After nearly seven years, my son has begun to pee standing up. I don’t know when most boys start to pee standing up, or if they ever pee sitting down. I feel like this is the kind of thing you investigate and obsess about when you’re a first time mom and you’re potty training your first born. But my first born was a girl, so I missed that part, and with the second kid–well, we all know how things go with second kids. My son just sort of potty trained himself by imitating me and his sister, and I didn’t really have the time or the inclination to worry about it.
So for three years, my son peed sitting down. He peed sitting down in preschool, at camp, at home, and, because he spends most of his time with me, in women’s restrooms all across Los Angeles. He’d push his penis back so it would shoot down into the bowl and not spray all over the floor in front of him (a lesson I learned the hard way), and when he was finished, he’d take a little piece of toilet paper and dab away whatever little dribbles were left. It was all very neat and clean and, well, girly.
My husband tried to teach him to go standing up a few times, but my son resisted. He just wasn’t interested in learning a new way. But when he started kindergarten, I began to worry that he might get made fun of, so I tried to persuade him go standing up whenever I could. His aim was pretty good, but no matter how much he tried, those dribbles at the end always seemed to end up on the waistband of his underwear and not in the toilet bowl. And since he didn’t like sitting in wet underwear (and who can blame him), he quickly reverted back to peeing girl-style. Besides, getting teased turned out to not be an issue, because the bathrooms in kindergarten are for one person at a time, so nobody ever saw him.
But now that he’s going into first grade, where there aren’t bathrooms in the classroom and he’ll be faced with a wall of urinals and kids from older grades, I figured it was about time to tackle the problem head on (no pun intended, I swear). I bought him some really soft, cotton boxer-briefs to replace his tighty whities (not technically white–more like tighty star warsies), and I pointed out the little flap that allows for easy pee access. This, he thought was super cool. (And, I discovered, it all but eliminates the dribble issue,). A few days later his friend came over, and while the two of them were playing in the backyard, his friend announced he had to pee, pulled his pants down and watered one of our trees. This, my son found fascinating. And then, suddenly, he decided that public bathrooms are disgusting, and that sitting down on a public toilet was something only to be done if absolutely necessary. Somehow, the universe aligned to magically combine these three forces all at once, and voilá–a standing up pee-er was born.
I saw it for the first time the other day. We were at the beach with some friends and he needed some help changing out of his wet bathing suit. The boys balked when I suggested that he come into the ladies room with me, so I found a single person men’s room and took him in there. I have to pee, he announced, and in one fell swoop he whipped his penis out and let loose into the urinal like a professional. Since when do you do that? I asked him. He shrugged. I thought it was time, he said. I’m a big kid now, you know? My heart filled with pride, and I thought to myself, my son is peeing like a man! Finally!
I do know, I told him. I really, really do.