What a dumb way to grant a wish! Yesterday, I had said "I wish I didn't have to go to school," and Omniar turned my age from a 12 year old to a four year old. The only way I could undo the wish was to get the magic ring out of the locked box where I keep it. As a 12 year old, I'd kept the safe up on a high shelf, out of my kid sister's reach. Bad move, because now it was out of my reach too. Today, however, I had finally talked Mom into looking on the top shelf, where she found the lockbox and brought it down. All that remained was for me to open the lock, bring out the ring, and undo Omniar's magic. I could hardly wait to grow back to 12 years old.
Mom was puzzled. "Hmmm. I've never seen THIS before," she said. "It must belong to your father."
"No, Mom, it's mine!" I reached for it, and she yanked it away.
"Yours? Honey, you're just a little boy. You don't own a lockbox. Your father must have something important in here, because he has it closed with a combination lock."
"I can open it, Mom!" I said, reaching over to the lock. "Don't play with it," she said, pushing my hand away. "But Mom, it's 34 to the left, then 26 to the right..."
"Now Kevin, we will wait until Daddy gets home tonight, and then you can ask him nicely if he will show this to you," she lectured. "But...." I began, but Mom shook a finger at me and continued. "We'll put this right back where we found it. OK? Anytime you find something that isn't yours, Kevin, you must leave it where it belongs."
She didn't see how disappointed I was as she returned the lockbox to the high shelf, then slid the closet door closed again. "Now come along," she said, taking me by the hand and leading me back out of my bedroom. Man! There was no getting out of going to kindergarten.
Mom won't take the lockbox out again today, I thought, but the moment Dad gets home, Mom will ask him about it. He won't know where it came from, of course. He'll leave it out, I'll get out the ring, and I'll make myself big again. Until then, I was stuck for a second day as little Kevin. Time dragged as I watched more shows, and the hour of preschool approached. It was 20 minutes to eleven, and we would be going soon. Maybe there was another chance before I had to leave....
"Omniar," I called.
"You are at home, not in school. Is this not what you wanted?" he observed.
"Omniar, when I get big again, we're going to have to talk. This has to be the dumbest thing you've done yet! All you had to do to get me out of school was to make it snow harder."
"But master, your wish was that YOU did not have to go to school; not that other people would be out of school. All I did was call upon the forces that change things, and they granted your wish to become a boy who was not expected to go to school."
"Well, even that didn't work. I'm going to have to attend school anyway. At 11 o'clock, thanks to you, I'm going to be in kindergarten."
"No, master. You do not have to worry."
"What? Why not?"
"Because your wish was that you don't have to go to school."
"I don't get it," I said. "Why? Are we going to have a flat tire? Or... oh, no."
I suddenly understood. In fixing things so that I didn't "have to" go to school yesterday, Omniar's spell took enough years off my age that I was too young to go to a five-day-a-week regular school. With Mom about to take me to kindergarten, I was about to be made even younger, at an age too young even for preschool.
I ran to my Mom. "We have to get that lockbox now, Mom..." I shouted. "Not now, Kevin," she said, reaching for her car keys, "it's time for nursery...."
The moment she touched the keys, there was a flash of light and I was blinded for a moment. When my eyes adjusted, I knew that I was even smaller. I was wearing overalls, and there was a little ribbon clipped to them, leading up to my mouth-- I pulled out the end of the ribbon. It was a pacifier. "Yuk!" I exclaimed, "A...paaa..." I couldn't voice the words, even though I knew what I was trying to say.
Mom walked over to me, and she was carrying a book. "Kev- vinnnn..." she called, almost singing my name. She held out her other hand and took mine. I didn't even come up as high as her beltline. "I told you, it's time for nursery rhymes!" she said, making it sound as exciting as tickets to Green Day in concert. As we walked, I could hear and feel something else wrong. "Mama." I said out loud. That got her attention.
"Oh my, a wet spot," Mom said. "Your diaper's soaked. I'd better change you."
Until then, I had been holding out hope that maybe I hadn't been taken back to babyhood. After all, a pacifier could have meant that I was a 3 year old with a really bad habit. If I was in diapers, though, I was definitely a baby.
I jerked free of Mom's hand and ran as fast as I could, which wasn't very quick. I made it to the full length mirror in the guest room, and could see what I had become. I didn't have much hair to brag about, and what I did have on my head stood up. Mom came in a moment later and picked me up. "Don't run from mommy. Your diaper's wet. Now come on." She held me away from her, since my overalls were soaked, and carried me upstairs to my room.
Soon, the straps on the overalls were off and I was being pulled out of them, then lifted up on to a pad. My belly blocked a lot of my view, but I could examine the diaper. It felt sort of like plastic underwear, with sponges inside and tape to hold it all together. This one was uncomfortably warm. "Lay down," said Mom, and then she started to tear one side. I closed my eyes. I couldn't bear to watch. After a minute, she had taped a new diaper on, and was lowering me to the floor. I looked at my surroundings now. This was still my room, but it was decorated like a nursery, with a crib where my bed should have been. A bag of disposable diapers was placed up high enough that a baby couldn't reach it, but the label was plain to see. Pampers.
