take three minutes, tops.

So there is no potential "10-minute walk" with a three-year-old that has to pee.

Rich.N (#278,671)

I grew up in the 70's in the west – my family routinely pulled off the road so that we could use the bathroom — miles from the nearest town. A couple of years ago I was with a friend on the Penn Turnpike and I asked my buddy to pull over so I could take a leak — you would thought that I was asking him to commit treason. He did it grudgingly. I guess times have changed?

ashley76 (#280,524)

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ashley76 (#280,524)

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To the nasty people commenting on this dad's experience:
Sooo… you've NEVER peed in public then?? Ever? And you've never walked a dog who peed in public?? Because if you have, then you're a complete hypocrite.

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