A Diapered Mystery in NTU

Sometimes, curious things happen. Sometimes, they seem to defy logic. I witnessed something very peculiar last wednesday, and I have been befuddled ever since.

To reach my hall of residence in NTU, I need to walk through NIE. It was late, about 8pm. There was just one other student walking behind me, and we reach this sheltered walkway above a flight of stairs which lead down the hill to Halls 12 and beyond.

As I turn reach this walkway, I see a thirty-something mother bending over her son. He was no older than 7, and had his pants pulled down to his knees. At first, I dismissed it as a boy who needed to pee, and he was going #1 there. Standing close to the edge of the hill, there were grills. I remembered thinking that it was a very peculiar spot. As you can see below, it was a very odd position for a child to pee into the grass, when he could have come in front to do so.


I was looking away. But it was what the mother was holding that caught my attention. It was a Drypers tape-on diaper. It seemed that she had just removed it that instant. But it is the conversation that is taking place between mother and son that is most peculiar about this sight.

The boy says “mum, I need to go to the toilet,” he says in his preschool-educated tone as he pulls up his pants.

The mother replies “no, you can’t. This thing is full. Come, let’s go to the car.” And she sets off.

At this point, I pass them. As there was another student there, I could not turn around to look.

The boy continues “but mum, I need to go!”

I then start descending the stairs, and I hear no more.

Let me restate the facts. The boy was wearing a diaper until a few seconds before I showed up. His diaper was full and for some reason, his mother removed that diaper at that very spot. This boy needs to pee more. But his mother asks him to hold it in. I also did not smell anything.

Here is what we can infer given the evidence.

  • What we could infer was that he had some semblance of bladder control. That was why he could tell his mother that he needed to pee.
  • The diaper must have leaked, which is why the mother must have removed the garment to stem the damage.
  • There was a sole car in the car park 10 meters away, so his mother had no worries about him walking in that state.
  • Instead of bringing him to the toilets just 20 meters away, she brings him to the car. She thus intends to put him back into a fresh diaper.
  • His bladder must be fairly strong, to be able to hold it for three minutes. His mother must know his limit surely, to be able to suggest to him to walk back to the car.
  • I did not smell any poop smell, but we cannot rule it out as I barely got a glimpse of the diaper.
  • The mother was wearing formal clothing. So she must either be a teaching staff or a teacher trainee(this location being NIE).
  • The boy was wearing ordinary clothes, a t-shirt and white cargo pants.
  • The boy seemed normal, his speech speech as intelligent as of any kid of his age. He even had the ‘accent’ that our pre-school kids have.
  • Given their direction of walking, they were coming from someplace else, back to the NIE carpark.
  • There is a childcare centre in the vicinity for university staff and students to be able to drop their children off. It was close to closing time.

So, having stated some facts and inferences, we can move to some deductions.

  1. There is a good chance that chance the mother had just picked up her son from this childcare centre after work/school. The boy might have been a bed wetter, and he might have wet during his nap. On his way up the hill, he might have peed a little, thus the diaper had leaked. But this discounts the fact that it was nearly 8pm – way past any ‘afternoon nap’ time. And the childcare workers would have checked to see if he needed a change.
  2. He was in the above-mentioned childcare centre. For some unknown reason, the caretakers hadn’t changed his diaper. This neglect led to a leak when he peed. But again, these two scenarios don’t take into account the fact that the boy knows that he needs the toilet.
  3. Perhaps he was fecally-incontinent. I didn’t smell anything. But importantly, if he had indeed pooped, chances are that the mother would have used some sort of wipes to clean him, which I didn’t see. She most certainly wouldn’t have made him put his pants back on, if he had pooped.
  4. Fecally-incontinent, but he is allowed to pee in his diaper. This is plausible. Most paediatricians advise against letting children pee in their diapers, as they worry that their bladders may become weak. Furthermore, he was wearing a tape-on diaper suggesting that he probably doesn’t use the toilet on his own.
  5. He might have had an accident in the day, and as a precaution, the caretakers had put him in a diaper. Well, not as plausible. For one, why did he pee in it? Why didn’t his mother remove it at the childcare centre itself? And importantly, the boy did not seem embarrassed one bit.
  6. Perhaps the diaper was a sort of comfort item? I’ve heard of this being the case in teenagers and adults, but certainly not 6-7 year olds. And the boy didn’t seem upset that his diaper had been removed in public.
  7. It cannot be ruled out, that he wasn’t potty-trained. That is why he can tell that he needs to pee. But the chances of this being the case is too slim. For one, he knows what a toilet is, and even addresses his need as  needing such.
  8. We can pretty much rule out that he was a disabled kid. He had good speech, he looked physically fit.

And so, I have not been able to come up with any plausible explanation as to why this boy was wearing a diaper that evening, despite being able to tell that he ‘needed the toilet’, and why his mother seemed nonchalant about it. It is just one of those diaper mysteries that has intrigued me, (even more so than the 11 year old who is not toilet-trained despite the doctor saying that she is fine). I have deduced where the boy came from at that hour, but it doesn’t help in explaining why he is still wearing a diaper at this age and is allowed to use it.

If you guys have any theories, please contact me. I’d love to hear what you guys think. I will also be posting this onto an appropriate forum sometime this week, in the hope that there is a logical explanation to be found.

– Selv