A Tube of Toothpaste

Remember being ten years old? I do.
I remember that all ten-year-olds are “Big Boys,” and all ten-year-olds should no longer wear a diaper.

At ten, I was already embarrassed about having to wear a diaper.
I knew my friends no longer wore diapers, and I felt I was less of a man since I had to wear them.

Mom and Dad always told me I should tell all of my friends about my Spina Bifida. I cried.
When a Parent sees their disabled child crying and begging them to let him keep it a secret, well…what can you do? They let me keep it a secret.

In 5th Grade, I had run-ins with a kid who wasn’t nice.
He was a bully. But, it was just verbal—at first.
Then, one day, that changed.

I used the Principal’s Restroom when I needed to go to the bathroom at school.
Mom had arranged that for me, and I’m still grateful to this day for that.
But, there was a problem with that.
I couldn’t go to the Principle’s Office every time the teacher took the class out to use the Restroom. Someone would catch on to that.
So, when everyone got back inside the classroom, I’d ask to go to the Restroom.
That way, the halls were empty, and I could use the Principal’s Restroom privately—without anyone seeing me go to the Principle’s Office.

One time, though, when I got outside in the Hallway, “He” was out there too. We were alone.

“You wear diapers.”

“No…I do not.” I said in a shy, shaky voice.

“Yeah. I know your secret.”

“No. Stop! Stop touching my butt!”

“That’s a diaper. I felt it.”

“I bet I can squeeze you like a tube of toothpaste, and it’ll come out.”

I was shocked that he said that. I was shocked that he was smart enough to put that together. After all, he was pretty stupid. Most bullies are.
And I knew he was right.

“Quit! Get off me! Owwwww!”
And…it worked.
The smell filled the area.

“You tell anybody, and Im gonna tell everybody that you wear diapers.” He walked off. —and I kept my mouth shut.
I didn’t even tell my Brothers.
If I had told my Brothers, they would have “talked” to the kid, and then he would have told everyone that I wore diapers.

Have you ever been squeezed like a tube of toothpaste?
It changes a fella.
And I was determined more than ever to keep my Spina Bifida a secret. And not let anyone know my biggest secret—that I wore diapers.

Life is hard.
And I was learning just how hard it can be.

10/02/2022 —For Spina Bifida Awareness Month

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