Recently, my daughter (11) invited a friend for a sleepover. The friend’s mother called to tell me that her daughter wore a pullup when she slept away. She wanted to be sure that the mattress was protected against a leak. She asked me to give her daughter an opportunity for a discreet change in the evening and the morning. It was unlikely that the daughter would wet the pullup, and even more unlikely that she would wet the bed, but the mother asked me to give her daughter cover if she did. If that was all OK, she would let her daughter know that she could rely on me.
She was comfortable making the call. Her daughter is popular, outgoing and friendly. She has probably been to many sleepovers. The mother had made this call before.
I assured the mother that her daughter would be in good hands. I told her that her call was thoughtful – both for me and for her daughter – and refreshing. She had a good laugh when I told her that our beds were well protected, and that we could provide her daughter with a pullup from our own inventory. I was touched that she thought enough of my discretion to share the embarrassing confidence. She said that she always called before sleepovers, and parents were always discreet and helpful.
We had a little more talk about the subject. Our attitudes and approach were the same: Neither of us was (as J would say) fussed. It’s not a big deal.
I cannot imagine my Mom or any other mother of her (or any earlier) generation doing that. I can’t imagine them discussing this with even their closest friends. It was a shameful secret. Although I don’t think either of my sisters would have cared whether Mom discussed it with other parents, it would have mortified me that someone outside our family – and, worse, a parent of a friend! – would know.
Maybe I’m more old-school than I thought, because I’ve never made a call like that. I’ve never even thought of it.
Maybe it’s a sign that parents are accepting bedwetting for what it is: a delay in one (minor) element of physical development. It isn’t an emotional or intellectual defect.
And maybe parents are also confident that other parents see it the same way.
Improvement in options is probably the major factor. Life is a lot easier for a bedwetter and her mom than it was when I was a child. Today, the unpleasantness of adolescent and teenage bedwetting is insignificant, at least compared to my childhood.
A pullup is discreet. It disappears under pajamas. Even if someone else sees it, it doesn’t scream, “Bedwetter!” or, worse, “Baby!” It’s as comfortable as underwear. It prevents all the awfulness of a wet bed. It doesn’t stink. In the morning, you toss it in the trash.
The old days were uncomfortable, smelly and obvious. They required laundering. They required a hot, sticky plastic sheet, not a breathable and comfortable bed pad.
It’s easier now to accept it, and even to ask other parents to accept it.
On the other hand, the friend’s mother and I agreed that we’d never have that conversation with our mothers-in-law.