Sweet n shy
- Adult Baby, Sissy, Little
THAT ONE SLEEPOVER
INTRO: this isn't entirely my own story but an adaptation based on PBS' Arthur episode "Jenna's Bedtime Blues", where Jenna, a minor character on the show, struggles internally with her personal dilemma: nocturnal enuresis, or bedwetting.
In the Kindergarten through third grades (the average bedwetting era), children are not only easily impressionable but try so hard to impress, to achieve social stature. Common problems such as bedwetting have injured friendships, socially isolated those afflicted and caused much heartache for everyone. It's rare to find a social circle that is so accommodating and understanding of such issues, but fortunately, Lakewood Elementary, fictional as it is, seems to have a mostly open-minded student body, on the whole.
This story is told through the eyes of another Arthur character: Sue Ellen Armstrong, a relative newcomer to Lakewood Elementary. She is the character my AB Girl persona is partly named after. Sue Ellen has a rather worldly, mature attitude which helps her remain accepted and respected by her peers there. Warm, friendly, confident, smart and bubbly, she makes an ideal viewpoint for this story, which is adapted from part of the Arthur episode's script.
The parting shot of the story is a "What if?", a retrospection of Sue Ellen's...what she might think after the aura of the event has mellowed down, her distilled conclusion in her ever-expanding perspective...and then some. She dares to consider the possibility of a subsociety, a smaller tidal pool of those who enjoy wearing diapers but do not rely upon them for everyday management. This is only for entertainment and amusement; it is not intended to suggest or imply that Marc Brown, Arthur's creator, would consider AB/DL himself for any reason or even want to bring it up in any future episodes of the show, so I state here that the excerpts from the Arthur episode's script were used and incorporated, in-part, without his permission and as a result this story is for entertainment and/or educational consumption exclusively by those in the ADISC community.
So now, without further ado...Sue Ellen Armstrong.
Until that overnight party, I'd never given much thought to the subject of bedwetting, since I never had a problem with it myself. Despite having moved all over the world with my parents for Dad's ambassador job and thus having to make new friends in a whole new world over and over again (and having no siblings), it never seemed to stress me much at all. I found it fun, having been to so many other places that so many kids have never been: Nepal, Egypt, Nicaragua, Togo, Kenya and South Africa. Finally, Dad got tired of all the moving about and decided a family needed permanence, roots...so he retired and we moved to Ellwood City. Despite how hectic it all was, I never had the same "going through a phase" issues so many other kids do between Kindergarten and third grade. Lucky, I guess. So I'd never encountered anything like what I ran into on Sleepover Night at Muffy's...
It wasn't hard at all settling into the pleasant, temperate greenery (which was then in the middle of winter) of Ellwood City and its school, Lakewood Elementary. Friends seemed to come easy for me, and Arthur & Buster were the first two I met, asking them (out of all things) for directions to the post office. Even seeing snow for the very first time in my life wasn't a shock; rather, it was fun! Right from the start, I'd latched on with my classmates in Mr. Ratburn's class. Well, there was a bit of a brush with Binky Barnes, a large, intimidating boy in class but we came to an 'agreement' over his overbearing demeanor and things improved after that.
But the others, despite tiny hiccups along the way, came to be solid friends: Arthur Read, a well-balanced boy who found my diary once in the library and returned it...unopened! Buster Baxter, a boy who struggles with classes but has such a vivid imagination of the extraterrestrial; Francine Frensky, an athletic tomboy with a dominant-yet-well-mannered temperament but still very much the girl as nature made her; Muffy Crosswire, whose dad owns a car dealership and spoils her utterly rotten; Fern Walters, a quiet, sensitive and very intelligent girl who's great to be around and talk with; Prunella Deegan, a true girly-girl who...well, let's just say she's into lots of supernatural stuff; Ladonna Compson, who moved up from the Deep South and is quite the tall-tale-teller with her twangy voice! And...
...then there's Jenna Morgan. That's who this whole story centers around. She's not very socially outgoing, rather reserved and quiet (unless it's all about social justice), but she's cute, athletic and can be fun to have around. She plays on our soccer team, the Ellwood City All-Stars, she fits right in. We're all a tight group of girls: we keep our secrets in the Sisterhood close, we stick up for one another. I think Jenna felt a sense of security among us; back then, we all detected a sullenness about her but couldn't put our finger on why so we just let it go. The answer would come up soon...and, out of all places, at another one of Muffy's festive sleepovers.
