The next few minutes were weird. Randy would have been even more embarassed if he hadn't been bawling. He had a mess in his pants and had puked on his shirt, and his Dad was fixing it. He didn't want to open his eyes, but he could hear everything-- his mom trying to soothe him, his Dad gagging.
"Use the diaper first to wipe him... Try not to look while you're taping the dirty one up... No, don't set his feet down until you're finished cleaning him. Oh for God's sake, Chuck, you can wash your damn hands in a moment!!"
Finally, Dad said, "The worst is over!"
Randy was surprised to see that he was still dressed in his overalls and shoes. As Dad refastened the outfit, he thought, so THAT'S what the snaps are for-- not that he had ever wondered about such things.
Soon, Dad carried Randy over to the couch while Mom finished dinner. Dad was a news junkie, and his idea of a wild evening was Eyewitness News followed by Dan Rather and then by Action News on another channel. Today, however, Randy didn't mind-- he wanted to sit next to his father. Maybe it was because it meant avoiding Carol and Josh, but there was more, as if he actually wanted to sit on his Daddy's lap. He hadn't called his parents Mommy or Daddy in years, but now it seemed like the words were in his mind.
He could smell burgers, and hoped that Mommy-- no, Mom-- wouldn't leave him to baby food. She came out and said, "Before I call your brother and sister, I think you know what to expect tonight." Noticing his expression, she added, "Oh, you ate burgers and fries when you were a baby. I just had to feed it to you in small pieces."
Randy looked over to the table and groaned.
"A high chair? Can't you guys let me sit on a phone book?"
Dad jumped in. "We talked about it, but I've already seen you topple over once on the couch. It's too dangerous for you to sit at a regular chair."
Mindy carried him over to the chair.
"Please don't make me sit in that..."
She shook her head no, and set him in place. "This is NOT the electric chair!" she laughed, locking in the tray. Out of the fridge she got a cold bottle.
"NO WAY!" Randy started, then lowered his voice. "No way. Momm... Mom, it's bad enough you got me in baby clothes and baby furniture but I refuse to drink from something with a nipple on it. That's just gross. And no sippy cup either. Forget the milk, I want Coke."
"Fine," she said, "but you'll use a plastic cup. You might not be able to do as much as you think."
"Not that tiny cup either, Mom. I want a regular size glass."
"Plastic!" said Dad
"Whatever." fumed Randy. Mindy glared as she poured a coke over some cice cubes. When he waved away her offer of a straw, she said, "One more command out of you, young man, and I'm about ready to turn you across my knee."
"He'll just have to learn for himself," said Dad.
The cup WAS too big, but Randy didn't want to admit it. He focussed on the task, holding it with both hands and slowly tilting the cup, tilting, tilting, tilting "HI BABY!" yelled Carol, suddenly bursting through the door. Randy was so startled, he spilled the icy contents onto the tray and into his lap. "Sorry!" said Carol. As Mindy grabbed some towels, Carol unlocked the tray and picked Randy up. Then, to his horror, she tore off his shoes, unbuckled the straps on his overalls, and lifted him out of the drenched clothing. "At least his diaper's dry!" she said, holding him on her hip.
The chair cleaned off, Randy was locked back into place. He realized that nobody planned to get him a new outfit, and for the second time that day, he was wearing just a shirt and Pampers. "Mom, I can't believe you!" said Carol, "Why would you give such a big cub to a little baby? And you gave him Coke?"
"Now Carol, I let all you kids drink coke when you were babies..." started Mindy.
"Then that's just...wrong!" Carol retorted, and went to the fridge. Bottle in hand, she said, "This is what he wants."
Randy didn't want it, of course, and he knocked it off the tray. "Hmmmph! Don't tell me you're feeding him a hamburger too!" demanded Carol.
"I'll give it to him in little pieces."
"And you're not worried he could choke?!!"
Randy's mouth was watering as he saw dinner, so close and so out of reach-- and in his current form, that meant drooling down his chin and on to his shirt. It was strange to see the family argue over how he should be fed.
Eating a burger wasn't much fun-- Mommy, no Mom, got him out of the chair and tied a bib on him, then set him on her lap and held a little piece of burger for him to nibble on, watching him chew it before offering another bite. As he opened wide, he was surprised to get the bottle instead. "Let's wash that down!' she said, cheerfully, "Verrry goo-oood."
