Chapter one

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. :wink: >> 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.

Chapter two

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.

Chapter 3

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.

Chapter 4

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.


An interesting start, looking forward to reading more.

Just out of curiosity, where is this set? The name “Dries” in particular has me thinking Belgium or the Netherlands.

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I can’t speak for the author but I would have guessed it was the UK due to the use of the word nappy instead of diaper.

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That would also be common in Belgium, and some of the name and other word choices also say it’s most likely Belgium. :slight_smile:

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I first wrote this story in Dutch, it’s now completed (fourty parts) and now I’m translating it into English with help from Google translate and Deepl.
This story is indeed set in the Flemish region of Belgium or the Netherlands. I live in Belgium, but I didn’t want it to be blatantly set in Belgium, so that it would also be easier for the Dutch to identify with the story.y.



It’s special that you can tell from my English that I’m from Belgium and not the Netherlands, my sense of language is not that good.

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Nice! I spent some time in Antwerp as a student, so it’s a nice change to see a Flemish/Dutch setting.

(also, as an englishman, I love it when authors use ‘nappy’ rather than ‘diaper’ - while I love America, US-centric language/content does tend to predominate, and this feels a little more relatable).

Anyway, all this to say this is a great start to the story. You’ve written some really interesting characters and put them in a situation you’ve made believable, and I’m interested to see where you take it from here.

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Chapter 5

Jasper completely lost his balance and couldn’t keep himself upright.
The next moment only one thing mattered. His arm hurt like hell. He was lying at the bottom of the stairs, and his scream alarmed the whole household and set everyone in an uproar. When Kathy went to Jasper’s side to comfort him, he screamed in agony. He felt his left arm crunch as he moved.

Koen, Dries’ father, sent the other children, who were worried, back to their room and immediately called the ambulance. You didn’t have to be a doctor to see that something was wrong: there was a bend between the elbow and the wrist where the arm should be straight.
Kathy did her best to comfort Jasper and support him in his pain, but there was only so much she could do. Although the ambulance with the paramedics and a second car with the doctor and nurse arrived quickly, every second felt like a minute and the pain never stopped.
After Koen had called the emergency number, he called Helga to tell her what was happening.

Helga, who was still dressed and heard Jasper roaring in the background on the phone, immediately left her house and rushed in at the same time as the emergency services.
Jasper was soon surrounded by a crowd of people. Many bags were brought in by people in fluorescent clothing. The doctor tried to pull up the sleeve of Jasper’s onesie to look at his arm, but he wouldn’t let him. The pain was just too intense and too bad.

“Cut it open,” Helga intervened, unable to bear the pain Jasper was in.
A pair of scissors was quickly grabbed and before Jasper knew it, both arms of his onesie were cut off and the zip was unzipped almost to his belly button. Jasper was distracted by what was happening around him. Some wires were attached to his chest and stomach with a small patch. A red light was attached to his finger and on his good arm, a wide band was attached around his upper arm which began to tighten super hard.

“Beep-beep-beep-…” it also started to beep as the doctor asked Jasper’s mum a few questions.
Allergies, what he had eaten and drunk recently, medication, weight, previous illnesses and operations,… were all quickly run through.
Jasper looked down at his good arm. A nurse was busy sticking a giant blue needle into his arm. “No, I don’t want that!” Jasper shouted, but it was too late. The nurse held his hand tightly and Jasper saw blood trickle out of the back of the needle. Before Jasper blinked the next time, an IV bag was attached to the needle and the nurse was busy with a seal to keep the IV out of children’s hands.
When Jasper saw the nurse wrapping an extra bandage around his arm, he was able to say that it was his other arm that was hurting.

“I know,” the nurse replied with a smile. “The bandage is to hold your IV in place. We’ll give you some painkillers and it’ll all be over before you know it.”

Jasper was just glad they weren’t fiddling with his broken arm any more. With all the attention and distraction, the pain had already subsided somewhat.

“Midazolam 1mg and Ketamine 50mg,” he heard the doctor say quietly in the background. Jasper felt his hand get a little cold where the needle was and he heard the nurse say “the medication is in.”

Jasper felt strange in his head. He looked around at his mum and fought the sleep that was suddenly coming. But it was a battle he could not win, and soon he could see and hear nothing anymore of what was going on around him.
While the doctor held and straightened his broken arm, one of the paramedics put a red splint under his arm. It was shaped a bit, vacuumed and soon he was safely strapped to the stretcher. The stretcher was wheeled into the ambulance and everyone prepared to leave for the hospital.
Helga sat in the chair next to Jasper, while the doctor sat in a folding chair at the head of the stretcher. With sirens and flashing lights, they were at the hospital in no time. Jasper started to move on the stretcher as he was wheeled into the hospital, and immediately a little more medication was added.

Later in the hospital, Jasper woke up in the emergency room. The x-rays, the doctor’s discussion with Helga about the unnecessary of an operation, the plaster being put on, all happened without him being aware of it. For once it was calm in the emergency department and everything was done within half an hour of his arrival. Everyone wanted to help Jasper as quickly as possible and ‘abused’ his anaesthetic to speed things up. They wanted everything to go as smoothly as possible for this little boy, so hopefully there would be few bad memories.

“Mommy?” Jasper asked warily when he saw Helga.
“Oh, thank goodness you’re awake Jasper.” Helga said with relief. “How’s the pain in your arm?”
Slowly and gradually, Jasper’s memories of the events of the past few hours came rushing back. He remembered the fall and Kathy telling him that his mummy and the ambulance were on their way, but nothing after that. It was a big hole in his memory.
Jasper tried to move his arm carefully. When he couldn’t move it, he looked closely and saw that there was a green cast around his arm with footballs drawn on it.
“Good, I think. I don’t feel any pain anymore,” he said quietly. He tried to get up, but the nausea that washed over him like a wave knocked him back down. He tried to stop it, but he couldn’t. A whole load of stomach acid came up and he vomited. It all ran down his chin and landed on his chest. Helga was right beside him. She reached for the paper tissues and pressed the patient bell with her other hand. When the nausea had passed and Helga had cleaned Jasper’s mouth and face, the nurse came in.

“Oh, I see. Didn’t you wake up well, Jasper? I’ll get you a fresh gown.”
The nurse took a surgical gown from the cupboard and placed it next to Jasper. “Let’s get this out first…”

Jasper looked surprised at what he was wearing. “Where’s the onesie I slept in?”

“They had to cut it up to take care of you. You can’t help it Jasper, I’m not angry. We’ll buy you a new one,” Helga said, stroking Jasper’s head.

The nurse undid a button on Jasper’s neck and pulled off the soiled gown. The rest of the buttons on his arms flew open too, normal removal was difficult with the drip on one side and the plaster on the other.
With the gown off, he looked down at his crotch in horror. He was still wearing a nappy, but it wasn’t the same one he’d put on at Dries! The nurse saw him and misinterpreted his flushed cheeks.

“Yes, we gave you a fresh one. You were probably in so much pain that you didn’t realise you had to pee. But I’d rather go outside with clean pants than wet ones, wouldn’t you?”

Jasper didn’t know what to say. He was so ashamed! Helga acted as if nothing unusual had happened. She winked at Jasper and told him not to worry. Jasper didn’t know where to look. He was afraid of what was to come. The nurse put on the clean gown and told Jasper to stay a little longer. Meanwhile, Helga called home and Kathy to reassure everyone and give them an update.

A little later, after Jasper was fully awake, had eaten a yoghurt without nausea or vomiting this time, and the drip had been removed, he was allowed to go home.
“Bring back the surgical gown when he comes for his check-up,” the nurse said to Jasper’s mother.
Helga nodded gratefully to the nurse. She picked Jasper up and put him on her arm, using her other hand to pull the gown as tightly as she could around his back.
They walked outside where Celine, Jasper’s other mother, was waiting by the car.

“You’ll have to tell us about this tomorrow,'” Helga said as she gave Jasper a few gentle pats on his big bottom.

Jasper’s cheeks flushed, he buried his face in his mother’s neck and nodded yes. Jasper was carefully placed in the car seat, his seatbelt fastened by his mum, and soon they were on their way home.
Tired from the late hour, exhausted from all the emotions and with the medication not completely out of Jasper’s system, Jasper fell asleep on the way home.
Jasper did not notice how they got home, how he was carried out of the car by Celine and put to bed. Helga informed Kathy and Koen. They discussed what had happened. Kathy was relieved that it was not all that bad. A simple fracture that would require a plaster for a while, but no surgery. They both wondered at Jasper’s nappy. Tomorrow morning a couple of children would be questioned. The parents were all curious to know what had happened between their children.


Chapter six of fourty

The next morning, Jasper woke up in his own bed. He heard his mother stumbling and pacing in the hallway. Groggy, he shook off the sleep as he sat up to look around. Everything felt wrong. His arm that he couldn’t straighten and that hurt, those strange pyjamas that felt so cold against his back, that thick mass between his legs.
In the twilight of the sun, which still found a few holes between the shutters, he looked around. Hadn’t he gone to sleep with Dries yesterday? Looking down at his arm, which he couldn’t straighten, he noticed the cast. So that was it! A series of memories from the previous evening and the following night came flooding back.

“Good morning, Jasper!” Helga sounded worried as she opened the door. “Did you sleep well? How’s your arm?”

“It hurts, Mum. And I can’t move it. How do I get the plaster off?”

“Let the cast stay on for a while, Jasper. It has to stay on for a while until the bones of your arm have grown back together. We have an appointment at the hospital in 4 weeks. Are you coming down? I’ve already got some syrup at the table for the pain.”

Glad to have something to ease the pain, Jasper went downstairs.
Gert was already sitting at the kitchen table, looking at Jasper.

“You look strange,” was his only comment. Very friendly, actually, for Gert. He had heard the commotion the night before and was already aware of the broken arm. He seemed to feel a little sorry for Jasper, otherwise his comment would have been a little longer and more colourful.
Jasper carefully sat down on his swollen buttocks and opened his mouth for the syrup. Celine was ready with the syringe into which the syrup had been drawn. One, two, three and swallow! Jasper didn’t like being unwell, but there was one thing to be said for it. The syrup tasted good!

Carefully he began to spoon in his cereal. When a left-hander suddenly has to eat with his right arm, it makes things a bit more difficult and clumsy. His place was always a bit dirty from spills after dinner, but it was clear from the start that this meal was a record attempt for the dirtiest table spot of the year in this house. Jasper was taking his time and Gert was getting tired of it.

“Do I really have to wait for this shrimp? Can I leave the table?”

“No, Gert, not like this,” Helga said immediately.

“Mom, can I please leave the table?” Gert tried again. Helga and Celine looked at each other quickly. They nodded at each other.

“Go on, Gert,” Helga said.
Jasper held his breath. Gert had to walk behind him as he moved back and forth to clear his path. Hopefully Gert hadn’t noticed the package around his bottom? Jasper didn’t dare take any more bites from his spoon and sat as still as possible to avoid attracting attention.
When Gert left the kitchen a little later, Jasper breathed a sigh of relief.
Helga and Celine kept Jasper company until he finished eating.

“So, Jasper, we need to talk about something,” Celine said gently to her youngest son.
“Tell me about the nappy?”

Jasper knew this was coming, he had been thinking about it during the whole meal.

“It’s really the first time!” he started immediately, afraid his mums would be angry.

“Just tell Jasper, we are not angry, we are just curious,” Helga reassured him.

And so Jasper began to tell. Not that he and Dries are blood brothers, but everything after that. How Dries confessed to wetting the bed, the discovery of the nappies, how Dries felt so alone and how Jasper wanted to comfort him so much…
Helga and Celine were very proud of their son. He had been really sweet and kind to Dries.

“Great of you Jasper, so sweet.” Celine said after Jasper’s story.

“We are proud of you, Jasper,” Helga added. They tried their best to raise their children socially and compassionately, and Jasper seemed to be succeeding.
Jasper sighed with relief. He hadn’t realised how stressed he had been, but the tension that had built up in his shoulders visibly eased.

“Come upstairs, I’ll help you.” Celine said as Helga started clearing away the breakfast. “Wash up, get dressed and then we’ll go to Dries to pick up your things.”
Celine started by unbuttoning the gown, removing the tape from the dry nappy and placing Jasper on his feet in the bathtub. She wet a washcloth and sponged him from head to toe.
For once, Celine washed him again, even though he always wanted to do it himself. Jasper let her do it for once and enjoyed the attention. The painkillers were doing their job, but the cast was less convenient. It took some time to find a T-shirt with sleeves wide enough, but the jumper was thrown over his shoulder for lack of a better option. All the sweaters that would work were in the wash.
Jasper was looking forward to visiting Dries. The more he saw his best friend, the better, right?
Jasper hopped happily between his two mums to Dries.

“Oh, good to have you here. How’s your arm, Jasper?” Koen asked as he opened the door.

“The plaster isn’t great, but the syrup is working well,” Jasper replied. He was already looking past Dries’ dad to see if he couldn’t find Dries somewhere to play with.

“The painkillers,” Helga explained quietly over Jasper’s head when she saw how surprised Koen looked.
“Ah, I’m glad they’re working. Dries is upstairs, Jasper.” Koen replied. “Do you fancy a coffee?” he asked the two mothers afterwards.

“Sure,” they said almost simultaneously. They all crossed the doorstep.

Heleen had already come in to see who had called from the living room. “Oh, Jasper!” she exclaimed. Worried about his arm, she came over to take a closer look. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine,” Jasper replied again. “The pain is gone with the syrup, but the cast is heavy. Mum said it should stay on for at least 4 weeks.”

“I am so sorry for you! Heleen said as she hugged Jasper. Come on, I’ll give you a hand.”

Before the mothers had time to look at Jasper, Heleen was already busy with him. Unzipping his jacket, untying his laces, taking off his shoes.
Jasper rushed upstairs and joined Dries, who was playing in his room. Jasper saw that all his things were already neatly tucked back into the bag.

Cautious, Dries looked up at Jasper. “Are you mad?” he asked Jasper quietly.
Jasper looked at Dries in surprise. “Why should I be?” he asked.

“Because your mums saw what you did yesterday…” Dries couldn’t quite get it out.
“About my broken arm? But there’s nothing you can do about that, is there? I am the one who went the wrong way.”

No, I don’t mean that,’ Dries muttered. “I mean for…”

Jasper waited a moment.

“You know, the…” Dries tried again.

“Ahh! From the pamper?” Jasper said when it dawned on him.

Dries nodded, his cheeks flushed.

“No, my mums weren’t angry about it at all. They love me.”

Dries sighed in relief. He was afraid that the nappies, the falls, the broken arm and the cast would lead to a fight and a break in their friendship.

“I’m glad they weren’t angry,” he smiled as he grabbed a Lego treasure chest and put it in the treasure room under the castle. “Look, they just stole this treasure from the dragon. He wants it back now.” Dries said.


Chapter seven of fourtry

Soon the children were completely absorbed in their play. Their worries were quickly left behind and forgotten. The dragon whirled around, turning and tilting from side to side and making a desperate attempt to get the treasure back. Meanwhile, the knights pulled out everything they had to keep the dragon away. Spears were thrown, arrows fired, catapults and ballistae aimed, and the wizard ran back and forth across the battlements to heal fallen knights.
Heleen didn’t really like Lego, but she enjoyed watching the children play and fantasise. For fun and companionship she had settled down with the children with abook (Thea Beckman, ‘Children of Mother Earth’). She enjoyed the story, with the playful sounds of dragon roars, firestorms and weapons clattering in the background made by Jasper and Dries.

Suddenly Jasper stood up. “I have to go to the toilet!” he shouted, struggling up with his broken arm. It was a bit of an adjustment with the cast on; Jasper didn’t move as smoothly as he did without.

Heleen noticed that it was harder for Jasper to get up and quickly jumped up herself to help. She thought it was pitiful to see such a little boy in a cast. She accompanied Jasper to the toilet. Opening doors for him, turning on the light…
Before Jasper realised, Heleen had pulled down Jasper’s trousers and underpants.

“Here, sit down.”Helen said to Jasper.

Silently, Jasper complied. He was glad when Heleen closed the door. Now he could relax and let it all flow. Jasper wasn’t used to being helped like this. He was somehow happy about it. He was just now wearing a pair of trousers with a button that was always so difficult to undo, and the help was welcome. On the other hand, it felt a bit strange. Even his mums stopped helping him on the toilet. They would sometimes help inthe morning after washing and before school if he needed to get dressed quickly, but otherwise he always had to do it himself.

“Are you ready,Jasper?” he heard Helen’s voice.

“Yes,” Jasper replied. Before he could add that he still had to pull up his trousers and flush the toilet, Helen was standing in front of him again. She pulled up his trousers, pressed the flush button and closed the button on his pants.

“Play on,” she said sweetly, sending Jasper back with a pat on his bottom.
Helen looked at him with a smile. ‘What a cute boyfriend my brother has,’ she thought to herself.

Meanwhile, the three mums and dad were enjoying a coffee. Together they reconstructed the whole story of the evening and the night before. Not only the broken arm and the hospital were discussed. The diaper that Jasper suddenly turned outto be wearing was also a subject that was discussed very well.

It was now afternoon. Helga and Celine wanted to go shopping in the afternoon, so it wastime to go. They called Jasper down and after insisting that it really was time, he came downstairs and said goodbye. Dries and Heleen came down to say goodbye.

“Well, Jasper. Haven’t you forgotten anything?” asked Koen. Jasper looked up in surprise. Heleen had helped him put on his coat and shoes. It was too hot for a hat or gloves, so they were still at home. Jasper looked around the hall for his belongings.

“Your suitcase, Jasper,” gave Koen another wink. Koen hurried upstairs, rummaged around for a while and came down with the suitcase, which he handed to the mothers. They all went home for lunch via the bakery.
Jasper began to see the advantages of the cast as well as the disadvantages. Everyone he met was much friendlier and he was spontaneously offered help with things he usually had to do himself. It made Jasper feel abit small, but he liked it.

Helga and Celine’s mobilephones rang at the same time. They had just set up a mini Whatsapp group with Kathy and Koen to make communication a little simpler.

<<I just put an ‘extra’ in Jasper’s suitcase. If he doesn’t want it, just give it to Dries when he sleeps over again.>>

Helga and Celine smiled at the same time. They had an idea what this little extra would be and were curious to see how Jasper would react.
At home the suitcase was put aside. First food and shopping, the suitcase could wait a while. The weekly shopping for food/drinks and small items was done and everyone came home tired. It had been a tough night.

“Go on, Jasper, empty your suitcase, we’ll take care of the food. Gert has sent word that he’s going to eat and sleep with his friend, so you’ll be the biggest man in the house tonight.”

Jasper was happy. It didn’t happen often, but when Gert wasn’t around, it meant he got extra attention and extra petting from his mums. He probably got to choose what they watched on TV and sometimes he even had some chips to go with it.

“Mummy, what should I do with my dirty laundry?” shouted Jasper, unsure how to start unpacking his suitcase.

“Dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Clean clothes sorted in the wardrobe, toiletries in the bathroom.” Celine replied.

“Toiletries?”Jasper was surprised. He didn’t need toiletries, did he?

“'Toiletries are your toothbrush, toothpaste, cup, soap and everything else in that little bag.”

“Oohhh, now I get it!” Jasper called back.

Jasper put his suitcase in the middle of his room, unzipped it and turned it upside down so that everything fell out. Two white packages fell out of the case. Jasper looked at them. Nappies? Why? How did they end up in his suitcase? Jasper stared at them. He wasn’t sure what to make of it. He started to put his things away, but avoided the two diapers between them. Back and forth to take the dirty clothes to the bathroom. Then the toiletries to the bathroom, as mum had said. The clean towel to the bathroom. When Jasper went back to the bathroom to get his forgotten cup, he thought it would have been a better idea if he just left everything in the suitcase and walked around with his suitcase. He picked up his clean clothes, which were crumpled on the floor from falling out of the suitcase. Hop in a ball nicely into the cupboard. Mama had only said to sort them away in the closet, she hadn’t said to fold them neatly, so this was nice and easy.

Mama Celine entered the room.

“I’ve come to get the suitcase to clear it away,” she said as she stepped through the door. “Hey, what else have you got there?” she asked innocently. Of course she had suspected it after Koen’s message.

Celine wasn’t quite sure what to do with her thoughts. It had looked so cute last night, Jasper’s little bottom in that nappy. Even now, as she thought about it, she felt a rush of warmth go through her. But on the other hand. Was this right? To see your potty-trained child in a nappy? She had tried just as hard to get him out of the nappy a few years ago, and now she wanted to put him back in it just because it looked cute?
Dries was overjoyed that Jasper wanted to wear a diaper for him. Koen and Kathy explained that Dries was often so unhappy with his nappy. That he felt so lonely. Just because of Jasper’s half night, Dries was so much happier today. He was almost another child. The sadness that always lurked just below the surface was gone, Dries and Kathy told.

