In first grade I peed my pants every day. Every single day. For many months. Along with my lunch and my homework, my mother would also pack an extra set of underpants and an extra set of shorts in my back-pack. Every day. And every day I got the talk about how I should go to the bathroom when I needed to go and not wait until the last minute and every day I would try, but every day I would fail.
Thankfully I was spared from most ridicule because I went to catholic school and wore a polyester jumper with a big pleated skirt, so all the unmentionables happened out of eye sight. The only people who took notice were the teachers who thought I had some sort of… deficiency … and my parents who were mostly bewildered.
I come from a long line of ladies who pee their pants. My mom and my uncle talk about making my grandmother laugh until she peed as a sort of victory. I can get my mom going with a funny story or two and I can hear it in her laugh when I’ve gotten her to the point of tinkling. And the first time Kamel made me pee my pants was when I wanted a pair of slippers one morning while visiting him, and when he fetched them from the closet they had darth vador heads on the toes. I totally peed.
It’s not only laughing that makes me pee… it’s also stubbornness (as was the case in 1st grade. You’ll see why later). One time, at day camp (I must have been about 9?), we had lunch in one of the many little parks all around Seattle. The only bathroom available was an out-house back in the woods and this was totally unacceptable for my dainty rear. I refused (despite the counselors warning that we were going to the beach and their would be NO OTHER BATHROOMS) to use it, but while walking the next few blocks to the beach I realized this decision was probably a mistake. Once we arrived at our beach destination I was forced to hobble around in bladder agony, trying to hide the fact from everyone around me that wow, I really had to go. Eventually I whined to an adult-in-charge and they told me to pee around the corner of a large cement wall, so that no one could see. But I had never squatted before and I was very young and no one was helping me … so what happened? I peed all over myself. Of course. All over my shorts, all down my legs and into my shoes. So instead of feeling total relief (ok there was some relief) I most felt sticky, and ashamed.
Then… fast forward to 6th grade. I’m practically a grown-up by now. And we’re on our 6th grade camping trip the school thinks will be so very educational. Yay outdoorsy shit! To get to this place we had to take a very long bus ride (how long, I do not know. It started early in the morning and ended around 2… so possibly 6-8 hours). We stopped along the way to eat but I, of course, did not pee because the facilities were not up to my noble standards. When we got to the camp we were told to unload our stuff and we were headed straight out on a hike. Isn’t this fun? At this point I really really really had to go (Really, are you surprised?) But, I sucked it up and headed out into the wilderness. We saw giant trees, and ferns, and all kinds of different moss, but all I could think was pee pee pee pee pee pee pee pee. Until – and this is by far the weirdest sensation – even though I was using all of the muscles in my body not to leak all over the woods, pee just came out, and once it started it could not be stopped. My teacher was mildly horrified and let me walk in the back of the line so that no one would really be able to tell how wet I was. The worst part about the whole thing – a few minutes later I totally peed AGAIN. I guess once the pipe breaks (at least for a little while) it’s kind of just… broken. Womp.
So yes. In first grade I peed my pants A. Lot. Once 8th grade started I pretty much stopped, unless you got me really laughing (as Kamel often does) and then maybe a little leaks out. Count that as a personal victory if you ever get me to do it. But first grade me was very confused as to why this all was happening. It wasn’t because I was laughing, it wasn’t because I had some sort of childhood trauma, it certainly wasn’t for attention. And my parents were trying to fix the problem, but nothing was working. Until finally my mother came up with the brilliant plan to ask me about my bathroom practices.
“Lauren, do you go to the bathroom right after lunch?”
“Why? Even if you don’t feel like you have to, you need to go… every day… after lunch, before recess.”
“But I can’t!!”
“Yes you can, honey. Why don’t you think you can? You need to.”
“Because then I won’t get the jump rope at recess! There’s only one pink jump rope and if I don’t run out right away someone else will take it.”
“Lauren… we can BUY you a jump rope!”