Dad, I gotta go #2 now!

Posted by: MTvagabond

Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/14/11 12:40 AM

OK, so I'm thinking about the thread in philosophy on the use of TP in the wild, and I have another potty question for those who are interested. Despite our best efforts to "schedule" our son's bowel movements, he has a remarkable capacity to determine that he has to poop at the worst possible times. In particular, these times happen to be when there is little opportunity to find a good spot away from the trail. He's old enough that he should have a little foresight into the matter, but he still just waits until it's urgent.

There has really been only one incident so far that I am embarrassed about (although this issue has come up more than once). Basically, he told us he had to go while we were negotiating a set of switchbacks down a mountain side. There was no place for him to go, and we told him he had to wait until we got down to flat terrain. When we did get down, he claimed he was to the point of going in his pants. There was a lot of brush and not a lot of time to look for an isolated spot far from the trail, so we moved aside as best we could and let him do his business. I disguised the spot as well as I could, but I still feel bad for letting him go #2 so close to the trail.

I guess I'm looking for other parent's experiences here. I'm looking for ideas on how we can help him to let us know more in advance of when he has to go, so we can plan accordingly. Honestly, I'd let him poop right in the middle of the trail before I would risk having him go in his pants, but I need some advice on how to avoid this altogether. Any thoughts?
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/14/11 01:18 AM

I've had similar situations happen--with me! Sometimes, when you gotta go, you gotta go! That's especially a problem when switching over from home food to the backpacking diet, which usually contains a lot of dried fruit and nuts. In those cases I "go" first, then dig a hole alongside, push the waste into the hole with a stick or stone, put the loose dirt back on top and press down, and carry on. It's important to teach the kid to do this himself and to pack out his TP. For quite a while you have to check afterwards to make sure everything is completely buried.

Having seen obvious human waste--unburied and with free-floating toilet paper--right next to a trail (aargh) any number of times, I wouldn't worry. At least you made sure your son's was properly buried!

Not everyone has full control over bowels and/or bladder at the age we think they should. I was a late bed-wetter and so were three of my four children (#4 basically toilet-trained herself and was dry at night by age 2, making up for all the others) and all six of my grandchildren, two of whom were 12-13 before they gained complete control. No medical problems and no negligence on the part of the kid, just what the docs called an immature bladder. The same can be true of bowels. IMHO, parental pressure only causes more guilt and shame than a kid with such problems already has--believe me, they are already well aware that they are not "normal." I therefore am in full sympathy with your son! You can gently and unobtrusively keep track of when he "goes" and gently suggest he try at the same time the next day, but please don't press him too hard!

Far more important than privacy or being far from the trail is being well away from any water, including seasonal (dry) watercourses. I'd aim for that goal rather than privacy.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/14/11 12:07 PM

I totally agree with OM. "Privacy" is more of an issue with adults than children. My 3yr old grandson is at the stage where he views going #2 as a social event - hauls his potty out into the kitchen, sits down, and wants to chat! One of the nicest things about backpacking is that I can do my "doody" anytime I need to! You can also carry a poop bag (get one from a FS office) and simply carry it down to a better spot for disposal. Or make your own- just put some cat litter in a paper lunch bag, then you can burn the bag at night.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/14/11 05:02 PM

And there's my youngest grandson, who for over a year after he was toilet-trained for #1, insisted that a diaper be put on him when he had to do #2. The day he actually used the toilet we had a big celebration!

W_D, the "wag bag" is a great idea!
Posted by: Steadman

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/15/11 09:01 PM

No help, just comiseration.

My oldest daughter, comes with me, so I am forever looking for something she can sit down on to go pee or poop - logs and rocks are our favorite perches thus far.

In terms of finding a place to go, I haven't been tempted (yet) to bring an entrenching tool, which supposedly offers a seat when turned into an upside down "L" shape (handle on the ground, sit one cheek on the shovel blade).

Since they're calling the breaks anyway as the slowest/weakest members of the party, I don't get particularly fustrated by this yet...
Posted by: phat

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/16/11 12:30 AM

Forget Privacy!

If you aren't getting it into water or eating areas and are dealing with it appropriately for the situation.. Let him go!

