All of my kids have bladders smaller than a pregnant woman—and I should know. Keeping our kids well-hydrated on our adventures never ends well. My daughter is, at least, vocal and modest when the need arises. My son not so much. In the past year, he’s managed to pee outdoors at some of the most famous and breathtaking locations in the world.
I blame Europe for my son’s sudden propensity to pee wherever. In Europe, it’s not unusual to see a car pulled off to the side of the road so a young child can relieve himself on a long road trip. We adopted this habit quickly, especially as I had my hands full with a newborn and seeking out bathrooms at remote playgrounds or destinations by yourself with three kids is just inconvenient. My daughter quickly envied her brother’s newfound freedom to pee anywhere. And I was clueless to the fiascos that can follow a boy-child once he’s “potty-trained”.
One of our earliest trips as a family of five was to Cardiff. The highlight of the trip was a day spent exploring the nearby Caerphilly Castle. It remains one of my favorite castles in all of the UK. My kids LOVED this castle. Their excitement was unbounded. The castle grounds were sprawling and there were lots of hidden gems tucked away for the kids to discover. After exploring room after room in the castle, they raced ahead of their stroller-pushing mom to check out the giant wooden baristas (catapults) and crossbow tower in the courtyard. The husband was off exploring somewhere else as I followed after the two oldest. And then I saw the panic. My daughter was shouting something at me and my son was doing an awkward dance—a dance I recognized all too well. With 100 feet still separating us in the empty, grassy courtyard, I left my sleeping baby in the stroller and sprinted toward them. My son had already begun to take matters into his own hands as I arrived. All I could do was help him be more discreet and aim him towards something that wasn’t a thousand years old. First place you’ll pee when you’re three: Caerphilly Castle in Wales.
We stopped at Stonehenge on our drive home from Wales. The rest of us had the foresight to use the bathroom upon our arrival at the Welcome Center. But my sleepy son refused to go to the bathroom with his dad. Half an hour and a bus ride out to the stones later, and my son was a disaster. All he wanted was his mommy, but I had a sleeping infant strapped to my chest. Mega meltdown ensued. Nothing could calm him. From angry whining to throwing himself on the ground kicking and screaming seconds later. All with Stonehenge as the backdrop for his tantrum. If you’re thinking you’ve heard this story before, it’s because you probably have. It’s one of the incidents that prompted me to start the blog and I wrote about it last year. Except I wasn’t 100% honest in that post as a novice travel blogger. He may or may not have made it to an appropriate bathroom as previously stated. Next place you’ll pee when you’re three: Stonehenge, England.
Fast forward a few months later and we would visit Ireland for the first time. We entered new territory on this trip as our kids went almost 48 hours without so much as a tear, let alone a meltdown. We had a few hours to spare before our late night flight home, so we explored Bunratty Castle in County Clare. The kids were happily climbing on canons in front of the castle when nature called. But he must have been too busy playing to listen because this time he wet himself before leaving his mark on another castle courtyard. Third place you’ll pee when you’re three: Bunratty Castle, Ireland.
Somewhere in the past year I also flew back from the States by myself with three kids. The flight was over all a huge success, except for the fact that my son slept so soundly he didn’t wake when nature called 30,000 feet above the Atlantic. In a proud mom moment, I would continue to let potty pants sleep until the snoring baby on me awoke and it had becoming obvious that the urine stench was coming from our row and not the bathroom. Another place you’ll pee when you’re three: somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.
A few months later Grandma would come to visit and we traveled to Rome. We explored the Coliseum and the Roman Forum on our final day in the city. And once again, with no bathrooms in sight, he suddenly had to go. And there he was next to his oblivious sister relieving himself way up ahead on a dirt path with the Coliseum in the background. We could only shake our heads in disbelief that we’d let it happen yet again. Luckily, the urge hadn’t overcome him when he’d been asleep on his daddy’s shoulders an hour before. Fifth place you’ll pee when you’re three: the Roman Forum, Italy.
In our unintentional exhibitionist’s defense, his clueless parents took an entire year to learn the early indications that the quiet child’s bladder was approaching full. But his stubborn streak (obviously inherited from his father) still meant that sometimes he just wouldn’t go in advance like everyone else. Enter our final incident. None of us had the common sense to use the impeccable toilets on the ferry ride over to Skye. An hour drive after the ferry dropped us off in Skye and everyone but the three-year old needed to go. Unexpectedly, there was no welcome center, no toilets, no porta-potties greeting us at the meager Fairy Pool parking lot. So we made do and my daughter beamed the whole day about finally getting to pee outdoors. We’d hiked all the way up to the Fairy Pools and stopped to splash in the water before my son realized nature was now calling him too. His father was distracted taking pictures, mommy was sitting on the rocks next to the pools still enjoying the view, and the little explorers had resumed hiking along the trail while they waited for their parents to catch up. Everything was peaceful and perfect. Until I was interrupted from my daydreaming moment with the youngest to the shrieks of my daughter. She announced, for all the tourist within half a mile to hear, that her brother was peeing again. No chance at being discreet now as every tourist within earshot was now staring at my son with his pants around his ankles relieving himself next to the trail with the most gorgeous backdrop imaginable. The last place you’ll pee when you’re three: the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
Happy birthday, little man. Thanks for making the past year so memorable. We love you and all your escapades. I can’t wait to be part of your mischief and adventures as a four-year-old!