Chapter Description: Clark's well laid plans are crumbling and his classmates are regressing despite their defiance. To top it all off, a new Amazon man is sniffing around and is wanting Adoption tips from Janet. Screw that! (Not that Clark is jealous, of course.)
By Tuesday afternoon my frustration had begun to reach a boiling point. “Really?” I said to my group behind the big oak tree. “You guys are really buying into this?” All three held their stuffed animals tight. Even Chaz had perfected a kind of tripod crawl so he could keep his close to his chest.
“Not really,” Annie said. “We’re just going with it. Using it to our advantage. Like you taught us.”
THat last part was like raking nails across a chalkboard and calling it classic rock. “How the fuck is playing with stuffed animals using it to our advantage?”
“How else can we fuckin’ swear and get away with it?” Billy replied. I might have taken him seriously except he made his stuffed T-Rex bob up and down and talked in a cartoonish growly voice when he said it. Sonofabitch thought he was being clever.
Frustrated, I dragged my palm over my face. “By swearing.” I said. “Like a normal fucking adult.”
“Did you say that, or did Lion?”
Billy’s question made me look down at my own stuffed animal, hanging by a paw from my right hand. We were being forced to carry them everywhere. We carried them from the bus to the cafeteria, and back to the classroom. They were in our laps during Circle Time and in our arms on the changing table. We had to carry them and sit them in front of us or beside us at the different stations during center rotations.
I’d lost count of how many times I’d ‘accidentally’ left Lion behind. Beouf and Zoge were always there to pick him up. My protest went unnoticed because enough of the others accidentally left theirs too. Even Ivy. It got to the point where Beouf and Zoge started walking me from one station, checking my visual schedule, and to the next holding Lion for me. It was impossible to get rid of the furry little bastard.
I let him drop to the dust and grass. “The Amazons aren’t around right now, guys. Why are you still pretending?” I took two steps around the base of the tree to get a decent view of the rest of the playground. “Tommy and Jesse are making theirs fly around like superheroes. The girls are having some kind of tea party with theirs, and you assholes are still-”
“Hey,” Annie interrupted, “I’m a girl!”
I huffed and rolled my eyes. “I know, Annie. I meant the other girls. The ones who want to get more mindfucked instead of just regular fucked. That’s all well and good for them. Most of them are at least fifty-one percent of the way there.” I leveled a finger at her. “Why are you still playing with dolls? Why are you doing what you want them to do?”
Billy pouted his lip out. “But we tried that. There’s no wrong way to play with them.” To their credit, all three had made a game of stalling by ‘forgetting’ their stuffies at first, and crawling and waddling back to the last station or center to get them. The Amazons had developed infinite fucking patience on the matter; probably because they had all the time in the world. Real teachers had curriculum maps and big benchmark assessments to worry about. Even a Kindergarten teacher was pressured to make sure their students were sufficiently caught up so they were ready for first grade. Every minute counted in a way.
There was no catching up for us. Ever. So what did five minutes here and five minutes there matter as long as we were behaving within certain parameters?
“Then we shouldn’t be playing with them any more than they make us play with them! Malicious compliance!” It was taking a supreme degree of self control for me not to raise my voice and shout the obvious truth at them.
“You’re the one who said we couldn’t win,” Chaz said. “We can’t escape. Why not make things easier on ourselves?”
I felt myself tugging at my hair. “Because it’s not about making things easier on ourselves. It’s about making things harder on them!” Why couldn’t they see it?
“That’s not what you told me last year.”
“We’re being patient about it,” Annie said. “We’re doing what we’ve talked about. We’re playing along. Looking for openings.” Her argument would have held more weight with me if she weren’t playing with her rag doll’s hair the entire time.
“What if there are no openings with this? What if this is just a trap meant to string you along into accepting your role? Like with Sosa and the boxes?”
Chaz huffed. “So what? This is the first time where I’m able to say something and the Amazons listen, or at least let me talk. I got second helpings at lunch today because I said Chomper was hungry too.”
“Ella got me changed an extra time this morning,” Annie said. “Mrs. Zoge even let me pick the decoration on the next diaper. She normally only does that for Ivy.”
“And you want to be treated more like Ivy because…?”
They had no answer for me. There was a collective shrug. I just turned and walked away, straight for the bench where Zoge and Beouf were. They were potentially better company than what I’d been dealt.
“Everything okay, Clark?” Beouf asked as I approached.
“Yeah.” I lied. I sat down on the ground next to their bench.
“You don’t want to play with your friends?” Beouf asked. “This is your time.”
“I’m well aware,” I snipped. “I just need some quiet. Assuming that’s okay with you.”
Beouf arched an eyebrow; suspicious. “It’s your time, buddy. Just wondering if you had a sad feeling or something.”
“No ma’am. I’m fine.” I made no eye contact. Just glared into the middle distance, trying to get lost in my own thoughts.
Billy came trotting up with Lion. “Hey Clark,” he said to me. “You forgot this.” He didn’t wait to hand my stuffed animal to me. My face fell. Not only because I was not-so-secretly hoping to be invited back and apologized to, but also because it had been the longest time since Billy had called me anything but ‘Gibson’. I liked hearing my old last name.
“Awww,” Zoge remarked from her spot on the bench. “That’s so nice of you, Billy. What do you say, Clark?”
I breathed deep. “Thank you.” Fuck you, Billy.
“No problem!” You too, buddy. You too.
He went waddling back off to his trio. The A.L.L. was more than fraying; we were falling apart, and if I didn’t do something soon, we’d be joining the rest of the class in a toddlerized haze
“Mrs. B.?” I looked up to catch her face. “Does the name ‘Amy Madra’ mean anything to you?”
