An Open Letter to My Sons: Get it together and Pee in the Damn Toilet

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To My Dear Sons,

I love you more than my own life. There’s probably not much I wouldn’t do for you, including giving you that last bite of my ice cream. I mean…if I’m stupid enough to eat something yummy in your presence instead of hiding behind the bathroom door like any sane mom would do, I figure its fair game and I should probably just give up and share.

I’m a good mom…mostly. I lied and told your father the cat knocked over his genuine made-in-Bavaria beer stein.

I helped you clean up the Leggo minefield that you artfully built in our living room. The one that was “too hard” to clean up when I decided to be the buzzkill who wanted to vacuum.

I consistently stretch “five more minutes” in to at least ten…usually 15 so you can continue doing important stuff like watching the end of Mickey Mouse Club House. You have that funny nightly ritual of busting out your own special dance moves to the “Hot Dog Hot Dog Hot Diggity Dog” song. I respect the dance moves, little dudes.

My dear sons, I realize that physics classes are far in your future, although maybe this is a good time to share that your mom got at “F” in freshman general science, so please set that bar of expectations low for homework help in a few years, m’kay? But I have figured out two things about boy peeing:

1. Your penile appendages are much, much smaller than the circumference of the toilet bowl.

2. When urine is exiting your body, keeping said body positioned firmly in front of the potty greatly decreases your chances of unplanned sprayage. Is sprayage a word? I’m not sure.

An open letter to my sons - get it together and pee in the damn toilet|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

There are many aspects of being a boy mom that I love. I never have to worry about epic battles over ponytails versus French braids. My ego thrives on hearing “Mommy, you pretty” on days when I make zero effort on my appearance. Maybe flattery is a tactic to keep me from noticing that there are 36 Nerf darts on the entry way ceiling…yeah, the one I need the 12-foot ladder to clean. I love the cuddles, the giggles and the way you make getting filthy dirty look like so much fun.

But I do not love cleaning up pee. Boys, get it together.

I do not love that “boy bathroom smell” I’ve become all too familiar with. Moms of the penised, you know what I’m talking about. That funky smell that a truckload of Clorox wipes will never get rid of. The smell that my best Yankee candle might temporarily mask if I weren’t afraid to leave an open flame in the general vicinity of small boys.

[Tweet “I hate the ‘boy bathroom' smell. The smell that a truckload of Clorox won't get rid of…”]

It’s an age-old question: how does liquid coming out of a small orifice not land in the very large (relatively speaking) round bowl of water? After observing your bathroom habits, I now understand how the little pee puddles magically appear on the floor with great regularity. And yes, my darling children…I understand that your brother is always the guilty party and that I’m incredibly silly for asking questions like “who did this” or “who forgot to flush.” Here are some pee-moves that I’ve witnessed that greatly detract from your goal of a perfect aim (it is a goal, right? Humor me and pretend you’re trying.

1. Turning around mid-stream in an attempt to see the television show in the next room or to see if your brother is playing with your toys. Keep your eyes on the road ahead of you, my sons.

2. Playing Angry Birds while trying to pee. I appreciate the initiative to try and multi-task but…no. Just no.

[Tweet “Don't play Angry Birds when you're trying to pee. I applaud you for multitasking but…just no.”]

3. Peeing is not a two-man operation. You do not need to take a wingman into the john with you until you are much, much older and I’ve had a chance to fully explain bar etiquette. Having too many cooks in the kitchen increases the chance that some of the soup (ahem) will not end up in the pot.

4. Peeing in hours of darkness without turning on the light doesn’t help your odds of hitting the potty. I know you’re brave kids that have conquered your fears of creepies that go bump in the dark, for the most part. Indulge your mom and turn on the lights so you can see where you’re aiming that thing.

5. Pulling on your “little friend” and attempting to make any sort of whirly, swirly, curly design as your urine stream hits the water. There is a place in your life for creativity. That place is not the bathroom…at least not for a really long time. If you wanna be creative go find your damn crayons and keep that thing pointed downrange.

I’m sure you will grow up to be wildly successful and confident men that will marry women that will buy me really expensive gifts on my birthday and at Christmas to show their gratitude for raising such fine specimens. I don’t want to be getting covert stink eye at the dinner table every Christmas because I didn’t make sure you knew how to pee in the pot at least 86% of the time. So please absorb the wisdom in this pee manifesto…and don’t forget to flush!



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  1. Oh, I love this and agree with every single word! I have two sons who always had a rough time figuring out how to aim, even when I put Cheerios in the toilet to give them something to aim at. My oldest solves the problem by just peeing outside, so I finally gave in and just set two rules for him: don’t do it anywhere that I’m going to walk, and don’t do it in view of anyone driving past.

    Great post!

  2. Admittedly, you would think having girls, I would have less toilet and pee messes, but then you’d be sadly mistaken and then add my husband, who also never cleans the toilet and truly the worst chore on my list, too!

  3. YESSSSS!!!!! I also have two boys, and they are able to do the most amazing (or maybe dreadful?) things when peeing. It seems like it should be so straightforward, right? But it never seems to work out that way. Sigh. (reaches for Clorox spray and paper towels, ’cause the wipes are no longer cutting it….)

