A soft spring sun promised a beautiful summer. The kids were back outside after the long winter. It was still chilly but the direct rays of the sun were lovely and the coats had been left at home. Quietly two boys were busy with each other, with their sleeves rolled up, hidden behind a garden house where they sat out of sight of the house, sheltered from the wind and unwanted looks.
“Well, then we’re blood brothers now.” Dries said, pressing his bloodied wrist against Jasper’s. They looked at each other with joy. It was Dries who had taken the lead in the whole thing, but Jasper was happy to go along with it. They had been best friends for a long time and shared all the joys and sorrows. If they weren’t at Dries’ house, they could be found two blocks away at Jasper’s house or on the playground between the two families. Often an extra place was covered at the table if Jasper or Dries lingered in one of the two houses. When Jasper or Dries went on holiday, and they couldn’t see each other for more than three days, they both felt a big knot in their stomach because of the loss.
“Now that we are blood brothers, we should never keep secrets from each other and share everything.” Dries continued. “And if you reveal a secret to someone else, your hand falls off.” he also said.
Dries meant what he said, but Jasper wasn’t so sure about the latter. But it made no difference to him, he would never betray the trust of his best friend.
It had been Dries who had made the whole thing up. He had read about it in a book about how they used to do it and brought it up to Jasper. He wanted to become blood brothers and Jasper went along with it. At Dries’s request, Jasper had brought a pocket knife from his big brother and together they hid behind Dries’s garden house. Dries had thought out the ritual completely. First ask the great spirits to be witnesses. Then they vowed about what it meant to be blood brothers. “I swear I will protect my blood brother from now on. I will share all my love and all my grief with him. I swear that I will always protect him. My secret is his secret, and his will be mine. I swear I will never do anything to betray my blood brother’s trust.”
Then they blessed the knife. “O great spirits, behold this knife with which we shall seal our bond.” Dries said, holding the knife up in the direction of the sun. Dries took the knife and cut his forearm with it. Not that it mattered much. The knife was rather blunt and there was no more than a scratch showing a small drop of blood in two places. Dries decided that was adequate. It was painful enough, and nothing Dries had read about it said how much blood it took. Jasper repeated the ritual to himself and offered his wrist to Dries, after which he placed his on it. “Well, then we’re blood brothers now.”
Jasper wiped the knife on his pants, closed the knife and put it back in his pocket. The two friends sat down next to each other and both sucked on their wounds to wipe off the blood.
“I’m glad we’re blood brothers now.” Dries said. Jasper nodded convincingly yes. He had never been much of a talker, but that wasn’t a problem for their friendship. They understood each other.
“Dries, come and eat!” called Kathy, Dries’ mother. Quickly Dries and Jasper rushed to Dries’ house. “Ah, are you there Jasper?” Kathy said. “Does your mum know?” Jasper nodded quickly yes, he had indeed shouted something like that to his mother this afternoon before he left.
“Slide on Jasper, I’ll send your mum a message. Which of your two mums is home?” Kathy then continued.
“Mommy Helga is home.” said Jasper. “Mommy Celine has to work today.”
Kathy quickly took her cell phone and sent a message to Helga. << Your piggy gets his food here today. >> and Helga’s answer came quickly.
<<Thank you, send that monkey of yours here tomorrow, and he will get his ration here.>> they had known each other since their children started school, but they got on well.
While Kathy was exchanging messages with his mom, Jasper took an extra plate and cutlery and put them on the table. Dries meanwhile took another glass and the five of them quickly sat down at the table. Heleen, Dries’ big sister, and their father were also there.
“Oh Dries and Jasper. Your hands are still dirty. Are you coming to the tap? I’ll help.” Heleen was thirteen, five years older than Dries and Jasper. She was such an overly caring type of sister who was very protective of Dries. Having Jasper around only made her happier, because it meant she had two ‘victims’ for her good intentions instead of one. Jasper and Dries usually let her do it. It could be useful if they needed help for something, but sometimes this mothering was quite disturbing.
The time at the table was filled with conversation. After dinner, Dries and Jasper continued to play inside. Dries took the Lego from his room and in the living room they started to build a castle that hopefully could withstand the attack of a dragon. Jasper used to ask if they couldn’t just go and play in Dries’ room, but that was never allowed. After a while, Jasper stopped asking. Different house, different rules, he thought quietly.