“Two diapers,” Jasper said quietly. His cheeks were eager to compete with a tomato to be the reddest.

“Would you like to try how it really feels?” Celine asked. “The nappy you put onyourself didn’t fit very well, I saw. And you were too groggy from the medication last night and too tense this morning to experience it well.”

Jasper looked at her for a moment in silence.

“Just put it in the drawer behind your underpants. We’re going to eat now. Soon after dinner we will get you ready for bed. We’ll put your pyjamas on and watch a movie. And if you want, we’ll put on one of those nappies too. Gert isn’t at home, so he doesn’t need to know. Tomorrow -Monday - is a day off. You don’t have to go to school until Tuesday, so you can sleep as long as you like tomorrow.”

Jasper hesitated. It felt a bit different to do this in secret with Dries, or now so openly with his mums. He still remembered the thrilling, exciting and soothing feeling of the night before. It had been nice. Would it be like that again, he wondered? Or not, because he had already been in a nappy and knew what it felt like?
Jasper followed Mama Celine downstairs. They had just bought some sushi from the shop. Most of ithe didn’t like very much, but there were a few pieces of sushi that he did like, and they brought them along.
The three of them sat comfortably at the table. The syrup with the painkiller was ready and Jasper drank it gratefully.

For convenience, Jasper ate the sushi with his fingers. It wasn’t easy to eat with his bad hand, buti t wasn’t too bad. First the pieces of fish on top, then the riceballs.
His mind was on the movies he might see. That Lego Ninjago film was a long time ago. Or Hickie’s film with Toothless and the other dragons? Or there was a new Disney film, that had just come out.

“Earth to Jasper,” Celine suddenly said. Jasper looked up. Did Mum say something? He looked at her questioningly.

“Have you eaten enough Jasper? You’ve been dreaming for a while now,” Celine repeated.

Jasper took a moment to let the question sink in. “Lego Ninjago!” came out first. He looked at the plate, which still had some pieces of sushi on it. He didn’t like any of the others and his hunger was satisfied.

“I’ve had enough!”

Jasper said as he pushed back his chair and climbed down. Jasper immediately ran to the television to find the right film and put it on.

“Hola sir, come back to the kitchen,” Helga called Jasper back to order. “You’re not so crippled with your broken arm that you suddenly don’t need to put your plate in the dishwasher.” Jasper shuffled back into the kitchen. His mothers really had their priorities all wrong!
Jasper picked up his plate and put it in the dishwasher. He quickly finished his glass of water and put it away too. Then he washed his hands and mouth thoroughly. “I hope they don’t call me back now,” Jasper thought to himself.

Jasper rushed towards the television again. “Jasper, watch out! One broken arm is enough,”someone shouted after him. Jasper couldn’t quite make out whether it was Mummy Helga or Mummy Celine.
Jasper grabbed the various remote controls he needed to set up the film and was about to fall back into the best seat in the house. Now there was no Gert to send him away!

“Jasper, get ready for bed first, remember? Come upstairs with me,” Celine said as she waited for Jasper to arrive at the door of the living room. Jasper shuffled along.

“Oh yes, that too,” he muttered.

“I’ll help you. That will make it smoother,” Celine said as she followed Jasper up the stairs.

Celine and Jasper went into the bathroom. Celine sat down on the edge of the bathtub and Jasper stood in front of it. One by one the clothes were taken off and either folded neatly and put aside for tomorrow or thrown into the laundry basket.
With Celine’s help, everything went smoothly until Jasper was completely naked in front of her. “Go to the bathroom, I’ll get you a onesie in your room. I think I know the perfect one for tonight.” Celine said as she headed for Jasper’s room.
When Jasper came back from the toilet, Celine was already sitting with two onesies on her lap. “Do you remember this one? You got them from Dries a few months ago when he outgrew them. You never put it on because the zip is in the back. But if you were to wear a nappy tonight to try it on, it wouldn’t matter anyway. Otherwise, I’ve got your onesie here,” Celine said, showing off the two one-piece pyjamas.
Jasper looked at the onesie that had belonged to Dries. With the dinosaurs on it, it was really cool. But he’d never put it on, simply because he couldn’t get it on and off himself. And it was rather inconvenient for nightly visits to thetoilet. Celine and Helga had never encouraged Jasper to wear them anyway, because they wanted to stimulate Jasper’s independence as much as possible.
Jasper was by far the smallest in the class, Dries was almost a head taller. Celine and Helga hoped that allowing Jasper to grow mentally quickly and giving him an advantage over his peers would compensate for his small frame. But they wanted to make it a fun evening at home, so for once Celine left behind all the pedagogical and psychological tips and tricks and ‘must dos’ and just wanted to concentrate on having fun for the three of them.

Jasper hadn’t noticed what had just happened in Celine’s head. He hesitated for a long time. Should he give up his independence and self-confidence for tonight and explore how the nappy felt again? Wasn’t that strange? Or should he make the safe choice of his regular onesie that he liked towear?
Celine waited patiently. She wanted to give Jasper the choice and not force anything on him. After all, Jasper had made Dries very happy last night. If the boys wanted to repeat this for their mutual happiness, they had to encourage it. The mothers wanted to show that they supported Jasper’s decision to wear the diaper for Dries. They therefore wanted to give him the chance to explore it a little further on his own. They certainly did not want to force him: not in order to possibly cause problems in the relationship between him and Dries. Not because it had to be his own choice, and not because they didn’t want to put a stigma on diapers.

In the end, it was the dinosaur print that won Jasper over. “These are nice dinosaurs,”Jasper said, pointing to the folded pack.

“Lay down for your nappy,” Celine said. Secretly she was happy, it was a bit nostalgic for her as she hadn’t held a nappy for the last 4 or 5 years.

“Brrr, it’s cold onthe floor,” Jasper said, trying to arch his back to make as little contact as possible.
“Get over here on the towel. I’ll try to make it quick.” Celine said. “Relax for a moment and try to cooperate, then it’ll be a breeze and you can put on your pyjamas.” Celine got down on her knees next to Jasper to help him properly.
Jasper tried to lie still and relax, but it was hard. The cold was too hard and he was glad when he got up a little later.

“Is that good?” Celine asked, turning Jasper over so she could look at him from all sidesand touch the edges. “Not too tight here?” she asked as she stuc ka finger between the skin and the nappy near his belly.

“No, better than yesterday.” Oops, it was out before Jasper knew it.

“You mean the one you put on yourself?” Celine asked. “I can believe that, I’ve seen it. It was all messed up and way too loose.”

“Yes, that one,”Jasper nodded

“Feet in here now,” Celine said, holding the pyjamas for Jasper.
Jasper put his feet in one at a time and Celine pulled the pyjamas up until his feet cameout through the holes.

“Left hand”

Jasper did it immediately.

“Right hand in thishole”

Jasper listened carefully again and the pyjamas were almost completely on.

“Now turn around and hop!”

As he said “hop”, the zip on Jasper’s back went up. It felt strange to Jasper. He was used to a onesie, but this one with a zip up the back? Jasper reached for his neck to feel the zip there. He tried to pull it down himself but couldn’t get it down more than five centimetres or two inch.

“Come on, let’s go downstairs, put on the film and enjoy it,” Celine said as she got up and closed the zip again. “Let it sit nicely.”

Jasper walked downstairs to the television. Every step was an exploration for him and he tried to fathom all the feelings. Both the sensations and stimulations of this package around his stomach, over his buttock sand between his legs, and inside, what he was actually feeling. Then there was the onesie. Super nice, but also strange to have no controlover when it was taken off.
Jasper remained conflicted. It felt good, it felt safe and secure, but the phrase “nappies are for babies” kept playing in his head.
Fortunately, the start of the film distracted him and he enjoyed the film and the salty chips.
The chips made him thirsty and he drank an extra glass of water during the movie.

Jasper couldn’t remember the end of the movie.
Halfway through the movie, after an exciting scene, he had turned on his side with his head in his mum’s lap and his thump in his mouth, and a moment later he had drifted off to sleep.

Completely disoriented, Jasper woke up during the night. He remembered watching a film and not much else after that. Looking around, he recognised his own room. It smelled familiar too and he was immediately reassured. Now something happened again that happened more often when he hadn’t been to the toilet before going to bed: nature was calling and Jasper, as he should have, answered it. He got out of bed and stumbled, half asleep, towards the toilet. Out the door, to the left, a few steps forward and with his left hand he felt for the toilet door. A few steps inside, and when he was sitting in front of the toilet bowl, he tried to unzip his onesie and put it down.
After feeling and searching for the zip on his chest a few times, Jasper woke up completely. He was no longer on autopilot. He switched on the headlights and looked down to see where his zip had gone. The dinosaurs smiled at him, but the zip was still missing. Slowly, he became aware of his current state of attire.
He grabbed the back of his neck with his hands, but just like earlier in the evening, it had no sense. He couldn’t get the zip down very far, and he couldn’t possibly get the onesie off himself. Hesitantly, he turned off thelight in the toilet and slowly stepped out into the hallway. ‘Wake up Mummy?’ he thought for a moment. Jasper hesitated. He was always allowed to wake Mum for real problems or nightmares. But when he didit for something that wasn’t really necessary, they usually weren’t too happy. Jasper walked past his room and Gert’s and stopped infront of his mother’s room. The urge was getting stronger and almost unstoppable. He looked through the crack in the door that was always there, as if there was a light on. But there was nothing to see .Quietly, he pushed the door open a little wider and looked around.

In the dim light, hesaw his mums snuggled up together, fast asleep. Their breathing was soft and even. Mama Helga was even snoring a little! Jasper pushed the door open a little wider and took a step inside. Once in theroom, he hesitated for a moment. Wake up or not? Jasper struggled to make a decision. He spent a minute or two weighing the pros and cons. Finally he made up his mind. He took a deep breath to address his mum, and in the meantime he relaxed because he had made up his mindand knew he would wake his mum. They wouldn’t mind.
However, relaxing had not been good. Mama’s ‘M’ was on the tip of his tongue, but a large jet of urine flowed into his nappy. In a panic reaction he squeezed everything shut, but without success. The urgency and pressure were too great. In fear, Jasper waited for the moisture to flow down his legs, but the nappy did its job well. Like a statue, Jasper stood there until the stream became a trickle and finally stopped. Not quite sure what to make of the situation, he crept backinto his own bed and crawled under the covers. The nappy was now noticeably thicker and Jasper felt all around him, trying to make sense of his feelings. The snugness of the pillow between his legs.The warm, comfortable feeling. Jasper actually liked it quite alittle, and it did offer some comfort.
With that thought he fellback asleep.

“Jasper, it’s my turn to wake you,” mum Celine, whispered softly into Jasper’s ear.

Dazed, Jasper opened his eyes.

“Time to getup.”

Jasper slowly sat up next to Celine who was sitting on the edge of the bed. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes with both of his hands and suppressed a huge yawn.
“Good morning Mummy.” Jasper said as he planted a big kiss on Celine’s cheek.

“Did you sleep well? I woke up last night when you were in the room with us, but suddenly you were gone again?”

“Yes, I had to go to the toilet and I couldn’t get out of my onesie by myself.”

“I don’t understand, Jasper, why were you suddenly gone?”

"It wasn’t any more necessary,"Jasper said, blushing as he buried his face in Celine’s armpit in shame.

“Come on, lie on your stomach so I can unzip you.”

A shiver ran down Jasper’s back as the zip opened. He felt Celine’s hand go down his back as she un zipped it, and then slip her hand between the onesie and the nappy. Her hand rested briefly on his bottom and she felt it for a moment.

“He can hold it for a while,” she said as she zipped him back up.“Helga’s waiting downstairs. Are you coming to breakfast?”

“And who are you, sir?” Jasper could tell from Helga’s tone that she meant it in a nice way.

“Your lowly serf named Jasper, to serve thee, milady,” Jasper replied, his left hand, through the cast at an odd angle, behind his back and his right arm circling in the air as he bowed deeply.

“I don’t believe you.” Helga said bluntly to Jasper.

Jasper looked up, startled. Had he done something wrong? Worried, he looked back to see if Mama Celine could give a little more explanation, but she wasn’t there yet.

“My Jasper always gets up for us and has been playing for a long time when I get up. So you look like Jasper, but you’re not.” Jasper looked into Helga’s twinkling eyes.

“But I am the real Jasper!”

Helga looked back for a moment in silence. “And yet I don’t believe you. I want proof. The real Jasper knows what to do in the morning.”

Jasper took two long strides and jumped clumsily through the cast onto his mother’s lap. A big kiss sounded through the kitchen and, triumphant because he knew what his mum had meant, Jasper shouted, “Here’s the proof!”

Endearingly, Helga stroked Jasper’s head in response.

Helga prepared the sandwiches and cut them into small pieces so that Jasper could eat them easily.
After dinner, a good wash was on the agenda. This time it was Helga who took care of him. The onesie went out, the nappy went in the bin and Jasper had to sit in the bath to be washed.
The bath was not filled, but Jasper was completely washed and rinsed with the shower tap. Be as careful as possible not to get the plaster wet.

A little earlier in themorning and two blocks away, a similar scene unfolded. But Dries was the first in the family to wake up. He tiptoed carefully past Heleen’s room and into the bathroom. Dries grabbed the zip from the front of his chest and unzipped his pyjamas. He opened the snaps on his body and, with practice and dexterity, pulled the nappy off. Dries made a ball of it and dropped it beside him. He pulled the bodyfurther out and threw it in the laundry basket. He pulled up theonesie, zipped it up and went downstairs to watch television. The TVhad just come on when Heleen sat down next to him.

“Your nappy was still on the floor, I put it in the bin for you.”

Dries turned red. “Thank you, sis,” he said softly. Kathy and Koen could get quite angry when they found Dries’ nappy on the floor.

"No problem. I’ll be there for you when I can."Heleen said as she put her hand over her little brother’s shoulderand gave him a hug.

"Ugh, you don’t smell so fresh."Heleen said diplomatically. “Go wash up before mum and dad come down.”

Dries slipped quietly up the stairs to the bathroom, so as not to wake his parents, and continued to wash himself.

“Better?” Dries asked after crawling back into the seat next to Heleen a little later.

“Much better,” Heleen replied and took Dries in a big hug.
They quietly watched the programme side by side until the commercial break.

“I’m glad I have a sister like you to take care of me. I don’t want to imagine what it must be like for Jasper with a brother like Gert.”

“Thank you.” Helen was very pleased with the compliment. Dries was not so quick to give compliments, and this one really came from him. Heleen should not have fished for it and this compliment came from the bottom of Dries’ heart.

“Yes, that they are brothers? You really wouldn’t say that.”

“It’s true!” Dries said. “It’s the same dad who gave flowers to Celine and Helga, Jasper told me. They’re half-brothers.”

“Flowers?” Helen replied in surprise.

“Yes, flowers, or at least the seeds for them.” Dries said very seriously. "Gert belongs to one mother, Jasper to another. “Only the flowers didn’t want to grow with one of the mothers.” Dries continued. "They had planned for Jasper to be born five years earlier, three years after Gert, but it didn’t work out. They had to try a lot of things with seeds and eggs and stuff with the help of a doctor before it worked. But otherwise I don’t mind that he was born so much later because otherwise we might not be friends. But I don’t really understand what these flowers and eggs have got to do with it.

“It was nice of Jasper to put a nappy on for you,” Heleen tried to lead Dries away from a delicate conversation she didn’t want to have with her younger brother. Heleen knew a bit more about it than Dries, but she didn’t really know everything yet and this was more a conversation for mum or dad than for her to have with Dries.

“I’m so glad I’m not alone anymore. It’s so nice to know that there are other people who put nappies on. Even if he doesn’t really need it.” Dries immediately beamed. “I really hope he’ll want to put one on again the next time we sleep together.”

Helen nodded at Dries. “I’m curious to see how it fits him. If he’s as 'cute’as you are.” Helen said.

Dries’ jaw immediately turned red. “Helen!” he complained.

“No one can hear us in here. And you shouldn’t be ashamed of it, you can’t help it. And besides, it’s not a lie what I said. You look so cute in the evening and in the morning. Jasper always looks so cute when he’s here too. I can’t wait to see him in a nappy.”


*Please, if you have some comments, feel free to write them down. I want to improve the story as much as possible.*​

Chapter eight of fourty​

“Jasper is a baby,” Gert whispered tauntingly into Jasper’s ear. Celine and Helga were just out of earshot and Gert took full advantage. “Jasper’s pissing his pants” was also heard.
Many weeks had passed since Jasper’s fall.
There had been no more overnight stays. It was not allowed while his arm was still in a plaster, and with the cast coming off three weeks ago, there had been no opportunity.
Gert hadn’t gone out either, so there hadn’t been a cosy evening with his mums like there had been a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the second nappy that Jasper had received from Dries had been discovered by Gert.
Jasper had put it on himself a few times to recreate that first great moment, and it had almost always gone well. The first time Celine had noticed it was when she was putting away his washed underpants. “Jasper, I notice that the nappy is not as neatly folded as it used to be. No problem, but let us know if it’s dirty, because then it really can’t stay here. Okay?”
“And if necessary, or if you want some, w’ll buy it, I’ll ask mum Helga to bring you a new box from work.”
Wild had shaken off Jasper.Just think! In the shop with nappies in the shopping trolley and then run into a classmate? No way.
“OK,” Celine said, “you can always change your mind.”
So Jasper put them on every now and then and took them off again a little later. He was afraid to walk around or play with the nappy on. So it was only five to tenminutes at a time. This worked well until last week.

Gert threw open the door with a roar. “Jasper, you can’t touch my CDs and CD player!” Jasper froze in his bed. He was lying on top of the duvet, peeling the stickers off his nappy. He had already heard Gert come home, but had not been quick enough to hide what he was doing.
"Jasper?"Gert looked at the scene in front of him in disbelief. Jasper was lying on his bed. T-shirt up to his chin, trousers and underpants on the floor next to the bed and a nappy that Jasper was trying in vain to cover with his hands.
Gert went over to Jasper, greying. He grabbed Jasper’s hands and pulled them aside. “Hahaha!” Gert burst out laughing when he saw the state Jasper was in.

“Jasper is a baby!”

For the first time that week, Gert continued to laugh as he left the room and closed the door.
It was the first of many times that Jasper was bullied by his big brother and Jasper suffered greatly. Jasper was especially afraid that Gert would spread the word all over the place, so he didn’t dare tell his mums.

Dries also noticed something was wrong at school. Jasper suddenly stopped playing with him. He seemed to be avoiding him. Dries was suffering from the whole situation. He didn’t know what was going on with Jasper at home and what was bothering him. Why the sudden change? Dries became more and more unhappy that week and Kathy and Koen noticed it at home. There were some big conversations at home. First between Kathy and Koen, then also with Dries.

Together with Dries they thought about what could be. They gave Dries tips on how to get back together…
Throughout the week, Dries tried more and more desperately to ask what was wrong. But Jasper became more and more distant. He played more with other children and deliberately ignored Dries’ questions.
Jasper was also at his wits’ end. He couldn’t cope with the pressure from Gert at home. Gert was bullying him because of the Pampers and for Jasper there was a big connection between the Pampers and Dries. Jasper needed time to sort things out for himself, but Dries’ persistent attempts to make contact and Gert’s constant bullying prevented this. Jasper became more and more withdrawn and deliberately avoided contact.
As the end of the week approached, Kathy and Koen were at their wits’ end, so they contacted Jasper’s parents. They invited them over for coffee, hoping that they could hear what the problems were between Jasper and Dries. They were eager to try and mediate and sort things out. They couldn’t bear to see how unhappy Dries was.
Helga and Celine also sensed that something was wrong with Jasper. They also saw it at home. He was depressed all the time, he was less hungry, there was less joy in his life. So they gladly accepted the invitation. Like Dries’ parents, they were concerned about what was going on with and between the children.

Saturday afternoon, after dinner and an hour before the visit with Koen and Kathy, Jasper and his mothers sat together in Jasper’s room. Helga and Celine were sitting side by side on the bed while Jasper was at his desk drawing a picture. Helga and Celine had just gone in to let Jasper know that the three of them were going to Dries’ place and why. They struck up a conversation with him, but it was difficult.

“Jasper, you know we’re here for you. But if you don’t tell us, it’s hard for us to help you,” Celine said to Jasper.

“We’re worried Jasper, we can see that something is wrong.” Helga said.

Jasper was completely silent. He scribbled more than he drew to keep himself occupied. It was difficult in his head. Everything was swirling around in his mind. Gert, Pampers, Dries, keeping it a secret, that it might come out at school, being bullied even more,…

Helga and Celine saw that Jasper was thinking and sat quietly so that Jasper could organise his thoughts so that they could work on something together.
As they waited in silence, the door, which had been ajar, suddenly opened wider.
Jasper turned around to see Gert’s smiling face.
Gert only saw Jasper sitting at his desk, Helga and Celine were invisible through the door on the bed.
Gert took the earphones out of her ears and sang softly, but loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

“Baby, baby, Jasper is a baby.”

