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When the ‘Big Kid Still in Diapers’ Is You

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My biggest fear as a child wasn’t of the dark or monsters in the closet. It was being asked by a friend if I could sleep over.

I was determined to not let anybody figure out I was a big kid still in diapers, and I spent my childhood trying to cover up my problem. I refused to wear tight jeans, and I always made sure the waistband of my pants was above my belly button.

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What was I to do if I was asked to a sleepover?

It would be impossible to keep my incontinence a secret. I could wet the bed and I would have to throw away my urine-filled diaper somewhere. I always thought if my friends found out they would make fun of me, call me a baby or stop being my friends at all.

One morning I woke up and decided I was going to go out diaper-less. I was going to wear underwear and one of my only pairs of jeans. I went to school and it all went well until recess — the dreaded 30-minute period of not being able to go inside and use the bathroom.

I stood next to the door waiting for the bell to ring, and all of a sudden I had the urge to pee. I had no control over it. The wetness spread down my legs and up my shirt. It went like wildfire. The one thing I dreaded most was happening to me. I had wet my pants in front of all my classmates. I ran inside not waiting for the bell. I sprinted into the health office with tears flowing down my face. The school nurse, the person I trusted most at that school, looked up at me and she didn’t have any disappointment in her eyes.

“Sophie, this isn’t your fault,” she said, handing me a bag with a fresh outfit I brought from home for emergencies like this.

I changed out of my soiled clothes, dried my tears and went to class. I went into class and nobody batted an eye. All my friends reassured me what happened wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t anything to be ashamed of.

It took me years after they said that for me to believe them.

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I did eventually have my first sleepover. I did have to throw away my diaper at my friend’s house.

And my friend was OK with that.

I’m now 17 years old, and I’ve learned there are somethings that you cannot control. Health issues are not anybody’s fault. I’ve learned I don’t have to be ashamed of what I live with, and to live, I must take what I have in stride.

Originally published: December 31, 2015
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