After an hour of building, Kathy’s cell phone rang. <<That piggy of mine can go to the stable. It’s early morning training for him and he has to get up early. Are you sending him? Grtz Helga>>
Kathy immediately turned to the boys. “Come Jasper, it’s time to go to sleep sends your mother. Better at home in your own bed than here. Right?”
“Of course,” Jasper replied sadly. On the one hand, he would have liked to have played a little longer. (the castle was not finished yet) and on the other hand he really wanted to spend the night with Dries. He had asked that several times, but it had never happened. There had always been a reason. (It’s school tomorrow, there’s training tomorrow, Dries is tired from last night and should definitely sleep well now,… ) Reason after reason every invitation or proposal was declined and it never happened. Finally, Jasper had given up asking.
“Hey Jasper. Put on your coat and shoes and go home. Your mama is waiting.” urged Kathy
Dries said goodbye to Jasper as he put on his things. “Come on Dries. Leave upstairs now. Then you can go straight to bed as well.” Dries’ mom finished as she quickly helped Jasper tie his shoelaces. Kathy checked on the street whether Jasper was crossing properly, after which she went inside to put her son to bed.
Jasper came home in a good mood. “Nice play at Dries?” Helga asked her son as he came in.
Jasper nodded cheerfully yes. “I’m always sad when it’s over.”
Helga took Jasper upstairs to get him ready for bed. Pyjamas, brushing teeth, toilet and finally a story. Jasper can of course already read himself, but being read to (with mummy who does those loverly voices) makes it even more fun.
A week later, Dries and Jasper were again sitting behind the garden house in the afternoon. “Remember last week?” Dries asked Jasper. Jasper looked up at Dries in surprise. He remembered what they had done here last week, something important that he would not forget easily. A blood oath is something for life. Jasper believed in sharing the whole message with joy and sorrow, keeping no secrets from each other. But why did Dries have to sit and shift so uncomfortably? Jasper became worried that something bad was happening.
“Remember when we swore we weren’t going to keep any secrets from each other?” Dries continued, blushing slightly.
“Of course I remember that Dries. You and me. We are blood brothers. You can tell me anything and I swore I would never tell anyone else." Jasper replied. Jasper didn’t have to hesitate about his answer. He meant it with all his heart.
Dries looked sharply in all directions to make sure no one was around. When Jasper saw what he was doing, he looked nervously around the corner of the garden house, but no one was there either.
“Come here.” whispered Dries quietly. Jasper moved his buttocks a bit and came forward with his ear to be able to understand Dries.
Jasper was afraid of what was about to come. Dries had never been so ashamed to say something.
“I still do pee in bed at night and you promised not to tell anyone.” Dries whispered urgently and hurriedly into Jasper’s ear. Jasper looked in surprise at Dries. Was he still wetting the bed? Babies only did that, didn’t they? Jasper wasn’t sure what to do with this information. He was going to keep it to himself, Dries was his best friend, after all, but what was he supposed to do with it? Why had Dries said that? All these questions were running through Jasper’s mind.
Dries looked anxiously back at Jasper, waiting for an answer. The silence, short as it was, was painful and made him fear the worst. “Now that you know that, you can sleep here.” Dries added quietly.
That turned the dime in the right direction for Jasper. “Really, can I sleep over? Yay! at last!” exclaimed Jasper. “I’m going to ask your mum if she sends a message to mine to ask if that’s allowed.” Jasper chattered away. Forgetting the bed-wetting, the two children rushed in to get their parents’ permission.
“Mommy, can Jasper sleep here?” Dries asked.
Dries’s mom thougth for a moment. They had to get up early tomorrow to visit grandpa and grandma, so it wasn’t really a good idea. But it was the first time that Dries had asked a friend to spend the night. She knew why, he was ashamed of wetting the bed. It didn’t really work out, but she didn’t want to discourage the first step. “that’s fine for me, but we’re also going to ask Jasper’s mum first.” Kathy said. “Know Jasper that you have to go home quickly tomorrow morning, because we are leaving. Go on playing, I’ll send a message to your mom.”
