Chapter Description: Clark gets a nasty reminder about the status of his potty training and more importantly the students he left behind when he was Adopted.
Potty training isn’t natural. For anyone. Little, Tweener, or Amazon: learning how to use the toilet is a skill that is taught, complete with procedure as well as etiquette. Same with things like knowing how to swim or eat with silverware. No, I’m not saying that if left to their own devices, people will pee and poop themselves for the entirety of their natural lives. Bladder and bowel control strengthens with age and increases with natural practice and time. In that regard, it’s just like walking. Barring a medical condition, most people will learn how to do it on their own and at about the same pace as everybody else.
Potty training is more than walking, I’d argue. It’s a precise set of skills and social norms that are practiced and mastered to the point of it becoming second nature so that we consciously forget that much of the act and attitudes surrounding are societal constructs rather than a physical need.
Back when I was a preschool teacher, a big part of my job was potty training kids. I’d teach letters and shapes and numbers and sight words and some basic Math along with Science and Social Studies. I did all of that. I also did a lot of potty training. A lot. Most of my students knew how to write their names before Kindergarten. Most could count and do basic addition. Most knew all of their letter names and sounds. Most. But all of them, without exception, were potty trained by the time they left me.
I’m not an expert- I’m not sure you can be an expert at such a thing- but I’ve got experience to inform my opinions.
The kid who wets their pants and goes on about their day until an adult changes them or forces them to change definitely isn’t potty trained. Neither, I’d argue, is the kid who feels the need to go, then yanks down his pants and pees right on the floor. Yeah, he didn’t pee in his pants, and he purposefully undressed himself enough to keep his clothes clean, but being potty trained isn’t the same thing as being continent.
Potty training also involves concepts like hygiene, shame, and autonomy. It’s procedures, like ‘Go into the special room and empty yourself’ and ‘clean up when you’re done’. It’s also attitudes like ‘Don’t let anybody but the most trusted and intimate people in your life see you naked or even in your underwear’ and ‘Don’t talk about it beyond expressing the need to go to explain why you’re walking away’. It’s a skillset, but part of that skillset is social etiquette. I’d go so far to argue that a person isn’t really potty trained, as far as society is concerned, until it’s so natural to them that nobody would think to ask if they were potty trained. Potty training is complete when obeying social norms regarding the bathroom appears natural.
The process, attitudes, and expectations have become so ingrained into society that most people consider it less a skill and more of something that naturally develops of its own accord. It’s why small children can be carted around in nothing but diapers and be checked and changed openly; but if they’re potty trained, the underwear stays under and concealed. Modesty has officially become a thing.
The diaper taped to somebody’s hips is a giant flag to everyone that a given child doesn’t have the autonomy, hygiene, or sense of shame to care for themselves or be embarrassed that they can’t care for themselves. And throughout history, Amazons have somehow used all of these unspoken assumptions to make it so people smaller than them were also viewed as children and not deserving or in possession of autonomy, hygiene, or shame. In a completely fucked up way, Little and Tweeners are never potty trained, because the giants never stop asking us if we are.
And because it’s seen as a developmental milestone, instead of a skill, nothing less than pure perfection will ever be enough for them. If Amazons treated sports like they treated potty training, a single missed pass or fumbled football would result in that player being fired and banned from the sport. A missed free throw or layup would ruin your chances at making it into the Hall of Fame. Accidentally swallowing a gulp of pool water would earn you floaty wings for life.
You get the idea. If you’re reading this, it’s more than likely that you’ve seen it happen to someone.
On my first day as a student in Beouf’s class, Billy had told me that he wasn’t incontinent, just ‘unpotty trained’. This was right after he’d shit his pants at breakfast and then chowed down with gusto.
I didn’t understand then. By the middle of my third week, I was beginning to understand.
Ivy and I were at an ‘independent work’ station during centers. “Come on, Clark,” she poked me in the arm. “It’s your turn.” She pointed to the towering mishmash of shining metal. Common sense said it shouldn’t be as tall as it was, the way it leaned and zig zagged at random angles made it look like it should have come crashing down long ago. Amazon technology and common sense rarely intersect in the big scheme of things. This monstrosity had a magnetic field or something keeping it up and giving the stink eye to gravity.
