QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: I read Moose, and I have to ask about the bed wetting thing. I too wet the bed, long enough to remember. My kids, ages 8, 9 and 10, wet. With the 10-year-old it is only occasionally, but it is still a problem for the younger ones. I cannot talk about this with my mom – she made it horrible for me when I was younger. Do you remember when it ended for you? My kids will not sleep anywhere else but home.
It’s genetic, so tell your kids they can blame it on you if they’d like. To address their feelings, I’d continue to let them know that they’re not alone, that you went through the same thing, and you know how embarrassing it is. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of; they don’t do it on purpose. That’s the bitch of it. There’s the stigma. People assume kids wet the bed for attention, because they want extra love. And while that might be true for some, it’s not true for all. I could come up with myriad options that would beat the pants out of wetting my pants for attention. Now that that’s settled, I’d take a step beyond empathy to a suggestion on how you can all beat it together. "This device is going to help us." Emphasize again that they’re not in it alone.
As for the "device," aside from emptying my bladder right before bed, and no liquids after 7pm (or two hours before bedtime), my mother swears I stopped once she bought that under the sheet pad, that sounded an alarm when wet. While sleeping, I’d start to pee, the alarm would blare, and I’d wake up, get up, and finish in the bathroom. My body eventually learned to wake me up when I had to go to the bathroom, and I stopped wetting the bed.
But before I stopped, there was this [Excerpted from Moose]:
I was at North Side elementary school park, just around the corner from my house, with my best friend Hillary Cohen. We were playing “don’t touch the rocks,” a game where we’d hop from slide to swing to ladder without ever touching the pebbled floor of the playground. The sky began to darken, but we decided instead of running home, we’d lie on the big tire swings and twirl until everything became unfocused, and we somehow felt as though we were more part of the sky than we were of the earth.
When I looked up and steadied myself from the swing, I saw Mrs. Stone, Teresa’s mother. Mrs. Stone yanked Teresa by the hand toward me.
“Are you going to tell her, or am I?” Mrs. Stone asked in a shrill voice to her daughter. Teresa stood silent looking at her shoes.
“Hi, Teresa,” I said.
“Hi,” she said to the pebbled ground.
“Well, Teresa doesn’t want to have to say anything, Stephanie,” Mrs. Stone continued, “but if you’re not nice to her and make people like her, she’s going to tell everyone at school that you still wet the bed.”
I whipped around, looking for Hillary, wondering if she’d heard. She was steadying herself by the fence across the way, picking gravel from her shoe.
“Do you know we were on our hands and knees scrubbing your piss from our mattress? That the smell is still there?”
I don’t know if I blinked or shrugged, but I didn’t speak. “Well, do you?” Circle, circle, dot, dot repeated in my head. Kids would be giving out cootie shots in my presence. They’d call me Crotch Rot and ask to see my diaper rash.
“Well, what do you have to say? Are you going to make people like her or not?” I didn’t say anything. “You had better, or rest assured, the entire school will hate you instead of Teresa.”
I still cannot believe Mrs. Stone was a friend of Fran’s. That she slid into her car that day, dragging Teresa with her, making sure seat belts were fastened as she drove to my house, planning to say the reckless things she did. Or that she reinforced, not only to her daughter but also to others, that Teresa was disliked, hated even. And although I didn’t have the words just then, I was certain my parents would.