<< Hey, my monkey has asked your pig to spend the night here. Is that possible? Greetings Kathy>>
<< That’s good for me. Does my pig know about your monkey’s problem? Greetings Helga>>
<<I don’t know. I’ll talk to them soon. K>>
<<Are you going to send my piggy home afterwards? Then I give him a bag with some sleeping stuff. H>>
<<Okay, that’s good. I’ve got a spare pillow and sheets here, he don’t have to bring that. K>>
<< That’s good, how long can he stay? H.>>
<< I’ll send him back between nine and ten am. My in-laws are expecting us tomorrow afternoon. K>>
<< That’s good, I’ll see him coming.>>
After the messages were exchanged, Kathy, Dries’ mother, went looking for her son and Jasper. “I’ve just exchanged a few messages with Helga. Jasper, it’s good for her too, your mom allows you to sleep here.”
“Yippee!” the two boys shouted in unison. They were really looking forward to it. Dries was a bit worried about how the evening would go. He had told Jasper that he wet the bed, but not everything that went with it.
“Jasper, there is something else I have to tell you about Dries.” Dries blushed because he immediately knew what was coming.
“Dries just told me that he wets the bed at night.” Jasper told Kathy.
Kathy smiled. “That is indeed true. Did he also tell you that there is nothing he can do about it?”
“No, not yet, what do you mean?” Jasper then asked.
“For some children, the wetting goes away quickly on its own, while for others it takes longer. That is quite normal. There are many children who wet the bed, but no one knows about it because no one says anything about it. In your class there are probably be two or three other children besides Dries who also wet the bed.”
“I didn’t know that, I thought only very young children did that.” said Jasper carefully, not wanting to offend his best friend.
“Of course not. Some big kids, even bigger than you, have that problem too.” Dries’ mother assured Jasper.
Dries looked a bit puzzled. He didn’t like his mother discussing his ‘nocturnal problem’ with anyone else, even if it was his best friend.
Assured that Jasper had understood that Dries could not help it, and Dries assured that he really had nothing to be ashamed of, she sent both children to Jasper’s house so that they could collect his things. Armed with pyjamas, a cuddly toy, toothbrush, toothpaste and a change of clothes for the next day, Jasper and Dries returned to Dries’ house.
“take those things upstairs right away. I’ll help you make your bed.” said Kathy.
Jasper followed Dries carefully upstairs. He had never been upstairs before and did a curious look around the room. He saw the boxes of toys, a desk with his schoolwork, the bed, bedside table and two large closets. “Wow, so big and beautiful.” Jasper said as he slowly turned around and then sat down on the bed. “Why was I never allowed to come here?” he asked, feeling with his hand on the mattress that strange thing that made such a strange noise.
“So you wouldn’t feel the plastic over the mattress.” said Dries with red jaws. “It protects the mattress in case I wet the sheets. You would have known that I wet the bed.”
“That’s all right, don’t worry about it.” Jasper said. “I’m so glad I can stay with you now.”
Dries’ mum came in with a folding bed and a set of sheets. “Here Jasper, will you put your pillow in the pillowcase?” she asked, fiddling with mattress protectors and sheets herself. A few minutes later the bed was nicely set up.
Dries displayed Jasper’s stuffed animal nicely on the headboard and afterwards they went downstairs towards the living room.
With everything in order now, the boys set to work on the Lego castle where they had been working on the week before. There were still a few walls to go and a tower that had to be built as high as possible. That way, the catapult would be able to protect the castle from the dragon.
After dinner the boys worked and played for a while, until it was time to go to bed. “Here Jasper. Take your pyjamas and go to the bathroom. Dries, which pyjamas do you want?”
Jasper went to the bathroom to change and brush his teeth. While he was busy brushing his teeth, he heard the toilet flush next to the bathroom. A little later Dries came in in his pyjamas and grabbed his toothbrush. He had apparently changed into his pyjamas in his room. Jasper went to the toilet and then to Dries’ room. Dries’ mum was already waiting with a story book in her hands. Jasper’s eyes started to sparkle. He loved stories. “We are waiting for Dries, and when he’s ready we’ll start.” Dries came out of the bathroom a little later and settled on the other side of his mum. Kathy opened the book and started. “The Knight Princess. Once upon a time there was a princess, who was stronger and tougher than…”
The boys enjoyed the story from start to finish. They each got another ‘good night kiss’ and the lights went out.
Jasper tossed and turned in his bed. It wasn’t just him, another room, another bed. And now he was also curious about Dries’ bed-wetting. What would that look like? Jasper’s head was full with questions, but he didn’t dare ask them. It’s because Dries’ dad had been very strict. If he had to come upstairs to the bedroom once because they were being too noisy, this would also be the last sleepover. And Jasper hoped there would be many more could follow after this first one.