We all got our invitations from Muffy during recess one day, with varying reactions: you see, Muffy's family has money and they live in a big mansion with a servant. Muffy has all the latest fashions and trends, and different people are bound to take that differently: Francine took it with a smile, since she and Muffy are good friends, despite their socioeconomic differences (but they share the same middle name, being Alice); the others took it with shrugs or slightly-rolled eyes, because sometimes Muffy can be a little snooty and overbearing.
The reaction I didn't expect was that from Jenna: I don't think she noticed casual glances from myself or others of her reaction, but she kind of shuddered a tiny bit and had this look of dread on her face, as if wondering what to do. Not wanting to tip an apple cart, I let it go without asking her, as did the others, and we went on our ways. But through the day, even the week, Jenna would have strange actions and reactions, as if stressed out. We'd just smile and try to let her know we were on her side. It seems to help her, but not entirely.
But back to the premise of the story...
Eventually, the Big Sleepover Day came! I had my favorite cream-colored nightie all bundled up with my pillow and slippers in my sleeping bag, was so looking forward to the fun night ahead with all my schoolgirl friends. Dad dropped me off at Muffy's; then Bailey, the Crosswire's servant, ushered me in and announced me to Muffy and the slowly-gathering throng in Muffy's cavernous bedroom.
And do I mean cavernous! It seems almost as big as the house I live in! With a canopy bed, all the girly things a girl could ever want or have. You name it, Muffy had it. And then Jenna arrived, announced by Bailey, looking around in awe, a bit of fear, looking a little intimidated, unsure. So we got her in the room to break the ice, loosen her up a bit. We're her friends, after all! And slowly, Jenna thawed...and most of the anxiety vanished.
Most of it. But again, it didn't seem too worrisome so we let it go. We spent that evening setting up our sleeping places on the floor, changing for bedtime: I got out of my attire of a blue casual dress with cream vest and into my nightie, off came my red shoes & green socks for slippers...but my red hair stayed up, pigtailed in trademark green scrunchies. Jenna seemed rather protective of her stuff. Nobody else seemed to notice...I did. And we segued right into the fun of the party, eating pizza and the other good stuff that slumber parties are made of. Strangely, it seemed Jenna was drinking quite a lot of cola.
Finally, our host Muffy chimed up and declared it was time for the Sisterhood Sharing Time, so we all gathered in a circle, in our nighties, to sit and share secrets we keep deeply, closely within ourselves.
Muffy turned down the lights, turned on a flashlight and, in a sagely, wise manner, called the session to order with our Sisterhood Motto:
"Friends we are, and friends we trust,
Our deepest secrets, now tell we must;
Now all that's said, it's understood,
We'll keep inside the sisterhood."
Then Muffy quietly but with command said "Don't hold back! She who reveals the darkest secret wins a special sisterhood prize!"
Fern kicked it off: "Okay, Francine: you first." The spotlight was on Francine and all eyes went to Francine as she began: "Well, near the end of the soccer championship, right before I scored the winning..."
I lost track of what Francine was saying as I side-glanced at Jenna, who had that shifty look again. She tried to hide it but that look betrayed the fear. Not to seem impolite, I quickly unstared and tried to focus back on Francine's secret. It was over. And Muffy called out "Okay, Prunella...your turn."
Lights on Prunella. Confidently and matter-of-factly, she started: "Well, last month, when my sister hypnotized me, I discovered that in a previous life, I broke a priceless..."
Another quick side glance: Jenna was a little more panicky as it drew nearer to narrowing down to her; it worried me. You could tell she was thinking fast, afraid. And she was still thinking when Muffy said "Alright, Jenna! Your turn."
Jenna twitched, got wide-eyed suddenly. The pressure was on her now. What would she say? What would she do? She looked like she was going to snap and it worried me a lot.
Nervously, Jenna spoke: "Um...well...I...I...", then a short pause. Suddenly, she just blurted out.
"I have a crush on George!"
We all burst out in surprise, in unison, wide-eyed: "GEORGE?!?!", "What?!?!", "No way!", "Are you crazy?!?!"
George is a boy in our class who everyone likes. With a disarming smile, nothing seems to get him down, is always upbeat and is friends with everybody. He has dyslexia but one would never guess it...and he always carries around that silly giraffe of a ventriloquist's dummy, the one with four bowties, the one he calls "Wally". He's a little eccentric, sure, especially when you hear their dialogue trade-offs, but it's fun and amusing.