Jasper’s eyes filled with tears for the umpteenth time this week.

Then Gert whispered: “If you tell Mum, I’ll tell everyone at school.”

Helga and Celine were stunned. They hadn’t seen Gert, but they could perfectly understand what he was saying.

“Gert!” angrily, Celine stood up and rushed to the door where Gert was standing in surprise. Gert was shocked. He hadn’t expected his mothers to be in Jasper’s room. He looked anxiously at Celine, clearly feeling caught.

“Come to your room!” Celine snapped at Gert as she walked into Gert’s room without looking to see if Gert was following her.
Gert knew immediately that he had gone too far. Celine reacting so angrily, Jasper starting to cry, Helga looking at him accusingly. Not wanting to make matters worse, he quickly followed Celine.

“Gert, if you only knew the trouble you’ve caused this past week. Jasper’s been miserable all week…” The angry conversation faded into silence as the chamber doors closed.

Helga lifted the crying Jasper from the chair into her arms. Trying to wipe away Jasper’s tears, she went over to the bed and sat down with Jasper. First and most important of all, she tried to calm and console Jasper. A big hug, lots of kisses, holding Jasper tightly and a lot of patience helped Jasper to calm down. For once, she didn’t say anything about Jasper placing his thumb in his mouth. He clearly needed it. By now Celine had joined them. Helga offered Jasper a handkerchief.

“Here, in front of you.”

Jasper leaned forward and put his nose into the handkerchief. Helga held on to the handkerchief while Jasperblew his nose.

“Gert is waiting for Helga and me in his room.” Celine said when the handkerchief was put away and Jasperhad calmed down enough to listen. “But first I wanted to hear from you what he has done so that Helga and I know better what to do.”

Jasper nodded yes. Sitting on Helga’s lap, he cuddled up to her as Celine and Jasper began to talk. It was not always clear to Helga and Celine. Here and there Jasper was incomprehensible because of the sobs he was still making, and it took some effort to get the timing of everything straight. But in the end, by asking the right questions, they were able to reconstruct the past week. They also understood the fears and worries Jasper had had, and the impact it had had.

Celine quickly sent a message to theWhatsapp group with Dries’ mum and dad. <<We’re on our way, but we’ll be an hour late. We know what happened last week. We are in the process of fixing it. We’ll explain later.>>
<<Okay, see you later. We are curious. Take all the time you need.>> Koen replied quickly.
“Jasper, go downstairs to the livingroom and watch TV or read a book. Mum and I will talk to Gert for awhile and then we will go to Dries. They know we’ll be a bit late and they don’t mind”.
Jasper sat downstairs and flicked through the channels until he found a cartoon he liked.
As he watched, he thought about what had happened. His nerves translated into his finger circling the leather of the seat.

A little later all three came down. Gert looking frightened and with tears in his eyes, Helgaand Celine looking relieved and satisfied. Jasper had to take another good look at Gert. Tearful? He could hardly believe it.

“Iam so… Jasp…” came out of Gert’s mouth.

Jasper looked up at Gert from his seat. He hadn’t understood a word and looked at Helga and Celine in turn, silently asking for a repeat or an explanation.

“Again Gert, I don’t think Jasper heard you. It was too soft,” Celine said firmly.

“I’m sorry Jasper, it won’t happen again,” Gert said again.

Jasper couldn’t believe it. Gert apologising for something? Gert standing in front of him all miserable and timid?

"Jasper, you can be sure that Gert will not tease you anymore and he will also keep quiet about what he has seen and what he might see in the future. "Celine said. Jasper looked around at the three of them. Helga nodded in assurances and another tear rolled down Gert’s cheek. Embarrassed, Gert looked away.

“Gert, go ahead and do what you wanted to do.” Helga said. “We’re going to see Dries now, who also owes an explanation. You don’t have to come.”
Gert nodded quietly and left.
Jasper got up from his seat and grabbed Helga and then Celine to give them a hug. It did him so good. The worries slipped away from him completely.
Helga rubbed his back with one hand and massaged Jasper’s tension away. Tears of relief ran down Jasper’s cheeks.

“Come on, Jasper, let’s go to Dries for a while. They need an explanation, it is important that they know what happened because Dries is also unhappy and worried that your friendship is over.”

Jasper replayed the past week in his mind. All the times he had said ‘no’ to Dries. All the times he had silently turned away from Dries. All the times he had consciously or unconsciously ignored Dries. Now that Jasper could think better than he had during the week, he remembered how Dries had looked more and more upset each time. Especially last Friday, when Jasper had walked past Dries at lunch and deliberately sat at another table. He wanted to make up for it as soon as possible! He secretly promised himself that he would try very hard.

In the warm afternoon sun, Jasper walked towards Dries with his mothers.

“I hope Dries still wants to be friends,” Jasper said to his mothers.

“I think so,” said Helga. “But you can best apologise, Dries has been very unhappy this past week. But if you explain it to him, he will understand.”

As Jasper thought, he walked quietly between his mothers. Hand in hand with a mum on either side.

Helen opened the door. Koen and Kathy had also stepped into the hall to greet everyone. Dries was a little further back. He knew Jasper was coming, but he was scared and worried about what was to come. His biggest fear was that Jasper would say he didn’t want to be friends anymore.

“Dries, I’m so sorry, I behaved awfully,” Jasper called out as soon as he saw Dries.

Jasper didn’t take the time to take off his shoes, almost knocked over Heleen and ignored Koen and Kathy, whom he usually greeted politely. This time he went straight for Dries and Jasper gave him a big hug.
Dries was surprised by Jasper’s sudden outburst. Where Jasper had been mostly silent, with only a few words, and with the great contrast of the past week.
Dries accepted the hug and gave a big hug in return.

“Thank you,” Dries murmured. Relieved that whatever had been wrong seemed to be over now. The four parents and Heleen all looked loving.

“Come into the living room,” Koen invited everyone.

“Can we go upstairs and play?” Dries asked his dad.

“Sure, go ahead,” he replied. “Jasper, will you take your shoes off before you go upstairs?”

“Jasper, what happened?” asked Dries when both children were upstairs playing.

Jasper looked heartbroken. “Your mum and dad gave me a nappy after I stayed with you. Gert discovered it last week and he teased me about it.”

Dries looked startled. “Really, that’s terrible!” he exclaimed. “Jasper, we’re blood brothers, you should have told me right away.” Dries imagined what had happened all week. He hated the thought.

Jasper looked back, a little embarrassed. “I know I could tell you, but Gert made me feel so bad I couldn’t think straight.” Jasper started to cry as he thought back over the past week.

Dries immediately grabbed Jasper and gave him a hug.

“This morning mummy Celine and mummy Helga heard Gert, they were furious with him. I don’t know what Gert got out of the punishment, but my mums told me that Gert would never tease me about it again.” Jasper sobbed into Dries’ arms.

“Jasper, it’s over, it’s OK now.” Dries comforted Jasper.

Jasper enjoyed the hug but felt bad. He should have made it up to Dries now, to make Dries feel better. After all, there was nothing Dries could do about what had happened. And now the opposite was happening, he was being comforted by Dries.

"How can I make it up to you?"Jasper asked.

“You’ve already done that, you’ve come back,” Dries answered with a sob. It was all very emotional for him too.

“What did Gert do?” Dries asked Jasper.

“Bullying, saying I’m a baby, saying he’s going to tell everyone at school that I wear nappies,” Jasper replied. “But I don’t want to talk about it. I know I’m not supposed to have any secrets from you, but can we please go and play?”

“Yes, of course,” Dries said and went to the cupboard to get the box of Lego.

Heleen followed the parents into the living room. Curious as she was, she hoped to learn what was going on. Quietly, she sat down in the chair with a book. But it was clear from the speed with which she turned the pages that she wasn’t really reading. As Heleen listened to the story of the past week, tears welled up in her eyes. She hated to hear what Dries and Jasper had been through. She silently promised herself never to bully Jasper and Dries and to support them if necessary.
Two hours after the parents arrived, everyone had finished their chat. It was time for Helga and Celine to leave.

“Jasper, are you coming? We’re going home.” Helga called upstairs.

“But I’ve only just got here, Mummy!” Jasper called back from upstairs. “Can I stay a little longer?”
Helga and Celine looked questioningly at Dries and Heleen’s parents.

“We have no plans, he can stay as long as he likes.” Kathy said.

“Jasper, listen to Kathy and Koen and come home as soon as they say so. See you later!” Celine called upstairs.

“See you later” was also called by Helga, and later by Jasper in reply.

Jasper looked happily at Dries.“Yippee, keep playing,” he called out while he and Dries figuratively threw themselves back onto the Lego.
Dinner was finally over and Jasper was still there. After the Lego, they had also played in the bush at the end of the road, and after dinner they rested for a while in front of the television.

Kathy came in and turned the TV off. “Dries, it’s almost time for bed. Jasper, you look tired too. Are you going home?” Kathy interrupted the children.
Jasper and Dries looked up disturbed. They had not made up for all the lost time of the past week.
“Mummy, I don’t want to yet. Jasper hasn’t been here long enough.”

“There’sanother day tomorrow, Dries, then Jasper can just come back.”

“Can’t Jasper just sleep here, Mummy?”

“That won’t work, Dries, Jasper hasn’t brought anything with him.”

“But he can borrow something from me, can’t he?”

Jasper watched the conversation hopefully. He wanted to spend thenight.

“I’ll have to ask Jasper’s mums first, if it’s okay with them, then it’s okay with me. I’ll send a message.” Kathy said. She took out her mobile phone and started typing.

<< Hi, Dries isi nviting Jasper to spend the night. Is that possible for you? Love,Kathy>>>
Celine looked happy when she saw Kathy’smessage. If they were going to sleep together, everything really had to be sorted out.
<<All right for us, I’ll get some supplies for Jasper and then I’ll come. Celine>> sent her right back.
<<Not necessary, he can borrow something from Dries>> Kathy replied.
<<Ok, send him home for lunch, will you? Greetings Celine>>
<< Okay, that’s settled then. See you tomorrow. Love, Kathy>>

“It’s okay guys.” Kathy turned to Dries and Jasper. “We’ll get you ready for bed and then I’ll ask Heleen if she wants to tell you a story.”
The two boys literally jumped up and down. The beaming smile that appeared on their faces was worth Kathy’s letting them do so.
Of course she loved her own children, but she also had a warm heart for Jasper.

“Jasper, here are some of Dries’ pyjamas that are too small. I was going to give them away. Your mother is always happy when I give them to you. Will you take this one now?” Kathy took the top pair of pyjamas from a separate pile of clothes. They were ordinary two-piece terry pyjamas.

“OK, that’sfine,” Jasper replied.

“Go into the bathroom and start getting undressed, I’ll be right back,” Kathy said.

“I’m so glad you can sleep over. It’s been so long,” Dries said to Jasper. Jasper nodded convincingly. It was clear from his whole demeanour that he was looking forward to it too.
First Dries and then Jasper went to the toilet and had started to undress when the door opened again.

“Here, I am back.” Kathy said as she came back into the room. “I’ve left a new toothbrush for you in the bathroom, Jasper. You can borrow the toothpaste from Dries. Good?” Kathy asked looking at Jasper.

Jasper nodded yes.

“Dries, come here on the bed.” Kathy said as she sat down on the bed and patted the mattress with her hand. Dries had now undressed and quickly lay naked on the bed.
It all felt very smooth and natural. Jasper had no idea what was about to happen. He was busy undressing himself. When he looked up to see what Kathy was doing, he saw that she was busy fastening the snaps of a bodysuit at Dries’ crotch.

“Well, put your pyjamas on yourself, Dries. Jasper, will you be wearing one tonight?”

Kathy helped Dries up so he could put on his pyjamas. She grabbed a nappy she’d brought with her and held it up for Jasper to see. After the broken arm a few weeks ago, it had been agreed with Jasper’s mothers that Kathy and Koen could offer Jasper a nappy at the next sleepover, so that it would no longer be a secretand there would be adult control.
Jasper didn’t immediately know what to think. In the back of his head a melody began to play, ‘Jasper is a baby’.
Jasper didn’t know where to look. Embarrassed, he looked sideways and then his eyes fell on Dries, who was watching him expectantly. Jasper immediately had to think of what he had silently promised himself and Dries that afternoon. That he would make up for his behaviour last week. Jasper looked at Dries for amoment in silence. When Dries saw that he had Jasper’s attention, he tapped his own arm questioningly. Jasper understood immediately what was going on. They were blood brothers! they would share all their joys and sorrows.
Jasper looked back at Kathy and quietly said yes.

“Then lie down here.” Kathy said lovingly to Jasper. “Dries, aren’t you forgetting to get dressed?” asked Kathy as she started to put the nappy on. Kathy noticed that Jasper’s nappy had a much more central closure than Dries’. But Jasper’s bottom was also much thinner.
Under the skilled and trained hands, the nappy was quickly on Jasper. “I think I have a smaller bodysuit too.” Kathy said as she disappeared into the cupboard. Meanwhile Jasper was waiting in the middle of the room wearing only his nappy.

“Hey, are you staying here too, Jasper?” Suddenly a voice came from the doorway. Helen was standing there watching.

Jasper looked up in surprise and looked at Helen anxiously. How would she react? Would she say something about the nappy? And if she said something sweet? Would she still be nice when Kathy was out of the room?

“Nice of you to stay. You really are the best friend Dries could ever have.” Heleen said as she came into the room.

Jasper was relieved. The beginning sounded good anyway. And from good to bad is a much longer way than from neutral to bad.
Heleen put down the book she was holding and took over the bodysuit that Kathy had found in the meantime.

“Hands up!” Heleen ordered as she held the bodysuit.

Jasper listened in surprise. To be put into a nappy by Kathy was one thing, but to be dressed by Heleen? Kathy and Dries looked a little surprised, but didn’t seem to find it strange either. Jasper, accommodating and overwhelmed by everything, let it all happen.

“You look gorgeous, Jasper.” Heleen said as she expertly fastened the snaps. Jasper’s cheeks turned brightred.
“It’s well meant.” Heleen said as she took Jasper into her arms, rubbing his bottom with one hand.

“Helen, would you like to read to the boys later?” Kathy asked. Kathy knew that Helen dreamed of being a childminder, a nursery teacher or a paediatric nurse. Sometimes Kathy took a little advantage of that, or more than a little.

“Yes, it’s OK, Mum. Which book do you want?” Heleen asked Dries and Jasper. Jasper took a quick step back. He felt quite naked, figuratively speaking, with only a nappy and a bodysuit. He quickly grabbed the ready pyjamas and dressed himself.

“Jasper, what book do you want?” Dries asked.

“Doesn’t matter,” Jasper replied. Things were moving a bit fast and his head was too full to think properly.

“The one about the 13-storey tree house?” Dries asked Helen.

“That’s right, I do. I’ll be ready downstairs when you’ve brushed your teeth.” Helen said as she took the book off the shelf and went downstairs.
While Jasper and Dries brushed their teeth, they saw that Kathy was busy with the spare bed and clean sheets.
“I’ll wash your clothes, Jasper. They are all dirty. Dries will lend you some tomorrow,” Kathy said after she had finished with the bed and cleaned up a bit in Dries’ room.

“Jasper and Dries, later, when you are asleep, I will put two chairs in front of the door. You can still move them if you need to, but Jasper, I don’t want you to fall down the stairs again, and with these chairs you’ll hopefully remember in time to walk in the right direction. Is that all right?”
Jasper nodded yes. It seemed a lot safer to him, too.

Helen was downstairs with the book. "Jasper, keep your thumb out of your mouth, it’s not good for your teeth. "Helen said quietly as she opened the book. It was a bad habit that reared its nasty head every now and then.
The boys enjoyed the reading and were sorry when it was time to go to bed a quarter of an hour later. After all the emotion and a busy day of play, they fell asleep quickly and the chairs were quietly placed outside the door.

“Ouch!” Jasper had fallen out of the spare bed with a thud. Dries was instantly awake.

“Jasper, are you OK?”

“Yeah, no pain I guess.” Jasper got up carefully, moving his arms and legs to do a little self-inspection.
Dries and Jasper heard the chairs being moved outside the room and then the door opened. Koen stuck his head in sleepily.

“Are you all right, boys? I heard something fall here?” he whispered quietly.

“Yes, I’m fine, I fell out of bed, but I’m not in pain.”

“I’m glad you’re not in pain Jasper. Go and watch some television downstairs, it’s past seven. I’m going to get some sleep.”

“Okay, sleep well daddy.” Dries said.

Jasper led Dries downstairs.
“Wait a minute,” Dries whispered hastily, “first take out the dirty nappy and wash us. Mum and Dad will get angry,” Dries whispered.

“Mine is still clean.” Jasper replied quietly as he stood on the stairs.

“Then it will be fine. Go ahead, I’ll follow.”

Heleen also cameout of the room, woken by the conversation between Jasper and Dries. She sat down in the chair next to Jasper and turned on the television in anticipation of Dries. The TV on, the last episode of a series they were all watching and then immediately paused so that everything was ready and they could start watching as soon as Dries arrived.

“Jasper, Dries isl ucky to have a friend like you,” Heleen said, looking at a still picture.
“You’re not only his best friend, but I think you’re his most adorable friend.”

Jasper’s cheeks flushed, but he also looked a bit sad. He wasn’t used to being complimented by older children. He often received bullying comment sabout his height.
Heleen saw that Jasper also looked a little sad at the word “adorable”. She immediately tried to put a positive spin on it.

“I think it’s very brave of you. That you would go so far to make Dries happier. Really brave. And it made you look super cute yesterday and now.”

Jasper brightened at these words. He looked up at Helen. And then a compliment from her! Jasper was in seventh heaven.
Dries came down refreshed and together they watched a couple of shows on the television. The pressure in Jasper’s bladder continued to rise, but he ignored it. The TV was more interesting and a visit to the toilet could be postponed for a while.

"Come and eat, children."Kathy came into the living room and switched off the television. Jasper looked up startled and lingered a little. Heleen and Dries were already on their way to the kitchen.

“Can I go to the toilet first?” Jasper asked. “Can you help me with my bodysuit and take off my nappy?” he asked immediately afterwards, realising that he didn’t exactly know what to do with it.

He had put a nappy on and taken it off himself a few times at home, but when a mother did it, it seemed different and went much better and smoother.

“Are you still wearing your nappy?” Kathy asked disapprovingly. “It’s not good to stay in a wet nappy all night. You have to remove it in the morning. If you stay in a dirty nappy for too long, you can get nappy rash.”

“But it’s clean. I haven’t used it yet.”

Kathy immediately looked much gentler. “Then it doesn’t matter if you still have it on. But Koen, Dries and Heleen are already at the table, waiting to eat. Come on, come and sit down at the table right now. Either urinating is not urgent and can wait until after dinner, or it was necessary and you should already have gone. If you can’t hold it, just let itgo in your nappy, if you don’t walk around with it for too long it won’t hurt.”

Jasper nodded yes. He decided to do his best and followed her into the kitchen.
There were tasty little sandwiches with chocolate spread and he enjoyed a mug of hot chocolate.

The atmosphere at the table was very cosy and breakfast took quite a long time. Somewhere between the first cup of chocolate milk and the second sandwich, Jasper decided there was no point in holding it. Without anyone noticing, he let go of everything. Happy and, above all, much more relaxed, he continued to enjoy his breakfast.

“Come children, clean up and then go upstairs and get your clothes on.” With these words from Koen, breakfast was over.

“Jasper, do you want to play Monopoly after dinner?” asked Dries as they cleared the table.

“Yeah, sounds like fun,” said Jasper.

“OK, whoever gets back down first puts it ready on the table in the kitchen.”

“Jasper, I’ll come with you and pick out some clothes for you to wear today. Good?”

Jasper obediently followed Kathy upstairs and straight into the bathroom. Dries had already washed when he came down in the morning and went straight to his room; he just needed to change.

“Hands up,” and so Kathy began to help Jasper undress and wash. It wasn’t really necessary, of course Jasper could do it himself, but it was a quicker way and Kathy still had a household to do. Waiting for Jasper to undress and wash himself would take a little too long. Besides, he had just indicated that he wanted help with his bodysuit and nappy.

“Mummy, have you seen my hair ties?” Heleen opened the door and poked her head in as soon as she heard the nappy opening. She’d actually been secretly waiting for this, but didn’t want to admit it to Kathy, so she came in withan excuse. Jasper was a size smaller than Dries and that’s why she thought Jasper was so much cuter than Dries. Other people often estimate Jasper to be around six years old, whereas he is already eight, and Dries is often estimated to be nine. When they went out together, strangers sometimes thought Jasper was Dries’ little brother.

“Just in the drawer where they always are.” Kathy replied, unaware of Heleen’s intentions. Heleen lingered, taking as long and as slowly as possible to look curiously at how the care of Jasper was happening.

“Helen, hurry up, it’s not polite.”