It took a while before he found his peace, but Dries’s calm breathing was somewhat contagious and eventually he too also fell asleep.
Jasper woke up to the light coming through the curtains. At home he always had to lie down until it was eight o’clock, but here he didn’t see a clock anywhere. Carefully he tried to look at Dries to see if he was awake yet. Because the guest bed was so much lower, he couldn’t see anything. Carefully he tried to sit up, but the bed made a terrible noise when he moved. Jasper so stopped and lay still. He thought that the noise of that bed would certainly wake Dries’ parents, and he didn’t want that. He wanted to behave as well as possible so that he could certainly do more sleepovers.
Jasper remained lying there for another five minutes (according to his feelings). “Dries, are you awake?” he asked finally
Jasper listened for a moment as he whispered, but heard nothing. Maybe he was not whispering loud enough. “Dries, are you awake?” followed again, this time a bit louder. Now Dries must have heard it. Jasper did indeed hear movement in Dries’ bed. Dries turned around and everything rustled. There was also a low murmur coming from the bed but is wasn’t clear enough to be understood.
“Dries, louder, I didn’t understand you.” Jasper said now more than he whispered to Dries.
“Yes, what is is, is it time already?” said Dries again.
“Are you still asleep?” Jasper asked Dries. Quietly, Jasper began to see his mistake. But Dries was awake now and they started to play. Not much later (or so it felt) Dries’ mum came in and it was really time to get up.
Kathy had a busy schedule and urged the children to hurry.
“Jasper, go downstairs and start eating. Helga will pick you up in half an hour. Dries has to come with us, we are going to visit his grandparents.”
Heleen was already eating at the table downstairs. “Sit down. I’ll make you a sandwich. What do you want on it?” she asked Jasper.
Jasper chose the strange blue and white crackling spread. He had only eaten it once before and thought it tasted good.
While Heleen was busy smearing, the rest of the family also came down. Dries even had already all his clothes on!
Jasper was just nibbling the last of his sandwich when his mother came to the door. “Go and get changed quickly Jasper, we will leave then too.” Kathy said.
In no time at all Jasper was upstairs and in his clothes. He quickly said goodbye to the family and walked home with his mother. There was a quick honk and wave as Dries drove by with his family. “Can Dries come and stay overnight next week?” Jasper asked his mother longingly as he watched the car pull out of the streat.
The next school day was started with making plans for the following weekend. The family was going on a day trip to a nearby forest and Dries was going along. Jasper knew the perfect secret spot to build a camp, and no one else would be able to find it in the play forest. Jasper was sure of it.
During the lesson, they made a minute-by-minute plan on a scrap of paper from Dries when the teacher called them to order.
When the construction plans for the camp were taken away the next day at school, Jasper and Dries were furious. All their ideas gone!
On the third day of school they lost their list of materials and on the fourth day of school, to their surprise, the map they had made of the area around the camp was taken away. Did their teacher really not understand where the priorities lay?
All the work they had done for the past week was thinly redone on Friday afternoon during playtime. “At least now they have no reason to take away our work.” Dries growled between his teeth. Jasper nodded softly. He was redrawing the map with the tip of his tongue between his lips.
“Jasper. That’s your calligraphy book you got there. What are you doing now!” a weary teacher bellowed over the heads of the two children. All week they had been more busy with each other than with the lessons. “Why didn’t you just ask for some paper? Give me that notebook here.”
Disappointed, Jasper handed over his calligraphy. All their work for nothing again. But as determined the children wanted to make their preparations, so unpredictable is the weather. When Dries rang Jasper’s doorbell from under his umbrella in the morning, instead of the promised spring sunshine, there were clouds, rain and a lot of wind. The forest was closed because the risk of trees or branches falling was too high due to the stormy weather, so the trip was therefore cancelled.
They discussed the craziest punishments they could give the weatherman while playing a board game called Hotel. In the end, they came up with a fake marriage proposal between their teacher and the weatherman. In the end, they were the ones who ruined their weekend.
The board game was alternated with electric racing cars, Monopoly, making a bed, Playmobil, normal cars and a game called Gold Diggers.
The only strange moment was when Dries made his bed. As usual, the careless Dries scattered and threw everything around, for example he bounced his cuddly toy off the ceiling into the bed. He aimed his toothbrush and toothpaste from three metres at the sink and remained at one-half metres and thirty cm from the target respectively.
