Laura on Life: The perfect record that isn’t so perfect

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 23, 2011

After age five, 15 percent of all children still wet the bed at night. This percentage decreases as these children age until it is the same as the chances of your child winning a gold medal in the Olympics.
If bedwetting were an Olympic event, I would be the proud mom of a gold medalist.
My child is good at so many things. He has a bright, intelligent mind, a loving heart, and a beautiful smileÖ and he has never had a dry night in his life.
As a mother, I donít want to focus on something that many consider to be a negative trait. I try not to focus on the sheets and blankets that need to be washed every day, the millions of pull-ups I have had to buy, the smell that has imbedded itself into the very walls of my house.
Really, there is so much more to this wonderful child than the leakage that occurs in his bedroom each night. A loving parent will try to deal with the situation with as less stress as possible to the child. After all, it is not his fault.
It does take a toll on the parent, though.
There is the psychological damage of thinking that Iím a lousy mother because I canít seem to ěfixî this issue for him. My other four children were potty-trained through the night from the age of three. And although potty-training could not be considered the highlight of oneís life, there is that one moment with each success that you feel the world bowing in deference to this major accomplishment.
Something tells me that when victory finally comes to me and the last of my brood, it will be so hard-won that I will expect more than a bow of deference. I should get a solid gold metal. Certainly, my boy will have earned one by being the longest running bed-wetter in history with a perfect record.
ěSurely,î these other moms with zero bed-wetters would say, ěSurely, he should have stopped by now. Have you tried rewards for each dry night? That worked for me and Junior.î
She may have said those words, but I heard, ěWhat is wrong with you? Why have you let your child go this long without potty-training him?î
Rewards would indeed help, you smug blankety-blank, IF he ever had a dry night!î
Some know-it-all moms say I shouldnít let him drink anything before he goes to bed; like Iíve never thought of that before.
My mother-in-law asked why I couldnít use something to the equivalent of a shock-collar to wake him up ó like they use with dogs for disobedience.
ěUmÖ because itísÖ illegal? Besides, he isnít being disobedient. He canít help itÖ Do you drown puppies too?î
I once bought a sensor that slips into his pull-ups that said it would detect ěmoistureî ó I love the way they worded that ó and wake him up with an alarm that was clipped to his pajamas.
He unplugged it every night because the alarm scared him.
I let him win that battle because he stopped wearing pajamas. There was nothing left on which to clip the alarm.
I found bed ěsheetsî about 20-by-20 inches that had sensors to detect ěmoisture,î but the child twitches and tosses in his sleep as if he were fighting an army of guerillas ó or gorillas ó not sure which. In the mornings I might find him lying sideways across the bed, hanging over the side of the bed, or even curled up under the bed. That dinky sheet didnít stand a chance of detecting ěmoistureî with that kind of aggressive sleeping.
I bought underwear with sensors sewn into them. The wireless alarm plugs into a wall outlet on the other side of the room. The idea was that the alarm would wake the child. He would then get up to push the ěoffî button on the alarm and head to the bathroom to finish hisÖ ěmoisturizing.î
I canít expect that level of compliance even when he is wide awake, but it was my last hope.
The alarm woke the entire household at odd hours of the night, but he was only slightly disturbed. I shook him awake, pulled him from the bed, showed him to the alarm and then pointed him in the direction of the bathroom.
He did his best, but when I went to wake him, he just stared at me from the bed. He resisted getting out. After finally leaving the bed, he cleaned the floor around the alarm, pushed every spot except the button on the alarm and then looked at me with the stare of a zombie. When he shuffled into the bathroom, he didnít know what to do, so he brushed his teeth.
One night the sensor disappeared. If my son were to tell you what happened, heíd say that the sensor simply jumped off his underwear and into the toilet. The next morning, we did indeed find it in the bottom of the toilet, but there is insufficient proof that it sprouted wings and flew there.
*Sigh.* Iím looking forward to that gold medal, people.
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and speaker. You can reach Laura at or visit