Mom had to work Saturday, and Randy's Dad was determined to make up in that single day for years of missed quality time. Thus, Randy endured piggy back rides, the baby swings at the park, a portrait shoot at K Mart, and lunch at Chuck E Cheese, things more important to Dad than anyone else. Dad did better on his second effort with a dirty diaper. "You know, I think I could get used to this," he said, and Randy groaned. He had spent more time with Dad today than in the last six months...
Sunday morning, Randy awoke to see his Grandma Pratterman lifting him from the crib. "And this is Randy as a baby!" she whispered, nearly breathless. "Don't worry, I won't tell a soul. Your father told me what happened. I don't know how you did this, but isn't it wonderful? My first grandson, back in my arms again."
Randy soon learned that Grandma had found out that there was a baby in the house, badgered Dad relentlessly until he told her the whole story, then extracted a chance to watch the baby as the price of her silence. Dad was such a wimp when it came to Grandma. Since it was Sunday, she had plans, and soon Randy found himself wearing a cute little outfit that included a bow tie, sitting on Grandma's lap at church while she showed off her new baby grandson. Luckily, she lived in Mount Prospect and nobody knew him there. The trip to Grandma's home was worse. She didn't use air conditioning much, choosing to dress lightly instead. As soon as she took the suit off, she announced that all he needed to wear today would be a disposable diaper. Grandma had a high tone hearing loss, so she couldn't understand him very well when he tried to talk. As far as she was concerned, he was a baby and the conversation would be one way. Worse, she was also babysitting Randy's two youngest cousins, Brittany and Will. "You can play with the bigger kids in the sandbox!" she announced, and then told them, "Let Grandmama know if the baby needs a dry diaper." He was never so glad to see the weekend end, or to go home to his own bed, even a crib.
Mom and Dad both had to work Monday, and Carol had a car wash for her basketball team, so Randy's little brother Josh was asked to watch him. Josh didn't want to, until Carol remarked that an 11 year old was too young for such a responsibility. Fortunately, his job description was limited. Nobody was ready for Josh to change a baby's diapers-- not Mom, and certainly not Josh or Randy. "You'll just have to sit around wet until I come home at noon," Mom told Randy before she left, "So don't drink anything!"
An hour after she left, however, Randy was wearing a mess, and he couldn't do anything about it for hours. He couldn't sit down without a reminder of what had happened, so he lay on his belly to watch TV.
Josh reacted like any normal 11 year old boy. Though he obeyed his pledge to watch Randy at all times, it was from a safe distance of at least five feet. If it looked like Randy might crawl toward him, Josh would scoot away. His new name for his brother was "Mister Stinky Pants", and he would dramatically hold his nose and spray everything from Lysol to Right Guard. No doubt, thought Randy, I must have acted this way when I was 7 and Josh was a baby-- though he wasn't sure.
Randy was grateful when Mom came in on her lunch break and cleaned him up, after which Josh was suddenly a nice guy again. "We'll play roll-the-ball," he announced, setting Randy on one side of the room and rushing over to the other side. This is so lame! thought Randy, but roll-the-ball was as close as he had come to a sport all week. When the folks came home, Josh quickly vanished. Randy was worn out, and he actually was glad when Mom put him in pajamas at 7 o'clock. "Tomorrow, and Wednesday, that's all," she said, as she rocked with him, "Just two more days we'll have to do this," she added, with a far away look.
Mom's "weekend" would be Wednesday and Thursday, and Tuesday brought what Randy had dreaded the most-- having his twin sister as his babysitter.
"The whole day?!" he asked. "Mom, I don't want to be her baby brother..."
"Now Randy, you shoudn't be embarassed. She was born five minutes ahead of you, so technically she is your older sister. But she was a baby when you were a baby."
"But now she's sixteen, and I'm still a baby. Can't you do anything?"
"Your sister Carol is very responsible..."
"But she'll be wanting to change diapers and stuff like that...."
"I expect her to change your diapers, Randy. I doubt that she 'wants to' but if it has to be done, it has to. It may be strange having your sister take care of you as a baby, but she has no idea who you are. Now quiet. Here she comes."
"I finally get to take care of the baby!" said Carol, addressing him directly. Then turning to Mom, she said, "I was looking at old albums. See how much this baby looks like our Randy when he was a baby?" She handed Mom a photo and added, "He's a dead ringer."
"I've noticed that too," said Mindy, glancing at the photo.
"Mom, do you ever wish Randy and me were still that little?"
"Not really-- twins are a lot of work. Are you sure that you're up to this? This is all day, not just a few hours. I don't want you to be having friends over."
"Oh Mom, I'll be so busy with him I won't have time to call friends, let alone host them. It's just gonna be me and the baby."
When Mom drove off, of course, Carol was on the phone, and soon Michelle and Tasha were at the door. Of all Carol's friends, he liked those two the least. Michelle was a regular goody two-shoes, way too emotional over boys, and had a giggle that irritated him. Tasha, on the other hand, was obnoxious, agressive, and hated the men of the world. Their only common denominator was that Carol was their friend.
As noon approached, Randy was in his third hour with all of them. They were in Carol's bedroom, and he was listening to girl talk and to her Avril Lavigne CD. It was a teenage guy's vision of hell.
