(Silverstone Household, June 8th, 1994)
Amanda sat on the living room floor, watching The Little Mermaid and clutching her Cabbage Patch doll. Her mother sat on the couch, reading the latest issue of “Parents” magazine. She poured over the articles, curious as to how parenting advice had changed over the past two decades. She began to read an article about the educational potential of a new thing called the “Internet” when she noticed her daughter fidgeting.
“Amanda? Are you ok honey?” she asked, turning the page of the magazine.
“Yea Mommy” Amanda replied absentmindedly, her attention dedicated to the colorful animation on the TV in front of her. Over the past few days, she’d found it increasingly more difficult to break her attention away when she was engrossed in an activity. Playing and having fun had become the dominant concerns in her life, while other needs, including those of her body, received lower priority. Despite having had several “close calls” in the past few days with regard to her toilet needs, she remained confident in her ability to ignore the calls of nature until she was ready to answer them.
As she stood up to dance and sing with Sebastian the Crab, she felt something warm between her legs. She pressed her hand against her shorts and realized that they were damp. Suddenly, she realized that she had wet herself and had to use the potty. She ran towards the bathroom, almost stumbling as she reached for the door handle. She approached the toilet, desperately trying to pull her shorts down without unbuttoning them first. She strained, causing her to wet herself again.
Finally, she got her shorts down to her ankles, but it was too late. Amanda crouched down and began relieving herself in front of the toilet. It was her first serious accident since she had begun to regress. Her mother entered the bathroom and saw her daughter squatting with a pool of urine pooling under her feet.
“Oh no, honey…….” she said sympathetically, walking over to her daughter and picking her up to sit her on the toilet. Amanda watched her mother clean up the mess she had made, her legs dangling over the seat and failing to touch the ground. She looked down and realized that even if she had managed to get her panties off, she still would have had trouble making it onto the seat by herself. For the first time, Amanda realized that she was too small to use the toilet by herself anymore. Now, her mother would need to accompany her the bathroom whenever she had to go. The embarrassment of it all made Amanda begin to cry.
“I know, honey. Mommy knows you didn’t mean to,” her mother assured, balling up Amanda’s shorts and panties and placing them in the bathroom sink. She knelt beside her daughter, kissing her on the cheek and rubbing her shoulders softly. She then took her off of the toilet and placed her standing in the tub as she began to run the warm water.
Amanda watched as the tub began to fill. The sound of the running water began to relax her despite her distraught state. She looked down as the water reached her feet and then realized that she had started to urinate once more.
“Mommy! I’m going again!” she exclaimed, attempting to stop the flow but finding it difficult to do so. The muscles that had so reliably allowed her to control her bladder had seemingly weakened overnight.
Amanda’s mother decided to simply let her daughter use the tub as opposed to placing her back on the toilet. Instead, she waited for her to finish, then took a washcloth and began to clean her. Amanda stood still, her hands on her mother’s shoulders as she was cleansed.
“Mommy?” Amanda asked as her mother began to dry her off. “Am I gonna be a baby?”
It was a question that caused her mother to feel as if a knife had been run through her heart. Seeing her daughter so vulnerable made her feel a heavy sadness that slowly turned to guilt. Up until now, Amanda seemed unconcerned about the changes that were happening almost daily. She had hoped that as long as she was there for her, she wouldn’t be bothered by them. Instead, she now realized that her daughter seemed to know what her ultimate fate would be.
“I don’t wanna be a baby……..I wanna be a big girl……” she whined, burying her face into her mother’s shoulder. Amanda sputtered a few choked sobs, then began to cry. Her mother lifted her out of the tub, wrapping her in the towel she had used to dry her off. She carried her to the couch, cradled her in her arms and rocked her as she wept.
(Silverstone Household, June 12th, 1994)
As the days went on, Amanda’s accidents had become more and more frequent, with only her bowel movements consistently making it into the potty. She now needed her mother to help her onto the toilet and to wipe her when she was finished. Worse, she had begun to wet herself at night. Amanda’s mother decided to spare her the indignity of putting her in diapers before bed, opting instead to place rubber sheets under her before putting her down for the evening.
Amanda’s mannerisms and habits had become much more infantile as well. She now sucked her thumb for comfort. She could still feed herself, but her coordination had begun to deteriorate, causing her to spill food on herself sometimes.