Pampers! That was one of those words that we felt uncomfortable about saying. Calling someone a fag was one thing, but if you tried to insult someone by mentioning a brand of diapers, people would start to think that maybe you were the one who was a bit prissy. Everyone wore these things at one time, but nobody wanted to admit it. I have heard that "pampered" used to mean something like luxury, but nobody used the word that way anymore. Now, here I was, actually wearing Pampers. If the guys at school ever found out about this...
The closet door was puled shut, but I knew that if I could slide it open, there would be a lock box up there. Way up there, of course, because...yuk! Mom had pulled a baby wipe out of the box and was cleaning my face with it. Then she clipped the pacifier back on to my shirt. "Now, let's go read nursery rhymes," she said, and walked me back out of my room. I could hear the rustle of the diapers as I moved, and we were out the door by the time I realized that she wasn't planning to put pants on me. Shirt, socks, Pampers-- that was all. This was worse than being seen in my underwear.
Soon, I was sitting on Mom's lap, drinking from a bottle and listening to Mother Goose stuff. Every time I tried to say anything, my voice wouldn't finish the job.
The rest of the day was no better. After rhymes, Mom decided that she was going to the grocery store. Yesterday had been to get bread and milk, just in case of a snowstorm. There were only flurries today, so this would be a regular shopping trip. At least I got to wear pants, even if Mom did overdo it when she dressed me. The little winter jacket and the ski hat were expected, but she added heavy socks, rubber boots, mittens, and a scarf. At least I look like a little kid, I thought, instead of a... then Mom added the pacifier. I couldn't win.
I hadn't eaten a Happy Meal in awhile, but it wasn't anything to be happy about. Chicken nuggets, but no sauce, and french fries, but no salt, and no Coke to wash it down with, because Mom had ordered Sprite for me. I hate Sprite, and I made a face after sipping it. Her conclusion was that it needed to be replaced with a "fresh" cup of Sprite.
At the supermarket, there was no choice about whether I would ride in the cart. At least it was the middle of the day, so I wouldn't run into anybody familiar. We were at the end of the baby aisle when Mom ran into Mrs. Kirby and they began to "chat", which is a lot longer than talking. I knew Mrs. Kirby as the mother of my friend Ronny-- the one I had wished would "get lost" earlier in the week, with Omniar sending him away. Mrs. Kirby's daughter was friends with my little sister, so she and Mom knew each other in this reality as well. Just last week, Mrs. Kirby had made some pizza rolls for me while I studied at Ronny's house, and now...
"He's getting to be such a big boy!" she said to Mom, adding, "Lyric talks about him all the time."
"He's outgrowing everything," said Mom. "Kevin's up to a new size for diapers, and the way he goes through them..." Oh, this was too much!
"Boys are worse about that than girls," said Mrs. Kirby, providing way too much information about Ronny's baby days, finishing with "...of course, Ronny's twelve now, and I'm buying tennis shoes all the time!" I really missed being a sixth grader.
Back home, Mom wasted no time in preparing me for an afternoon nap. Every minute of my day seemed to be planned out. In moments, I was out of the winter clothes and on my way back up to my room. I realized that I was about to see that crib from the inside. The railing came down. Mom set me up on my "bed", changed me, then raised the bars back up. "No, don't sit back up," she said. "Lie down now and take your nap." She wasn't planning to leave until I laid back down and stayed under my blanket. I had never been in a crib before. Well, I had been, but I couldn't remember it, so this was new to me.
When Mom left, I sat up, and the bars were still high above me. I pulled myself to standing, but I was too scared of heights to climb over the top rail. I was stuck in here with nothing to do until Mom was planning to let me out.
"Omniar," I called. Thank heaven, I could still talk out loud to Omniar, even if I couldn't speak to anybody else.
"You have a problem," he said, looking over the top rail at me.
"Omniar, what am I going to do? Thanks to you, I can't get in that lockbox. I can't even ask anybody to bring it down from the closet. This is worse than the time that I wished I could communicate with dogs, and you fixed it so that I couldn't use my regular voice. And everytime I was near a tree..."
"I can see the difficulty," Omniar replied. "Your mother is always watching you, and when she is not watching you, she places you into a cage, such as this one. She feels that she must protect you from all possible danger, unaware that I prevent you from getting hurt."
"Yeah," I said, "You're supposed to keep me out of harm's way. You told me before that my wish could not be allowed to result in injury to me or anybody else, and that I wouldn't be somewhere where I couldn't ever get back to the ring."
"You have not been injured by your wish. In fact, you are probably safer than you ever have been because your mother anticipates every possible threat to you. It is for that reason that it is unlikely that she would let you walk over to that closet, let alone open it or climb toward a high shelf. I have inspected this room, and I have little that I can offer to you. There is an item in this room that refers to a 'genie' but there is no djinn inside of it. In fact, it appears to serve no purpose other than to dispose of those garments which you wear."
I had to look around to see what he was talking about. "A 'diaper genie'. Omniar, how stupid are you?"