Kathy finally figured it out and sent Heleen outside while she dried Jasper off after washing him with a washcloth.
“Here, Jasper, put this on.” Kathy had a pair of Dries’ underpants ready for Jasper to slip into.

“Go and use the loo again to make sure it’s all out, then come into Dries’ room and we’ll sort out the rest of the clothes there.”

Kathy stepped out of the bathroom and Jasper followed carefully. With each step he felt the underpants slip down and finally, after going to the toilet, Jasper held them up with both hands as he entered Dries’ room.

“The underpants are too big.”

Jasper declared as soon as Kathy checked where he was. To prove his point, he let go of the underpants and shook his bottom left and right. Immediately the underpants fell down a little.

“That’s really not going to work. Pass them back to me.”

Kathy quickly checked the size tag and saw that it stated size one hundredand thirty-four. Far too big compared to the size one hundred and ten that Jasper usually wore. She went to the drawer and quickly started checking all the labels. After checking them all, she turned to Jasper glumly.

“I don’t have any more underpants for you. Dries’ will all be too big.”

“And my underpants from yesterday?” Jasper asked, helping to find a solution.

“Can’t, it was dirty and is in the wash now.”

Kathy stacked all the underpants on top of each other to see if there was one that was a little smaller. There were three more that they tried, but all with the same result. They sagged and would be incredibly uncomfortable for Jasper.

“Without underpants then?”

“That’s not possible, Jasper, it’s far too unhygienic. The underpants serve to keep your trousers clean in case another drop of urine comes out or your bum is not wiped properly”.

At this point an idea began to form in Kathy’s head.

“Jasper, will you come and sit next to me?” Jasper meekly sat down and listened.
“Jasper, one question. You don’t mind wearing a nappy at night, do you? What is your opinion on the matter anyway?”

“I’m not sure.” Jasper found it rather difficult to talk about, especially as Kathy was not his own mother.

“Make up your mind Jasper, I wanna know.”

Jasper, not really knowing what this had to do with the underpants, thought for a moment.

“It’s actually a bit nicer with them than without, it makes me feel safe and secure,” Jasper said softly.

“So you don’t mind putting one on for Dries?”

“No, not for Dries, but I hope no one ever makes bullying remarks like Gert.”

“That won’t happen here, Jasper, you can be sure of that.” Kathy said as she rubbed Jasper’s back reassuringly.

“If you don’t mind wearing one, can we put this on during the day too, Jasper? It will keep your trousers clean and a nappy stays in place much better than these underpants; it is even comfortable and makes you feel safe and secure.”

Jasper sat for a moment. He thought of a possible alternative, but couldn’t come up with one.

“OK, I’ll give it a try.”

“Fine,” Kathy said. “I’ll get one.” Glad it was solved and quickly, before Jasper could change his mind, Kathy had grabbed a nappy from the bathroom and put it on Jasper. “Here’s a pair of shorts, a belt and a t-shirt, you can put them on yourself. I’ll be downstairs if you need me.”

The rest of the clothes were way too big too, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. The trousers stayed in place with the belt and the T-shirt fell over Jasper’s bottom. It wasn’t very flattering but he didn’t bother about it.

“I’ve been waiting the longest so I can start,” Dries said and immediately threw thedice.

“Five, I buy the station.” Dries continued as he moved his pawn. There was no need to agree on the colour. Dries always played green, Jasper blue.
Jasper nodded and sat down carefully. He wasn’t sure how he felt about this. Not from Monopoly, but from the nappy he was wearing. Going to sleep in it for Dries was one thing. But walking around in it during the day was a strange idea, despite the motivation Kathy had given him.
Monopoly, however, was all very nice and immediately absorbed all of Jasper’s attention.

“Jasper, I just sent a message to your mum to explain the underpants problem, she also thought what we did was a good solution.” Kathy suddenly interrupted.

“Yeah, okay,” Jasper said, looking up distractedly. He just wanted to build hotels on his best properties.

Later there was a sudden"ping" from Kathy’s mobile phone. Kathy looked up from her work, read the message and had a look at the time.

“Jasper, you need to go home. Helga sends word that dinner will be ready in five minutes. Dries, will you tidy up? Then we’ll eat too.”

Jasper put on his shoes, said goodbye and went home. As he walked home, Jasper remembered what he was wearing. He looked around carefully. Was there anyone he knew on the street nearby? He also felt his bottom to see if there was any swelling.
Reassured by the fact that his trousers and T-shirt were far too big, he walked home in a peaceful mood. Jasper came home through the back door and took off his shoes.

“Come to the table right away!” Helga called from the kitchen.

Everyone was there and Jasper’s plate was ready. Croquettes and chicory in a ham roll with cheese sauce on top. Delicious! thought Jasper when he saw it. He climbed into his chair with a smile that radiated from him.
Helga and Celine smiled at him, Gert looked tense and tried to ignore Jasper as much as possible. Apparently Jasper really didn’t need to worry about his brother. If his mothers were angry or punished his brother, they never told Jasper, but if they told him not to worry about Gert, he could rest easy.
Gert wanted to leave the table as soon as possible when he was finished. He was allowed to do that once. After he left, the atmosphere around the table became a little more cheerful and relaxed.

“Come and stand between us, Jasper, I want to have a good look at Dries’ clothes.” Celine asked.

Jasper got up from his seat and walked around the table to stand between his mums. Imagining how a ballerina would do this, he raised his arms and made a circle on the tip of his foot.
“Dries has given you a nice T-shirt and trousers. When you go to bed tonight, put them in the wash and we’ll bring them back next week, clean.”

“Clean up your mess,” Helga said and patted Jasper on the bottom to send him away. Both mothers hadn’t seen anything, but they were still curious after Kathy’s earlier message this morning.
Jasper wasn’t sure how to respond.“‘Moo-oom’,” he said plaintively.

“Yes, can I feel too?” asked Celine, immediately putting the word into action. She slid her hand down his back until it rested on Jasper’s bottom.

“No, that’s not what I meant,” Jasper mumbled; he didn’t know how to behave.

“Go and play, Jasper, we’ll hear from you when we have to take it off. Mum and I are going to do the dishes first.”

Jasper nodded and went into his room. He sat down on his bed with a comic book and was soon drawn into the story. After the third strip it was time to pee. He rushed downstairs to his mother. Jasper opened the door and started talking.

“Mummy, can you…”

Jasper quickly swallowed his last words. Gert was talking to Mummy Celine and Mummy Helga. It looked like a very serious conversation as they sat around the table. They all looked up at him in surprise.

“It’s nothing, nevermind…” Jasper didn’t dare say what he wanted. Not with Gert around. Mama Celine had assured him that Gert would never make fun ofhim any more or call him a baby, but asking her to remove his nappy in front of Gert was more than a bridge too far. Jasper shut the door and went back upstairs.

Jasper was not sure what to do. It just didn’t occur to him that he could take the nappy off himself. The nappy was put on by a mother, so it made sense that it should be taken off by a mother. He sat at the top of the stairs waiting for Gert to leave his mum’s so he could ask to take his nappy off and pee. But the pressure was growing. He knew the conversations between Gert and his mum could sometimes take a long time. Jasper got more and more desperate and finally decided to let it all out before it started to hurt. He straightened up and relaxed. The nappy quickly absorbed all the moisture. Now relieved that the pressure was gone, Jasper went back to his room with another strip. No sooner had he opened it than he heard Gert walking up the stairs and passing by his room. Jasper cursed himself. If only he could have held on a little longer.

“Jasper, are you all right?” his mum had come into his room.

“Yes, no more need to ask what I was going to ask.” The nappy was used now, but Jasper didn’t feel wet or dirty. The extra volume between his legs made it feel even better, Jasper had to admit.
Jasper calmly resumed reading his comic and his mum went on with what mums had to do.

“Koen, I’ve been thinking,” Kathy said to her husband as they sat inthe garden enjoying the sunshine. Dries was playing in his room and Heleen was sitting a little further away with a book.

"Yes?"asked Koen, curious what it might be about.

“Our holiday next summer. It is a nice holiday area that we will return to. Heleen can always keep herself busy, but it often happened that Dries was bored there for lack of a playmate.”

“Yes, that’strue. He doesn’t understand French yet, he can’t follow the animation at all.”

"Suppose we invite Jasper. It would be much more fun for Dries and eventually for Heleen and us too.

“That sounds like a good idea,” Koen said. "When Jasper didn’t know about Dries’ nappies, it wasn’t possible, but of course that’s no longer a problem. I just hope that Heleen agrees. We don’t have enough seats in the car to take a friend for Heleen as well as Jasper.

“No, I don’t mind. In fact, I think it’s a really nice idea. Jasper is so sweet and cute.” Helen suddenly intervened. She had been reading so quietly until the conversation and then started to listen, Koen and Kathy hadn’t noticed anything.

“That’s agreed then,” Kathy said, “I’ll call Helga and Celine to arrange it.”

It was a short call. After checking with Helga and Celine that Jasper had nothing to do for the duration of the trip, they immediately agreed. They thought it was a wonderful idea. All they asked was to keep it a surprise for the boys. They wanted Jasper to be busy with his homework for the next few weeks at school, not with the summer holidays.

“Heleen, we trust you to keep this to yourself. OK?”

Heleen was happy with the responsibility she had been given. She thought it was fantastic to be allowed to participate with the adults and not be considered a child.


Don’t worry too much about the lack of feedback - remember that a lot of site traffic comes from people who aren’t logged in. For every one like or comment, there will be lots more silent followers of your story.

There’s a lot I like about this story. The non-Anglo setting is nice, as is the background inclusivity (I always like it when inclusive elements are present, but not as the central focus, because it makes them feel normalised).

I particularly like the technique of switching between different ABDL story tropes as a way of keeping the reader guessing as to what’s happening (e.g., when we learn Dries is a bedwetter it looks like the story is going one way. Then Jasper breaks his arm and it takes a different direction. Then the adults around him seem to be finding excuses to get him to wear nappies. Then there’s his own curiosity about them. And Gert’s teasing/bullying. And how in that last section Jasper kind of felt stuck in them… and so on.)

The only criticism I feel I can offer - and admittedly it’s pretty minor - is that sometimes, there’s an odd turn of phrase or word choice error. There’s nothing particularly major (I never feel like I don’t know what’s going on), but it’s enough to break my immersion in places. I suspect that this is a product of the translation process moreso than anything in the original story though. As I say, minor.

Please do keep it up - this is the most interesting story I’ve followed on here this year so far, and I hope you continue!



Thank you for your kind words.
The inclusivity (that Jasper has two mothers) is indeed meant to normalise it. I know a couple in exactly this situation.

In a previous comment you wrote that you also liked that the style was more UK English than US English. Could this sometimes be annoying for US English natives? So it’s less beautiful for them?

I’m just wondering how professional writers deal with the difference between UK, US and Australian.

I looked at the start of this story partly as a great game of chess. I wanted to create the right climate and the right conditions for a believable story in which everything would eventually come together and a lot of what happens at the beginning would make sense later on.

I’m doing this translation to improve my English writing skills. So feel free to point out some of the odd phrases or word choices, even if they are minor, and if possible explain why it doesn’t fit or sound right.

Kind regards


Chapter nine of fourty

The next day Dries brought a letter with an invitation for Jasper. “It’s Heleen’s birthday in two weeks, she turns 14. And I can invite an extra person to her party so that I am not alone among all the girls.”

“Oh yes, I remember from last year, wasn’t it the same?” Jasper asked.

Jasper opened the envelope and examined the invitation carefully. <<Welcome to my slumber party. You are all invited from 4 p.m.>> it said, along with a nice picture of Heleen.

“What kind of a party is this going to be?” Jasper asked.

“First she wants to make pizza together and then watch a romantic movie.” Dries replied.

“She said which one, but I can’t remember. Really not interesting.”

“A pajama party? Can I sleep over too?” Jasper asked Dries.

“I suppose so, that’s why I was allowed to invite you as well.”

“Good, I look forward to sleeping with you again.”

Jasper also brought a small bundle for Dries. “Here are all your clothes back. Mum has already washed them.”

Dries took the packet and put it in his book bag. He was going to give it to his own mum and dad tonight.

Jasper came home from school that day full of enthusiasm. “Mummy, I can come to Heleen’s birthday party!”

“Oh, that’s nice,” Helga said as she stood in the kitchen ready to receive Jasper. “When’s the party?”

“It’s on Saturday in two weeks, and I can stay the night.”

“That’s nice of Heleen to invite you, I wasn’t expecting that,” Helga replied.

“Actually it was Dries who invited me. I can go to the party so he won’t be alone among Heleen and all her friends,” said Jasper.

“Great, I’ll have a look at work to see if I can find a nice CD to buy for Heleen. Then you will also have a present for her.” Helga said

“That’s great, she’ll like that.” Jasper liked it. The department store where Helga works also had a nice collection of CDs.
Jasper was looking forward to the party and spending the night with Dries. Jasper talked about it all night. Except for Dries’ parties, Jasper wasn’t invited very often.
The more the evening went on, the more Jasper thought that the invitation was not only from Dries, but also partly from Heleen. Last year, Jasper had gone to Heleen’s birthday party, but he had not received an official invitation. Besides, Heleen had been extra nice to him lately.
Jasper thought Dries was lucky to have a big sister like Heleen. She was always there for him, helping where and when needed. Jasper felt more and more comfortable with Heleen around. Since Dries and Jasper were blood brothers, it was almost as if Heleen was Jasper’s big sister too.

The next day at school, Jasper asked Dries what kind of music Heleen liked. Dries did not have to hesitate. With disgust on his face, he immediately managed to say: “Justin Bieber, just awful. The same CD three times a day. Never anything else,” he complained immediately afterwards. “If she had a few more CDs of him besides that one, she could vary it and I would be able to stand the music a lot better.”
Jasper said his mum’s plan was to give Heleen a CD, but they weren’t sure which one. He would pass it on and everything would be fine.

That evening Celine called Kathy. “Good evening, I’m calling to arrange the birthday party. Jasper is looking forward to it and will be there.”

“Oh, that’s nice. Heleen will like that.”

“Heleen? I thought it was Dries who asked Jasper?” Celine asked.

“Actually they both did. When we asked Heleen who she wanted to invite, she mentioned both Jasper and her friends. We were surprised too at first. When we asked her why, she said that of all Dries’ friends, she loved Jasper the most. She hoped that if she invited Jasper, Dries would agree with her choice. She actually wanted to choose who else would come for him instead of Dries,” Kathy told Celine.

"But of course that wasn’t necessary. When I asked Dries who he wanted to invite, he automatically chose Jasper, without even hearing what Heleen had asked.

“That’s nice,” Celine interjected. Kathy could rattle on sometimes, but Celine wanted to show that she was really listening.

Kathy continued, “It’s also nice for Dries to have someone to sleep with. Last year Heleen also had a pyjama party, but Jasper couldn’t sleep over. You know why.”

Celine gasped and started to answer, but Kathy was already talking again.

"But now Jasper can sleep over and both Heleen and Dries are happy about it. I don’t know how, but Jasper has really won a place in Heleen’s heart. Dries is no longer as small and cute as Jasper. I have the feeling that Heleen is looking for a new little brother in Jasper, someone she can look after and spoil.

“But speaking of staying the night.” Celine intervened. “What if I picked Dries up after school this Friday and he stayed here until Saturday after lunch. Is that OK? Jasper slept with you last weekend and he will be leaving again in two weeks. It might be more fun for the kids if it’s also the other way round. Then just bring Dries his things during the day or in the evening on Friday to spend the night”.

“Oh, that’s a nice idea. They’ll like that.” Kathy replied. “I’ll take care of it on Friday.”

“And then about a present for Heleen. Jasper mentioned a Justin Bieber CD?”

“Heleen really likes that, but you don’t have to give her a present.”

“We will anyway. What CD does she not have yet?” Celine asked.

“She only has the latest new CD. She doesn’t have any of the older CDs.” Kathy said.

“Something else.” Celine said. “I’m going to ask Helga tomorrow if she can pick up a pack of nappies from her store. Then you won’t have to buy any more for Jasper. You can’t keep buying them.”

“Oh, thank you.” Kathy replied.
There was some more chat and some arrangements were made for the next two weekends. Not much later the mums ended the conversation and put their phones down.

All the mothers and fathers liked to give surprises, so the children knew nothing. As Dries and Jasper stood chatting outside the school gate on Friday evening, waiting for their parents, they were both delighted when Helga approached Dries.

“Dries, are you coming home with us? We’ve agreed with your mum and dad that you can spend the night with us.”

“Yippee!” they shouted in unison. So loud that people and children all around looked to see where it was coming from.

“So nice, I’m so glad you’re coming to sleep with me!” said Jasper excitedly. Hopping, Dries and Jasper, each on a different side of Helga, went home.

“Jasper, can you show Dries what to do when you come home after school?” Helga asked.

“OK, mum,” Jasper replied. “Dries, you have to put your coat on the coat rack here, you can put your shoes under there and now we have to go to the kitchen to empty our school bags.”

Dries followed Jasper’s lead and they started unloading their things in the kitchen. The water bottle, bread box, fruit box and biscuit box were placed on the counter. Jasper then sat down at the table with his planner and homework, very model-like and doing his best to please his mother. He began to work diligently and Dries followed his example with some reluctance. They actually wanted to start playing together as soon as possible, but Jasper and Dries tried to show separately that they can be super strong of character. It was a surprise that Dries was allowed to come along, and they secretly hoped that by behaving well now, it would not be a one-off.
Helga also saw that they were doing their best. She walked silently around the kitchen, not wanting to disturb the boys as they did their homework. She took out her mobile phone and snapped a picture of Jasper and Dries sitting next to each other, concentrating on their homework.
She forwarded the photo to the Whatsapp group and commented.
<<Can I borrow Dries every week? Jasper never does his homework this well. The boys started it themselves, I didn’t have to ask.>>
Koen’s answer came quickly. <<That’s fine, if I can borrow Jasper the other days. If you hadn’t taken a picture, I almost wouldn’t have believed you.>>
While the boys were busy with the last of their homework, Gert also came in from school.

“Hello Mum!” Gert said when he saw everyone sitting there. He ignored the fact that Dries and Jasper were also there. He put his rucksack on the table and started to unpack his things without paying any attention to them. For his own convenience, he took everything out until he found his bread box at the bottom. He did not care that he also put books and notebooks on top of Dries and Jasper’s homework.


Dries started to call out. Before Dries could say anything, Jasper gave him a quick elbow.

“Shhh!” he hissed. “Wait a minute, there’s nothing we can do about it anyway,” Jasper whispered after him.

Helga looked up at the greeting from Gert and the ‘hey’ van Dries. “Hi Gert, are you watching where you put your things? Dries and Jasper are doing their homework.”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t know it was homework. This looks way too easy.” Gert said as he shifted his books aside.
Helga looked at Gert angrily. He made such nasty remarks too often. Gert pretended not to see his mother’s angry look. He got rid of the last of his things and took his own books, homework and rucksack up to his room.
Helga turned to look at Jasper and Dries. She saw that Dries had tears in his eyes.

“Dries, what’s wrong?” Helga asked as she sat down beside Dries.

“It’s homework and it’s hard,” he said in an angry tone.

“Don’t worry about Gert, Dries,” Helga said to comfort Dries. “When he was your age, he found it difficult too.” Helga took Dries’ homework and quickly scanned it to see if there were any mistakes.

“You did it perfectly, Dries. There’s one mistake here, you forgot to write your name and the date,” she said, pointing with her finger. Dries looked a little happier at what he had heard. He looked again at the exercise that Helga had marked as wrong. “I know the correct answer,” he said. He quickly picked up his pencil and corrected the mistake.

“All right,” Helga said. “When Gert was your age, he wasn’t very good at this.”

Dries beamed with pride. He quickly ran his fingers through his eyes to wipe away the tears he had shed earlier.
Jasper was also happy that Dries was in good spirits again. But he was also angry at Gert for ruining Dries’ mood so quickly.

Helga also checked Jasper’s work. “You made a mistake here, and then you forgot something here and here, and there you mirrored your cyphers.”

“Oh, not again,” Jasper said. He immediately corrected what was wrong and quickly put down his pencil. “I’m done too!”

The boys tidied up their schoolwork. “Can we please go and play on the Nintendo?” Jasper asked his mum in the sweetest voice possible.

“That’s fine, go ahead.”

Jasper took the tray and the controllers and turned on the TV. Dries was not sure how to set everything up and sat down in front of the TV. Together they played a few games on the Nintendo.

“Ding-Dong” rang the doorbell.

Jasper stopped the game they were playing and went with Dries to see who was at the door.

“Helen, what are you doing here? Do I have to go home?” Dries asked, surprised to see his sister at the door.

“No, I had to bring your clothes from mum. She prepared this suitcase for you.”

“Thank you, sister!” said Dries and he took the suitcase from Heleen.

Helga also came to see who was at the door. “Good evening Heleen.”