But just as he picked up his pyjamas and was about to throw them at the bed, he changed his mind. Cautiously, he walked to his pillow and carefully slid his pyjamas under his pillow like the nice package they were. Then the clean clothes for the next day flew towards the chair.
Jasper looked surprised for a moment, wondering where this break in Dries ‘normal’ behaviour had come from. But soon his attention shifted to the next activity and the moment was forgotten.
A couple of hours and one figuratively exploded house later, the boys were lying paralysed in their seats, on the verge of boredom.
“Come and slide on you snot noses.” Gert, Jasper’s big brother came in and, as always, immediately asserted himself. He always wanted the best seat on the couch. And that was exactly where Jasper was sitting. Jasper knew he had to leave Gert his spot, but on one or another way, Jasper always seemed to sit in Gert’s ‘best spot’.
Jasper rolled out of the seat and quickly scrambled out of the way towards Dries so to avoid being crushed under Gert. The ‘move on’ was the only warning he received and Jasper knew he had to hurry if he didn’t want to face any consequences, big or small, from his brother.
Gert was twice as old, twice as strong, twice as heavy,… He enjoyed the power he had over these two ‘little buggers.’ or ‘snot noses’ as he sometimes puts it.
Clicking on Helga, Jasper’s mum, would help for a short while, but later that day or the day after, Gert would always make it clear why clicking was an ‘unwanted behavior’ and what the consequences were. For Gert, this ‘unwanted behavior’ had to be suppressed as quickly as possible, preferably in the most original way possible. Originality to Gert usually meant a combination of hands or feet and pain.
Gert lived by the standard that small, cute and sweet by definition did not belong to little brothers. He had a few life motto’s that Gert lived up to as best he could. ‘The strongest rise to the top’ ‘If you can’t win, you have to cheat.’ and finally: ‘Growing up and grow tall is the cure for everything.’
What he thought was perfectly normal when he was still eight years old, he now thinks as a sixteen years old, that all these things are for toddlers and babies. No one is allowed to say that as an eight-year-old he still had fun with Lego, Playmobil or playing on playgrounds.
In short: Gert and Jasper preferred to deny each other’s existence and their live together was based on a fragile and above all unequal balance of power.
Gert would turn off the children’s channel, which the two boys used to try to combat their boredom, and he switched to a series about the most uninteresting subject there was. Slowly, they trudged from the sofa to the kitchen in search of something else.
Helga made the final preparations for dinner.
“Good to have you boys. If you’d like to put your pyjamas on now, you can play Mario Kart after dinner. Otherwise it will be time to go to bed almost immediately after dinner."
Dries and Jasper did not hesitate. Dries didn’t have a Nintendo at home and Jasper’s parents didn’t usually let them play electronic games when Dries was around. The two boys stormed upstairs. Jasper pulled out his favourite onesie. Dries left a trail of clothes from the door to the bed and was already pulling on the top of his pyjamas when Jasper came in.
Jasper sat down on the bed to take off his stockings when he saw Dries picking up his pyjama bottoms. Excited as Dries was, he had forgotten which ‘package’ was still folded between his pyjama bottoms. While Dries jerked the pants, another piece of clothing and something white came out between the pants. Red-faced, Dries dove after it and quickly muffled them both under the sheets.
Of course, with Jasper sitting right next to him, the attempt to do it in secret was doomed from the start.
“What’s that?” Jasper asked as he pulled back the covers.
“My nappy for when I wet the bed.” Dries stammered as he tried to pull the covers back up.
“Isn’t it too small for you?” Jasper asked, ignoring Dries’ attempt to hide it and grabbing the diaper.
“Does it fit? I didn’t know it existed that big?” Jasper’s interest was aroused. He looked closely at the front. There was a picture of a lion with a blue-green stripe at the top…
Dries watched with tears in his eyes as Jasper discovered his secret.
“I didn’t know you wear that,” Jasper said, turning the diaper around to all sides to feel and see.
Dries let out a huge sigh of frustration. “Yes, I wear it. As the only one in the whole world out of everyone who is eight. Mum says there are some more, but I don’t believe her. I’ve never seen anyone else wearing a nappy!”
Jasper looked at Dries doubtfully. “Neither have I,” he replied after considering for a long time and not thinking of anyone else. Dries was the only one he knew who was still wetting the bed.
Dries let the tears of humiliation flow freely down his cheeks. He felt so unhappy. He felt alone in the world.