Her vocabulary had diminished substantially. Her verbal efficiency in explaining concepts had regressed, causing her to often use multiple short sentences to explain things to her mother. She often mispronounced words, saying them incorrectly but getting “close enough” that her mother could still understand them.
She still enjoyed watching Disney movies, coloring and playing with her dolls, however she found herself unable to draw as well as she had only a few weeks prior. Her mother had still allowed her to make simple choices, such as picking out which outfits she wanted to wear or which books she wanted to have read to her. While Amanda could still recognize some words and what they meant, she found it harder and harder to read complete sentences.
One day, Amanda was coloring when she asked her mother to take her to the potty. Her mother did so, lifting her up and sitting her on the toilet. When she pulled her panties down, she realized that Amanda had already partially relieved her bowels in them. She handed Amanda a book to read and then discretely took the panties off of her daughter’s legs, balling them up and placing them in the sink. Amanda didn’t seem to notice as she read the book her mother had given her.
After she had finished going potty, Amanda’s mother wiped her, allowing her daughter to flush the toilet herself “like a big girl”. Amanda put her book down and looked at her ankles, confused as to where her panties went. Her mother told her to stay put, then came back into the bathroom holding a Pull-Up and presenting it to her daughter.
“Where my big girl panties go?” she asked, puzzled as to what happened to them.
“Mommy has to do laundry, so she’s going to wash them. We don’t have any clean underwear left, so why don’t you wear these until Mommy finishes the laundry?” she offered, holding them out for Amanda to step in them. Amanda looked at them skeptically, noting that while they looked like her regular underwear, there was something “off” about them.
“Go ahead, sweetie. They’re just like your big girl panties, see?” she said, stretching them. Amanda hesitantly stepped into the left legging, then the right.
“Pull them up, sweetheart. They’re panties!” her mother said matter-of-factly. Amanda pulled them up, then down, then back up again as if to test whether or not they really were like the underwear she was used to. Her mother watched pensively, praying that she wouldn’t realize what they really were. Amanda looked up at her mother, smiled, then pulled her shorts back up over them.
“Ok, all done Mommy!” she exclaimed, running out of the bathroom and back to her coloring.
Her mother exhaled, relieved that her daughter hadn’t rejected the absorbent undergarments. It was a small victory, but one she would gladly take. She knew that the next transition wouldn’t be an easy one. She also sensed that the day where the last remnants of Amanda’s old life would be removed from the house was approaching quickly. She hoped her mother’s intuition would serve her well.
(Silverstone Household, June 17th, 1994)
“Amanda, honey? Are you going potty?” her mother asked.
Amanda sat on her training potty, holding her doll and watching cartoons as she sucked her thumb. The sound of water striking plastic was heard as her mother prepared her lunch.
“Yea mommy” she replied, looking down to see if she was still going. When she was finished, she called her mother over to help clean her. Her mother touched two fingers to the inside of her Pull-Up before pulling them up to her daughter’s waist. Finding them damp, she took the wet Pull-Up away and placed her daughter in a clean one. Amanda had grown to accept Pull-Ups as her new underwear, which had made life much easier for her mother. She now wore them to bed, often waking up with them soaking wet. Amanda didn’t seem to care or notice, seemingly viewing them as a much more absorbent version of regular “big girl” underwear.
While she initially resisted having to use a training potty, she soon found that the convenience of relieving herself without straying too far from her activities outweighed her embarrassment in having to use it. It was a simple system: she would walk a few feet, sit on the plastic seat and do her business. Her mother would come, clean her and then take the plastic container away while Amanda returned to whatever activity she was engaged in. It also made her feel a degree of greater independence, as she didn’t need her mother’s help to sit on it.
It was just as well, as Amanda’s favorite new toy was a baby doll that she called “Belle”. Amanda spent hours with Belle, feeding her, rocking her to sleep and changing her diapers. Caring for the doll made Amanda feel a sense of responsibility, which in turn distracted her from the disturbing thoughts she occasionally had that she was becoming a baby herself. After all, how could she be a baby if she was taking care of one?