Tired as I almost always was, I dragged the flat of my palm over the left side of my face and groaned. “Come on Ivy. What’s the point? We both know that as soon as I move a piece anywhere, the whole shape is gonna shift and change again.” Come to think of it, magnetism probably wasn’t it. Not thirty seconds ago the top of the tower was pointed at the ground, but I could easily take a piece from the middle and put it on the bottom and there’d be hardly any resistance.
Tiny robots maybe?
“You’re just not good at it,” Ivy teased.
Annoyed, I huffed. “You’re not any better.”.
“Uh-huh!” Ivy said, dramatically. “I’m super good at this. You’re just as bad as I am good so we balance out to a happy medium.” Whatever Ivy was before Zoge plucked her up and mindfucked her back into the cradle, she’d retained a fearsome competitive streak.
That was the point of Beouf’s program, though, wasn’t it? Mindfuck and condition the Littles just enough so that they seemed more like ‘baby’ versions of themselves instead of dolls with a set of trained behaviors. Like potty training, we were being trained to have certain behaviors and attitudes to the point where it was second nature to us.
Unfortunately for me, I had that same competitive streak in common with Ivy. “Okay,” I said. “Bet.”
“Bet?” she echoed like she’d never heard the word before.
“You be in charge. Tell me what move to make. I’ll do it. Then you do your move. Then you tell me what to do again.”
The girl looked at me; mystified. “I”d...I’d get to be in charge?”
My teacher senses started tingling. My foot was dangling over a landmine of sorts. It was like my rookie year when I told a bunch of smart ass four year olds to ‘hop on over’. With both children and adults convinced that they’re children, the use of language is very important; even with ‘good kids’.
“You’d tell me what pieces to take and where to put them. That’s it.”
“And...and you’d listen?” Ivy’s mouth was agape. You’d think I’d just offered her a treasure chest or a life saving operation.
“Yeeeeah…?” I almost felt sorry for her. I didn’t, but I almost did. “Ivy? Are you okay?”
“Nobody ever…” She grabbed her pacifier from the clip and gave it a few suckles. She breathed in and out through her nose. After about ten seconds she spit it out. “Okay. Let’s do it! Let’s bet. Take the zig zaggy piece over there and put it over-”
I waved my hands in front of her face to stop her. “That’s not the bet! That’s not what bet means!” Ivy stopped. She looked confused but let me explain. “The bet is I follow your directions, and if the puzzle collapses, then...then…” Crap!
I had no idea in that moment. They say go big or go home, but my home was ashes so…. “Then you’ll have to do what I say for a center!” Brilliant! A blank check!
“Okay!” the twisted Little said. “But if it’s good, I get a kiss. A Grown-Up one!”
I swallowed and exhaled. Ivy hadn’t yet outgrown her bout of puppy love with me, and was still fixated on me being some kind of expert on ‘adultness’ or whatever. I don’t think she ‘like-liked’ me or felt any particular sexual attraction towards me. I just happened to intersect at all the right crossroads between ‘peer’ and ‘adult’ for her. I was a fascination. I was a phase.
No guts, no glory. “Okay.” I said. “Sure.” If I started making out with her in the middle of the room, that would definitely get two or three Amazons riled up by the end of the day. Might make my real friends jealous that I’d pulled it off, too. Would it really be so bad to lose? “Yeah. Let’s do this. What do you want me to do first?”
The Full Native Little pointed in the middle of the spire. “Take that zig zaggy piece there.” She got up from the hard plastic seat and stood up on her tippy toes and reached her hands well above her head. “And put it riiiiiiight here.”
Standing up with her arms over her head and leaning forward, Ivy’s underwear could be seen at a glance. Had it been actual underwear, it might have been embarrassing for her. It wasn’t actual underwear. As such, it was no more scandalous or humiliating for her or anyone present than her red pinafore dress. No one within thirty feet of her had any expectation for her to have shame or autonomy of any sort.
I took the piece she’d pointed to and stood up. “Okay. Like this?” I stretched with one hand and pulled down on the black t-shirt I’d been dressed in, not wanting anyone to see the waistband of my own disposable undergarment. I wasn’t nearly as unpotty trained as Ivy was.
“A little more to the left. No, the other left! No, the other-other left!”
“That’s where I was putting it the first time!”
