Potty training toddlers can be intense, time-consuming business, with numerous stops & starts. The process is often messy and complicated as kids learn the skill of identifying when they need to go, as well as learning how to “hold it” until there’s a bathroom available.
Potty training toddlers is especially complicated when you’re driving a long distance.
With family two states away, my husband & I could tell you everything you need to know about each rest stop along Interstate 95, because potty training kids forced us to have to visit every.single.one.
Like most parents, you’ve undoubtedly had those times -no matter how carefully you’ve tried to prevent it- when despite your best efforts of preparation, your child has announced urgently from the backseat of your car: “I have to go NOW!” And we all know that when a toddler says he or she has got to go… they’ve got to go!
A mother in Georgia was given a citation by a police deputy for disorderly conduct after she allowed her son -her THREE YEAR OLD son- to urinate in a gas station parking lot.
Brooke Johns, a mother of two young children that is due with her third child next month, was driving from her home in Beech Island, SC through Augusta, GA. Let’s set the stage with that reality first: a woman that is nine months pregnant is taking an extended drive solo with two young kids (one which is in the throes of potty training), which you know is no easy feat.
While on the highway, Johns’ three-year-old son Cohen told her that he needed to use a bathroom, which was nowhere nearby.
You know the drill; you’re driving along a stretch of highway & your toddler announces that he or she needs to go, and NOW. While Brooke assured Cohen that they would stop as soon as they possibly could, she told Augusta news station WRDW that the situation quickly escalated:
He’s like, ‘Mom, I’ve got to pee. I’ve got to pee!’ I was like, ‘Well, hold on,’ and he’s like, ‘No! I’ve got to pee! I’ve got to really pee.”
While Brooke tried to let him know that there was no bathroom immediately available, Cohen definitely couldn’t wait:
“And I’m like, ‘Baby, there’s nowhere for me to go, and he says, ‘Momma, I’m about to pee in my pants!’”
What do you do?? When a three-year-old declares that he or she is about to pee their pants, you stop as quickly as you can, wherever you can. Period.
So Brooke pulled into the closest gas station, & attempted to hustle Cohen towards the bathroom. Keep in mind that she’s NINE MONTHS PREGNANT, so picking him up to speed up the process isn’t an option.
But Cohen literally couldn’t wait, and Brooke realized he wouldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so she unbuckled his pants & shielded his body from people in the parking lot as Cohen relieved himself on the pavement:
He was peeing before his pants were even all the way down, so obviously he had to go.
Been there, girl. I vividly remember being stuck in standstill bridge traffic with a desperate three-year-old before pulling off to the side of the highway so that our three-year-old son could pee. When they’ve got to go, they’ve got to go!
While most parents are totally empathetic to the unexpected situation that Brooke was in, a Richmond County deputy officer certainly did NOT sympathize with her plight. He approached & told her that she needed to take Cohen to the bathroom… which was obviously no longer needed at this point. As she explained to WRDW, her response to the officer was:
Accidents happen. What if I would have ran in the bathroom and someone had been in there? What I was going to let him do? Pee on the floor of the gas station?
EXACTLY. Cohen’s need to urinate came up unexpectedly. Brooke pulled over as quickly as possible. She made every attempt to get him to a restroom in time.
She physically could not have carried him quickly enough due to her pregnancy. She blocked his body from any onlookers. It’s clear to most people that she handled the situation as best she could under the circumstances, right?
Well, not according to the heartless officer, who simply handed her a ticket for “disorderly conduct”.
The citation states that the officer “observed the male’s genitals and the urination” despite the fact that “public restrooms are offered at this location”. So basically, this officer slapped the same charge on Brooke for her helpless, potty-training three-year-old that one would for a drunkard that decides to deliberately urinate on the side of a 7-11 building (yup, I saw that in person. And he definitely deserved his ticket!).
Brooke is appearing in court on April 30 -mere days before her due date- where she will face up to $1K in fines and/or 60 days in jail.
Can you even imagine??? Think of how many parents would face this charge if they too had been issued a ticket every time their potty-training child experienced a roadside emergency. I can tell you that I would have racked up THOUSANDS of dollars in charges over the years of potty training six kids while taking road trips.
Brooke Johns was of course in shock over the odd turn of events, & shared her heartbreaking feelings of humiliation and sadness on social media.
Including sharing a reenactment photo in the comments section of the WDRW’s news anchor’s Facebook page.
As expected, she has received massive sympathetic support on social media over her plight, with a multitude of parents expressing outrage for the officer’s cold-hearted attitude.
Many comments pointed out that although Cohen’s outdoor urination was “technically” breaking the law, the use of common sense in this situation should have applied in the officer’s judgement in this case. Several people have even offered to pay Brooke’s potential fine for her, simply to protest the insanity of the charge filed against her.
Respect for the law is clearly important, but in this case, the charge simply doesn’t fit the “crime”. And if it does, then the vast majority of parents that have potty-trained their children are criminal outlaws, because accidents & emergency pee breaks are simply part of the potty-training process.
I truly feel for this wonderful lady. When our boys were small, we went with my husband (who is a truck driver) on a day trip to Atlanta to deliver a load. Our oldest (3yrs at the time) had to pee. My husband had to pull his TRACTOR-TRAILER to the side of the INTERSTATE so our son could go! You do what you gotta do.
Good job, mom!
Twice this week I have done something similar and wondered if it was illegal, and if I was about to get banned from a place. Both times a potential bathroom was in sight, but still a good 5 min run/walk away for my little guy. Both times I DID find a tree, which I feel is fair game…
Good luck, honey. This officer must not have potty-trained someone. I have tried to hustle my buddy to the restrooms only for him to pull his pants all the way down to his ankles, pee, then laugh and point at the pee of the tree. And you know what? I congratulated him for not peeing himself.
Good luck in court!