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Mom issued city fine after 4-year-old son's potty break in city park

“What did they expect us to do?”
Mom fined for letting 4-year-old son pee in park
Michiko Sasaki was issued a $50 summons for allowing her 4-year-old child to urinate inside a New York City park.Courtesy Michiko Sasaki
/ Source: TODAY

A New York City mom is "pissed" after city officials issued her a $50 summons for her son's bathroom emergency.

Last week, Michiko Sasaki took her 4-year-son Kobe to Battery Playscape in Battery Park City, a residential area of New York City. Kobe has anxiety and sensory processing disorder, which for him, means he's not always attuned to his bladder signals. That day, when Kobe had to go, it was an emergency.

"There was a building with bathrooms ... with 'No bathroom' signs," Sasaki tells

The mom looked around for another bathroom in the park but Kobe yelled, 'Mom, I need to go!'" She led him to the back of the bathroom building where he relieved himself on a patch of dirt and weeds.

Mom fined for letting 4-year-old son pee in park
New York City mom Michiko Sasaki was ordered to pay a $50 summons when her 4-year-old son urinated at a park.Courtesy Michiko Sasaki

"Suddenly ... park officers circled me," says Sasaki. "One said, 'Step out, this is not legal' in an aggressive and abrasive tone. Instantly, I got defensive."

Sasaki says she pointed to the restroom sign indicating it was closed. "What did they expect us to do?" she says. "Using the bathroom is a right."

According to Sasaki, an officer waved in the direction of an alternative bathroom, however, she insists her son wouldn't have made it in time.

"There were no directions for the other bathroom on the sign or a portable toilet," she explains.

Sasaki says her son Kobe was nervous in front of the officers.

"He was tugging on me to leave, saying, 'I don't like this,'" she says, adding, "Every time he used the bathroom that day, he said, 'Remember those mean people?'"

Sasaki was issued a $50 summons, to which she has the option of responding in a July 2 hearing.

Mom fined for letting 4-year-old son pee in park
When a New York City mom couldn't access a park bathroom, she let her young son urinate in public, resulting in a $50 summons.Courtesy Michiko Sasaki

“I did observe the respondent allowing her child to urinate on (park) property, next to (the) public bathroom that is open to the public,” reads the summons, a photo of which was obtained by

Other potty emergencies have brought charges.

In 2019, Georgia mom Brooke Johns, who was 9 months pregnant, was cited for disorderly conduct when her 3-year-old son urinated in a gas station parking lot. Johns told Augusta station WRDW-TV that her court date was scheduled several days before her due date. Johns' charges were later dismissed.

Sasaki says she plans to appeal the summons.

"It's not about the money — it's the principal," she says. Sasaki acknowledges that allowing her son to urinate in public is against the rules, however, she is frustrated by what she says were lack of options in a rare emergency.

"Had my son peed in his pants, he would have been on playground equipment with wet pants," she says. "That's not OK either. Would that have resulted in a ticket?"

Mom fined for letting 4-year-old son pee in park
Michiko Sasaki received a $50 summons from the New York City Parks and Recreation Agency for allowing her child to urinate in public.Courtesy Michiko Sasaki

"Having lived in other big cities, I've noticed a lack of resources for basic human needs for families," she adds. “Clean, accessible and functional bathrooms are one example ... many public bathrooms are dirty and unusable."

Sasaki, who does not live near Battery City, says she is unlikely to return to the park.   

Kelsey Jean-Baptiste, a press officer for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation tells

"We want every New Yorker to be able to enjoy our parks and feel comfortable in them, which is why NYC Parks maintains more than 1,600 public restrooms across the five boroughs for the benefit of the public and the health of our city. Public urination in parks is prohibited, and we ask everyone to use the designated facilities provided."

A spokesperson from the the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation also tells

"There are three different bathrooms in total inside Battery Park: Castle Clinton, The View (nearest to the playscape behind the concession), and the restroom on the other side of the park near Battery Place (NW corner)."  

The spokesperson clarifies: “The public bathrooms are located at the back of the building that contains ‘The View,’ and across a path from the Playscape."

According to Jacqueline Whitmore, a business etiquette expert in Mount Dora, Florida, situations like Sasaki's are mitigating circumstances, especially for parents of children with disabilities.

"From an etiquette standpoint, people should always uphold the law whenever possible but ... she was trying to find relief for her son," Whitmore tells "Without knowing all the details, the authorities may have overreacted" with a summons versus a warning.