Amanda’s mother watched as her daughter played with her new doll, nervously looking at the cordless phone and photo laying on the table in front of her. Was today the day? Would it be too soon? She looked at the photo, which depicted Amanda at roughly two-and-a-half years old. She looked at Amanda, then at the photo, then back at Amanda. After a few minutes, she decided to make the phone call that she had been waiting all week to make. She took the cordless phone from the kitchen, then slipped into the pantry. She re-emerged after a few minutes, then walked over to her daughter.
“Amanda? It’s so nice outside today! Why don’t we go to the back yard and you can take Belle and show her all the pretty flowers!” she cheerily announced. Amanda shot up, clutching Belle in her arms.
“Yay! Outside!” she squealed, running towards the sliding glass door that adjoined the living room. Her mother gathered up a few of her toys and a blanket, grabbed her by the hand and took her to the backyard.
About twenty minutes later, Amanda’s mother heard the sound of trucks pulling up to the front of the house. Amanda sat on the blanket, coloring as her mother got up from her folding patio chair and walked a few feet away from her. She looked up and noticed her mother waving to someone, then saying something about the front door being unlocked. Uninterested, she returned to coloring.
For the next hour, Amanda sat outside with her mother, playing with her toys and running around in the soft, warm grass. At one point, she walked about picking violets from the ground. She put them in a bundle and then brought them to her mother.
“For you, Mommy!” she said, offering them up to her while smiling.
Her mother took the violets from her daughter’s hand as Amanda picked up Belle and began to give her a bottle. She looked down at the bouquet her daughter had made. She had been trying her hardest to stay strong since making the phone call, but now she’d been broken. She turned away from her daughter and began to cry softly, covering her mouth while trying to regain her composure. Then, she heard the trucks start up and drive away. They were gone and with that, her daughter’s former life was gone with them. It was time to start over. She took a deep breath composed herself, got up from her chair and then sat down next to her daughter on the blanket as she continued to feed her doll.
Amanda picked up Belle after her bottle, walking around the blanket and telling her what a good girl she was for drinking all of it. Amanda then stopped, settling into a half-squat with a look of confusion on her face. After a few seconds, she knelt back down next to her mother on the blanket, sitting Belle in between them.
A few moments later, Amanda noticed a foul smell. She turned to Belle, picking her up and facing the doll towards her.
“Uh oh! Belle, goed potty?” she asked, turning the doll around and checking its diaper.
“Belle need diapuh change momma”......she said, laying the doll on the blanket.
As Amanda began to change her doll, her mother leaned behind her, sniffing her backside.
“Amanda, honey? Did you go potty?” she asked, unfastening the straps to Amanda’s overalls.
“No momma. Belle goed potty” she replied nonchalantly, opening up her doll’s diaper. Her mother allowed the overalls to fall to the ground, then pulled the rear of Amanda’s Pull-Up away from her. She peered inside and saw what her daughter had done. She waited for Amanda to finish changing Belle, then told her it was time to go back inside.
She picked Amanda up, carrying her towards the house. As they made their way back inside, Amanda wondered why it still smelled stinky around her. After all, she had just changed her doll. Why did she still smell bad?
She looked over her mother’s shoulder as she carried her, noticing that there were footprints on the tiled floor of the foyer near the front door. The prints led back and forth from the stairs. Amanda tried to make sense of it all as she was carried up the stairs and down the hallway. When her mother opened the door to her room, her eyes grew wide with surprise.
All of her furniture was gone. A crib resided where her bed used to be, while the dresser that contained her clothing was replaced by a changing table, stocked with diapers, wipes and baby powder. The desk where she did her homework had vanished, replaced by a diaper pail. Stuffed animals lined the top of a small row of cubbies which contained various toys. Amanda stared in confused silence.
“Momma?” she asked, turning her head around to take in the room. “Where room go?”
Her mother walked her to the changing table, laying her down on her back. Amanda once again noticed the stacks of disposable diapers. She began to realize what her mother was about to do. But why? Why was her mother doing this to her? Why had she gotten rid of all of her big girl things? Why was her mother about to put a diaper on her? She was small, but she wasn’t a baby!
“No momma……pwease……notta baby…..notta baby…..” she pleaded as her mother began to tear the sides of her Pull-Up away.
“Shhhh, I know honey, I know….” her mother cooed, pulling the soiled garment down between her daughter’s legs. Amanda picked her head up from the changing table and saw what was in her Pull-Up. She realized for the first time that the foul smell that had been following her wasn’t from Belle. Amanda went numb, entering a state of shock. All of her fears about becoming a baby had come true.