  4. LOL. My son is scared of the dark. STILL. So he turns on enough lights to land a plane when going to the bathroom and fortunately there’s no wingman to distract him. But still there’s pee splatter. When he was younger we had the lid replaced. It was one of those wooden kind and you can’t get the smell out. I was convinced that any cleaning just brought the older pee to the surface and it could never smell good well never good but at least better. No. That smell was reduced with a new lid and finally due to renovations we replaced it all together. I hate cleaning the toilets but when I am the kind of sick where I feel like barfing is in my near future, I make sure the toilet it VERY clean. There’s nothing worse than getting down eye level with it and then – ugh I know TMI. Yuck! I think it would be less traumatic if I just barfed off the side of the porch.

  5. I don’t have a boy but I have a girl who isn’t ‘getting it’. I’ve been a firm believer in the ‘if it’s brown, flush it down; if it’s yellow, let it mellow.’ My child took that saying a little too seriously and allows, mmmm, all things mellow…..indefinitely. YECH

  6. I have three boys and the smell in their bathroom is indescribable. Clorox wipes, Hell I’ve poor a gallon of bleach on the tile and it can’t get rid of it!

  7. I make my 10 yo clean up after himself, with the words, “It is NOT an HONOUR to scrub your pee off the floor! You did it, you clean it!”

  8. OMG yes! My son was still missing the bowl as recently as a year or two ago. He’s 11. Get your act together! I guess I’m proud that at age 11 he finally seems to have become an accomplished pee-er who doesn’t miss (knock on wood).

  9. Not there yet but on my way. My son is three, and I’m facing the fact that I’ve put off potty-training long enough. Can I just teach him to sit like his sister?

  10. Have you tried telling them to sit down as they pee? My lad delighted in spraying everywhere so I resorted to having him take on the bathroom cleanup chore. I was on site at all timea during said chore to ensure that a proper job was undertaken. Ha! He hated it every bit as much as his darling mom. “Maybe if you sat down you’d spray into the bowl …?” He sat. Life was easier and a hell of a lot cleaner.

  11. LOL I’m so glad you cohosted this week because this is pure brilliance. And I have no clue how to get the smell out. Or why my son doesn’t seem to mind the yellow spots all over the lid. Nasty.

  12. Ha ha! I need to pass this on to my son! I lost track of how many times I cleaned pee off the ground yesterday…luckily today has been better.

  13. nope, nope, nope. We have 5 sons and 3 daughters. Hubby was insistent his boys be tidy like him. The wipe around the bowl when they are done, and they rotate bathroom cleanup duty. Son #4 has had his standing privileges removed when he decided missing might be fun, and got extra cleaning detail. I didn’t put the pee there. Im not cleaning it up. When it becomes less fun, they become more intentional.

  14. THIS IS MY LIFE! Every morning I yell, pre-coffee even, “WHY IS THERE PEE ALL OVER THE FLOOR!?” I don’t get it. We’ve started putting things in the toilet for them to aim at but even then… crazy.
    Thanks for this!

  15. Ha! This was great Jill. I have three girls and I’ll admit that the little one sometimes pees out of the pot…something to do with the way she’s leaning? But it’s nothing compared to my three nephews. My sister even installed a half bathroom with just a toilet and sink for her use only — no boys allowed — because of the puddles and stink!

  16. Yes, yes, yes. YES. My gawd, that pee smell. I wondered if maybe I needed to pull up the tile to get it all, like it had soaked through to the floor boards. This was hilarious. Consider it shared!

  17. Love this post, its great to see we’re not the only ones battling this! My son sounds like a pressure washer in his bathroom. We’ve worked with him, talked to him and he still has his moments. We’ve resorted to having him clean his bathroom and its helped more than anything else.

  18. Without going into detail, just this afternoon — there was a lot of raised voices about a rather enormous present our 11 yo left in the toilet. When I asked him did he try to flush he replied, “No. I didn’t think there was anyway it would go down.”

    I’ll be cleaning pee off the toilet till he moves out.

  19. Oooooooh how right you are. I now buy Clorox wipes to keep in the kitchen and another for the bathroom. Mom of three… 10 year old boy and 7 year old boy. Oh, and one husband who im sure isn’t innocent. The only innocent ones on the “bathroom wars” is mommy and our 7 year old little girl. I don’t think it’ll change with age either. At least two outta the three “penis pee’ers ” put the seat back down. Idk if my 10 year old will ever get it, lol. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping the Lysol & Clorox companies in business.

  20. ANY mother that has raised boys….TOTALLY relates to this. At one time I was seriously trying to figure out how to paint a target in the toilet bowl to hopefully motivate them to get more in, than out!

  21. OMG! As a Mom of the penised (LOVE that) I feel/smell your pain. On the floor on the seat . . . But, married to a giant of 6’4″, I also have to contend with the “splash zone” that he just doesn’t understand. My only advice, never install unsealed slate floors and always wear slippers!

  22. This article is entertaining, I had a lot of fun while reading your post. I hope I can write a letter to my kids as well and I know it will be a long writing, thanks for giving this wonderful idea I want to try this out. Thank you!