Jenna continued, emphatically: "It's true! How I dream of George and me together! And maybe one day, he--or his dummy--will notice me!" She played the act well but it seemed a little over-the-top; you could see cracks in the veneer. It's nothing to judge anyone by, it just makes you worry for them. And Jenna had us all a little worried for her.
Francine solemnly said "Wow! That is a deep and dark secret. You must really trust us!"
But the fun was still ahead, and Muffy announced the winner and the prize. Shining the flashlight on Jenna, she announced "You definitely win the Sisterhood Prize with that one! And the prize is..."
A pregnant pause...
"...to sleep on the bed with me, instead of the floor! Did I mention it's a waterbed?"
If you've ever seen anyone's panic increase exponentially, it was definitely there with Jenna. But she held it together, even as Prunella said "You deserve it, Jenna, you've been a really trusting friend!"
The compliment didn't faze her much, as she quietly said in a seeming trance, "I forgot my pillow...", looking intently at it as though she desperately needed and wanted it.
Francine didn't catch the nuance. "There's twenty pillows on the bed already!"
Muffy chimed up: "Look! A private television and ten different wave functions! This one's called 'Choppy Waters off Nantucket'!", as she pressed a button and eased into the waterbed's wavy motion.
Jenna simply said "I have to use the bathroom. I'll be right back."
I almost got up and followed Jenna to the bathroom to see if she was okay, but I convinced myself--not completely, though--that this was just first-time-sleepover jitters. She sure was in that bathroom a long time! We had all fallen asleep by the time she got out in her nightie and hopped into Muffy's waterbed...probably more like stepping off a dock and getting her sea-legs into bed!
I think I woke up once during the night. The room was dark but the TV was still on: the TV on Jenna's side of the bed. And she was wearily channel-surfing:
"Our new quilted diaper stops leaks!" Click.
"Hush! It's the bagpipe's bladder...and a wee hole is making a wee leak, so we'll pu' on a wee patch..." Click.
"Can you say P?" All together now! P!!!" Click.
I'm not sure if I was dreaming or half-awake during that, it seemed surreal enough to be a dream. Too tired to discern, I closed my eyes and slid right back into sleep.
"Hey! These sheets are wet!"
That was Muffy yelling out. I half-awoke once more, undetected...nobody else woke up, it was still dark. Muffy was sitting up, half-shock, half-anger, then dived under her bedspread (or, as she calls it, a 'duvet') to investigate. Jenna was now sitting up, too, with a horrified look on her face (as I covertly peeked on), saying "I'm so sorry! It's all my fault. I never..." After a second or two, Muffy resurfaced from under the covers and said "Look! It's my brooch!", which she forgot to take off at bedtime. Its pin apparently stabbed the waterbed's bladder, resulting in a slow leak into a pool on top of the mattress, getting both girls damp. Jenna got out of the wet waterbed; as Muffy rolled to her side and rummaged through a drawer, Jenna started plodding off to the bathroom.
"I think there's some tape in here," Muffy said as she rifled through a dresser drawer for tape. Then to Jenna, she called out "Hey! Where are you going?"
"To the bathroom!"
Apparently, Jenna and Muffy returned to sleep because I did as well. Morning must be near...
Daybreak. Muffy just freshly awakened and called out "Hey, Jen-na! Wake up!" and biffed the still-sleeping Jenna in the face with a pillow.
"Hey! 'Wake up', yourself!", Jenna squealed as she suddenly woke up, excitedly grabbed her own pillow and returned the hit in kind. Then they both threw their pillows at Francine. I was next to Francine, pretending to be asleep. Who could get a good night's sleep after all that went on earlier?
That did it. We were all up in a flash, grabbed any pillow within arms' reach and the obligatory sleepover pillow fight was on! Feathers flew! We squealed in delight! There were no allegiances, no holds barred, no quarter, no surrender as we all bound up off the floor, pillows in hand and began furiously swinging, swatting and boffing each other with all our combined might in a blizzard of feathers, without fear, without exhaustion.
Something hit me in the face. It wasn't a pillow, for sure, but it was pillowy, kind of large, very light, very soft. And it had a sterile smell to it. I stopped suddenly, everyone stopped suddenly as this thing plopped softly, quietly at our feet on the floor and the feathers settled. We all looked at it laying there in curiosity, me with a little more such. It looked like something: panties? No, too thick. A diaper? No, it had no tapes and it was pretty big, as if one of us could fit into it. It had leg gathers like a diaper or panties, though. But what was it: diaper? Panties? We all continued to stare at it, in a very quiet silence. You could hear a pin drop.