Amanda remained silent and compliantly limp as she was changed. She barely felt her mother wiping her clean as she stared up at the ceiling, still attempting to process what was happening. Her mother tossed the dirty Pull-Up in the diaper pail, then took a disposable diaper from the stack and unfolded it, sliding it under Amanda’s freshly-wiped bottom as it crinkled loudly.
The light, babyish-smelling perfume of the diaper reached Amanda’s nose, then the scent of baby powder as it was sprinkled onto her. She felt her mother gently rub the powder into her skin, then felt her draw the front of the diaper up between her legs. She heard the sound of the tapes being fastened on to either side, feeling the diaper become more snug and secure around her waist. Her mother then sat her up and Amanda felt how much softer the diaper was than her Pull-Up. She felt as if she was sitting on a cloud. She tried to stand up, but the added thickness of the diaper made it a bit more difficult. When she finally managed to rise to her feet, she looked down at her diaper, then surveyed the contents of her new room once more. Then, she looked at her mother, screwed her face and began to cry hysterically.
Her mother picked her up, bouncing her up and down and attempting to calm her as Amanda wailed in an outpouring of repressed emotions consisting of despair, anger and shame. For the first time in weeks, she thought about her former life and what she had been reduced to. A hurricane of memories swept through her mind. Kissing boys, going to concerts and driving to the mall to hang out with her friends. Late nights staying up and watching rented movies and gossiping about classmates. She thought of Meghan and how they used to talk on the phone for hours. She thought of all of the good times she had enjoyed as a teenager. She had buried all of these memories as she had lost more and more of her independence and maturity, not wanting to remember that there was a time when things were different. Now, she had arrived where deep down she knew she would all along: a helpless, diapered baby, completely dependent on her mother for her every want and need. She once again felt anger and resentment towards her mother for what she had done. She balled her fists and swung wildly as she wailed. Her mother pulled her closer while saying something to her, but Amanda couldn’t hear it over her own screams. She tried to push her away, but her mother held on tightly. She kept pushing, realizing that her mother was turning her head each time she tried to grab her face in an effort to be released from her grasp. She pushed once more and saw her mother’s face for the first time since she had picked her up. Amanda suddenly stopped crying, in awe by something she had never seen before.
Her mother was in pain. A lot of pain.
Tears ran down her mother’s cheeks and her face expressed a look of profound hurt and sorrow that stunned Amanda. Her mother looked at her with eyes that begged for forgiveness, repeatedly saying “I’m sorry” as she began to breakdown. She began to feel weak and placed Amanda on the floor as she collapsed into the rocking chair in the corner, covering her face with her hands and weeping bitterly.
“I’m so sorry baby……I’m so, so sorry……Mommy is so sorry….” she repeated, falling to her knees in front of her daughter and doubling over as she began to sob heavily. Her cries made Amanda’s heart hurt and made her forget about all the feelings that had spilled out of her just moments ago. For the first time in her life, she saw her mother as vulnerable and helpless. She didn’t know how to make it better. She just wanted to take Mommy’s hurt away so that she’d stop crying.
She stared down at her mother as she continued to weep, choking for air in between sobs as she sat on the floor with her head buried between her knees. Amanda slowly walked towards her mother, coming to her side.
“Don’t cry momma……” she said softly, fitting as much of her mother as she could around her little arms. Her mother continued to sob with her head buried low, then looked over and saw her daughter staring back at her with a look of concern and worry. Despite everything that had happened to her, Amanda was more concerned about her than anything else in the world right now. She slowly sat back up, turning towards her daughter. Amanda took her thumbs and began to wipe her mother’s tears away. Her mother’s frown slowly turned to a trembling smile as she got on her knees and hugged Amanda. Mother and daughter embraced on the floor of the nursery, each feeling that they were in a moment that had been delayed by many years, but was nonetheless meant to be. Time seemed to stop as one felt what the other was feeling, without the need for words. Amanda’s mother picked her daughter up again, sitting in the rocking chair with her. Amanda clung to her mother, staring up at her and feeling the warmth and love that she now knew her mother had always had for her. Their eyes remained fixed on each other as the chair rocked slowly and steadily. After a few minutes, both were asleep, each dreaming of the other.