He ignored me. "To continue, the closet shelf is six feet above the floor, and you can only reach to a height of three feet. Of course, even if you could reach the shelf, the safe, though light, is too heavy for you to lift. You would most likely have to be on the same shelf as the lockbox, which is unlikely. At most, your mother would have you four feet off the ground."
"There's a chance I can be four feet up? I might be able to reach, then..."
"She raises you to that height only when she is changing your diapers," he said, pointing to the dressing table. "As I understand it, you are laying down when this is done, and it is nowhere near the closet shelf in any event. You could not stand upon it. However, I do have good news."
"This had better not be about car insurance," I said.
"Insurance? I have no need for such a service."
"Then what's the good news?"
"If you can reach the lockbox, you will still be able to turn the dial of the lock, even though your hands are small."
"That's it? That's the good news?"
"At the moment, I can think of no other news of cheer to you."
"Aw, why do I even try to talk to you?" I said. "Go away!"
He was gone again, and I was back with nothing to do. A paperback book would have been nice about this time. I knew that if I shouted or cried, Mom would come back in, but I would still be made to finish the nap. And how long was my nap supposed to be? Half an hour? An hour? Two hours? If I was thirsty, I had a bottle of juice to drink. If I had to go to the bathroom, I could pee in my pants, and nobody would care. I finally fell asleep.
The snow flurries still fell, and it was a gray day outside, so when I awoke, I had no idea how much time had gone by. Mom wasn't around, but came in a moment later. It was if she could hear the difference between my breathing when I slept and when I didn't. "You're awake!" she said. I could actually say "Duh!" but it came out more like "Daaa!" and she thought I meant something else. "No, he's not home yet," she said, changing me again.
How many times would I have to go through this? I wondered. I never stopped to count how many times I went into the bathroom when I was big, but it was every few hours, so I guess this would probably happen a lot. Mom carried me back downstairs to rejoin the regular world. Lyric was home, so it was after 3 o'clock.
Lyric had never seemed as big as she was now. The other day, she had been my annoying kid sister at 8 years old. Now, at 8, she seemed a lot older than me. She hadn't liked me much as a little kid, but now she adored me. "Kevin!!" she shouted, and gave me a big hug. You won't like me as much a few years from now, and then I remembered that I am not supposed to be her little brother. "Look at the snow come down!" she said, pointing out the window at heavier flakes. "How would you like to play in the snow?" I nodded my head yes. I was getting cabin fever, and tromping around in the snow would be perfect. Lyric got out my winter jacket, but the moment she mentioned the idea to Mom, that was the end of it. Mom said I might get an earache, or something dumb like that. More likely, she didn't want to dress me up in all those winter clothes. So... Lyric was outside, dressed in her parka and gloves and boots, throwing snowballs and catching snowflakes on her tongue-- and I was standing at the living room window on the couch, dressed in sweatshirt and diapers, watching someone else have fun. To think that I had ended up this way because I had wanted to play in the snow!
I got disgusted and went back to watching TV. A commercial came on, and I had to go pee, so I walked into the bathroom and lifted the lid, making sure it wasn't going to fall back down (ouch!) before trying to figure out how to undo the tapes. Suddenly, Mom burst through the door, frantic. "No. NO! Kevin, get out of there!!" she yelled, and picked me up so quickly, it was scary. "Buh.. buh..." I started, and if she could understand me, she might have said "No buhs, young man!" Instead, she took me on out of there and dumped me into the playpen.
"You scared Mommy to death! Don't EVER go in there!" she said, wagging her finger. "You are too young for that! That's why you wear those," she said, pointing to the diapers. "If Mommy catches you in there again, you're in for a spanking. Do you understand?"
I nodded me head, tears running down my face. At that moment, I couldn't hold it anymore. I could actually hear myself peeing in my pants. Mom's face changed from angry to sorry as she watched me cry. "Oh honey, you didn't understand. Here you were, trying to be like a big boy, and Mommy yelled at you."
She looked at me, and for a moment, I hoped that, maybe, she would get the idea that I was getting old enough to use a bathroom like a "big kid". Instead, she said, "Kevin, don't be in such a hurry to grow up." This, from the same person who tells me all the time, "Oh, grow up!" She had no idea how much of a hurry I WAS in. All I could hope for was that when Dad came home, and Mom asked him about the lockbox, it would no longer be out of reach. "I don't even want to think about how many times my diapers have been changed today," I said to Omniar as Mom held me. Uh-oh. Had I just said "my" diapers? I was getting a little too used to this arrangement. "I need to get to that ring!" I said to him.
While Mom was changing me, I gogt the impression that she didn't really want me to grow older, which made absolutely no sense to me. Babies do so many gross things, and you have to do everything for them, so you would think that that would be the one part of a child's life that a mom would want to get out of the way as soon as possible, right? But she seemed to be happy with me just the way I was right now. God help me if Mom ever gets a hold of that wishing ring, I thought, and all sorts of horrible possibilities occurred to me. For the first time since this began, I was scared, and nothing Mom tried could keep me from crying...
TO BE CONTINUED