Randy was on Michelle's lap, and she was feeding him another bottle of juice, when the subject of conversation turned to him-- Randy the baby and Randy the teenager. "He is so cute," Michelle remarked, for the fifth time.
"Aw, you think every baby is cute," said Tasha, "even the homeliest kid in the world."
"You don't think this baby is homely, do you?" asked Carol, defensively.
"Do I? Look at him. His hair looks like he got a bad crewcut, his face is puffy, his ears stick way out and he has slobber running down his chin. Yes, I'm talking to YOU, you little mutant," she said to Randy in a sing-song fashion.
Randy's lip quivered and tears came to his eyes. He was surprised that her remark was hurting his feelings. "You're upsetting him!" said Michelle.
"Like he understands a word I say!"
"Babies understand a lot more than you think," began Carol.
"Right. He's a little boy, so he understands that he can expect a woman to do eveything for him," Tasha went on.
"If this was a little girl, I'd do everything for her," said Carol, getting mad now, "He's only a baby, if you didn't notice."
Tasha shot back. "He's soaked his clothes, in case YOU didn't notice. And he'll soak yours too, Michelle, if you don't push him off your lap. Geez, how many bottles of juice did you feed that kid?"
Carol looked over to Randy and took him from Michelle. He bit his lip and his stomach sank. "I guess you haven't been changed since Mom left. OK, little guy, let's get you out of those wet clothes."
This was the moment Randy had hoped would never come. Not only was his sister going to be changing his diapers, it would be in front of her friends. His face turned red and he began to sob as Carol rested him on the carpet and undid the snaps on the overalls. "Aw, don't cry," she said; then to Michelle, "Hand me that diaper bag." Someone-- probably Michelle-- was holding his hand while Carol changed him.
"Ewww, gross!!!" said Tasha, as Carol taped up the old diaper. "Oh grow up! It's wet, that's all," said Carol, threatening to ptich it to Tasha, then putting it in the bag. "Sit up now, Randy," she said, adding, "Let's get this wet outfit off of you." She pushed the straps off his shoulders and lifted him out, then set him on her lap.
"Speaking of Randy, have you heard from him?" asked Tasha.
"No, not since he went to camp," said Michelle.
"Nobody has. You know, Belinda said he didn't tell her a thing about going to camp, and they had a date planned. And he didn't mention it to any of his buddies. And whoever heard of a camp starting in the middle of the week?"
"Just what are you getting at?"
"Why would he just disappear like that without a word to anyone? Why would your mom tell everyone he's at camp?"
"What? You think Mom killed him or something?"
"No jury on earth would convict her!" said Michelle, giggling.
"Maybe he lied to your mom. And she's so preoccupied with baby here that she hasn't thought it out. When did YOU last see your brother, Carol? Hmmm?"
Carol suddenly felt uneasy. "You know.. I'm not supposed to have guests over right now."
Tasha persisted. "You know what I think?"
"That's your problem. You don't think," said Carol, agitated. "No offense guys, but you'd better go."
"Whatever! Come on Michelle. Sorry to offend you, Carol!!"
Carol held Randy while she watched out the window. As their car pulled away, she stepped across the hall to his bedroom. It didn't look like he had taken anything for a trip, and there was a full laundry basket. Unless he'd purchased a new wardrobe, all of his usual shirts and jeans were there.
"This is silly," she said, speaking directly to Randy while thinking aloud. "Let's just call Mom at work and clear this up right now." She reached the store and paced while she was on hold. When her mother picked up, Carol started with "Mom!! What camp is Randy at?"
Even on his old bed, Randy could hear the other side of the conversation "Uh... Carol, I'm busy, and you know I can't take a personal call here..." he heard her say.
"Mom, why can't you answer a simple question?" Carol demanded.
"Now Carol, honey..."
"He's not at camp, is he. Mom, where is Randy?!"
"Carol, I've got to go, sweetie..."
Carol screamed when her mom hung up. "NO!!! She's avoiding this! She lied!!" She paced some more; "Come on, think!"
She looked at Randy on his bed, and this time she spoke to him directly. "I don't think your mom is in a hospital either. And I don't know where you came from, or who you really are, but something is wrong. Baby, we need to get out of here. We're going to the police station before my mom gets home."
As she turned to get her car keys, she heard a little voice shout, "Wait, Carol!"
Carol whirled around. "Who said that?!"
Randy looked her in the eyes. "Don't call the police. Mom and Dad have been lying to protect me."
"What?! Y--you can talk!"
"Yeah, I can talk. I really AM Randy... OK?"
Carol was speechless, for once.
"Randy, your brother." he added.
Carol wiped a tear and laughed nervously, then went over to where he sat. "Randy?"
"But you're only a baby!"
"I've been a baby all week."
"And I just changed your diaper. Ewwww!! Gross!!!"
"Yeah, tell me about it. How do you think I feel?"
She looked at him, sitting on his bed in a T-shirt, Pampers and his socks, and shook her head. "Randy, why would you do this to yourself?'
"I didn't..." he began, and then told her the whole story of Miss Hepston, concluding with, "...and I was afraid about what would happen if you found out. Only Mom and Dad know."
And now, his sister knew. What would happen next?
---TO BE CONCLUDED