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Before I start this step-by-step guide of how to handle a toddler peeing in the public pool, I must be completely transparent:
Neither of my girls (at the time of this writing) has ever peed in a public pool.
Technically speaking, one of my daughters pooped in a country club pool as a toddler. So they shut the place down. In front of us. With yellow caution tape. Giving you-should-be-ashamed-of-yourself looks as they were doing it. Like a crime happened.
Am I still qualified to write this article? I'm going to guess, yes.
No big deal. It happens. At the time of the incident, she'd pretty much mastered the potty training thing ... but apparently not as well as I'd thought.
I remember wanting to cry for my little girl and her big worried eyes when she realized what she accidentally did, but my bigger goal was to not let her feel embarrassed and ashamed over something that I should've tried to avoid ahead of time. ("No! She doesn't need swim diapers anymore!" Nice fail, mom.)
What do you do if your toddler lets it slip and rip in a pool? Try these tactics to save face:
1. Act natural
Stay calm. Stay focused. Stay quiet. The goal is to get out of the pool with as little spectacle as possible.
As in, don't completely flip out and go nuts yelling or laughing at your kid in front of all sorts of strangers (unless your kid is older, knows better and did it on purpose to try and be funny or something ... then I give full permission to get mad). Stay calm. Stay focused. Stay quiet. The goal is to get out of the pool with as little spectacle as possible.
2. Scan the water
Before you make your swift exit onto the deck, make sure you aren't leaving any floaters behind, if you get what I mean. If you see one, snatch it up (say what? you heard me). Get that little turd into a towel or something before anyone sees it and pinpoints your kid as the guilty one. Protect your little pooper from pointing fingers. Because pointing fingers can be mean and scary to someone who is pretty sure they did something socially unacceptable and scared of whether or not they're going to get in trouble for it.
3. Move quickly
As quickly and safely as possible, that is, while dripping wet. Make a (careful) dash for the bathrooms to further investigate the situation. Tell your child to move fast ... calmly and quietly. Tell them that the bathrooms might have lollipops if you need to kick them into second gear. Just get out of sight. I repeat: quickly.
4. Approach the lifeguard before someone else does
In our previous case, one of the friends we were with vehemently reported our situation to the lifeguard before I even finished scanning the water for those floaters I was referring to in point No. 2. In a blink, two staff members with their preppy shirts on immediately swooped over with their fancy yellow tape marked 'caution' and practically escorted us out of the pool. Yes, I know it is a health issue, but I felt violated. I felt tattled on. I felt angry. It was an accident for God's sake! She's barely even 3! There were no floaters! People were looking and whispering, before I even really knew what was happening. We were the scolded ones. Get to the lifeguard first ... if for nothing else than to be covert.
5. Call it a day
OK maybe you don't have to, but we did. I wanted my girls out of there ... I do my best to raise tough cookies, but small kids can get sensitive when it comes to their bodily functions. I saw my little girl looking more and more worried and semi-humiliated, and I wasn't going to let this common slip up provoke a potential regression of our potty skills. No way. Time to go home (and practice our restroom skills some more).
And if anyone questions you? Deny, deny, deny. (Why not?)
I realize that this article is total and ridiculous common sense (duh), but I also remember the urgent and heartbreaking wait-how-should-I-handle-this feeling I encountered when this happened to us a few years ago. Looking back, I realize I should've called our friends out for selling us out so mercilessly. Kids pee. Kids poop. And sometimes it happens in a pool with preppy strangers and pointing fingers. Don't panic. This poo (or pee) shall pass.