“Hello miss. I’ve brought Dries’ suitcase with his stuff for tonight and tomorrow.” Heleen said as she saw Helga approaching.

“Thank you Helen. That’s very kind of you. Would you like a drink?” Helga invited Heleen in.

“Yes ma’am.” Heleen said as she went in and took off her shoes.
Helga liked how polite and friendly Heleen was. Later she would tell Heleen’s parents how well she had behaved.

“Jasper and Dries, can you take Dries’ suitcase upstairs?”

“Okay mum, we’ll do it right away,” and with Jasper on one handle and Dries on the other, they stumbled up the stairs to Jasper’s room.
As they entered the room, they saw that the spare bed was already ready for Dries. The boys immediately started unpacking and getting everything ready. Toiletries in the bathroom, pyjamas on the pillow.

“Dries, why did you bring two bodies?” asked Jasper in surprise.

“I don’t know, I didn’t pack. Mum must have made a mistake,” Dries said, shrugging his shoulders. “This one is even too small for me.”
Dries put the extra bodysuit back in his travel bag and the boys went back downstairs.

“Fruit juice, coke, iced tea, water, tea or chocolate milk?” Helga asked as Heleen sat down at the kitchen table. Helen looked doubtful for a moment.

“I feel like having some bubbles, but if I drink coke now I won’t be able to sleep well. Can I have some ice tea?” she asked Helga.

“Certainly. I’ll get it.” Helga said as she went into the storeroom to get another bottle.

“Please,” she said as she set down a glass and poured it for Heleen.

“Thank you ma’am,” Helen replied.

“Oh, can we have one too?” Jasper asked as he came back into the kitchen.

“It’s okay for now.” Helga said. She took two glasses and set them down in front of the boys and filled them too. She put the half empty bottle on the kitchen table and turned back to Heleen.

“How are things at school? Lots of work now that the end of the year is almost over?”
Helen’s face fell at the question. “I really hate those language subjects. I like maths and science much better. At least it all makes sense,” she said.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Helga asked. “If you’re into maths and science, Celine was always good at it. She works in the airport control tower now, keeping an eye on the planes,” she suggested.

“Oh, I didn’t know she did that. That is something special too.” Helen replied. “But isn’t it sitting on a chair all day and not being able to move? It doesn’t seem very pleasant to me either.”

“Yes, that, having to speak English all day, and irregular hours. That’s what she complains about most.”

Helen nodded wisely. Maybe nice to see for a day, but not for a lifetime, she thought.

“What else did you think of?” Helga asked Helen.

“I’m not sure. Something with kids. Teacher, kindergarten assistant, paediatric nurse or something… I’m not sure yet.”

“You don’t have to decide yet. You still have time for that.” Helga said. “So you might end up working with your mum?”
“No, not quite. She works at the reception of the Holy Méen Centre for Children and Adolescents. That’s just reception work at the mental health centre. She doesn’t really work with the children there.”

“Oh yes, I thought your mum’s job there was different,” Helga said. That she was involved in caring for the patients."

“No, she never did.”

Meanwhile Helga received a message from Celine. <<I’m at the snack bar now. What does everyone want with the fries?>>.
“Jasper, Dries, what do you want at the snack bar?” Helga asked.

“Curry sausage,” Dries replied enthusiastically.

“Chicken wings,” Jasper replied.

“Okay boys,” Helga replied. She went to the stairs and called up. “Gert, what do you want to go with your fries tonight?”

Jasper opened the bottle of ice-tea and refilled his own glass. Then he silently showed the bottle to Dries.

“No thanks,” Dries whispered, holding his hand over his glass. “I’m not thirsty.”
Jasper discreetly put the bottle back where it had been on the table.

Gert walked down to give his reply. “I’d like a hamburger.”

“OK boys, I’ll pass that on to Mum. Helen, are you eating here?”

“No thank you ma’am. Mum and Dad are expecting me home in half an hour. We’re having pizza tonight.”

“OK, fine,” Helga said and picked up her mobile phone to hand the order to Celine.
Gert saw the bottle of iced tea, took a glass and filled it. He also sat down at the table and finished his glass. With small eyes he looked at the other children. There was a little left in the bottle. He took the bottle with him. “Mum, I’ll take the rest of the iced tea up to my room.”

“It’s OK Gert,” she replied as she finished the message to Celine.

“Heleen,” Helga continued, picking up on the previous conversation. “Have you thought about orthopaedagogy? That’s also something with children.”

“No, I don’t know, what is that?” asked Helen.

"Oh, it’s hard to explain. Maybe you should ask your mum, she’ll be there, she’ll know some from her work. You might even meet one. They can tell you best themselves.

“Where does your mum work?” Gert asked.

“She works down the road at C&Y MHC,” Heleen said.

“What’s that?” Gert asked. “Never heard of it.”

“Child and Youth Mental Health Care, Holy Méen, that institution down the road.”

“Ah, with the little stupid idiot children. With their heads full of muck,” Gert said condescendingly.
Heleen got angry. She had visited her mother at work a few times, and her mother had told her a lot about the patients, or clients as she sometimes called them. She had also been in contact with the residents a few times during her visits and had always found it an interesting and pleasant experience.
She also still remembered Gert’s behaviour towards Jasper last week.

Dries crawled back into his chair and pulled Jasper with him. “Be careful, she’s angry,” he whispered quietly to Jasper.

“First.” Helen began. She spoke in a quiet voice, but the silence that had fallen made every letter clearly audible throughout the kitchen. Gert grinned at Helen. He liked giving people a hard time.
“They’re not stupid little children.”

Helga, who was about to rebuke Gert, closed her mouth. She allowed Heleen to speak first.

“Secondly, the muck you describe is a good brain that can still do a lot.”

“Thirdly, each of those residents may not be as good a learner as you, but they have an emotional capacity and sensitivity a hundred times greater than yours. At least they are affectionate and caring. If compassion for a fellow human being were a criterion for admission, you would have the toughest ward all to yourself. And if it wasn’t a criterion and you were just going for a walk, no one would notice that you didn’t live there. Everyone would think you belonged there with your stupid face!”

Gert had grown angrier and angrier during the whole explanation. “Bitch,” he snapped at her and walked away from the table.

“You just can’t stand it when someone talks back!” Helen called after him. “You’re as stupid as you are big. You’re a textbook example of a brutally stupid weakling!”

“Gert, come back!” Helga called after Gert.

“Yes,” he growled as he came back inside.

“Apologise. It’s very ugly what you’ve said. Soon Celine will hear about it too.”

“Sorry,” he said and turned and walked away.

“Helen,” Helga said angrily. “You were right to defend yourself, but in the end it wasn’t the right way either.”

“Sorry, ma’am,” Heleen said and bowed her head shamefully.

“It’s not a big deal. I’m happy with it.” Jasper got up from his chair and went to hug Heleen. He thought it was fantastic to see her bite Gert’s head off. That he was getting a taste of his own medicine. Karma for all the other times.

“Thank you,” Heleen said quietly as she returned Jasper’s hug.

“Let’s wrap this up now,” Helga said. “Heleen, it’s time to go if you want to be home on time.”

Heleen understood that she shouldn’t stay any longer. She said hello to everyone and went into the hall to put on her shoes.
“Thanks again for bringing Dries’ luggage,” Helga said as she saw Heleen out.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Jasper was taking advantage of the moment. In his anger, Gert had left the bottle of ice tea, a treat Jasper rarely got at home. Swiftly, Jasper refilled his glass and emptied it slowly, enjoying the taste.

“Come on, let’s go on playing,” Dries said, emptying his glass as well.

“Yeah, that’s OK,” Jasper said. “You have a really great sister,” he said dreamily. “I’m glad she told Gert the truth for once.”

The fries were delicious. Celine talked endlessly about her job and complained about the pilots who spoke far too little English to understand the correct instructions for landing. Jasper and Gert were used to these stories, but Dries was amused.
Later in the evening, after some more playing, it was time to go to bed.

“Come on, Jasper and Dries, upstairs!”

“No, Mummy, another fifteen minutes, please?” asked Jasper, making the sweetest face that always worked with Mummy Helga.

“No, now,” replied Celine, immune and unflappable.

“Ten more minutes then?” Jasper tried to negotiate.

“If you ask me again, you’ll go to bed fifteen minutes earlier tomorrow.”

Jasper shut his mouth immediately, took Dries and they went upstairs.
Celine came into the room.

“Jasper, I suppose you’re putting on a nappy again along with Dries?” she said as she closed the door behind her.
Jasper was stunned. He hadn’t expected such a direct question.

“But Mum, I don’t have one, do I?” he replied.

“You do now,” Celine said. “Helga bought a packet from her shop and took it with her. You can’t keep grabbing nappies from Dries. She put them in the wardrobe behind your pyjamas.”

Jasper quickly opened the wardrobe and pushed the pyjamas aside. There was indeed a pack of nappies!
He quickly looked at Dries. “I really didn’t know they were here, I really don’t need them.”

The little voice in his head ‘Jasper is a baby’ started singing loudly again.

Celine intervened. “Dries knows that you don’t need it yourself. That you put it on for him, so that Dries does not feel alone. But Dries’ mum and dad shouldn’t have to pay for it, should they?”

Jasper looked at his mother and listened.

“If you want to spend the night with Dries again, you can bring your own nappies now.” Celine continued.

Jasper nodded quietly. “I understand.”

Then Dries intervened. He asked hopefully, “Are you going to wear one now?”

Jasper had the feeling that he didn’t really have a choice. The nappies were bought for him and Dries looked at him hopefully.

“Okay, that’s fine,” he sounded resigned.

“Then it’s settled,” Celine said. Dries, go pee first and then come back and put on your pyjamas. Jasper, start brushing your teeth and then you two can swap.

The boys listened carefully and did as they were told.
Dries walked into the room and, after getting undressed, lay down on his bed for the nappy. This went a little less smoothly than it did at home, but it was good enough.

"Sorry Dries, I haven’t been used to doing this for a long time. I still know how to do it and what to look out for, but I’m not as quick as I used to be. I don’t have it in me anymore.

“Doesn’t matter. It’s fine.” Dries said as he stood up and grabbed his bodysuit.

“Kathy sent that she also gave a bodysuit for Jasper to borrow, where is it?” Celine asked. Meanwhile she opened the new pack of nappies and took a pair of pyjamas for Jasper too.

“Here it is,” Dries said after rummaging through his bag.
Jasper also entered the room.

“Dries, it’s your turn to brush your teeth. Jasper, have you been to the bathroom?”

Jasper nodded yes. “Just finished after brushing my teeth.”

“Very good, come here,” Celine said. She had nothing else to do, so she helped Jasper get undressed. It still went a little quicker than if Jasper would have done it himself.

“Hands up,” Celine said, and so the changing began until Jasper was back in his nappy in front of his mum.

“This bodysuit is nice, don’t you think?” Celine asked Jasper.

“Yeah, everything stays in place a lot better, that’s what I noticed last week. It felt comfortable when I had it on,” Jasper replied.

Celine closed the buttons between Jasper’s legs. “I took out the dinosaur onesie you were wearing a while ago. Good?” Celine asked, holding the onesie open so Jasper could get into it easily.

“Yeah, it’s fine.” Jasper said, putting his legs into the onesie foot by foot until his feet came out again.

“Arms in here and turn around.” Celine guided Jasper further so that she could finally close the zip on his back.
Dries entered the room. “I liked them when they still fitted me. They used to be my favourite pyjamas. I’m sad they don’t fit me anymore,” was the only comment he made. “Can I put on my pyjamas now?” he asked Celine.

“Oh, of course you can. That would have been allowed earlier.”

“But I didn’t dare to do it or ask, you told me to brush my teeth.” Dries confessed cautiously, a little afraid of the reaction.

“You really shouldn’t be afraid. As long as you work hard and don’t waste time, I’ll be happy,” Celine said reassuringly.

“Okay, that’s fine,” Dries said, picking up his own onesie. He tucked his legs in until his feet came out, tucked his arms in and zipped himself up at the front of his stomach and chest.
They wished each other a good night and a moment later the light went out.

“Jasper,” Dries whispered when he heard Celine go downstairs.

“Yes, what is it?” Jasper whispered back softly.

“I know you shouldn’t be wearing that, a nappy, but I’m so glad I don’t have to do it alone tonight.”

“Don’t mention it,” Jasper said.

“I used to feel really bad about it because I felt like I was the only one in the world wearing a nappy, but it’s only since you’ve been wearing it for me that I’ve realised how much I needed it. I feel so much better and happier than I ever thought I would”.

Jasper didn’t immediately know how to respond. He was touched by Dries’ confession. Jasper climbed out of his own bed, crawled into the bed next to Dries and gave him a hug, which Dries returned.
Jasper felt Dries shiver. Dries’ emotions were obviously a little too much for him at the moment.

“I’m here for you, Dries,” Jasper whispered. “We are blood brothers. And I really don’t mind doing this for you. Somehow it also gives peace, security and a nice feeling.”
Jasper felt Dries nod his head. “That’s true,” Dries whispered.

“Thank you for being my friend, Jasper.” Dries whispered.

“You too and sleep well.” Jasper replied. He was tired and crawled back into his own bed.

“Sleep well.” Dries mumbled back. He was almost off to dreamland.

That evening, Kathy and Koen sat together in front of the computer to prepare their holiday.
“Look, they didn’t have them last year, they’re new; children’s bungalows for four or five people. Doesn’t that sound nice?” Kathy said as she clicked on the website to view and enlarge the photos.
The bungalow looked good, very playful and adventurous. There were cheerful drawings on many of the walls of the bungalow. In two rooms of the house, there was a small raised area where the children could climb up to the ceiling. There were also a couple of crawl spaces. In the first one you could go from one room to another with a corridor through the living room along the ceiling. There was also a hatch in the first room that opened next to the sofa in the living room.
There was also a picture with a climbing net and another picture with a fireman’s pole to slide down.
They saw in another picture that there was a small glass dome at the top of the roof, high enough to look over the roofs with your head.
The bathroom was completely decorated as if it were an underwater world, and the last picture showed that the terrace and entrance were higher than the road the bungalow was next to. Ideal for an extra private slide.
There was also a lot of accompanying text, but unfortunately it was only in French. Neither Kathy nor Koen could understand it. Most of the information on the website was also in English, but apparently they had forgotten to translate this part with the explanation of the children’s bungalow.
“Attention (seulement cottage 5 personnes)! Un lit junior dans la chambre des enfants est adapté aux enfants de 1m40 maximum”.
They understood “attention” and with Google Translate they were able to translate this one sentence.

“Dries is only 1m30, so he will fit into the junior bed?” Koen wondered aloud. Meanwhile, Helen had also joined us to watch.

“Or Jasper, he’s even smaller,” she interjected.

Kathy nodded thoughtfully. “A junior bed won’t be a problem, will it? And the house looks too nice to let it pass. It’s fun for the boys now, but it won’t be in a few years.”
They looked through the photos, but no pictures had been taken of the beds themselves. Soon the decision was made and the children’s adventure house for five was booked.

“Don’t forget to book the hotel for the trip, Koen,” Kathy said. “We were just in time last year. It’s better to do it now instead of waiting two weeks before the journey.”

Koen nodded and agreed with Kathy.

“I’ll have a look right away. I’ll do it quickly and then we can enjoy our evening.” Koen was tired from his day’s work, full of meetings and discussions, and wanted to end it quickly.

Luckily, the hotel still recognised last year’s login. The family’s names and dates of birth were filled in automatically. In the end, all Koen had to do was enter the dates for the outward and return journeys, press confirm and pay the deposit. He forwarded the confirmation email to Kathy without checking it, she kept track of everything. Happy to have a break from his working day and week, he then shut down the computer.


Chapter ten of fourty

It was the middle of the night and Jasper woke up. "‘Ice tea,’ he thought immediately. “I shouldn’t have had so much of that.” From the moment he moved, even before he got out of bed to pee, he sensed and remembered that he was wearing a nappy. He remembered from all the times before that no one minded if he used it. He also remembered that he was wearing a onesie, which he couldn’t take off himself anyway. He crawled back into bed and tried to relax. As he was in a position he was not used to peeing in, it did not work. He tried everything, like applying pressure, trying to imagine himself standing on the beach, a little relaxation exercise. It didn’t work. Finally, he stood up and when he imagined that he was standing in front of a toilet, it finally worked. Happy that the pressure was gone, he crawled back into bed and slept without interruption until the next morning.

“Good morning, Jasper and Dries.” Celine and Helga said cheerfully as they entered the living room. The two boys were sitting in front of the television, enjoying their favourite soap.

“How are your nappies?” Celine asked as she approached. Neither boy answered, but their red faces said it all.

“Dries, your mum doesn’t like you running around in a wet nappy. Will you go upstairs and freshen up?” said Celine sternly.

“Jasper, why don’t you come too?” said Helga.

Jasper immediately followed her to the upstairs bathroom where he was helped by Celine. Dries turned off the TV and followed the others upstairs.

“Be quiet for Gert, he will get angry if we wake him up.” Jasper spoke softly to Dries as he also entered the bathroom.
Celine unzipped Jasper’s nappy and helped him out, undoing the buttons on the bodysuit, pulling the two tapes and carefully removing the nappy. Busy as she was, she went straight through, grabbed a washcloth and washed the wide intimate area clean.

“Dries, here’s a clean washcloth and towel for you. Jasper, can you come into the bedroom? We’ll pick out all your clothes for the day there.”

In the bedroom, Jasper sat on the bed, waiting to see what his mother would choose. Celine looked between Jasper and the wardrobe. Smiling at her idea, she took the necessary clothes and sat down next to Jasper.
“Jasper, this bodysuit, are you going to keep it on? It’s less work to leave it on. I’ve brought you the appropriate underwear that fits a bodysuit.”

Jasper looked surprised at the nappy in his mum’s hand. “Another pamper mummy?”

“Yes, why not? You don’t mind wearing it and Dries is so happy with it? And you already have a bodysuit on, otherwise we would have to take it off. It can only go so much faster and smoother.”

“Um, okay,” Jasper said. It was strange for him to put on a nappy again, but he couldn’t immediately think of an argument not to, except that it was strange.
Jasper got the nappy on straight away. The bodysuit was closed, then shorts and a nice colourful hoodie with a picture of a dragon on it.

“Hop, you can go down to the kitchen now.” Celine said. She smiled and looked at Jasper. She knew she’d twisted the truth about what was fast and smooth, but she thought Jasper looked cuter that way. It was just for once and she had enjoyed looking after Jasper like she used to.
As Jasper went downstairs, Dries entered the room with only his towel wrapped around his waist.

“Hi Dries, Jasper’s in a nappy again. Are you going to do the same?” Celine asked.

Dries looked up in surprise. “Really? Did he do that for me? So sweet of him,” he said with a beaming smile.

“Yes, he did. Do you want one too?”

“Do I have to?” Dries asked carefully. He didn’t really feel like it, but he didn’t want to be inferior to Jasper or disappoint Celine.

Celine didn’t want to force anything on Dries. She had thought it was cute yesterday, the two children together in their nappies, but Dries was not her child and she did not know him well enough to know for sure what was possible and what was not.

“No, of course not.” Celine replied.

Dries then turned to his clothes, put his towel down and started to get dressed.
Celine left Dries alone and went to her room to change as well. Helga was already dressed and in the kitchen preparing breakfast with Jasper.
When everything was ready, Celine, who was also dressed by now, and Dries went into the kitchen and they all sat down at the table. Dries sat in Gert’s place. Gert wouldn’t get out of bed and show himself until noon anyway. They happily started breakfast.

“Jasper,” Helga started, “when Dries goes home this afternoon. Will you come along and help carry his bag?”

“Yes, that’s fine, Mummy,” Jasper replied. “But what do I do with the bodysuit I’m wearing?”

“Do you still have that bodysuit on? But how?” Helga didn’t quite understand at first. “Do you still…?”

Celine interrupted. “Yes, it was my suggestion.”

Helga looked hard at Celine. “Is that appropriate?” Then she turned to Jasper. “Soon after dinner we’ll take them off and then you can wear normal underpants and a T-shirt.”

Celine looked back at Helga. “Look how cute he looks.” Celine said with a big smile and sparkling eyes.

Helga melted under her lover’s gaze. “Okay Jasper, that’s good for this time. You decide when to take it off.”

“Okay, Mummy,” he replied and Jasper pounced on his two-coloured chocolate sandwich.

Dries remained silent the whole time, looking at Jasper with a big smile on his face.

“Thank you,” he whispered when he had Jasper’s attention for a moment. Meanwhile, he pointed at Jasper’s waist.

Jasper felt warm inside, happy that he had made his friend happy.

After dinner, Jasper and Dries cleaned up nicely. Once again Helga made good use of the Jasper and Dries combination. She had innocently asked Jasper if he could show Dries where to put everything.

“I will, Mum.” Jasper said cheerfully, happy to be given some responsibility. In no time the table was cleared and the boys were playing.

