Henry is seven (Not to be confused with any of the Shakespearian Henrys)
The paediatric nurse
Ellie is eighteen and able to leave school to pursue a career close to her heart. Ever since she was little she’d always wanted to take care of children and, when an opportunity came up to take a course in paediatric nursing she jumped at the chance.
She’d already been a volunteer at Saint Clare’s the local hospice and of course, what also helped was being ten years older than her brother, so had, over the years, taken care of him when their mother was otherwise engaged. Ellie was a young woman full of care, consideration and love, all of which she displayed to those she was charged to look after. She loved the work.
Her brother Henry had been born ten years after Ellie, same mother but from a different father.
Her own dad, Michael Warren, had married his childhood sweetheart Debra Gold, when, at the age of twenty-five, they could see no reason not to. He’d got a well-paid job at the local quarry straight from school and she’d been a top honours student but wanted to work rather than pursue further studies. She quickly established herself in the financial accounts department of a legal firm and made quite a reputation for herself.
With the birth of Ellie, decided she’d cope with child and career from home and set up her own freelance financial advice/accounts company. Unfortunately, eight years later an accident at the quarry had left the wonderful Michael fatally injured and the small family unit almost fell apart.
They managed the best they could, the compensation pay-out helping alleviate the financial worries a little. However, eighteen months later Daryl Woodhouse met and dated Debra. He was a funny, slim man, almost the exact opposite of her first husband, and he brought a much-needed breath of fresh air into the household. Alas, he was a freeloader and Debra only realised her mistake when, as the money run out, so did he. By then she was three months pregnant but thanks to her daughter and close-knit family, managed to get over him.
She wasn’t going to let her resentment of his father cloud the view of her new son, Henry (named after Michael’s father) and so put the name Warren on the birth certificate. Although Ellie and the family knew he was from a different father, Debra insisted that he be treated as if he was Michael’s son and he was never to know who his real father was.
Keeping this lie proved easier than expected because baby Henry was a little treasure. Everyone, including his older sister, doted on this smiling bundle of joy and he instantly slipped into being an important part of the family.
Brother and sister were inseparable; he adored Ellie and she was always there to help and teach him as he grew up.
With Ellie already having helped out at the children’s hospital and the attached hospice she knew that paediatric nursing was not an easy job. Not only was she helping children from babies to teenagers, she also had the emotional journey of all that entailed. Babies that needed almost twenty-four hour care, young boys and girls who from some accident or disease needed help or supervision, the job was as much about sensitivity as medical care. Ellie was determined to get it right from the off and throw herself into it with gusto… she didn’t want to get anything wrong.
To this end she decided to enlist the help of Henry.
He was a robust, noisy, exuberant seven year old, who enjoyed all the pleasures a second grader could appreciate. However, when asked by his adored sister if she could practice on him, he approached this request with some apprehension.
He wasn’t sure what it entailed but she promised it wouldn’t involve any ‘medical’ procedure. She said she just didn’t want to harm kids who were already suffering in one way or another simply because of not knowing how to do something quickly, carefully and with a degree of professionality.
Henry had always done as his sister wanted but now, at seven, he felt he liked his independence and was weary of committing himself to do anything. Especially as the summer break was here and he planned to be out and about playing with his group of school mates.
Ellie promised she would only practice on him when he was home our before bed and that nothing she did would impose on his fun. His mother encouraged him to ‘rally round’ and had a private word with him saying how pleased she’d be if he helped his sister attain the job she so desperately wanted.
He loved his mom and loved his sister so… how could he refuse?
Ellie explained to her brother just what her job would entail. He wasn’t aware she would have to look after kids who were nearly as old as she was and who needed help with even the most basic of tasks. Even though she’d changed Henry’s nappy when he was a baby, he was potty trained by his third birthday, and she really had no idea how to go about changing someone older. She knew she’d be taught how to cope with a larger body but there were other considerations to think about. Most of the paediatric staff was female but they would be required to attend to older boys as well as girls, she wanted to get it right.
So, on that first night of ‘Henry practice’ the bandages and other medical kit she was going to employ to begin with had been left in a separate bag at the hospice. Thankfully, the actual bag she had brought had all the things she needed for other training purposes. She nappied him.
He was embarrassed throughout the entire procedure and had been reluctant to let it happen. However, she’d insisted that some kids needed help even getting undressed so he should let her do everything and that included seeing him nude.
Not that his sister hadn’t seen his naked little bum racing around the house ever since he could crawl but at seven years old bashfulness was becoming a thing he was aware of.