1) for one thing people will understand when it's a kid

2) He'll enjoy the sport much more if he's not rendered uncomfortable

Lord knows, if you're backpacking with me, and I gotta go, and there's no trees.. I ain't gonna worry about my privacy - if you don't like the bad scenery look the other way wink
Posted by: MTvagabond

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/16/11 01:38 AM

Just to clarify, privacy was never much of an issue. I guess I've always tried to get away from the trail to poop, just as a courtesy to other hikers. I'd like my son to do the same, but he doesn't really have the same kind of foresight that I do. Of course, part of this is outdoor teaching, so I'll have to keep working with him. And he's not a toddler; he'll be nine in August. Honestly, I think he's just so adapted to modern plumbing that his system assumes there will be a toilet nearby anytime he has to go. He does well to let us know in advance that he has to poop, but his idea of advanced notice is about 20 minutes. Not a lot of help. I'm pretty sure he can hold it if necessary, but I'm not really willing to take that chance. I was a child myself once.

I'm learning a lot, since he is our only child, about what to expect in worse case scenarios. For example, we took a tour of some beautiful caverns last year, with multiple reminders beforehand that there are NO bathrooms once inside the caverns. We tried to anticipate by drinking well before entering and relieving ourselves beforehand. Sure enough, at the lowest point in the tour our son had to pee, and he was desperate. I hadn't been in a situation before where just turning to pee could have significant influence on the surrounding environment. I forever thank the courteous fellow in our party with multiple kids who carried an empty water bottle just for those situations.

Anyway, to reiterate what others have said, I believe that if you gotta go, you gotta go. I'll think about the bags. I've never carried poop, and I only entertain the idea on a philosophical level. Thanks to everyone's input on this, and I welcome any more ideas.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/16/11 10:44 AM

I know what you mean about the yuk factor, but it really is not that bad. "wag bags" are now required for everyone on Mt Whitney and Mt. Shasta. You are given bags when you pick up your permit and there is a special disposal can at the trailhead. The bags also are useful where you just have to move the poop to a more appropriate place. Sort of like picking up your dog's poop in cities. A plastic bag over the hand is helpful. I agree you should keep up the effort to teach proper place and burying, but having an emergency back-up is wise. In the big picture it is a small issue and nothing you want to have discourage your kid from backpacking. When I had a problem with my kids, I always said, "they do eventually grow up". Todays big problem disappear, and a new unexpected one crops up! Welcome to the world of parenting!
Posted by: finallyME

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/16/11 02:05 PM

Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
Welcome to the world of parenting!

That is pretty much all I can add. Do the best you can. Kids will do what they want, despite your efforts. He will learn, eventually.
Posted by: minorth

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 01/15/12 03:54 PM

I have gone backpacking with my 8 year old boy once and we had one emergency bathroom situation. We were able to find a spot, dig a hole and take care of business just in time. So I'm 1 for 1, the joys of parenting.

Even with our little crisis followed by a rainy night he had a great time and can't wait for the two of us to backpack again.
Posted by: Jazilla

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 02/27/12 12:51 PM

My son's #2s are on a schedule. Now that I think about it mine are also. I know he goes everyday around 4. Any time around or after that I expect it to be coming. That way I got all the stuff in my pockets he might need to go so we can just step off trail walk a bit and dig. It eliminates the dig through the pack time.
Posted by: SurvivalDad

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 04/28/15 12:59 PM

Other than a constant questioning of his "need", I don't know if there is a way to control that. I look forward to read more on this.
Posted by: PeterK

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/26/15 10:36 PM

I took my 6 and 4 year old camping for three nights and let me just say, never again. First day was fine, but as soon as it started to rain, that was it for the night.

I'm sure it will be a different situation when they are older, must older.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Dad, I gotta go #2 now! - 05/27/15 05:36 PM

I hate to say this, but when going out with kids, it really has to be the kids' trip, not yours. Being prepared for rain is part of this. A dining tarp is a big help, even though it adds to the weight. So is adequate rain gear for the kids and a change (or even two) of dry clothing, at least for bedtime. So are games that can be played under the dining tarp or in the tent. Most kids love splashing through puddles and getting muddy; it's part of childhood! The parent's job is to make it fun! Insisting that the kids conform to your idea of a "good trip" is liable to turn them off backpacking for life.

From an experiened parent of four and grandma of six!