First they played together for half an hour on the Nintendo, then they played in the woods and finally they ended up on the trampoline in the garden. They enjoyed the spring, which was now in full bloom. Little by little, Jasper let his pee flow. Apart from himself, no one noticed that Jasper was not completely dry by lunchtime.
Gert was there for lunch too. He didn’t dare say much with his two mothers at the table, but his looks were enough for Jasper and Dries to know that Gert was in a bad mood and wanted to take it out on Jasper and Dries.
So Jasper and Dries kept quiet at the table and as soon as they were allowed to, they left the table, took Dries’ bag and went to his house.

When they arrived at Dries’, Koen, Kathy and Heleen were sitting at the table enjoying a dessert.

“Can we have some ice cream too?” Dries asked his parents.

Koen nodded that it was fine.

Kathy added. “You can choose one from the freezer.”

Dries took a ice-cream cone and Jasper took an ice-cream on a stick.

“How was the sleepover?” Heleen asked Jasper and Dries.

“It was nice that Dries was allowed to stay the night.”

Jasper began to tell. From beginning to end, he talked about all the activities they had done. Koen and Kathy were amazed at Jasper’s waterfall of words. He was usually much quieter, but Jasper had obviously enjoyed the sleepover. The family sat listening to Jasper and watching his expressive facial expressions, all the while enjoying their ice cream.
Jasper himself hadn’t had time to eat the ice cream, he was so busy telling the story. He’d only licked it a couple of times, and when he waved his hand back and forth, the ice cream popped off his stick. Jasper tried to catch it with his other hand, but was unsuccessful.
Reflexively, he closed his legs and the ice cream landed on his trousers. He clamped the ice between his legs before it slid further down to the ground. Before anyone could react, Jasper had picked up the ice cream between his legs with his fingers and accidentally smeared it. When he stood up again, there was a large wet sugar stain on his trousers.

“Wow, Jasper,” Kathy said. “Don’t worry, accidents happen. Put the ice in the sink and take off your trousers and hand them to me and I’ll rinse the stain off.”

Jasper listened immediately. He put the ice cream in the sink, rinsed his hands under the tap and then took off his trousers. Jasper hadn’t thought about it, but he was still wearing this morning’s nappy with Dries’ bodysuit on it. Everyone immediately recognised the bodysuit with the underwear.
Kathy and Koen were diplomatically silent about it, but Heleen blurted it out immediately.

“Jasper, you’re wearing a nappy!”

“Uh, yes, Mama Celine…” Jasper lost track of what he was going to say. He himself did not really understand how he had ended up in a nappy again this morning.

“It’s OK, I think you’re just doing your best today to make Dries happy.” Kathy came to Jasper’s aid.
Jasper nodded vigorously. Now that Kathy had said it, Jasper felt that his subconscious was in complete agreement.
Dries stood next to Jasper at the sink and rinsed his hands as well, completely changing the subject by asking Jasper to come upstairs and play with the Lego.
Jasper nodded that it was fine. He handed the trousers to Kathy and the boys went upstairs together. Kathy immediately put the trousers under the tap to wash off the sugar water.

Upstairs in his room, Dries took off his sweater.

“Pfff, way too hot in here,” he meanwhile said.

Jasper followed his example, playing next to Dries in just a bodysuit and nappy. Heleen had helped her parents with the dishes and arrived in Dries’ room half an hour later. She brought a book to read and enjoyed the pleasant conversation between Dries and Jasper.
Jasper lay on his stomach, busy arming the Lego knights, while Dries rummaged through the loose Lego for bricks to build a prison for the bad guys.
Because Jasper was running around bare-legged and the bodysuit was not very thick, Jasper was starting to get a bit cold. The cold affected his bladder and soon his nappy was wet. Heleen, who had been watching from the bed, finally noticed. As Jasper crawled back and forth across the room, she could see the nappy sagging under his weight. It was too heavy for the bodysuit to provide much support. Heleen quietly went downstairs to tell her mother.

“Mum, Jasper’s nappy looks pretty full.”

“I hadn’t even thought about it. Who knows how long he hasn’t worn it. I’ll be right up to help him.” Kathy said.

Five minutes after Heleen had settled back on the bed, Kathy came into the room. She brought a nappy, a towel and a wet washcloth with soap from the bathroom.

“Jasper, come here. We need to do something about that thick package around your bottom. We won’t be looking for underpants this time. I brought a nappy right away.”
Kathy said. She walked over to the bed and sat down.

“Heleen, can you move a bit to give me room?”

Heleen put down her book and moved aside until she was sitting at the foot of the bed.
Jasper came between her and Kathy and lay down on the bed, his head facing Heleen and his legs towards Kathy.

“Here, first the towel under your bottom.” Kathy said. “Let’s make a bridge.”
Jasper listened meekly and cooperated well throughout the entire change.

“Helen, can you fasten the buttons?” Helen had been watching intently and jumped up to carry out the task.
Kathy, meanwhile, dived into Dries’ wardrobe.

“Your trousers from this morning are still too wet to wear. I’ll look in here for a pair of Dries’ trousers.” Kathy said to Jasper.
Jasper got up from the bed and walked over to Kathy. He looked at the trousers that were folded up in the cupboard.

“Hmmm, this might work,” Kathy said as she took a pair of Dries’ green dungarees out of the cupboard.

“I’ll shrink everything down first and then we’ll try the bib overall, Jasper.”

Kathy adjusted the shoulder straps to the smallest setting, then held the trousers open for Jasper to climb into.
The two straps went over the shoulder and the buckles were fastened.
Kathy looked at the whole thing critically.

“That will do. Go on playing Jasper. Dries, don’t you have to go to the toilet?” Kathy asked Dries, who had come to watch.

Kathy left the room and let all three children do their thing. Jasper could go home with the dungarees later, she would get them back another time.


Chapter eleven of fourty

A few chapters later in Heleen’s book, Jasper and Dries were still playing. Heleen started to get hungry and got up to eat some fruit down in the kitchen. Dries looked up in puzzlement.

“Why are you getting up, Heleen?” he asked.

Heleen put the bookmark in her book. “I’m hungry, I’m going downstairs to see if I can get something to eat,” Heleen replied.

“I’m hungry too,” Jasper blurted out in reply. “Can I have something too? What are you going to eat?”

Jasper got up as well and Dries followed. Staying alone in the room wasn’t much fun either.
Down in the kitchen, Jasper immediately sat down at the table.

“What can we eat?”

“I don’t know yet, I’ll see what’s out there.” Heleen said as she stood in front of the open fridge.

In the end, she decided to stick with a normal apple. “Here you go,” she said and gave Dries and Jasper an apple each.

Heleen bit off a piece of the apple and ate it with relish. She had always thought that apples tasted best with the skin on.
Jasper sat at the table with the piece of fruit in his hand and his other thumb in his mouth, looking expectantly at Heleen.

Heleen looked up. “Is something wrong, Jasper?”

“Mum always peels them for me.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that. Give it to me and I’ll help you.”

“Do you want to peel mine too?” Dries asked; he hadn’t even started to eat the apple himself.

Heleen was glad she could do something for Jasper and Dries. Cheerfully, she took a knife and gave each of the boys a piece of apple in turn.

While they were busy, Koen came into the kitchen and sat down at the table. He sighed deeply. “I’m calling it a day. I’ve worked enough. Staring at the screen all the time gives me a headache.”

Koen also took a piece of apple that was meant for Jasper. “It’s nice of you, Heleen, to help out like this.”

Heleen beamed at the compliment. She also gave her father the next piece, which was meant for Dries.

“Thank you,” he replied.

“Jasper and Dries, mum and I are going for a walk. Are you coming? We’ll pass your house, Jasper, and then drop you off at home,” Koen said.

“Can I come too?” asked Heleen.

“Of course you can. Jasper and Dries, go upstairs and get your clothes and then come down for your shoes. Heleen, put your shoes on and wait for us at the door?”

Everyone got ready for the family walk. Jasper, who had run up and down quickly, was the first to finish, Heleen had gone upstairs to get her book and was carrying it in a small backpack. Dries had stopped at the toilet and was third. The route was decided on the way, but the walks were never very long. They usually walked for an hour, excluding breaks along the way.
When everyone was ready outside, Koen closed the door and they set off. Down the street, off the path and then with a big detour towards the park.
It was a strange experience for Jasper. Not the walking itself, but the overalls. He’d seen them on Dries before, but he didn’t have any of his own. So it was the first time for him to wear something like that. It felt strange, this chest and back piece that was against his bodysuit. It felt like he was getting a hug around his chest all the time. Around his waist and crotch everything was extra roomy; the dungarees were two sizes too big. He didn’t really have a description for the straps over his shoulders. It was like carrying a small backpack all the time.
After a swift walk, the family and Jasper arrived at the park.

“To the playground!” Jasper and Dries burst out together.

They ran to the jungle gym and did their best to get to the top as quickly as possible. Koen, Kathy and Heleen walked on to a nearby bench and sat down. Heleen took her book out of her backpack and read quietly. Meanwhile, Koen and Kathy enjoyed the peace.
Jasper and Dries couldn’t sit still. They ran from one play equipment to the next, tried out every swing and slide, and sat on the seesaw together for a while.
It had been a while since Jasper had emptied his bladder and he felt a slight urge to do so. Jasper stopped and looked around for a suitable tree to pee against.

“Jasper, are you coming?” asked Dries, who was off to the next playground.

“Hang on, I’m coming,” Jasper said. He decided to leave the tree as it was. He relaxed his bladder and felt his crotch get warm and wet. The wetness disappeared quickly as it was all absorbed by the nappy, but the heat remained. That feeling didn’t bother him. When he had finished peeing, he ran after Dries.
They played on the playground. But the swings, slides and especially the seesaw felt different. While playing, Jasper felt that the nappy was a snug and secure fit. He thought he could get used to the feeling.

Shortly afterwards, Koen, Kathy and Heleen got up from the bench. “Come on children, let’s continue!”

Together they walked on until they reached Jasper’s house.

“Good evening, come in. We were just going to call as it’s dinner time.” Helga said.

“Jasper, what happened to your trousers?” Celine asked. She didn’t recognise the trousers Jasper was wearing.

“I spilled ice cream, Mum. I got to borrow these trousers from Dries because my other trousers are all wet from being cleaned. And look, they’re special trousers.” Jasper grabbed his pullover and pulled it up, exposing most of the overalls.

“I can see they’re special. Are they comfortable?” Celine asked.

“Yes, it fits well,” Jasper said. “Are you coming to my room Dries?”

“Hang on Jasper, it’s dinner time. Are you going to wash your hands?” Celine asked.

“OK,” Jasper said with a deep sigh.

“Koen, Kathy, would you like to join us for dinner? We’re going to have sandwiches and we’ll have plenty.” Helga asked.

“No, you don’t have to, we don’t want to bother you.” Kathy replied.

“But you’re not a bother, in fact it’s more fun when you’re here,” Helga replied.

Kathy and Koen looked at Helga and then at each other. They looked at each other questioningly and then gave each other a small nod.

“It’s fine.” Kathy said.

Dries and Heleen looked happy. They thought it was a nice idea, so they could be with Jasper a little longer.
The table was quickly extended and some additional seats were added, cups and cutlery placed on the table so that everyone could find a place.

“Mummy, I have to go to the toilet,” Jasper whispered in Helga’s ear.
“Go on honey, or do you need a change?” Helga whispered back, patting Jasper’s swollen bottom.

“But it’s not pee, Mummy, it’s that other thing.” Jasper was a little embarrassed to talk to his mom about it.

“I see, go upstairs, I’m coming too.” Helga didn’t feel like changing such a dirty nappy, and she was glad that Jasper didn’t feel like creating such a dirty nappy and sitting in it.
Jasper disappeared into the upstairs bathroom with his mother.

“Unbutton your trousers,” Helga said as she took a washcloth.

Jasper took off his sweater and then started to fiddle with the fastenings of his dungarees.

“It doesn’t work Mummy, how am I supposed to open it?” Jasper asked.

“Press here and here and then.” Helga said as she opened the clasps.

“I didn’t see it Mum, the buckles are way too high on my shoulders to see properly. Can you show it again?”

“Not now dear, we have to get down to dinner as soon as possible. Everyone will be ready and waiting at the table by now.” Helga said as she continued to pull down the trousers and undo the snaps on the body.

She removed the nappy and quickly wiped the nappy area clean.
She folded the bodysuit inwards so that Jasper’s waist was nice and free when he sat on the toilet so that no bits of cloth would hang down in the water.

“Do your business and then come to your room. You wore a nappy all day, so you can do that for the rest of the evening. But tomorrow we’ll go back to normal. OK?”

“OK Mummy,” Jasper said and he went to the toilet.

Meanwhile, Helga went into Jasper’s room, grabbed a clean nappy and waited patiently for Jasper to come back from the toilet. Meanwhile, she studied the nappy. She had noticed in the shop that the wrapping had changed since she had last bought them for Jasper a few years ago, when he still needed them. But the nappies themselves were a little different too.
Jasper came into the room and lay down on the bed, ready for Helga to put a nappy on him. With her skilful hands, she changed Jasper’s nappy. She hadn’t lost those skills yet.
The nappy was closed, the romper was closed and Jasper stepped into the dungarees that Helga had also closed.

“Let’s go downstairs,” Helga said to Jasper.

"Gert, are you coming for dinner? Helga knocked on the door of Gert’s room as she passed theirs on the way down.

“Coming, five minutes!” he called back.

In the meantime, the table had been cleared, everyone had been given a drink and the bread and toppings had been put on the table.
Gert came in and mentally sat down at the table on the last empty chair.

Celine gave him a stern look. “Gert, aren’t we forgetting something?”

“Good evening Mr and Mrs, good evening Heleen and Dries.” Gert greeted everyone politely.

Jasper could see that Gert was in a good mood. Gert dreamed back to his own past afternoon. While shopping, he had met a girl for whom he had warm feelings. He had chatted with her for a long time and felt that his feelings were mutual.

“Jasper, I needed a Leatherman for camp next summer. I went to the store today to buy it. I don’t need my old pocket knife anymore,” Gert said, taking his old pocket knife out of his trouser and handing it to Jasper across the table. “Here, for you.”

Jasper looked delighted at the news. “Really, for me? Thank you Gert.”

Jasper was pleased with the gift. It was unexpected, and Jasper had dreamed of owning a pocket knife for some time. It had happened more than once that Gert had given Jasper his old stuff. And even though it was old stuff, it had never been junk. Jasper had always liked it.
Jasper put down his sandwich and picked up the pocket knife. He immediately opened it to take a closer look.

“You know a pocket knife is a tool, not a toy, don’t you Jasper?” Helga asked.

“Yes, Mum,” Jasper said. I’ll be careful with it." Jasper’s eyes sparkled as he continued to study the knife. He carefully felt with his thumb how sharp it was.

“Jasper, will you give me that pocket knife?” Celine asked sternly.

Confused, Jasper handed the knife to his mother.

“I’ll keep it here in the kitchen for you. If you need it, just come and ask Mama Helga or me.” Celine said.

She stood up and put the knife away in the kitchen, on top of a cupboard, out of Jasper’s immediate reach.
Jasper had been dreading this. He wished he had the knife closer to him so he could experiment with it, see how sharp it was and what it could and couldn’t cut. Now he would have to come up with a really good reason why he needed that pocket knife.
The meal went on pleasantly, and an hour later Dries and his family got up to leave.

“See you tomorrow Dries, see you next week Heleen.” Jasper said goodbye.

Everyone said goodbye to each other, then Koen and Kathy’s family left and Helga and Celine’s family went in.

“Jasper, if you start getting ready for bed now and do it quickly, you’ll have time to do something else before you go to bed.” Celine said.

“OK Mum!” said Jasper and he scampered upstairs.

Celine followed quietly to help Jasper. When she got to the bathroom, Jasper was putting toothpaste on his toothbrush.

“I can’t get these overalls off Mummy, can you help me?”

“Sure Jasper, I’m glad you’re trying so hard. I’ll go to your room. When you’ve finished brushing your teeth, I’ll be waiting for you.”

Jasper did his best and brushed his teeth thoroughly. A moment later he entered the room and Celine was indeed waiting for him.

" Buckle one, hop. And buckle two, hop," she said as she undid his overalls.

“Is your nappy still dry Jasper?” she asked as she pulled the dungarees down.

“Yes Mum, it’s a new one from just before dinner,” Jasper pointed out. “I went to the toilet then.”

“Okay, okay.” Celine quickly straightened the bodysuit a bit and in the meantime she quickly felt the nappy at the front. Indeed, there was nothing to feel. She took the same pyjamas from yesterday. They were still clean enough and would be fine for a second night.
Jasper stood up and turned with his back to Celine, so she could easily pull everything up and close the zip on Jasper’s back.

“All right, you can play for half an hour and then it’s time for bed.”

“Mummy, can I play the Nintendo?” Jasper asked.

“Yes, that’s OK. Go ahead.” Celine replied.

Jasper went downstairs and started a racing game. Just as he was about to start, Gert also entered the living room.

“Come on hand over.” Gert said.

He split the Nintendo controller in half and gave one half to Jasper. So they could race together. After all the bullying from Gert over the past few weeks, Jasper had forgotten that he could be kind once in a while.
It was a nice distraction for Gert to play with Jasper from time to time.
Half an hour later, Celine came into the living room. She saw that the race was almost over. So she waited and watched for a while until Jasper and Gert had both crossed the finish line.

“Jasper, time to go to bed. Will you give your controller back to Gert?” Celine asked.

Gert decided to continue playing for a while.

“Sleep well Gert.” Jasper said as he went upstairs. Celine went upstairs and tucked Jasper in.

“Plain clothes and underwear tomorrow Jasper, OK?” Celine asked.

Jasper nodded that it was fine. It had been asked as a question, but Jasper had understood that it was an order.

“Sleep well Mummy.”

“Sleep well Jasper.”

The light went out and Celine left the room, closing the door behind her.


Chapter twelve of fourty

Saturday morning, a week later, on the weekend of Heleen’s birthday, Helga had breakfast early in the morning. She had to work that day. Jasper was also up early and sat at the table in his pyjamas. Celine had also gotten up for the fun. Gert was still in bed, he usually didn’t get up before noon on weekends.

“Jasper, here’s the CD, it still needs to be packed. Can you make a card or a drawing to add to it before we pack it?” Helga asked Jasper.

“Sure, that’s a good idea. I’ll start right after breakfast,” Jasper said. He was excited and thought about what he could do.

He ate his sandwiches quickly and considered his options. Just make a drawing with a marker or a pencil. Or try to do more, fold a page in the shape of a card and then decorate it with some stickers after drawing and colouring, …

“Mummy, can I start with the card?” Jasper asked, his mouth full of food.

“No, Jasper, sit still, eat your food before you speak and then ask again. You also have to tidy up your place, wash your hands and mouth and only when the whole kitchen table has been cleared can you start,” Celine said sternly.

Helga herself was getting ready to leave. The shop would be opening in half an hour and she needed to be there in advance in order to be able to assign tasks to the staff under her care.

“Jasper, if you have to go, I won’t be home yet. See you tomorrow and have fun at the party,” Helga said as she gave him a big kiss on the top of his head.

“See you tomorrow Mummy!” replied Jasper; this time his mouth was empty. He got up and started to tidy up his seat. Celine looked surprised. It wasn’t often that Jasper did this after asking once. Usually it was barely enough to ask three times.
Jasper decided to make a beautiful card, mixing different decorating techniques. Each technique was nice on its own, but together they made a big mess, it was a cacophony in the end and the table was a scene of disaster. Jasper spent most of the morning working on it. Folding, cutting, pasting, colouring, drawing, writing, pasting some more,…
Celine thought it was a beautiful card, a work of art in itself, but maybe she wasn’t being objective. Someone else wouldn’t find it pretty, but it was clearly the work of an eight-year-old boy who really tried to make something beautiful. For Celine, it was not just the card that counted, but the effort that went into it. Celine hoped that Heleen would not only be happy with the CD, but also be charmed by the effort that Jasper had put into the card.

“Done,” Jasper said finally, when he was satisfied.

Celine quickly scanned the card. “Put your own name on it, Jasper, then Heleen will remember who the card came from.”

“Yes, that’s right, I’ll do it right away,” Jasper said. He thought for a while and finally decided to follow up the <> with a <>.

The birthday party wasn’t until four in the afternoon. Jasper was nervous about the party and didn’t know what to do. Nothing could hold his attention for long and he flitted like a butterfly from one toy to another.

After lunch, Celine handed him a paper list. “Jasper, these are all the things you need to take with you for the night at Dries’. Put everything on your bed, thank you, I’ll check it and then put it in the travel bag.” Helga and Celine thought it was important that Jasper learned to be independent. Letting him pack himself was one way of teaching him that, but they also knew that control was necessary.