Any unwillingness was overcome by a word of encouragement, and promise of some future wish granted from his mother, which meant Ellie could get on with the exercise and Henry would simply comply.
She stripped him and applied the wipes and creams she’d been told were needed to keep that particular area free of ‘the nasties’.
She let out a schoolgirl giggle when she described it with those words to her brother.
He looked horrified that such areas should even have ‘nasties’ around.
She explained throughout the procedure what she was doing and why.
Despite the awkwardness he realised just what a hard job his sister was undertaking. The idea that older kids might need nappies had never occurred to him and, after giving him a couple of examples of the problems some of her patients had, Henry was a little less anxious.
“Don’t you use disposables?” Henry wondered.
“Most of the time, but some kids are allergic or have different needs so we have to learn to be able to do everything… and that my dear, sweet little brother, is why I need to practice on you.”
She smiled as the soft but thick fabric was pulled up between his legs. “So feel free to wriggle around a bit.”
Once fitted in the nappy and plastic pants she asked him to walk around and give his opinion of fit; tightness, looseness, comfort, etc.
Henry looked at himself in the mirror and burst out in embarrassed laughter.
“I look, I look like a big… a big… “
“Maybe, but think of the poor kids who HAVE to wear that all the time?”
Ellie looked at him in the mirror and patted the padding down a bit.
“Erm, yes, er, it fits well.”
For a moment guilt swept through his seven year old body when he realised some unfortunate kids had no alternative.
After all, no one else knew or could see him wearing a nappy so why should it bother him?
He knew his sister only wanted what was best for her patients and decided that if he could help, even in just this most simple of ways, he would. The padding wasn’t hurting him and Ellie had laid it on pretty thick (just like the nappy) he would be helping her help them.
He paraded around the bedroom for a short while.
“It does feel strange having all this between my legs… but it’s not uncomfortable.”
“That’s reassuring,” she said relieved.
With each unfamiliar step Henry could hear the tell-tale rustle of the plastic. The plain white vinyl cover really not hiding the fact of what lay beneath.
“This,” he said rubbing the slippery cover, “doesn’t hide anything…”
“It’s not supposed to,” Ellie confirmed. “It’s to keep from any leaks happening.”
She slipped her finger between the tight elasticated legs and gently felt the soft fabric underneath.
“This can get absolutely soaked so, like when you were a baby, it keeps the rest of your clothes and bedding dry until someone can come and change you.”
He looked at her as if she thought he was stupid.
“I know that.”
She patted his padded bottom.
“Okay clever dick, let me try a different way of folding the fabric and see how that feels and then…”
After a brief sigh he let Ellie get on with the second change and again was positive about a job well done. She explained that some kids were simply incontinent; whilst others had medical procedures that meant different techniques of protection were needed.
Henry looked at the pile of disposable, fabric nappies, plastic covers and other assorted items she needed for her job and was glad he didn’t require any of this stuff on a permanent basis.
Ellie was thorough as she manoeuvred the dense material under his bottom, pulled it through his legs and pinned it into place.
As if on cue, his mother popped her head around the door to see how things were going.
“Oh sweetheart, you look… lovely.”
Although this had been said in a friendly way, Henry, who was laid out on the floor, and all but naked, wriggled in embarrassment.
“Sorry, sorry… but you do look cute.” She teased.
There was no doubt about it, seeing her seven year old son wearing nothing but a nappy had made her go all gooey inside. She was shocked at just how much the feeling of maternal pride and love swamped her body just from seeing him look so sweet and vulnerable.
She swallowed a gulp of emotion and smiled.
“Okay. I’m making a hot drink… do you two want one as well?”
“Yes please,” they chorused.
“But not in a baby’s bottle.” Henry added.
“Owww but sweetheart… you’d look…” She couldn’t help herself especially when she realised she wasn’t just teasing him.
She disappeared just as Ellie pulled him to his feet.
“For the last time tonight… how does that feel?”
He stood up and walked around and gave a little jump. The nappy was soft, thick and fleecy and it did feel slightly different to the others.
“A bit loose… I think with the plastic pants it would be alright.”
He gave another little jump as if to prove his point.
They didn’t fall down so he jumped again but the nappy stayed steadfastly in place.
Not for the first time a smile appeared on Ellie’s face.
“Mum’s right, you do look very cute in those.”
“Look, if you’re gonna make fun I’m…”
“No, sorry, you’re correct. Thank you for all your help. Let me take it off for you… unless you want to keep it on?”
She chuckled to herself at the idea, whilst Henry simply pulled at the pins to dispose of the thing as quickly as possible.
…to be continued