Pee, and stuff

Gross, I know. I'm sorry. I just have to get this out there.

This takes a lot of courage for me to write, but I am putting it out there because I think maybe other people struggle with these things too. And we should help each other, if we can.

We have a problem.  Our oldest daughter, who is nearly 7, has been peeing in her room for about the past year and a half (maybe more).

At first, when she started sleeping without diapers on at night, she would come out of her room seriously 20+ times to go to the bathroom. Every 5 minutes, at least. She'd go, pee a tablespoon, then go back in her room. Rinse, repeat.  Finally we put the kabosh on that and said look, it's OK to come out of your room at night, but, like, after you go to sleep. I mean how to you explain to a child who can't tell time when it is OK to come out of her room to go pee? She was staying up til well after 10 p.m. and then being super crabby the next day because she was getting no sleep! So, I'm not sure if we did the wrong thing there, we were trying to be helpful but maybe we weren't.

Then, her room started smelling like pee.  She still occasionally had accidents at night, this is a normal thing right? But when I asked her, she said she hadn't. Twice I found poop in her room; she blamed it on the dogs but it was obviously her own poop.  Thank God the poop thing was only twice.

Anyway. So, the pee smell.  This went on for months.  We washed bedding, including the mattress pad, covers, everything, multiple times. Once I washed all the clothes in her entire dresser thinking maybe something had gotten pee on it somehow, and put in with the clean clothes? I have no idea!  Kids can do crazy things sometimes.

I steam cleaned the carpet in her room. Twice. Nothing helped.

So one day while hubby had the kids out to a movie or something, I decided to REALLY steam clean the carpets. Move everything, all the furniture (previously I had just gone around the big things thinking surely nothing would be UNDER the furniture, right?).

When I moved her bed, I was completely and utterly horrified.  It was completely yellow and disgusting with months worth of pee.  I was shocked to say the least.  After confrontation she admitted she had been crawling under her bed, lying down, and peeing.  Every night. And at nap time (reading , multiple times per night most nights.

OK. So I steam cleaned that the best I could, but honestly after that much peeing there is not a lot you can do.  The pee is of course in the carpet pad, probably even the underlayment.  But we cleaned it the best we could. We talked about pee, encouraged her to use the toilet, explained what pee is (and how your body makes it!) and how lying down on your own pee is really really yucky, and we flush pee down the toilet because it's waste which we want to go away!  We also removed the bed rails so that her mattress just sat on the floor, so she couldn't go under it and pee, thinking this would at least keep her from hiding it.

Well, a few days later there was a strong pee smell again.  It took me a little while to figure it out, but I figured out she had been peeing kind of in the corner of her bed where the mattress meets the corner of the wall.  Again, totally horrifying that she is peeing approximately 1 foot from where she lays her head at night.

So the mattresses are ruined, the mattress pad doesn't have protection on the corners like that!  And now pee is in the trim, and the drywall.  Great.

So then, we go to no bed, and have kind of a pad on the floor made up of a comforter. Every day I moved it, checked for pee, and put it back.

We go for months with no peeing. We get her a new bed, yay!  Problem seems to be solved.

Around May of this year, pee smell returns. Hmmm. Checked under bed, nothing there.  It was also starting to warm up outside, so I thought perhaps the heat/humidity in the air is causing the pee smell to return.  Finally come to find out she is peeing on/in this costume box she has in her room.  Needless to say the box and all contents are ruined. All of that goes in the trash, repeat discussion about where to pee.

Then.  I find pee in her bedside table drawer.  She had letters and notes in there, basically everything she ever got in the mail or birthday cards and keepsakes, that kind of thing.  When I showed it to her and explained that all that stuff had to be thrown out (as well as the bedside table itself) because she peed on it and there was no way to clean it or salvage it, she cried. She said she forgot that stuff was in there. By this time, she is about 6 years and 8 months old.

She also peed on a stool that she had in her room. She built this stool by hand in a class at home school group. It was unfinished wood; again, no way to clean it, so it was thrown out.

So I go through all her room.  We pick up every. single. thing off the floor, other than a laundry hamper, her dresser, and a bookshelf which holds her books and knick knacks. Everything else I put in her closet, most of it up on a shelf where she can get it if she needs it but it would be difficult to pee on in the night.  I also removed her bottom dresser drawer, thinking that could be a target for pee.  I help her get cobwebs down, scrub fingerprints off the walls, basically just trying to make it a nice place? Kind of like, please don't pee in here? Please? At this point I'm freaking out, obviously.

We give her a bucket.  and say, please, if you have to pee at night, and you don't want to leave your room (but it's TOTALLY ok to leave your room!), please use this bucket. You can shower in the morning, clean it out in the morning.  I showed her how to do it, it takes like 2 minutes, it's fine.

This seems to work. She is peeing in the bucket, which is really disgusting to me, BUT she is not peeing on the floor or on her stuff, so I mean, that's good right?  That's a step in the right direction!

Then she says, I'm just going to start holding it at night and not using my bucket. Hmmm. OK. She did that for months, like basically the whole school year, so that seems legit, right?

Then. Can you guess what happens next? You got it! Pee smell!

Next pee target - the dresser, where I removed the drawer. She just decided to pee where the drawer would go.  There is a layer of cardboard there, which obv. can't be cleaned.  I just can't even, at this point, and it's just going to have to stay there. Like seriously, what am I supposed to do?  I'm not buying a new dresser only to have it ruined again.

Repeat discussion. She now says she really wants someone to share her room. The only person who that would be is our other daughter, Claire, who is 2. We talk about how we can't have Claire thinking it's OK to pee in the bedroom, and so until she stops doing that then they definitely can't share a room.  She vows to stop peeing in her room.

