By NBC News
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- A Philadelphia mom is peeved that police gave her a $50 ticket after her 2-year-old son peed against a street light post.
"I'm absolutely going to fight it," Caroline Robboy told NBC News on Thursday. "It was a potty-training accident."
Robboy's legal hassle began Sunday night, she said, when she was out with her elderly in-laws and her three children, ages 9, 6 and 2. Her husband, an ob-gyn, was on the job, delivering babies.
After eating at a Johnny Rockets diner five blocks from their home in a high-rise, the family went across the street to a clothing store.
Robboy said two of her children told her they needed to go to the bathroom, but the store operators wouldn't let them use their restroom. They headed back to the diner, but the 2-year-old couldn't hold it.
"I told him to go over to a grassy patch and make pee," Robboy told NBCPhiladelphia.com. "Next thing you know I have an officer giving me a police ticket for public urination!"
"Every once in a while a 2-year-old catches you off guard," she said.
"If this were my 9-year-old or 6-year-old I would have been mortified and would have had a much more adult conversation with him," said Robboy, a licensed social worker and sex education counselor also trained in early childhood education issues.
Robboy said she's been surprised by the strong criticism painting her as "some negligent parent" that readers posted on a story about the incident that appeared on NBCPhiladelphia.com.
"These people must not be parents - or maybe they are suburban parents," she said. "We live with homeless people sleeping in our park across the street," she said. "People defecate in the park, they don't get tickets."
Among the comments was this one from a poster identified as James Riggio Sr.: "I do not care if it is a 2-year-old or a 20-year-old, urine stinks and I for one do not want to smell that while in a high-traffic area. Does this moron of a mother think it is OK to let her son pee anywhere they feel free to?"
Another critic identified as Laura Burger said, "I'm sorry but a 2-year-old does not just spontaneously run and pee on a pole. Clearly not the first time. I also think mom needs to be better prepared if she runs into these situations."
Robboy received more-supportive comments on her own Facebook page.
A commenter identified as Marion Bargman said, "What a hoot! Of course, fight it. You made the news because your kid had to use the potty! How funny. and of course you handled yourself serenely. ... You're pretty good at not overreacting like the rest of us !"
Robboy told NBCPhiladelphia.com that Nathaniel, the 2-year-old, is a bright child who, aside from Sunday's misfire, is doing well with his potty training.
A police spokesperson told NBCPhiladelphia.com they allow officers to use their own judgment and discretion in issuing tickets. They're currently trying to contact the officer who issued the ticket to get his side of the story before taking any action.
NBCNews' Jim Gold contributed to this story.
First Coast News