Jasper went to his room, took a pencil to mark everything down and got to work. He laid out his clothes for tonight and tomorrow, some toiletries and the present for Heleen. When he had everything together, he went to fetch Mummy Celine.

“Mummy, everything is ready,” Jasper said. “Except the nappy, is that necessary? All the other girls will be over there and they might see it.”

“Yes, all the girls will sleep there, but that will be in Heleen’s room. You will sleep alone in Dries’ room, so that will work.”

“Okay mum,” Jasper said and he opened the cupboard door and took a nappy out of the pack. “Wow, they’re pretty tight in there.” Jasper noticed when he was done with the nappy.
Jasper put the nappy with the rest of the things and Celine checked everything.

“You forgot your toothbrush and toothpaste, you can go and get them now. Everything else is fine.” Celine said after putting the list down.

Jasper rushed back and forth to the bathroom. Meanwhile, Celine took a travel bag and put it on the bed next to the clothes.

“You can put everything in here, Jasper. If you pack everything yourself, you’ll know where everything is.”

“OK, Mum, I’ll do it now.”

Jasper happily packed the travel bag with all his things. When he was done, he dragged it downstairs and placed it next to the door. This time a pillow and sleeping bag had to be added, so it was heavy and well filled.
Celine quickly checked to make sure Jasper had put everything in the travel bag. Jasper could be a scatterbrain sometimes.

“It’s OK Jasper, well done.”

Jasper’s nerves had calmed down a bit from all the packing and setting up. Once everything was in the travel bag, he took out his Playmobil and started playing with it. Eventually, Jasper was so engrossed in his toys that Celine had to go and fetch him.

“Jasper, Heleen’s going to start her party in ten minutes. Shall we go?” Celine asked.

“Yes!” Jasper exclaimed excitedly. He stormed out into the hallway and pulled on his shoes as quickly as he could.

“I’ll come with you to help you carry your bag, Jasper,” Celine said, putting her shoes on herself.
Jasper arrived at Heleen and Dries’ together with a girl Jasper didn’t know. The door was decorated with balloons and in the window was a garland with the words “Happy Birthday”.
The other girl rang the doorbell and Heleen was at the door in a moment.

“Emma, Jasper! Come in. Mila and Tess are already here. Only Olivia hasn’t arrived yet. Sarah said she would be about half-an-hour later than expected.”

Jasper had barely said goodbye to his mother, said hello to Dries, put down his travel bag and taken off his shoes when the doorbell rang again.

“Hey Olivia!” Heleen exclaimed as she opened the door.

“Ladies, young gentlemen,” Kathy interjected. Take all your things upstairs and set up your bed now so you don’t have to worry about it later. The party can’t start until everyone’s here."

The girls all took their own bags. Heleen, seeing that Jasper was having trouble lifting his travel bag, came to the rescue and carried Jasper’s travel bag into Dries’ room.
Dries immediately started unpacking. After Jasper had opened the zipper, Dries started to pull out Jasper’s sleeping bag. Dries was immediately confused and started looking for the head and foot end.
Meanwhile, Jasper continued to look in his suitcase and took out his pyjamas and pillow. He left the nappy he had with him hidden in the bag. He didn’t want the girls to see it.

“Where does it end?” asked Dries, hopelessly confused by the sleeping bag.

Jasper grabbed the sleeping bag and untied it with Dries. They laid the sleeping bag on the spare bed and Jasper continued to unpack and prepare.
While he was busy he heard the doorbell. Sarah had arrived by now.

Jasper took his toiletry bag into the bathroom. Dries had gone into the bathroom with him to continue their conversation. When they left the bathroom, the girls came in with their toiletries and also looked for a place to put them. After Tess, Mila, Olivia and Sarah had put their toiletry bag next to Jasper’s, the shelf was full and Emma looked around to see where she could put hers. She opened a few cupboards at random, looking for an empty place to put her bag.

“Here’s a pack of nappies!” Emma exclaimed in surprise as she took the half-empty pack out of the cupboard for a closer look. “Who are they for?”

Dries immediately blushed, but Heleen tried to save him. “They belong to a little nephew who stays here from time to time. It’s easier if they’re stored here,” she said quickly.

“Okay,” Emma said and bought it. Dries sighed in relief. Emma looked at Jasper.

“Are you the little cousin?” she asked him. “Are these for you?”

Now it was Jasper’s turn to blush. He had never been so embarrassed as he was now. If he was honest, he had worn some of these nappies, but he didn’t want to say that. The package was not really there for him! It was actually there for Dries. He was speechless and didn’t know how to act. Of course he couldn’t tell the truth that it was for Dries. Once again it was Heleen who saved the day.

“No, these are Tobias’,” she quickly made up a name for a non-existent nephew.

Emma put the parcel back and put her toiletry bag next to it. She left the subject to rest and the group headed for the bedroom to continue unpacking. Only Mila lingered a little longer.

When the other girls were out of earshot, she turned to Dries and Jasper. “It doesn’t matter. I have a little brother, Billy, who is nine and still wets his bed. I know you can’t help it. At our house we use the same excuse if anyone accidentally sees them.”

Mila winked at Dries and Jasper again and left after the other girls.
Lost in thought, Dries and Jasper continued to unpack Jasper’s travel bag. They had been thrown off balance by what had just happened in the bathroom. So they continued their work in silence.

“Time for presents!” Heleen called into the room.

She was quite grown up, but sometimes the little child in her could still rear its head. Everyone, inspired by her enthusiasm, quickly followed her downstairs.
One by one, Heleen opened her presents. She was happy with everything her friends had given her, and she showed it.
When Jasper took out his present, she was surprised.

“Jasper, you have a present for me too? I thought you didn’t have anything. A super big thank you!” she exclaimed happily.

She took the gift and unwrapped it.

“Yes!” she cheered at the sight of the Justin Bieber CD.

The first thing she did was put the CD on. Then she took the card that had come out of Jasper’s present and examined it closely.

“So cute, this card,” Heleen said.

It was deliberate that she didn’t say she liked the card. Jasper still lacked a lot of artistic skills, but he more than made up for it by putting a lot of time and effort into the card. She could see that Jasper had put a lot of work into it. Heleen put Jasper’s birthday card next to the other cards she had received. Heleen was touched by Jasper’s gesture. I should give Jasper something too, she thought.
Heleen enjoyed the party. From midday until now, and she was looking forward to all that was to come. She was probably having one of the best days of the year, she thought to herself.

“Pizza time!” cried Heleen. Kathy had made and rolled out the dough beforehand. The only thing left to do was for everyone to choose their own toppings. There were lots of comments about each other’s choices.

“Pineapple, you can’t put that on a pizza!” shouted one.

“No, that should be on it!” shouted the other.

It was a gentle discussion that went on for ages. The end result was that both parties agreed to disagree. Jasper also enjoyed the freedom of choice. He put ham, salami, mushrooms and every kind of cheese he could find on his pizza.

"Go play a game or something, I’ll make sure the pizzas are all done. Kathy said.

She turned on the oven and put the pizzas in the oven in pairs. When they were all baked, she popped all the pizzas in a second time so they could be served hot.

The girls went upstairs to Heleen’s bedroom. Jasper and Dries followed.
The girls had put Heleen’s mattress on the floor and arranged everyone’s mats as best they could in a big circle with their heads all in the middle. Everyone sat down on a mat. Jasper and Dries crawled somewhere in the middle.

“What are we going to do?” asked Olivia.

“Truth or dare!” Emma said immediately.

All the other girls reacted positively.

“What’s that?” Jasper asked.

“Well, we need a bottle. We turn it around and whoever the bottle points to has to choose between truth or dare. The group then gives them either a challenge or a question and they have to answer honestly.”

“Okay,” Jasper said. He was curious about the game.

“Dries, would you like to go and look for a small empty glass bottle?” asked Heleen.

Dries got up and went downstairs.

“I’m going to start spinning,” Olivia said.

Meanwhile, Emma was surfing some game websites on her mobile phone, looking up some questions and challenges. “I already found something nice,” she said, smiling as she read something on her screen.

A little later, Dries arrived with an empty bottle of soft drink.

“Here you go,” he said, handing the bottle to Olivia who held out her hand to take it.

She put the bottle on the floor, “Everyone ready?” and started to spin without waiting for an answer.

The bottle stopped in front of Sarah. “What do you choose?” asked Emma.

“‘Truth’,” Sarah said immediately.

“Here it comes,” Emma said. “What’s your weirdest habit?”

Sarah immediately blushed. She had to think for a moment. She was looking for something that was true, but wasn’t really that bad.

“When I’m walking, I never want to stand on the stripes between the paving stones. I always move my feet a little further or closer.”

Sarah spun the bottle. “Now the next one.” She was happy to move on to the next one.

This time the bottle stopped in front of Mila.

“Dare,” Mila said, looking expectantly at Emma.

“Play air guitar!” she shouted.

Heleen found a nice CD and put it on. Mila immediately gave her best.
So the game began with the usual questions and tasks:
Sing a familiar song, brush your neighbour’s teeth, eat a spoonful of mustard. Read out loud the last message on your mobile phone, show the last photo you sent. Which teacher do you hate the most? Which famous singer would you like to be photographed with? Do you sing in the shower? Have you ever cried during a film? Turn around ten times and walk in a straight line. Read aloud from a book for one minute, keeping your tongue out of your mouth.
As time went on, the tasks got stranger and the questions more personal.
Hold your head under a jet of icy water for 20 seconds, put on the clothes of the person sitting next to you, let four ice cubes melt on your stomach. Call the Quick and ask if you can buy a Big Mac. What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done? Have you ever kissed someone? Have you ever secretly watched someone change their clothes? Have you ever had lice? Put on ten pairs of underpants at once. Wear everyone’s socks in the room. Put all your clothes on backwards and inside out.
The game went on and on and there was a good atmosphere in the room. Everyone enjoyed it. They laughed with each other, at each other and at themselves.
Moments later, the bottle pointed at Jasper again.

“Dare,” Jasper said immediately.

He’d recently confessed to pouring salt on a snail and didn’t want to reveal any more secrets he’d rather keep to himself.

Emma scrolled through the list on her mobile phone to see if she could find another nice challenge. “I can’t find anything right now,” she muttered to herself. Suddenly her eyes twinkled.

“Get someone in this room to put you in a nappy!”

They all looked at Jasper expectantly. Jasper couldn’t refuse. No one had ever turned down a Truth or Dare before and every girl was looking at Jasper too eagerly. He felt that if he refused, he would ruin the good atmosphere and Heleen’s party.
Jasper looked carefully around the circle and considered his options. Who could he choose? Dries was his best friend, but it felt too strange to ask him. And he didn’t know enough about Heleen’s friends. Jasper’s eyes rested on Heleen. At least Heleen knew how things were, Jasper thought, and she always took such good care of him.

“Heleen?” Jasper asked cautiously.

Heleen smiled and nodded. Five other girls looked disappointed, they were all looking forward to nappying a cute little boy.
Dries was relieved, glad he hadn’t been given the challenge and glad he didn’t have to put Jasper’s nappy on, but he felt sorry for Jasper.
Everyone thought it was a fun dare. Except for Jasper and Heleen, who were a bit embarrassed.

“You can change in Dries’ room,” Tess suggested.

Jasper and Heleen nodded with relief. That actually made it a lot safer and easier.

Jasper went into Dries’ bedroom and waited for Heleen. Heleen had gone into the bathroom to get a nappy out of the box.

“Is it okay if I put this on you?” Heleen asked carefully. She didn’t want to embarrass or upset Jasper.

“If it’s okay with you,” Jasper said. “I don’t want to be difficult, after all it’s your party.”

“Then let’s get started,” Heleen said, taking some encouragement from Jasper’s answer.

Heleen found this task exciting and of course she knew the real reason why there were nappies in the house. She had always enjoyed mothering Jasper a little, and this was, of course, the climax. She had secretly dreamed of putting a nappy on Jasper and now that dream was about to come true.
Jasper, on the other hand, was relieved that he had been allowed to choose Heleen. He dreaded to think what it would have been like if he hadn’t been able to choose and it had been one of the other girls.
Heleen did her best and took her time to put the nappy on Jasper as well as she could. When she was finished, she pulled the trousers up again and took Jasper to her room where everyone was waiting.

“Look, here’s Jasper,” she said, pulling down Jasper’s trousers just enough for everyone to see the top of the nappy. “And here are his underpants, so he’s not wearing them under his nappy.”

Heleen held the underpants up in the air as proof.

“It’s cool that you dared to do that,” Emma said. “I didn’t expect you to. Up to you to spin the bottle, Jasper.”

Jasper was pleased with the positive reassurance he had received. In the end, Heleen had really done her best to make it right, and no one had said a bad word about it. There was a very nice atmosphere in Heleen’s room.
This time the bottle was pointing at Emma herself.
Keep playing with your hands tied! Sarah had the next suggestion. Emma willingly obliged, her hands crossed in front of her. Olivia tied a knot with a piece of rope and Emma tried to free herself, then proved unable to untie the knot herself.

“Dinner time!” Kathy called from the kitchen.

Giggling, they all went downstairs and into the kitchen.
When Kathy first heard everyone laughing downstairs and then saw them all appear, she laughed too.

“What have you been up to?” She looked quickly past all the children and immediately saw a number of things. She saw that Emma’s hands were tied together, Dries’ hair was wet, Heleen had toothpaste hanging out of her mouth, Sarah had all her clothes on backwards. All barefoot except Tess, who couldn’t walk easily because of all the stockings she was wearing. Kathy also noticed that Jasper was in a nappy.

“Jasper?” she asked quietly a moment later in private, not wanting to draw everyone’s attention to him.

“We were playing truth or dare. That’s why I had to put this on.”

Kathy smiled. “That’s very daring,” she whispered to Jasper. Jasper smiled at the compliment. Kathy took a quick look at the nappy and adjusted the tapes a little.

The pizzas were all pre-cut and laid out on the table. First they all sang for Helen’s fourteenth birthday and then the pizzas were eaten. Emma struggled a bit with her hands tied. She spilled one bite after another.
Everyone swapped pieces of pizza with each other to taste each other’s combinations and express approval and disapproval.
In addition to the pizzas, there were plenty of soft drinks and Jasper was certainly getting a lot of them.
In the end, everyone was happy and the table was cleared. Emma’s hands were also loosened, Sarah straightened her clothes and Tess gave everyone their stockings back.
Full of anticipation, Jasper and Dries sat down in the front row to watch the film.

“Jasper, get your thumb out of your mouth,” Koen said as he struggled with his laptop and cables. Koen had borrowed a projector and screen from work specially for tonight. Concerned, the boys watched the first scenes. A certain Maria is sent from the abbey by the Mother Superior as a governess to an army captain. She has to look after seven children: Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta and Gretl. Jasper and Dries did not find the film interesting at all, especially when the singing in the film became too much for them.
Bored with the song ‘sixteen going on seventeen’, the boys went up to their room to play, leaving the girls and their film behind. Kathy was waiting for them upstairs.

“I’m glad you came. I almost wanted to get you. It’s time for you to go to bed.”

“But we’re not tired yet, Mum!” Dries protested.

“I know, but it’s time.” Kathy said. “It’s already an hour later than usual.”

She sat down on the bed, gently pulled Jasper closer so that he was standing nicely in front of her, and began to undress him.

“Dries, are you going to go to the toilet and brush your teeth?” Kathy asked. Dries felt unable to protest when he saw how obediently Jasper was getting undressed.
Jasper was tired from the day. He had gotten up early, spent the whole morning working on his birthday card, concentrating hard the whole time. And in the afternoon he had been physically busy at home with the nerves before the party.

“You’ve used the nappy already?” Kathy remarked.

“Yes,” said Jasper. “I had to go badly during the film and I was wearing the nappy anyway. I didn’t want to disturb the others by getting up”.

“And you got used to wearing and using a nappy after last week?”

“Yes, that’s true,” Jasper admitted.

“The nappy was well put on. Did you do it yourself?”

“No, I had to have the nappy put on by someone else in the room and I chose Heleen; she put my nappy on.”

“OK,” Kathy said. “She did a pretty good job, she already has been observing a lot when I was putting Dries in a nappy and a couple of times you in a nappy.” Kathy was happy to know that Heleen was capable of doing it.

Kathy removed the dirty nappy and took Jasper to the bathroom to freshen him up. The evening routine continued smoothly. In the end, both Dries in nappy, bodysuit and onesie and Jasper, also in a clean nappy, a borrowed romper and regular pyjamas, were in bed.
Kathy took the time to read to both boys.

“Jasper, take your thumb out of your mouth.” Kathy said as she opened the book and before she started.

She continued reading from the book about the thirteen-storey tree house where Heleen had stopped last time.
Jasper listened and took his thumb out of his mouth. He knew it was a bad habit, but he couldn’t help it; it felt so nice and familiar.

Heleen and her friends were lying in a circle on the mattresses in her room. They talked about the afternoon and the evening. They talked again about the toppings on the pizza, about the film, they hummed the song ‘do-re-mi’ together. The game of Truth or Dare was discussed again. About how funny it was to see Tess walking around with all those stockings on. How badly Olivia had done brushing Heleen’s teeth. They also talked about the sounds Dries made when he poured cold water over his head. The most hated and then most loved teachers of all the girls were also discussed in detail this time. Finally, they spoke about the nappy Jasper wore.

I really didn’t think Jasper would dare do that," Emma said.

“Jasper is really a tough guy, he dares a lot,” said Heleen. “But he’s also so sweet and cute.”

The girls all agreed. “He looked adorable,” said Olivia.

“And that you had to put the nappy on him. Wasn’t that difficult?” Mila asked.

“Not really, I used to do that with dolls when I was younger. Jasper is just much bigger than a doll, but at least he cooperated.”

“I used to have a doll that could talk and pee,” Sarah said.

And so the conversation continued about the toys they used to have and play with when they were younger and playing a lot.

Later in the evening, when the girls were finally quiet in their room and Koen and Kathy were getting ready to go to sleep, Koen looked in Dries’ room to see how the boys were doing.

“Look at Jasper,” he whispered to Kathy.

Kathy sneaked into the room and saw Jasper lying there. Breathing heavily, he was sleeping on his stomach. He was lying on the edge of the bed. The sleeping bag was hanging on the floor with both of his legs and one arm was hanging in the air over the edge.

“We’d better put him back in the middle so he doesn’t fall out.” Kathy whispered to Koen.

Without waking Jasper, Koen carefully moved him back to the middle of the bed. After leaving the room, he took a chair and placed it in front of the door. He wanted to avoid another disastrous fall from the stairs in the middle of the night.


Chapter thirteen of fourty

Somewhere around two o’clock at night it happened anyway. There was a ‘thump’ from Dries’ room, followed immediately by an ‘ouch’.

Kathy woke up at the sound and jumped out of bed to find out where it was coming from. With all the different children in the house, she was easily roused. Standing quietly in the hallway, she listened first at Dries’ bedroom door to see if she could hear anything. A soft murmur came through the door and Kathy went in to investigate.
She saw Jasper sitting next to his bed, rubbing his shoulder. He was talking softly to himself, venting his frustration.

“Jasper, are you OK?” Kathy asked quietly so as not to wake Dries.

Jasper was moody. He was exhausted and being woken up by falling out of bed was anything but a pleasant experience.
“Of course I am, I’m down here for fun,” was his sharp reply.

Kathy was shocked by this response. She was not used to this kind of reaction from Jasper.
Surprised, Kathy didn’t know what to say.

“Jasper, you can be upset about falling out of bed, but I can’t help it. It’s not my fault,” Kathy replied sternly after a short pause to consider her answer.

Jasper realised that his answer had been very inappropriate. He immediately felt bad about saying something like that to Kathy, who was always there for him when he needed her. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly, questioningly. He hoped he could make it up to her.

“I’m glad you apologised, Jasper.” Kathy said, still softly so as not to wake Dries. She stepped further into the room and switched on the flashlight on her mobile phone. “Can you show me where it hurts?” Kathy asked as she helped Jasper back onto the bed.

Jasper pointed to his shoulder and his tailbone. Kathy put the phone down so she had some light and used her hands to pull Jasper’s clothes open to inspect his shoulder and coccyx.

“It’s a bit red, but it doesn’t look too bad. Go on and try and get some sleep.”

Jasper lay down in bed, tired and in a bad mood from the sudden awakening. He also needed to go to the toilet, but he didn’t feel like it right now. “Screw it,” he thought. So Jasper let Kathy leave without saying anything. He lay flat on his back and relaxed his bladder. He felt his pee run down between his legs and be absorbed by the nappy.
Jasper then rolled over onto his side and tried to go back to sleep.

“Jasper, wake up! I am dry!” said Dries exuberantly.

Jasper struggled to wake up, it was still too early for him after the short and disturbed night. “What is it? What do you mean?”

“I didn’t wet the bed last night, my nappy is still dry.” Dries said very happily.

A small smile appeared on Jasper’s face. He was happy for Dries. “That’s good for you. So you won’t wet the bed anymore?” asked Jasper curiously.