Jasper looked at Dries uneasily. He noticed the tears and tried to retrace his steps. “Would you really be the only one? Do they make those nappies just for you?” he asked quietly.
Dries shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t know anyone. I’ve never seen anyone as big as me wearing one.” Dries sobbed, taking long breaths in between.
Jasper couldn’t stand it, Dries’ sadness, and he wanted to do his best to cheer her up. “There must be someone.”
“No, I’ve never seen anyone else wearing it. I’m really alone!”
“You’re not alone. I’m here, aren’t I?” Jasper said as he held Dries to comfort him. Jasper hadn’t quite understood yet.
“But you never wear nappies," Dries cried.
Jasper was silent. He indeed never wore a nappy.
The boys continued to dress in silence. Dries sobbed over everything that had happened, Jasper thought about everything he had just seen and heard. It was a lot to take in.
Dries quickly tucked his nappy and what looked like a T-shirt under the blanket and together they walked down the stairs to the kitchen.
Helga looked at the boys in surprise as they returned. The usual chatter was much less than usual and Dries’ eyes were a little red and puffy. “Are you all right?” she asked Dries. Dries nodded quietly as he sat down at the table. Helga was curious as to what had been going on between the children, but as they seemed affected but not actively arguing, she let it go.
The meal went smoothly, except that Gert was asserting himself. These little children had nothing important to say to him, so the only one worth talking to was himself.
After dinner (ribs, oven fries and applesauce), a few games of Mario Kart were played. Jasper usually won the most, because he obviously could have practised a lot more. But this time Dries had a much better chance. Jasper’s mind was elsewhere. Dries’ exclamation that he was the only one, and that was why he was so unhappy, echoed in his head. And Jasper, sweet and sensitive boy that he was, wanted to see Dries as happy as possible.
He tried to come up with various plans, but they are not always realistic or feasible. There are certainly other eight-year-old children who wear nappies at night. But where do you find them? And once you’ve found them, how can you convince them to admit that they wear them too?
Organizing a survey in the football/classroom/friends group might do the trick, but who will be brave enough to admit it? Hide in the shop and see who buys nappy’s? Most of the time it will be mums and dads buying them, and you don’t know which child it’s for or how old they are. And how would Jasper persuade his parents to let him spend half a day in the supermarket doing ‘a bit of research’? If not by the boss of the supermarket being thrown out on suspicion of criminal activity.
And a tour of the village, ringing bells everywhere, was probably as successful as the chance to win Euromilions.
Jasper was calm as he lost round after round of the game. He was quiet when they had to stop playing and were sent upstairs. His head kept spinning and he hadn’t noticed that Dries had gone into his room alone with his mother. Until Dries was standing next to him, brushing his teeth. Then Jasper saw that the outline of the nappy was clearly visible in Dries’ pyjama bottoms.
When Jasper rinsed his mouth, he could hardly take his eyes off it. Dries saw that and the tears came back to his eyes. “I’m sorry,” Jasper said, looking away in embarrassment. “I don’t want to hurt you," Jasper whispered softly to him.
The children were read a short story by Jasper’s mum (The Amazing Tree House with 13 Floors), and with the message that she did not want to come up again to silence the children, she closed the door.
“Dries?” Jasper whispered as he heard his mother going down the stairs.
“Yes, what is it?” Dries replied. “Shouldn’t we be quiet?”
“If we whisper it will work. I’ve been thinking,” Jasper said. Because you feel so alone, because you don’t know anyone else who also wears a nappy. I want to help you and I’ve been thinking about how to find someone else, but I’m not quite sure how…”
“See I’m the only one. I’ll never see anyone else I know wearing a nappy,” Dries sobbed.
“But I know a solution,” Jasper said. “If I put one on right now. Then you won’t be so alone anymore.”
“Really?” Dries asked. “Are you serious? Would you do that for me?”
“Yes,” Jasper whispered back softly. “I’ll do anything for you.”
Dries’ eyes watered again, but this time not from sadness. He knew he had a good friend in Jasper, but he had no idea he would go to such lengths for him.
“Give me one and we’ll do it right away,” Jasper whispered, curious to know what his friend went through every night. But he also wanted to do it now, before his courage failed him. Now he had enough courage for it, tomorrow during the day he might feel differently.
“I can’t,” Dries said. “I only have the one I’m wearing. I can’t give you another one.”