“It doesn’t count if you mess it up on purpose!”
I stood on my toes and let go of the back of my shirt. Fuck it. No one would care. “I’m.. Not!” I placed it exactly where Ivy said to. The tower shifted and contracted, becoming oblong and almost spherical. One move had made it almost resemble an egg.
Ivy grabbed a triangle piece. “My turn.” She waddled around the table and placed it near the back, out of sight. The structure contracted again, taking on the shape of a smooth river stone, the kind perfect for skipping rocks. “Okay. One more move!” She waddled back around and pointed to something that I thought was a paperclip. “Put this down here, and we can make a fishy.”
This I had to see. I plucked the paper slip sticking out of the oblong sphere and placed it near the base. A low humming noise sounded in my ears, and the bits of scraps shifted and twisted and turned themselves. It went back to an egg, but didn’t stay that way. From out of the egg, came a metal wire fish, bursting out and turning fragmented bits of shell into fins.
Ivy started singing as the fish formed, the completed part wiggling slightly as it shifted giving the appearance of swimming. “Liiiiiittle shark, do-do, do-do-do-do!” Little shark, do-do, do-do-do-do! Little shark!”
“How did you...?” I asked, scratching my head.
“We did it!” Ivy threw her hands up and started bouncing on the balls of her feet. “Yay!”
“How did you do that?”
“Huh?” Ivy said. “I don’t know. I’m just good at it. Wanna see how to make a horse?”
Kinda. “Not really.”
“Can I get my Grown-Up kiss?” She didn’t wait for me to answer; just puckered her lips and started maneuvering towards me.
Kissing Ivy Zoge, as it turned out, was a bit like jumping off the high dive. It was hypothetically harmless, something I could talk about with confidence to no end, and something that I absolutely dreaded now that it was a very real possibility.
Thank goodness, I’m good under pressure most days. “Okay.” I smirked. I raised my hand and called out. “Mrs. Zoge! Mrs. Zoge!”
Ivy stumbled to a stop and put her pacifier in her mouth. Her Mommy wound her way out from behind the workstation she’d been supervising. “Yes, Clark? What’s wrong?”
“Ivy said she wanted a Grown-Up kiss. Can she have one?”
Zoge looked at the metal fish kept aloft on the table by a single strand of metal. “Since she’s playing nice, yes she can.” She bent over and gave a big sloppy kiss on Ivy’s cheeks. “Mwah! Mwah!” Ivy’s eyes never left me. “I love you, Ivy” She ruffled my hair. “I love you, too, Clark.”
I raised my hand again. “Mrs. Zoge! Mrs. Zoge!”
“Am I a Grown-Up?”
“No, Clark,” Zoge replied.. “You’re a baby.” No irritation whatsoever. To her I was a silly child asking a silly question. To me, I was a lawyer preparing my defense.
“I see…” I smiled back at Ivy. “Thank you for clearing that up, ma’am.”
“You’re welcome, baby.” Before she left, she lifted up the back of Ivy’s dress and pulled back my waistband. Each of our diapers got a squeeze in front. “You’re both soggy, but you’ll make it till lunch.”
It was true. I’d peed at least twice since being changed after breakfast. My diaper was so absorbent that I’d almost forgotten about the first time until I’d started the second time just after snack break. I’d almost forgotten the second time, except when I stood up and felt the slight sag or squeezed my thighs together and felt the solid mass of wet padding pushing back. The rest of the time, it was pretty easy to tune out. Diapers were becoming just another piece of clothing in so many ways.
Neither did I flinch or cringe or tense up when Zoge was checking me. After nearly three weeks someone like Zoge sticking her hand down my pants or making any sort of comment on them had no emotional effect on me; at least not embarrassment.
That’s how unpotty training started for me. These people had checked and changed and remarked on what was happening in my diapers to the point where I was almost numb to it. You can only watch your reflection get changed so many times before the impact is lost. By the beginning of that month, it was just something that happened, same as lunch, or walking to and from class.
I peed and pooped my pants because I wasn’t given any other choice. I learned to get comfortable in a wet diaper and go about my day in one because I didn’t have any other choice. I more or less ignored teachers and other Amazons being fascinated by my crinkling underwear and wiping my butt for me because no alternative was allowed.
