In case of a night accident - The rubber sheet

  • Description

    How to make boys cringe with embarrassment in later years. Bring out the family slides from the 1960s. Most of our holiday photos were in black & white, but a few were in colour, it really shows off our rubber sheets. Many grown-ups over 50 will grimace at the sight of this photo, it will bring back memories of childhood and what went on all those years ago. Preferring now to try and pretend there were no problems during their younger years, with the need to keep it a secret from friends that you still needed a rubber sheet on your bed when you were ten. Boys wet the bed as much today as they did fifty years ago. Now children can be given absorbent night time pants to solve any bedwetting, the modern waterproof mattress cover is very easy to hide, few friends that visit will ever know you have a night problem. Fifty years ago very young children might have been given a nappy and rubber pants, once you got to around four you were just left to wet the bed, rubber sheets stayed on many boy's beds often into their early teenage years, until the parents were sure that the child was not going to wet the bed again. In the children's home we always had a rubber sheet on our beds due to the many boys wetting the bed. Those under 40 will never have been exposed to such open matters of controlling bedwetting. ------------------------- We could have hidden our rubber sheets from view, each of us had a white cotton lower sheet that could have been tucked over our rubbers, but that meant extra work and one more thing to wash in the morning. We were allowed to fold up our cotton sheets and use them as an extra pillow, as we all had rubber sheets, there was no need to hide them. On holiday we were from two primary schools, including a few from the Children's Home. On arrival were were mixed together to allow us to make new friends during the holiday. Those of us from the Children's Home thought nothing of finding a rubber sheet on our beds when we arrived for our holidays. Ordinary primary school boys at first might not want to admit that they needed a waterproof sheet for fear of been teased by other boys. Days leading up to the holidays would have been spent worrying about a possible wet bed and what the others in the dorm would say. Most took the matter of finding rubber sheets on their unmade beds as fun and were looking forward to finding the unfortunate few that would need them. As the rubber sheets were on all the beds, no boy would have to tell the staff that they might need one. Which on some holidays when the staff came into the dorm and handed certain boys rubber sheets due to their records showing that they were bedwetters, or entering the dorm announcing who needs a rubber sheet, meant it could be embarrassing. With us having them on every bed, everyone was equal. The main question was what happens if we wet the bed, the adults in charge told us that it did not matter, instead of the early morning chores we would have to take our lower sheet or sleeping bag out and wash it, then hang it up outside if the weather was dry or in one of the empty huts if it was raining or might rain later. Spare sleeping bags and sheets were available for the following night if ours were not yet dry. Most of the ordinary boys were worried that parents would be informed on their return home if they had wet the bed, we were soon told that nothing would be reported about any bedwetting. Having to get out of bed and find your way across a large strange room in the dark, gave a very good reason in your mind for staying in bed and trying to last the night out, which often ended in failure. It did get us out of the morning chores like peeling potatoes, cutting up wood etc. For those of us from the Home, that there were no punishments or extra chores after wetting the bed, meant we could go off to sleep without any worry about events of the following morning. It was never really done on purpose, but the feeling that there was no need in the middle of the night to sneak out of bed and go for a pee to avoid the normal punishment for either been caught out of our bed at night or wetting the bed. ------------------------------------------- Going to the camp that was organised by my school rather than the Home, I was not really looking forward to the idea that friends in my class would find that I might wet the bed. My regular bedwetting in the children's home had never really been found out by my friends at school. All they knew was that those of us from the Home always had rubber sheets on our beds. When a couple of us from the Home had wet beds early on in camp, it made it easier for them to accept their own night problems for the rest of the holiday. They later admitted to friends at school who had not been to camp that everyone had a rubber sheet on their bed. None claimed that they didn't need it. The staff at camp told us that the water in the ordinary taps was not to be used for drinking. Each small group had a bottle of drinking water to be shared by all who were thirsty at night. When a section had done all its chores, kept their area of the dorm tidy and not have had any reports of bad behaviour during the day we were rewarded with a large bottle of pop at the end of the day. All of us wanting fair shares, decided to drink it all as soon as we had gone to bed, not trusting the others in the section to only take their share during the night, or another group to steal the bottle. The need on those nights to go out for