Suddenly, the silence broke. It was Jenna, who shrieked a little, then put on a happy, teasing, sing-song voice: "Ah! A dia-per! Hey! Is there a ba-by here? If she confesses, maybe we'll give her a bottle!", triumphantly holding up the pull-up and smiling.
It got really, really awkward. To me, it seemed like Jenna was overacting and her remark seemed rather cruel.
Francine calmly spoke up first. "Isn't that a little harsh? It's just a pull-up."
Then Prunella: "Yeah! I used to wear them all the time!" Eyes darted from girl-to-girl, in mild surprise.
Then Fern: "My cousin wears them. And he's in the sixth grade!"
Sensing tension and without dropping a beat in her host duties, Muffy happily announced "Come on, guys! It's time for breakfast! Double chocolate-chip pan-caaaakes..." All of the girls, still in their nighties, scampered for the breakfast table...except Jenna. And Francine. And myself. Jenna was looking empty, sullen. You could tell, it was all over her face.
Francine quietly asked, "What got into you? You might have hurt somebody's feelings."
"I didn't," Jenna said, smiling.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because...well..." began Jenna, as her gaze went to the floor, "it's my pull-up. My actual deep, dark secret is that sometimes I wet the bed."
I watched as Francine's eyes went from concern to surprise, and then she smiled. "You mean you're not really in love with George?"
"Of course not. I was afraid if I told the truth, you'd all think I was a baby", Jenna said, sadly. It felt like Muffy's cavernous bedroom got much, much bigger.
Surprised, Francine replied "A 'baby'??? You're the only one who can beat me in sports. Besides, I used to wear one of these myself!" as she and Jenna started heading for double chocolate-chip pancakes. You could feel that special, unique bond form, it was a marvel to witness.
I can't even remember the time I was a baby in diapers myself and can't remember what being in diapers felt like; nor did I ever have a bedwetting episode, so I can only sympathize. But I understand now. We all do. Sometimes people need a little extra help to cope with a problem and it isn't anything to be ashamed of. We all grow bigger, older, grow out of certain things, into other things. It's life. It's not perfect, it's seldom fair and often messy, but it's life. In spite of it all, we make the best of it and try to find happiness and share happiness with others, too. That's what I learned from this sleepover. It's a memory I hold close, we all in the Sisterhood hold close...despite the awkwardness.
We all still get together at Muffy's and other girls' sleepovers. And we don't mind that Jenna has to wear pull-ups. We're good with it. Her smile and friendship are far greater than the perceived indignity of a soggy ol' pull-up.
A couple days later at school, I was with Francine and Jenna, talking at our desk during class. Jenna was much more at ease than ever before, but a thought occupied her mind...George had been sneaking glances at her.
"George has been acting kind of strange lately," Jenna remarked to Francine, in slight curiosity and the slightest trepidation. "You don't think word got out, do you?"
"Of course not," Francine smiled and confidently replied, "The lips of The Sisterhood are sealed!", to Jenna's relief.
"Um, hi, Jenna!"
Jenna quickly turned around to a flower in her face. It was held in a...a giraffe's mouth. And next to the giraffe was...George!
"W-Wally wanted to give you this flower!" he said, nervously, with Wally still clenching the flower. Jenna quickly whispered to Francine, saying "To think I was worried about my real secret getting out!"
Jenna took the flower with a sweet smile. Looking at her face, you knew she really lied about not having a crush on George! And a few weeks later, our suspicions were sort-of confirmed when we all caught George and Jenna sharing a blanket at an outside get-together!
They seem like the perfect match.
I often think about that sleepover, among the other ones, but sometimes find my mind going in a crazy, different direction: along the way, we all learn that babies have to wear diapers for the first two, three years of their lives; we all face the slight humiliation of knowing we wore and used diapers as babies, too. We learn about (or even experience) bedwetting and pull-ups...we even learn that older people sometimes have to go back into pull-ups or diapers (they call them 'briefs' for dignity) in their final years. Some never get out of diapers because their bodies have problems holding in waste between bathroom trips.
A strange part of me wonders, however, if there are people out there, between babyhood and those senior years, who wear them not because they need them...but because they want to, because they enjoy wearing diapers for comfort or emotional security. Or even fun. It sounds weird but possible, maybe even plausible: people walking around in diapers and we can't even detect it; people in their homes, diapered and dressed up as babies or toddlers, having big baby clothes, even big bottles, big pacifiers, toys, playing or sleeping...and loving every second of it. It even makes me giggle a little.
It could happen. Right?