Amazons don’t need hypnosis or surgery to make Littles use their diapers. They just need to put Littles in them, not give them an out, and reinforce the new behaviors, etiquette, and social expectations. In that respect, unpotty training isn’t so unlike its inverse. Personally, I suspect that’s how they did it before they figured out hypnosis and faster forms of forcing Littles into being their dolls. After that they just got lazy and impatient.
To be clear, I wasn’t even close to completely unpotty trained. A full diaper was still easier to sleep in than a full bladder or cramping bowels, but I wasn’t a bed wetter. Barring some of the circumstances described in previous chapters, I tended to try and wait till I had some measure of privacy to mess. Peeing was done in circumstances where I wasn’t the center of attention.
I still held onto that control and need for privacy. I still felt my pulse quicken when someone who wasn’t taller than me saw my cartoonish plastic backed padding. My bladder and bowels hadn’t been completely busted, but the shame and anxiety I felt with Janet slipping her fingers past the leak guards or Beouf plopping me down on a table had pretty much evaporated.
I wasn’t bothered at all when Zoge looked to see if I’d soiled myself, and proclaimed me soggy.
For just a second though, I realized that I wasn’t bothered. That bothered me.
“You cheated,” Ivy said to me, looking like a cat that had been petted the wrong way. “I wanted a kiss from you.”
I crossed my arms and smirked. “Am I a Grown-Up?”
“No…” Far be it from Ivy to contradict her Mommy.
“Then how can I give you a Grown-Up kiss?” Ivy’s nose wrinkled and she looked like she was going to say something, but I managed to sneak in. “You said you wanted a Grown-Up kiss. You didn’t say that it had to be from me.” Like I said: With both children and adults convinced that they’re children the use of language is very important.
“You tricked me.”
Baiting Ivy was almost as fun as baiting an Amazon. It wasn’t, really, but it almost was. “Yeah. Too bad. What are you gonna do? Throw a tantrum? That’ll just get us sent over there,” I thumbed over to the back door.
Ivy got one of her deer in the headlights gaze and looked at the door leading to my old classroom. “No we won’t,” she said.
“Maybe you won’t go, but-”
“Nobody’s gonna go over there anymore.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “People go over there all the time.”
“Not since you got here.”
I made to deny it, but she was right. In three weeks, no one, not even me, had been sent out of the room for punishment. I’d been parked on the naughty stool plenty of times (though objectively speaking, not as many times as I’d deserved it). Not once had I been sent to my own room for timeout. No one else had either.
“Why?” That question was not directed at Ivy.
Didn’t mean she lacked an answer. “I heard my Mommy talkin’ to Mrs. B. on the phone, but she made me promise not to tattle.” She had her hands behind her back and was grinning like a toddler who’d peeked at her birthday presents.
I puffed my cheeks out. “What’s it gonna ta-?”
“Kiss me.” She was already puckering up. At this point she didn’t even want the kiss as much as she wanted the win.
“On the forehead.”
“On the lips.”
“On the cheek. Final offer.”
I looked to the left. I looked to the right. I looked in front and behind. No one was watching. A side benefit of being paired with the class’s biggest snitch. I gave Ivy the lightest, daintiest, little peck on the cheek possible. “Mwah. There.”
If he’d been closer I would have broken Billy’s jaw. In turns, everyone looked at me, then Ivy, then Billy, before collectively shrugging and ignoring us. Beouf and Zoge each had a suspicious eye on me, but otherwise weren’t saying or doing anything yet.
“Just tell me,” I hissed. “Why isn’t Beouf sending anybody else over there?” Maybe a condescending, know-it-all Little really was a secret prerequisite of the program.
Ivy leaned in close. “When you were gone, Billy got sent to the new teacher’s room. He came back crying real bad.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I whispered. “I know.”
“My Mommy and Mrs. Boeuf talked on the phone. They said-”
A crack of thunder blasted through the room when the backdoor swung open and battered the wall. I jumped. The high pitched, completely terrified wail that followed drew me in.
Standing in the doorway, with a diapered Little under her arm like he was a sack of potatoes, broad shouldered and scowling, was Miss Ambrose. Her hair was done up in a terrible beehive. Her white blouse was fastened with tiny faux pearls embedded in the buttons and bits of lace were embroidered at the wrist and collar. Her skirt, dark and black, stopped past the ankles concealing her feet. If not for her thundering, monstrous strides, she might have seemed to glide across the floor because you couldn’t see her tremendous feet.