His face was sticky with ketchup and milk, and he was glad when his sister brought over a wet paper towel for cleanup. It had taken so long to eat, that Josh had come and gone, and Dad too. Randy burped and started to say "ex..." then stopped.
"He doesn't babble much, you know?" said Carol, and added, "But he seems like, you know, intelligent... for a baby, of course."
"I have to wash dishes, honey. Go to Carol now," said Mindy, handing him up to his former twin sister. Randy looked up at her, and wished he could tell her who he really was; that her brother wasn't away at camp, but right in front of her; that he wanted some clothes to wear. Dad and Josh had gone out, probably to pitch baseball. Oh well, he thought, Carol watches Seinfeld at 7 o'clock.
The phone rang, and Carol set Randy on the floor while she went to answer. "Hello? No. Well, Randy is here, but not that Randy. He's gone to camp, Ben. I have NO idea. Yeah. Bye." At least, thought Randy, his friend won't come over while I'm little like this. Carol was dialing the phone again, and she tended to talk for a long time. Randy saw the remote on a distant coffee table and, after testing and seeing that he still couldn't walk, crawled over to it and pulled himself up on the table with all his strength. But as he pulled the remote to him, he was whisked away. "No, no baby! You're too young for this," said Carol, snatching the remote from his tiny hand.
Too young? thought Randy. How could a baby get injured by a channel changer. But Carol had it and was back to the phone. "Michelle, I'll call you back in a minute," she said.
He looked up from his toes as she came back. "I'm sorry I took your toy away, Randy. I think I'll call back Michelle from my room, so let's keep you out of trouble."
Randy realized that she was taking him over to the playpen. He pointed to the TV and started to say "Tee!!" then stopped.
"That's so cute!! Yes that's a TV," said Carol, "But why don't you play instead?"
She lowered him into the mesh sided yard, then handed him a squeaky toy. "See? A ducky. You can make him go quack quack quack." She squeaked it for demonstration.
Then she was gone. For the first time today, Randy was in a room by himself, but he wasn't happy. He could see the TV but he couldn't turn it on. He realized he needed to take a whiz, and he could see the bathroom down the hall, but he was stuck in here. He pulled himself to standing and tried to signal his mom, but she was busy with the dishes.
"Mom!" he called. As his bladder reached the bursting point, he wondered how long he could hold it... and that song from the commercial popped in his head-- gottago, gottago, gottago right now....
The walls of the pen were too high to climb over, and he couldn't tear them with his bare hands. Maybe he could tip it over if he leaned on it, but now he was in agony.
Then he felt the release of his bladder, and the sudden warm feeling at the front of the diaper-- he could actually hear his urine hitting the inside, and caught a whiff of the odor.
On one hand, it was embarrassing, but on the other, it was a relief to have the pressure off. To his surprise, the outside wasn't wet, but it was squishy like a sponge.
He finally caught his Mom's attention, and she looked over and smiled. She knows! he thought. As far as she was concerned, he was just fine where he was, within her sight and unable to leave it. She was just waiting for him to cry out if he needed her, he realized, and then she would come to his aid with a bottle, or a toy, or a dry diaper.
"Are you okay, honey?" she asked as she walked over to him.
"Mommy?" he whispered. "I mean Mom... please, get me out of here." He reached up his arms to her and she lifted him out. "I'm here baby. It's okay." she said.
For the first time that day, he was glad that he was going to have his diapers changed. It meant not only that he would be warm and dry, but that he could talk. But after she took off his shirt, he realized that she wasn't bringing out pants. She had brought out some baby pajamas, the kind with feet.
"You gotta be kidding me!" he said.
"Randy, they're cotton. You'll find them to be very comfortable. And they'll hide the diaper."
As he sat, she worked his feet into the outfit, then brought it up over both arms, then zipped him closed. "Mommy-- I mean..."
"Honey, it's okay to call me 'mommy'. Don't be ashamed.
"I don't know why that's happening."
"It's a part of growing younger, I guess."
"I don't have to go to bed right now, do I?"
"No honey. We'll watch some TV and then I'll tuck you in. I want to spend some time with my baby boy."
As they watched TV, he felt himself getting drowsy-- and it was only 7:30.
"It's okay, baby. You're cleaned up and in your jammies. Mommy will take care of you."
Randy realized with dread that she was right.