When you have a baby, you get used to coming in contact with more pee than you ever dreamed. Now that my boy is “potty trained,” I almost never have to touch the stuff anymore. But “potty trained” just means he doesn’t pee and poop on clothes and floors and other things that need washing. He does, however, love to pee on tree trunks, under bushes, and in sand, when we let him.
“Az egy Magyar tulajdonság” (That’s a Hungarian thing), my Hungarian babysitter recently said knowingly when I told her about this habit. At Hungarian beaches, all the kids under age 8 or 10 are naked. Except the American ones, that is. It’s common to let babies and kids run around naked outside in summer there, and this diaper-free time is part of the potty-training process. I guess I have also seen more young adults use the bushes in Hungary than in the States, but is it really that verboten here?
What Will People Think?
When we had guests in our backyard and N dropped his pants to pee, our guest just sighed and said, “It’s the best part of being a boy.” And our across-the-fence neighbors smile when they see my naked chickadee running around the yard watering plants with his mini-hose. “That’s the way it should be,” they say.
Another caregiver “lets the boys pee through the fence” in her yard, too, so it’s been challenging to explain to N exactly where and when it is okay to do this and when it’s not. We do have to be a bit discreet, because not everyone is a fan. My dear husband, for example, finds it rather disturbing. Is he right when he says, “we’d have big problems if everyone did that”?
EC Freely: It’s Sanitary
When N was an infant, we did elimination communication (EC) part-time. EC-ing means letting babies pee and poop away from their bodies instead of into a diaper. I loved the concept and had a lot of success with it. For a long time, we “caught” most poop in the toilet. Pee was harder to catch indoors, but in the great outdoors, we watered all kinds of non-edible plants.
At least one of the EC books I read called this “using the facilitrees,” and of course we all do it when we take hikes of sufficient length and remoteness. Most heavily-used trails have toilets, because you don’t want tons of raw sewage out there. But what I learned from EC and potty-training books is that pee is sterile, meaning it is free of bacteria when it leaves your body, so eliminating #1 is fine.
You do want the liquid to go onto some kind of absorbent soil or mulch so it is not pooling on the sidewalk and providing a breeding ground for bacteria that find their way into it. But assuming we’re really peeing on plants, Dear Husband is not justified in his public health concern. Do the port-a-plants mind, though?
Is Pee Good for Plants?
As any gardening book will tell you, soil needs nitrogen. In a list of the Carbon to Nitrogen ratios of “Common Mulch and Compost Materials” in Gaia’s Garden, Toby Hemenway lists human urine as the very best! Urine has a ratio of .08:1 carbon:nitrogen. Chicken manure and human manure were 7:1 and 8:1 respectively. Should we also be fans of biosolids as fertilizers, that “Loop” stuff they produce from the composting toilets at the Bullitt Center, and traditional ways of using composted manure from outhouses? We’ll discuss those topics another day. For now, enjoy the summer, and let me know what you think of newly potty-trained toddlers watering plants as a public good.
Summary of Tips
- Most people think it’s cute for little boys to pee outside.
- Pee on soil, not concrete.
- Bury, or preferably pick up and dispose of poop – it’s not sterile like pee is.
- Your plants will love you, and
- so will whoever pays your water and diaper bills!