Had she not been so ogreish and terrifying, she might have looked funny. She didn’t look funny, however. Not at all. She was a sneering, scowling monster, the kind that Little parents used when describing Amazons to scare their children into behaving. Like the Big Bad Wolf, she was a kind of wild animal with only the thinnest veneer of decency. And like Little Red Riding Hood everyone else played along more out of fear and politeness rather than naivety.
“Sorry to interrupt, Mrs. Beouf,” she boomed, “but I’m calling in that favor. I need to use your classroom for a time out!”
“Noooooooo!” The Little wailed. “Noooooo! I’m not a baby! Not a baby!”
Without warning, Ambrose thundered in. My head swiveled. Who was that? How had one of us gotten into my old classroom? They were getting a high five after this was over.
“NOOOOO!” Too late, it hit me. It wasn’t one of us. That wasn’t a Little. That was a child. A real one. One of my kids! Stripped down to nothing but a diaper, Elmer, my Tweener student from last year, sobbed pathetically while draped under Ambrose’s right arm. “I’m! Not! A….. Nooooooooo!”
“Someone doesn’t want to be a big boy and go potty when he’s told to like all the other big boys and girls!” Ambrose said.
Beouf stood up. “I’m sorry Miss Ambrose but-”
Ambrose talked over Beouf. “Then someone got all antsy when I put them in a diaper just in case!” She kept walking in like she owned the place, making a beeline for the bathroom. “But big boys don’t have to worry about wearing a diaper. They can hold it in, can’t they?”
Elmer’s response can’t be quoted as much as described as the wailing gibberish of a devastated and panicking four year old.
“Miss Ambrose, you’re interrupt-”
“Then someone couldn’t hold it in and wouldn’t wait like a big boy to be taken to the potty. Someone had an accident! Big boys don’t have accidents.” The door to the bathroom was always open. Everyone in the room jumped again when Ambrose slammed it shut.
Ivy was shaking. “They said they’d help her with time out if she helped them,” she whispered to me. “After Billy, they hoped she’d just forget.”
I’d figured it out. Elmer- one of the nicest, sweetest and brightest kids I’d ever taught- was completely potty trained. Last year, he just quietly went whenever he needed to. Sometimes I’d give him the opportunity and he’d take it or leave it, but the kid knew how to listen to his body and didn’t abuse the courtesy. Ambrose was having the students take scheduled potty breaks and diapered him because he’d opted out. Then, this ogre, this Amazon’s Amazon, stalled things until the kid’s bladder gave out and was in the process of humiliating him even further.
“Don’t close your eyes! Look what you did! That’s what the mirror’s for!” Even with the door closed, we heard every word. No one else was talking, and the only thing louder than Elmer’s screams was my replacement’s admonitions.
The sounds of tapes being ripped off the landing zone ignited a redoubling of Elmer’s cries. All of us trapped in diapers winced and looked down at our waists. It had been much later in life, but we’d all gone through what was happening to Elmer. Hopefully in the kid’s case, it wasn’t permanent.
Beouf and Zoge stared at each other, paralyzed. Beouf was clenching her fists and starting to maneuver out from her kidney table, but based on her body language, she was obviously hesitating. She was angry, but more than that she was confused. No one talked like that to Melony Beouf, not even Brollish. She looked like a dog might if a cat ever managed to bark at it.
Zoge was starting to walk around the room and give empty but comforting pats on the head and shoulders to anyone who would accept it. She started whispering kind, reassuring words in Yamatoan.
Me? I was going to kill this bitch. I was going to waddle up to the bathroom, wait for her to open the door, scale the changing table, leap over her shoulder and rip her goddamn fucking throat out with my fucking teeth! I’d clamp down on her mother fucking jugular and pierce her fucking rhino hide until I was drenched in her bastard blood. I was going to be the first Little ever convicted of homicide on an Amazon. They’d have to invent new words for what I wanted to do to her.
Nobody fucked with my kids. And, adopted or not, Elmer was still one of my kids.
Ivy saw the murder in my face. “Clark! Don’t! Just let the Grown-Ups handle it!”