She also says she doesn't pee in her bucket anymore because she doesn't want to take a shower in the morning when she has to clean her bucket.  So I told her man, you're just going to have to shower every day, regardless of whether you pee in the bucket or not. And clean out your bucket every day, even if it's clean. This provides no incentive for not peeing in her bucket but...????? What the hell am I supposed to do?

We talk about trust and earning trust.  Etc. etc. etc.

I taped a piece of white paper underneath the cardboard in that dresser that I previously mentioned. I check it every day. It stayed white!  It APPEARS she has stopped peeing, yay! She tells me every day, "I didn't pee in my room last night!" Oh great, good job child.

You know what's coming, don't you.

The pee smell. It came back about a week ago.

Now, I know what pee smells like guys. And I know when she's been peeing in her room.  And I asked her, because it's SO much easier if she just tells me. But no. She lies and says she hasn't been peeing in her room.

I checked the white paper under the cardboard - still white. Moved bed - nothing. I mean at this point, there's just not many places to hide pee in her room. I smelled stuffed animals, checked any blankets, checked her sheets etc. Nothing.

Tonight, I figured it out.  She has been climbing in her laundry basket RIGHT NEXT TO HER BUCKET and peeing on her clothes in the laundry basket!  Her laundry basket is kind of a canvas covered metal frame, it's a nice one but obviously can not be cleaned.  And she has been kind of smelling bad lately, and I'm pretty sure that's because she is peeing on her clothes, it sits there a few days, gets washed, and still just is kind of stinky!  Not sure what that says about our washing machine but it is what it is.

So, we throw the laundry basket away. I told her she'll just have to bring her clothes down to the laundry room every time she changes clothes.

You guys. I am so over this. If you are even still reading you deserve a million dollars. I just have to document this.  This is a child who was removed from her mother at birth, and I have been caring for her since she was 2 weeks old (she didn't live with us at first, but was with me at least 35+ hours per week for months and has seen me for at least a few hours a week for every week of her entire life, other than those first 2 weeks she was in the NICU!).  She did begin to transition to live back with her bio mom, and for months spent 1, 2, 3, or 4 nights a week at her bio mom's house, during which time I am not sure everything was on the up and up but that is foster care and we have no control over that. She has been living with us 100% since she was 18 months old.

We are kind of on a waiting list for therapy at the moment, and will hopefully be starting soon once they get an opening.  I really, really thought that we were over this last summer when it kind of stopped for like 8 months.  I am so bummed that this is going on. It makes me feel angry, and it makes me feel very confused about what we can possibly be doing SO wrong that this crazy behaviour is coming out.  And it makes me feel like a crazy person. I mean, we have 5 other (relatively!) normal kids in our house, and this is happening! And no one knows because I don't want to over-share and I want her to have her privacy. But then at the same time, we (the parents) need support too.  I am just so sick of not trusting her, and having to check for pee, and feeling so guilty about sneaking in her room and checking so that she doesn't feel bad.  She acts, I would say, very normal most of the time. There is no other crazy stuff happening. She is a little bit dramatic, but we kind of just chalk that up to her personality.

Our daughter loves people. She can be so kind, and so caring.  If one of the little ones needs help she is the first to jump to help them.  She asks for extra chores to do around the house, she asks if there are things she can do to help out.  She is so smart. She reads almost as well as her older brother who is 2 grades ahead.  She is a better speller than her big brother, which is crazy to me considering she just got done with kindergarten!  She loves to wear dresses and look pretty.  I do not understand. She loves to give hugs, which I am so not good at but I'm trying to get better.

And I don't know what to do any more.

If you have any bright ideas I am totally all ears.  I think therapy will be our best bet, which again we are hopefully beginning soon.  But otherwise, maybe we just hang in there, and pray. And try not to cry.


  1. Man, that's a lot. I have dealt with bathroom issues (mainly a foster daughter who didn't wipe and then would hide her underwear in creative places) but nothing like this. Do you make her help you clean up the pee or have her do (or help) do her laundry? I know it's easier said than done though. How would she deal with a pull-up?

    1. So I have had her help clean up what she can - take laundry to the washing machine, move laundry from the washer to the dryer, fold and put away her laundry. The non-heavy things that needed thrown away I had her take downstairs to the outside trash can also. She can't run the carpet cleaner but I have her do other things like pick up everything off the floor, clean fingerprints off the walls and just generally work to make her room look nice. Then I will also have her help me with other things since I had to spend time doing the things she couldn't (shampooing carpets and carrying heavy things). Today she helped me fold some laundry.

      I'm not really sure about the pull up thing. She isn't have an accident in her bed, which I know can be normal up to age 7 or something like that. She is purposefully getting up in the night and going pee, in her room, in various places. I just really am at a loss.

      Right now I think our plan is that either a) there needs to be pee in the bucket every morning, and I need to see it before she cleans it out, or else b) IF she is going to start going to the bathroom in the middle of the night in the toilet, she needs to wake up either me or my husband to go with her so we can confirm that she's going in the toilet and not just "saying" she went in the toilet, know what I mean? It's not fool proof, I can think of several ways she could scam the system and still pee in her room but I just literally have no idea what else to do.

      I was so upset last night when I wrote this, but I'm feeling much better after a night of rest. It's a new day, surely this will come to an end someday right? RIGHT!?!?! :)

    2. Good point about the pull-ups, she'll probably just pull them down like underwear. That's all so frustrating - I can't imagine it, especially after 8 good months! BUT - like you said every day is a new day and she won't (can't!!) do this forever. Good luck & hopefully someone will chime in with just the right answer (does that ever happen in blog/website comments!?)


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