February 22, 2010. The school nurse and Peter’s special education teacher greet me as I pick Sophie and Peter up from school. Having navigated the special education system for four battled-scarred years, I know the dual nature of their presence is not a good omen. Today’s topic revolves around the apparent district-wide angst caused by the fact that Peter wets his pants at school. Never mind that Peter has been wetting his pants at school, as well as at home, in the car, while sleeping, at the movies, or while eating ice cream, with unpredictable regularity for close to four years. In the school’s minds, the issue at last has reached a fulminating level of crisis that must be addressed. For the last few years, Pat and I have taken a hands-off approach to this problem, deciding mostly to ignore it. None of the experts seem to be able to tell us why he comes in and out of incontinence, though over-stimulation and stress do seem to play a role, or what we should do about. It doesn’t help that Peter repeatedly reveals that he likes the feel of hot urine washing across his skin. Is the problem developmental, medication-related, sensory, mitochondrial, psychological, structural, emotional, social, or my bet, a medley of them all? Since it’s anyone’s guess, Pat and I eventually settled on a low-key approach. However, Peter doesn’t usually alert anyone to the fact that he’s wet his pants, preferring instead to continue with his day as though nothing occurred. Complicating the problem is the fact that he often doesn’t empty a full bladder, he just piddles here and there, which makes it hard to detect – by us as well as his teachers, because he’s not so soaked that he’s dripping. What happens is we find wet spots all over our home and cars, and our lives constantly are permeated with the smell of stale urine. And so we devised a containment plan about eighteen months ago, and this is what it is: when he’s in a wetting cycle, like the one he’s been in for the last 4 months, he wears a Pull-up during the day; when and if he can stay dry for three days, he goes back to underwear. For the record, he’s not had a three-day streak of daytime dryness since before Halloween and though we presently don’t address this issue at all, he hasn’t been dry at night, even once, since he was six years old. For whatever reason, however, Peter more or less has begun alerting his teacher when he pees at school. Personally, I think he liked the attention received at the urologist and that triggered the change in his reporting behavior. Before then, he would pee in his Pull-up but not say anything. Because he usually wears jeans and most of his shirts reach below mid-hip, his accidents went largely unnoticed at school. Pat and I constantly tried talking to his teachers and the rest of the IEP team about this problem (just as we had last year and the year before that and the year before that), but no one seemed too concerned or interested. Almost like they didn’t believe us. But things have changed now that Peter has decided to tell his teachers about his daily wetness. After school today, the nurse asks that I obtain a letter from the urologist stating that Peter is required to wear Pull-ups to third grade. She could suffer official reprimand, she suggests, if our Pull-ups-until-three-dry-days parenting approach is not officially endorsed by the medical community and filed in her records. The very idea is ridiculous! I also have the nauseating feeling the nurse is being used as a puppet, that this newest directive comes from the school psychologist, who is obsessed with Peter and determined to prove me wrong at every possible turn. This school won’t, the previous school wouldn’t . . . perhaps no school will ever accept the fluidity and complexity of Peter’s medical, social, emotional, psychological and psychiatric status. The fact that they have him on a toileting schedule exonerates them, in their minds, from any contributory liability for the problem. And that, of course, leaves Pat and me as the sole culprits. The obvious implication is that but for the Pull-ups, Peter would be dry. Therefore, the school’s logic goes, it’s appropriate for Peter’s “team” to impose their will upon what is and should remain a parenting issue. It’s just one of countless implications we’ve faced over and over when it comes to Peter’s more perplexing behaviors. With the school, it seems, Peter’s successes are theirs, but his failures? They belong to us.