“NOOOOO! I’LL BE GOOD! I’LL BE GOOOOOOOOD!”
“Too late for that.”
I ignored her and walked right on by. I was jerked to a stop as she hugged me around the shoulders. “Clark! Please!” Ivy whispered.
Fuck that sellout. I couldn’t break her freakish iron grip, but Ivy wasn’t quick enough to stop me from slipping out. I dropped all of my body weight to the floor, hunched my shoulders forward and scrambled on all fours away from her and towards the bathroom. When Ambrose came out I was going to trip her up like a cat and then do a cannonball on to the back of her motherfucking skull. I’d stomp until something cracked.
A body piled on my legs. I looked back and saw Chaz. “Clark,” he said. “Stop!”
“Let me go,” I told Chaz, “or I’m going to kick you in the head.” It was strange how clearly I was able to enunciate threats just then.
Chaz tightened his grip on my knees in time with Elmer’s shrieks. “Fuck you, dude. I’m not letting you.”
Annie came and sat down in front of me, blocking my view of the bathroom door. “Ha-ha! Just Littles playing silly games! Nothing to see here. Right?” She gave me a worried look. “Right?”
Billy was pawing at Beouf, trying to distract so she didn’t see the scuffle. Completely unnecessary. Her eyes were as glued to the bathroom door as my own.
Nonetheless, my crew was running interference...on me. Ivy was saying something in Yamatoan to Zoge. My friends and Ivy were doing everything they could to stop me and protect me from myself. Them seeming to agree that I was being stupid was enough to wake me up from my own particular brand of crazy. I should have been proud.
The bathroom door slammed open. Annie and Chaz scattered. I’d made it up to Beouf’s desk so I got a good view of Elmer being carried out, and still bawling. “If you want to act like a Little,” Ambros said. “Why don’t you spend some time with them? Do you want that?”
She put Elmer down in the reading area on a bean bag. “I’ll be right back, Mrs. Beouf. Promise. Five minutes.”
Elmer found enough of his words to plead to Ambrose’s retreating back. “I’ll be good! I’ll be gooooooood! I’ll go potty when you tell me to! I’ll go potty when you tell me tooooooo!”
The door thundered closed behind Ambrose. Beouf and Zoge made eye contact with one another. “Go,” her assistant said. An instant later and Beouf was out of the room.
I got up off the floor. I started heading to the reading center. I was going to talk to Elmer. I was going to comfort my kid. I could do this. It would be easy and it was something I was good at.
With longer legs and nothing to throw off her stride, Zoge beat me to the punch. “It’s okay, dear,” Mrs. Zoge said to the boy, kneeling and stroking his hair. “You’re not in trouble. You didn’t do anything wrong. This is all just a big misunderstanding. You’ll see. Sometimes even Grown-Ups make mistakes.”
Muffled noise came from the space between mine and Beouf’s rooms. Beouf and Ambrose were definitely exchanging words. The doors were thick enough and Elmer was loud enough to where I couldn’t make out exactly what was being said, but neither of them sounded particularly happy based on the tones. I didn’t care about that. I just wanted to help my kid. I was going to nudge Zoge aside and show her how it was really done.
What came out of poor Elmer’s blubbering innocent mouth turned my blood cold and stopped me dead. “I’m not a Liiiiiiiittle!” he sobbed.
Zoge sighed and rubbed his back. “I know. You’re not. You’re very big. You’re a very big boy.”
“I can go potty! I’m a big boy! I can grow up! I’m! Not! A! Little! I’m BIG! I’m bi-i-i-i-i-ig!” Elmer caught sight of me, looked down at the diaper he’d been trapped into, and devolved into further incomprehensible bawling.
Try as she might, Zoge couldn’t console the boy. She could only hold him in her lap and gently whisper sweet nothings to him while his body racked itself with shame and humiliation.
So much shame.
Ashamed for looking like me.
Not a Little.
He could grow up.
One of the sweetest and brightest kids I’d ever taught.
One of mine...
I changed course. The door to the Nap Room was left open a crack. Someone must have seen me slip in. It was impossible not to. No one called out to me. No one came in to check on me or tried to drag me out. Or comfort me.
It made it easier for me to pop a pacifier in my mouth and scream into a pillow.