a pee was ignored by most just for fun. ================================== At the various camps there was the worry about getting out of bed and going out of doors in the dark, hoping you would not get lost, staying in bed all night even if it resulted in a wet bed was much easier to cope with. Any teasing of those that did wet the bed was always taken as fun by all, the main thought was that we dared do such a thing, when many could have actually prevented it. On the final night, we were given sheets and sleeping bags from the camp's reserve stock. We slept without our pyjamas on, the sleeping bags were large enough for us to fully pull up. We could go home with everything fully dry, as if no events had happened during the night. --------------------- My Children's Home file on the pages that record my bedwetting, shows a complete blank for the periods I was away from the Home on the holidays when there were none of our own staff with us. On one of the holidays, we had all been given cotton filled sleeping bags in the dorm. In the morning any boy who was wet during the night took his sleeping bag out to be washed, everyone else had to turn their bags inside out so they could air during the day. Later the staff came round and checked each bag that had been left. just to see who was hiding the matter of wetting it at night. After a couple of nights, those that had tried to hide the matter gave up on the trick, there was far more humiliation for them at this moment rather than if they had taken it out first thing. ------------------- The holiday with the family group in the Children's Home during August, I had a problem on my first night, it was the only time my mattress was without a mackintosh sheet as we had thought they would already be on the beds before we arrived. The records show I wet the bed every night for 9 nights in a row due to the mattress never drying out after the first and later accidents. I received the slipper from the houseparent on each of the following mornings. --------------------- The first Children’s Home holiday I went on after leaving the Home seemed a bit odd. We were staying in an empty Children’s Home where every trace of the original residents had been removed. We were told that they would return in two weeks. Due to the methods used whilst we were in care, we could never really trust the staff, were we just going to stay here for our two week holiday, or had we really been returned into care and this was an easy way of getting us into a Home. On the first night, some of our beds were soaked even before we got into them. As a joke some of the other boys had poured water into a few beds. They were not given any punishment as it was now late in the evening, and as each bed had a rubber sheet no real harm had been done. The following night, a member of staff that had known our beds were wet, but did not know the reason felt sorry for us. If we did wet the bed and sorted out our own sheets the following morning, we would be rewarded with some sweets. For the rest of the holiday there were extra wet beds from a few of us. Sweets were always in short supply, to get extra sweets for just putting our sheets and pyjamas in the laundry basket was a very minor chore. Those that did not wet their beds never knew about our extra sweets. ======================= On one of the Children's Home holidays, we were a mixed group from several of the Homes, I was allocated a smaller room with only two other boys, the others shared two larger rooms. Before we made up our beds, a staff member came round and asked who needed a rubber sheet, I was given one straight away, the other two stayed silent, their rubbers were put in one of the draws, a couple of days later, both were told to put the rubber sheets on their beds after one of the boys soaked his unprotected mattress, at least we were now all equal. The other two now spoke up once the staff were not around saying that they still needed rubber sheets on their beds, but dared not speak out on the first night. On another holiday after we had left the Home, when we first made up our beds we were given the option if we wanted to put a rubber sheet on top of the mattress. Had we thought ourselves too grown up to need them, we need not put them on our beds, but if we did have a wet bed without a rubber sheet on top of the mattress, we would spend our own time cleaning it and pay a fine of 2/6 (12p) (in today's terms with inflation - around £5) from our holiday spending money to help to go towards its eventual earlier replacement. We all selected to have a rubber sheet, none wanted to risk a good chunk of a weeks pocket money on a possible accident. At all the camps we went to, that we all were given rubber sheets, it made us less fearful of a wet bed, as long as we dealt with the matter the following day, there were no comments or punishments from the staff. The relaxed attitude meant that we had no fear over the matter of a wet bed. With several in a group having night problems, there was no direct teasing against any boy that could upset their holiday.
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    Flickr (Flickr)
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    What does this mean? Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
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    Resource type: Image
    Added by: Splat
    Last modified: 3 years, 8 months ago
    Viewed: 1820 times
    Picture Taken: 1963-01-01T00:00:00
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