“Then next time at your place.” Jasper said before he knew it. What did I promise now? he asked himself.
“Thank you,” Dries said. “You’re the best friend anyone could have.”
“Don’t mention it,” Jasper replied. “Sleep well.”
“Sleep well,” Dries whispered before laying his head down.
Jasper turned around soon after, both children far away in dreamland.
The week passed quickly and the following weekend they had an appointment at Dries’ house. Dries had asked several times during the week if Jasper was really going to put on a nappy for him. Sometimes Jasper doubted whether it was a good idea to secretly put on one of Dries’ nappies, but the look on Dries’ face every time Jasper confirmed immediately knocked all doubts out of him. He would make Dries extremely happy by putting on a nappy as well.
Jasper was worried about what would happen if they found out. Would Dries’ mom see that an extra nappy was missing from the bag? Would she come into the room at night and see it? Would she then tell his own mothers? What would they say?
Jasper was very nervous and afraid of being discovered. He wasn’t really afraid of wearing a nappy once, after all he made Dries very happy with it. He was dreading a possible discovery and everything that would come with it.
Jasper had gone to Dries’ house after lunch that Saturday. He put his luggage in the room and then got ready with Dries to catch reptiles together. Armed with two buckets and two nets, they headed for the stream. After catching one Dries insisted they were salamanders, but Jasper was sure they were lizards. They didn’t really know the difference. When they asked Heleen for a definite answer, she only gave them a third option. Heleen joined in and told a whole story about knights, dragons and magic. According to her, these creatures were the distant descendants of ferocious dragons that had been reduced to their present form by the combined strength of two knights (a certain Jasper and Dries), a few elves, wizards, fairies and a whole lot of magic. Jasper and Dries enjoyed the story Heleen had told them, but they were still wondering whether it was a lizard or a salamander.
While preparing the beds, Dries and Jasper had secretly taken a diaper from the bathroom and placed it at under the duvet at the foot of Jasper’s cot. Kathy, Dries’ mother, realised that they were busy with ‘plans’, but that happened so often. Kathy was not worried, because the next day usually brought stories of great adventures.
The evening went well. After dinner, Jasper, Dries and Heleen played another boardgame of Hotel until it was time to go to bed. After Dries and Jasper had gotten dressed and gone to bed, there was a brief moment when there was a close call. Kathy opened the beds so that the children could crawl under the covers, and the diaper that lay at the foot of Jasper’s bed was barely exposed.
The children lay in bed, listening carefully as Kathy went downstairs. They quietly counted to the agreed hundred, after which Dries declared it safe to carry out their plan. Jasper dug out the nappy from the foot of the bed. It took a while. Finding the front, trying out the tapes, sticking it on again, and after a few well-intentioned tips, explanations and help from Dries, it was more or less fixed. Dries had even pulled down his pyjama bottoms, with red cheeks, then opened his bodysuit and pulled it up to show how it should look. When Jasper compared it to himself, it wasn’t quite as nicely centred and mirrored, but it didn’t fall off as soon as he stood up, so it was good enough. This time Jasper zipped up his second favourite onesie and crawled back into his sleeping bag.
Dries beamed with joy. Jasper really was his best friend. There was no one in the world who had a better friend than him. He gave him a quick hug in gratitude. Jasper also felt a little lighter and happier under Dries’ positive attention. They were best friends, and the good bond they already had got a huge boost. After some more careful whispering back and forth, Dries fell asleep with a blissful smile on his face. Jasper tossed and turned a little longer. The sensation of the nappy between his legs was exciting, exhilarating and soothing all at the same time. He was still enjoying the smile on Dries’ face and he regularly ran his hand between his legs and over his bottom to feel the nappy and listen to the sound it made.
He was not very comfortable. It sat a little crooked, pinching one groin more than the other, and he felt that it was all a little too loose. He turned restlessly and fell asleep a little later, lulled by Dries’ calm breathing.
Jasper woke up a little later in the middle of the night. He had forgotten to pee before going to bed. Nature called and he stumbled across the room, more asleep than awake, towards the door. He turned left towards the toilet and took two steps forward. By the third step he was wide awake and suddenly remembered several things at once:
One: He was not at home, but at a sleepover with Dries.
Two: The toilet was on the right side of the hall, not on the left.
Three: What was on the left was the stairs.
Four: When his foot failed to land where he thought it would, falling instead into an empty space, he knew he was on the Staircase.