Dries’ face fell immediately. “No, it doesn’t all go away at once,” he said disappointed. “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and my nappy is still dry. I had that happen too three weeks ago. But after that I was wet every night. I hope the dry nights will come more and more”.

“OK, I didn’t know that,” Jasper mumbled.

“Now I’m going to the toilet,” Dries whispered and he got up from the bed, went to the bathroom to take off his nappy and then went to the toilet.
Jasper was still tired from the interrupted night and the late time of going to sleep. He lay down again to sleep a little longer.

When Dries came back into the room, he spoke to Jasper. “Jasper, do you want to play?”

Jasper shook his head. He was tired and wanted to try and get some sleep. Jasper closed his eyes and tried to ignore Dries’ playing.
Dries saw that Jasper didn’t want to play yet and started to play on his own. He tried to be quiet, but he couldn’t.
Jasper woke up more and more. Sleeping was out of the question. First he listened to Dries’ game, a little later his eyes were more open than closed and he followed the story Dries was playing. A little later Jasper was playing side by side with Dries.
Jasper also had to go to the toilet. But now he was absorbed in the game with Dries and let everything run in his already damp nappy.

“Good morning Dries, good morning Jasper.” Koen came into the room. He had heard the boys playing and had come to see how they were doing.

“Good morning,” came the reply from Dries. Jasper looked up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

“Daddy, I was dry last night, I didn’t wet the bed!” Dries called out to his father.

“That’s good, my boy. I hope you can do the same tomorrow.” Dries nodded happily.
“Do you still have your nappy on, Jasper?” asked Koen, seeing Jasper’s swollen bottom. Jasper nodded yes.

“We’ll get dressed and then go to the bakery to get some pastries.”

“Mmm, I love croissants and those sweet pastries,” Dries said.
Dries darted into his wardrobe to find something to wear. Jasper stood up and looked around for a moment, not knowing how to proceed himself.

“Will you come with me Jasper? We are going to the bathroom to take off your nappy and freshen you up a bit,” Koen said.

Jasper nodded, happy that it had been decided for him how and what, and went with him to the bathroom.
Koen knelt down to help Jasper undress. T-shirt off, trousers off, romper off and nappy off.

“It’s soaked,” Koen remarked. For Jasper it was the first time that Koen had helped him instead of Kathy. Jasper noticed that Koen could do everything just as well, except that he washed and dried a little harder and rougher.

“So, that’s all done,” Koen said when Jasper was completely refreshed. "Here, take your pyjamas to stow them away and get dressed quickly in your room.
Jasper hurried down the hall back to Dries’ room and dived into his travel bag to put on the clothes he had brought from home yesterday and to tidy up his dirty pyjamas.

Once Jasper and Dries were fully dressed, they went to the bakery for breakfast. It was Koen’s strategy to take the two boys with him to give everyone else an extra half hour’s rest at home. Dries and Jasper were lucky enough to be able to choose for themselves. At the bakery, Jasper chose a pastry with almond filling, which he really liked. Dries chose a croissant with chocolate filling. Koen added a mixture of pastries until he had enough for the whole company at home.

Back at home, Koen started preparing breakfast with Jasper and Dries. They did their best to make it a special breakfast for Heleen; eggs were boiled, fresh fruit juice was squeezed. Bread was baked in the oven, along with pastries from the bakery. Finally, a large selection of toppings was laid out on the table.
While the water for the tea was boiling and the coffee was finished, the rest of the guests trickled into the kitchen. Everyone took a seat at the table and had a drink while they waited for the last one to show up.
They wished each other ‘bon appetit’ and the delicious breakfast began.

“Where’s my pastry?” Jasper exclaimed indignantly halfway through the meal. “I chose a very special one!” Jasper looked around the table and saw that Tess was holding it in her hand and had already eaten half of it.

“No!” Jasper’s eyes filled with tears of frustration. He had been looking forward to eating this delicious pastry.

Angrily, he pushed his chair away from the table and fled upstairs to Dries’ room.
Everyone looked surprised at Jasper’s outburst.

Kathy stood up to follow Jasper. “Don’t mind Tess, Jasper hasn’t slept much and he’s overreacting a bit.”

Kathy found Jasper in Dries’ room. Jasper was lying on the guest bed with his thumb in his mouth.

“It’s not fair,” he mumbled as Kathy sat down next to Jasper and put a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“I understand you don’t like it Jasper, but it’s unfair to be angry at Tess. She didn’t know, you didn’t tell anyone at the table that you had picked it out especially for you.”

Jasper was sulkily silent. He realised that Kathy was right and that he was overreacting, but the anger was boiling deep inside. What Jasper didn’t realise was that his emotions were heightened by his tiredness.

“I’m going to leave you here for a while to recover. When you feel better, you can come down.” Kathy said.

“I hate this, all the falling out of bed and waking up from it again. I used to do that a lot at home too,” Jasper blurted out.

“I understand it’s not nice.” Kathy said. She gave Jasper another hug and then left him upstairs in the room to continue to calm down.
Jasper stayed in his room for the rest of the morning. He played alone at first, and when Dries had finished eating and had come upstairs too, he played together with Dries. Jasper heard the doorbell ring several times and heard Heleen saying goodbye to her friends at short intervals. The birthday party was clearly over.
Heleen finally came up to look for Jasper and Dries.

"Hello Jasper, I had to say goodbye to you from everyone. And I had to come and tell you that your mum is having coffee with my mum downstairs and that you have to leave after that too.

“Jasper had a hard time this morning,” Kathy began to tell Helga.

Kathy, Koen and Helga had all sat down at the kitchen table. Kathy had a big mug of coffee in front of her and took a bite of a chocolate croissant that was left over.
The kitchen had not been completely tidied up after the party and there was still a bit of mess here and there. A napkin that was still lying around, a few plates and some cutlery that had been set aside because they could not be put in the already full dishwasher.

“Oh, how come?” Helga asked worriedly.

"He didn’t go to bed until late last night because of the party, and then he fell out of bed again last night, which woke him up in the middle of the night. This morning it was obvious that he was still tired. He was slightly out of shape.

"It’s unfortunate that he fell out of bed again. I thought it had stopped. Helga said. "Until last year we had a bed barrier in his room that he slept with. We took that away last year and we’ve had almost no problems since.

“It is remarkable that he has fallen out of bed here twice in a row,” Koen said.

Helga agreed. "It is indeed remarkable. I think it’s because he’s in a different room and in a different bed. "

“Do you still have that bed barrier?” Koen asked. “Especially for when we take him on holiday, it seems handy for there and on the way.”

“Yes, we still have it, it’s in the attic, but it’s too big to get into the car in one piece. You can’t fold it up or take it apart easily”.

“That’s a pity,” said Koen. “We’ll have to figure out something else.”
Lost in thought, they all continued to enjoy their coffee.

“Bye Heleen, bye Dries. Goodbye everyone.” Jasper said as he got ready to leave with his travel bag.

“Thanks for the present and the card Jasper. I really thought it was fantastic,” Heleen said. “I’ll pick something nice for you too.”

“Thank you,” Jasper said in surprise. He looked happily back at Heleen and Dries as they waved goodbye.

Helga took the bull by the horns and came over that afternoon with the wooden bed guard they still had at home. It was almost as long as his bed and had a big piece of wood to slide under the mattress.
Jasper had stayed at home in front of the television to fight his tiredness.

“Oops, that will indeed not fit easily in the car with the rest of the luggage,” said Koen, who understood where the problem lay. Koen took the bed rail and put it temporarily in the hall. He would find a place for it later, when Helga was gone. It could still be used the next time Jasper stayed over.
Kathy poured Helga a cup of tea and the three of them went out onto the terrace.

“It’s practical for here at home, but if he falls out of bed like this we’re going to have a problem when we travel.” Kathy said. “Did he used to do that a lot?”

"Yes, that’s why we kept the bed barrier for so long. We’d try to take it off almost every month for a long time, but every time we’d remove it, he’d fall out of bed the first or second night. Until about last year, when suddenly it wasn’t needed anymore.

“And since then he has never fallen out of bed?” asked Koen.

“It still happened occasionally. Now that I think back, I think it was always when he had a lot of positive or negative stress or emotions: the first days of school, before his birthday, the night when St Nicholas* comes to bring presents, when Gert bullied him. It also happened a few times when we were travelling”. Helga told them.

(*Saint Nicolas, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas)

“So there’s a good chance that he’ll fall out of bed again the next time he sleeps here and every night when we travel?” asked Koen.

“Well, now that I think about it, yes, there is a high chance. He can toss and turn in his bed in his sleep so much that he’s out of the covers and on the floor an instant later,” Kathy admitted.

Koen took out his mobile phone and searched for something on the internet. “Surely there must be bed rails that are smaller or foldable,” he muttered to no one in particular.
He quickly came up with a few promising models, all folding or retractable. At first glance, they seemed manageable enough to take along in a suitcase when travelling. His frustration grew when he read everywhere in the specifications that they were up to five years old.

“It’s impossible to find something small enough to carry, but sturdy enough to use and affordable,” he said frustratedly as he searched the internet on his phone.

Kathy and Helga had been watching and nodded in agreement.

“And waking up every night won’t do us or Jasper any good. We have to find another solution.”

Kathy and Helga agreed with Koen, and a little later the three of them were busy on their own mobile phones, keeping each other updated on their search.

“Here’s an idea, roll up some towels and put them on the side of the mattress,” Kathy said.

“We’ve tried that, but he lies on them first, then pushes them flat, and later he’s out again.” Helga said.

“They also talk about an inflatable roll and special pillows for the edge of the bed,” Koen said.

“Wow, but they are not that great. Those inflatable rolls can still leak air and flatten out, and those side cushions sometimes slide too easily,” Koen continued, reading the reviews.

Focused on finding a solution, they all continued to work in silence.

Frustrated, Koen put down his mobile phone. “I just take a rope, put Jasper on a mattress, make a roll of the mattress and tie the roll. Then he can roll out of bed, but he can continue to sleep in his mattress roll.”

“Or you can hang him by his armpits over the coat rack in the hall. Then he’s stuck too,” said Helga, who had understood that Koen wasn’t serious, but wanted to channel his frustration in an entertaining way.

Kathy suddenly had an idea. “At my place of work they have a special kind of belt to make sure that the children cannot get out of their beds. Shall I ask the nursing staff about that?” she asked.

Helga looked doubtful. “I don’t know,” she said honestly. “It says everywhere that you are not allowed to tie children to their beds. That they can suffocate in the cords or get their mouths wrongly positioned on a pillow.”

"But that’s for babies who can’t look after themselves. Jasper could speak up if he’s in trouble. And if they do it in our institution, it will be safe. I can always ask.

“You can ask, but I want either myself or Celine to get the explanation as well and Jasper also must agree.” Helga said.

“That goes without saying.” Kathy replied. “Tomorrow at work I will try to talk to one of the nurses about it.”

At home, Helga sat down next to Jasper. “Jasper, I’ve spoken to Koen and Kathy,” she opened the conversation.

“Yes?” Jasper looked up at Helga questioningly.

"They’ve been working hard to find a way for you not to fall out of bed at night. Everyone has noticed that you are still terribly tired in the mornings and easily out of sorts. And there is also a risk that you will hurt yourself badly if you fall badly.

“I don’t get out of my mood easily!” Jasper shot violently.

Helga didn’t answer, but looked at Jasper meaningfully.
Jasper looked up at Helga in surprise and then realised what he had just said and in what way. He was ashamed.

“Sorry Mum.”

“It doesn’t matter, Jasper. But now you understand what we mean.” Helga paused for a moment to let it all sink in. “So Kathy, Koen and I have been thinking,” Helga continued. “I brought your old bed rail over there for their house. Is that okay?”

Jasper knew immediately what she meant. “Yes, that used to help a lot.”

“Another thing they suggested is that you try a special belt that helps to keep you in bed. It’s hard to explain but you can still lie on your side but you can’t roll out again.”

Jasper looked doubtful. “Will I really be stuck in bed? What if I have to get out? I don’t like the idea,” Jasper said worriedly.

“I think there is a solution for that.” Helga reassured Jasper. “Kathy will ask about it at work and when she knows more she will give us an explanation. Nothing has been decided yet. Is that good?”

Reassured by the calm Helga radiated, Jasper nodded that it was fine.


Chapter fourteen, Dries is ill

A few days later, Celine received a phone call in the morning.

“Good morning Celine. I need your help, Dries is ill and Koen and I both have to work. Are you or Helga at home today and can Dries stay with you?” Kathy asked.

“No problem, I suppose.” Celine thought for a moment. She had actually planned to make a few visits to the shops, to buy a few things that were not for sale in the shop where Helga worked, but nothing really urgent. Kathy waited patiently on the phone for a moment, knowing that a sick child could disrupt a whole day’s schedule.

“Yes, that should work. I’m off to school with Jasper in ten minutes and back home in half an hour. Can you wait that long?” Celine asked.

“Sure, you’re my hero for today.” Kathy replied with relief. She didn’t know what else to do.

“Mummy, who was that on the phone?” Jasper asked curiously, having heard his name. “Who’s coming in half an hour?”

“Dries is sick and he is coming here today to rest, Jasper.” Celine said.

“Pfff, and too little to look after himself,” Gert interrupted.

“Gert, where are your brains. At eight years old and sick, staying home alone for a whole day?” asked Celine irritated.

Gert winced. His mother was right again. Silently, he looked at his plate and continued to eat.

“It’s a shame that Dries is ill,” Jasper said. He was disappointed because Dries wouldn’t be at school today. Jasper always had a great time with Dries. The last time he had been away from school, Jasper had felt lonely all day. He was very bored during playtime. Jasper stayed as long as he could, hoping to see Dries at home before he left for school. However, Celine blocked Jasper’s behaviour as best she could and in the end they did indeed leave for school within ten minutes.

With a “Gert, are you hurrying too? It’s time for you to go, too,” she reminded him, urging him to get on his bike so as not to be late himself.

“I hope I see Dries after school.” Jasper said as he walked beside his mother on the way to school.

“I don’t know, we’ll see Jasper.” Celine replied. “Have fun at school,” she wished after him as Jasper headed through the school gates.

The moment Celine returned from dropping Jasper off at school and put the key in the lock of the front door, Kathy parked her car.

“Thank you, Celine. You are my saving angel today,” she said as she opened the door.

Kathy got out of the car and opened the door to the second row of seats behind her. She lifted Dries out of the car. He looked pale as a ghost; completely lifeless, he let his mother help him out of the car.

“I’ve just freshened him up, but he told me he wanted to sleep a bit more. That’s why I put his pyjamas back on. I put a nappy on him just to be safe in case he does actually sleep later,” Kathy said.
Kathy picked up Dries and carried him into the house after Celine. You can put him on the couch. Celine said.

Kathy put Dries down in front of the couch and he immediately lay down.

“I’ll just get his things.” Kathy said as she rushed to the car to get a bag. “I put everything in quickly, I hope I didn’t forget anything,” she said as she handed the bag to Celine.

“I just gave him some medicine for the fever, which can be repeated this afternoon if necessary. It’s in the bag. I also brought a fever thermometer, one for inside the bottom, another nappy, a set of clothes for when he feels better, and his book he was reading yesterday.”

“A thermometer for the bottom?” asked Celine in surprise. “We haven’t used that here for years.”

“Yes, I understand that, but Dries is used to it and it actually gives the most correct reading, as they always say at work.”

Celine nodded that she understood. “It’ll be fine, he can recover here and you can go to work without worrying. If there’s a problem, I’ll call,” she reassured Kathy.

“Thanks, I’ll go to work now, I’m already fifteen minutes late.” Kathy said as she got into her car and drove off.

Celine closed the door and walked back to Dries, sitting down next to him and putting her hand on his forehead.
Dries looked up at Celine with feverish eyes.

“I’m going to make you some soup and a biscuit; I’ll put it here on the table next to you if you fancy it. If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen. Okay?” Celine asked.

She felt with her hand that Dries was way too warm. The fever will be very high indeed. Celine stood up and got a blanket ready. She looked down at Dries in his pyjamas. He was wearing a onesie with a zip at the back. The special thing about this onesie was that it also had feet attached to it.
It all looked very comfortable to Celine. She understood that this was the ideal garment for a sick day. She took the blanket and spread it over Dries, then left him alone. Then she heated some soup, took a stuffed animal from Jasper and gave it to Dries. While she was bringing the hot soup and the biscuit to Dries, she noticed that he had fallen asleep in the meantime. Carefully, so as not to wake him, she put the food on a small table next to the couch.
She quietly left the living room and went into the kitchen to text Kathy to let her know how Dries was doing.
Celine stayed in the kitchen until lunchtime, working on her computer. She stopped working when she heard the sound of Dries stirring in the sofa in the living room. He was clearly waking up. Celine saved her work, shut down the computer, closed the screen and went to see how Dries was doing.

“Hello,” Dries said weakly when he saw Celine coming. He held Jasper’s toy and sat up.

“Good afternoon.” Celine said with a friendly smile. “How are you feeling?”

"‘Miserable’ was Dries’ short but correct answer.

Celine sat down next to Dries and felt his forehead. “Probably still pretty feverish. I think I can fry an egg on your cheeks.”

Dries laughed a little at Celine’s joke.

“What do we do first. Take your temperature first and then give you some medicine? Or do you want to eat first?” Celine asked.

“Fever and medicine first. I’m not really hungry.”

Celine nodded that she understood. With Dries still sitting on the couch, Celine took the zip on his back and pulled it down. She grabbed the sleeves of the onesie, pulled and the top was off.

“Lie down and make a bridge. Then I can take the onesie off.”

Dries turned over and lay on his back as Celine pulled the onesie further down until the feet were completely out.

“It looks very comfy,” Celine said.

“Yes, I like to wear it when it’s cold or when I don’t feel well.” Dries said.

Celine continued, opening Dries’ romper and then the wet nappy.

“First your fever.” Celine said as she turned on the thermometer and then carefully inserted it. Soon the thermometer signalled that it had finished reading and Celine took it out again. “39.4°C - 102.9°F,” she read on the screen. Curious to see if there was a difference with another thermometer, she grabbed the infrared forehead thermometer they always used.

“I want to compare with our thermometer, Dries,” she said, and took several readings with the forehead thermometer. The highest temperature she measured was 38.5°C, 101.3°F.

“The rectal thermometer really does seem to be more accurate.” Celine commented.

She fetched a washcloth and freshened up Dries. “What are you doing this afternoon. Get dressed or get back in your pyjamas and go back to sleep?”

“Rest a bit first?” Dries asked.

“Yes, that is good. Then we’ll put your onesie back on.” Celine said and helped Dries to put a fresh nappy, romper and onesie back on. She pulled the zip back and gave Dries a hug.

Celine looked in Dries’ bag and found some fever-reducing syrup. She was glad to see that Kathy had written on the box how many millilitres Dries needed.
After Dries had taken the syrup, he leaned against Celine in the sofa for a while. Slowly the medicine began to work, and a little later Dries began to feel a little better. Celine sensed that there was a little more life in Dries and suggested again that they have a little meal together.
This time Dries agreed and they went into the kitchen to eat. Dries drank a cup of soup and ate the two biscuits first, then an extra sandwich with chocolate. After dinner Dries, already tired from this little effort, went back to the couch in the living room. Celine followed and saw that Dries was too tired to do anything, but also too awake to sleep. Celine picked up a DVD and showed it to Dries. “Is this good?” she suggested. Dries nodded that it was fine and Celine put the DVD on. Then she left Dries alone in the living room and went back to the kitchen to clear up the dishes from lunch.
When Celine was done, she picked up a book and sat down on the other couch. Meanwhile, Dries was stretched out again in the coach and there was no room for Celine. The first film became a second, and when school was out she saw that Dries was asleep again. Quietly, she went outside to pick up Jasper from school. She had left a note next to Dries telling him that she was going to pick up Jasper.

“Dries, are you all right?” A worried Jasper came into the living room. Jasper hadn’t taken the time to put his things away.

Celine immediately called Jasper to order, “Jasper, you know what to do first!”

Jasper retraced his steps and resumed the usual routine he always did when he came home. Jasper worked quickly and as soon as he could, he sat down next to Dries. But before Jasper could talk to Dries, the doorbell rang and Koen was ready to take Dries home.

“Hello everyone!” he said friendly. It was only for a short while before Koen left again. He had made an appointment for Dries to see the doctor and they went home first to freshen Dries up. For the rest of the week, Koen and Kathy could take turns taking days off and hopefully Dries would be better next week.

“Before I forget,” said Koen. “I had to let you know that Kathy is working on Saturday and that Jasper should visit her at work to see if we can use these straps to prevent Jasper from falling out of bed. She can take a break in the afternoon and there is a colleague who would be happy to explain and show her everything”.

“OK, that’s fine. We’ll be there on Saturday.” Celine confirmed.


this is by far my favorite story ive read to date!!!