I was hoping for a flash of surprise or shock from Beouf. I wanted to send her into a flashback like a survivor of a brutal war. I was so keyed into her facial tics that any kind of micro expression would have lit up like a solar flare for me. Eyes widening; nostrils flaring; a sudden exhale; or a clenched jaw. I got none of that. Nothing.
Her face was a mask of pleasant matronly professionalism. She was ready. “Yes, honey. She was a student of mine a few years ago. I think you met her, too. She went to your room for a timeout once.”
“That doesn’t narrow it down.” Zoge chimed in.
“Are you friends with her now?” Beouf asked.
“No,” I said. “Just wondering.”
It was unnerving how at ease she was. “Okie dokie. Tell her I said hi next time you see her.”
Wednesday morning was no better for my mood.
“You look...chipper.” I said to Sosa.
“Thank you, Mr. Grange.” Sosa chirped back at me. “I’m feeling really good today.”
I kept my eyes down, trying to cut out an overly complex shape using completely fucked up scissors. Unlike normal scissors, the blades stayed closed while the handles were forced open. Pressing down on one end would open the other, kind of like the business end of jumper cables. Just like said alligator clips, the blades would snap closed automatically, and because it was Amazonian it took a relatively large amount of pressure for Little hands to bring the two handles together.
One had to squeeze the handles together with a gorilla grip to open the blades, move the scissors to the next point that needed to be cut and then gently release just in case the cut over shot its mark. It felt like the finger equivalent of doing bench presses. To add insult to energy, the damn thing was decorated with a green plastic coating over the blades with scales and eyes drawn on so it looked like an alligator.
“Is Ivy good at this?” I wondered aloud, trying not to stress.
“She’s very good at it.” Sosa told me. “That’s why she doesn't have any therapies.”
“Maybe that’s why she’s so strong,” I grumbled. This was a stalling tactic on my part. I’d reached a part of the shape where the margin for error was so small, one miscalculation and I’d chop the bizarre modern art on construction paper in two. I could have done it well enough with a regular pair of scissors, but the croc-scissors added an unnecessary level of difficulty.
Sosa smirked. “Pfft. Ivy’s not that strong.”
“Maybe not to you,” I growled.
“Then keep on cutting, and maybe you can get as strong as her.” Sosa replied. “Or do you want my help?”
Not this again. I pivoted the conversation. “So why are you in such a good mood?”
The brightest, most non-malicious, most genuine smile lit up Sosa’s face. “I got a new pet.” She seemed so excited to talk about it that I almost felt like vomiting. There was something I hadn’t thought about: Kids that vomit automatically get sent home for the day. More than diarrhea or even fever, School Board policy was particularly squeamish when it came to one’s food going back up the way it came in.
My mouth twisted, and I pretended to concentrate on cutting; impotently opening and closing the blades. “A dog?”
“Nope.” Sosa said. “A birdy. A Rocaw.” I twitched and the blades tore the cut out up accidently. She wasn’t supposed to get that bird! Winters was supposed to get her dog! “Oops. It’s okay. I’ve got extra. We can start again. Do you want me to get you started? I can take over for a bit.”
“No thanks.” I took the cutting sheet and started over, my fingers long since aching. “How’d you-?” No. I couldn’t lead with that. “Is that why you looked tired last week? The bird keeping you up?” Internally, I was hoping she’d slip up and give me a sneak preview into the fight they must have gone through for her to get her way.
Amazons hurting Amazons. Just a hint, just a taste would lift my spirits.
“No, he’s an angel. I just got him, too. My friend wanted a dog. But it didn’t work out.”
I saw an opening. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Did your boyfriend not like the dog?” Couldn’t let her know I knew as much as I did.
“No...sh-they...she did. It was a good dog. I’m just not much of a dog person.”
Darn. She hadn’t mentioned Winters by name, but there had been hesitation there, nonetheless. Probably just didn’t want a ‘baby’ to know about her personal life. “So what happened?” I prodded. “Did you two argue and yell until one of you figured out who was more of an adult? Did you put her in diapers and decide you were the Mommy in the relationship and that you didn’t want a dumb stinky dog?”
There was the faintest hint of a blush in her Sosa’s cheeks. “Don’t be silly, Clark. That’s not how Grown-Ups settle things.” Bullshit it wasn’t. That’s exactly how adults settled things if they were tall enough. “We had to get rid of the dog because it turns out I’m allergic. That’s why I looked like I did last week. My allergies were flaring like crazy.”
“So your friend let you try the bird…”
“Pretty much. We’re going to work on teaching it how to talk this weekend.”
Well sewn discord undone by common allergies. Well….fuck.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
Such a week so far. Such a shitty week. Nothing had gone to plan. Nothing. I’d started out so strong, too.
Thursday night I sat moping on the Community Center’s nursery floor, sitting with my knees up to my chest and my arms wrapped around. My stomach was poking out. “Damn I need to find a way to exercise again,” I said to myself.
What would be the point, though? Janet would probably like it if I had a pudgier, plumper, rounder baby face. That was reason enough to try a starvation diaper and daily 5k sprint, actually.
Feeling stuck in my angry impotence I wanted to hurt something and make it bleed. If Lion had been real I would have sent him on a rampage, and cackle with glee like a mad Roamin’ Emperor. As he was, I left him crammed in the diaper bag with just his head poking out.
The Little Voices meeting had been particularly grating that night. In no small part because it was Janet’s turn to watch the Littles during the back half of the meeting.
And she was absolutely fucking loving it.
“Missus Clark’s Mommy, can you change me? My diaper bag is the one over there.”
“Of course, dear!”
“Missus Clark’s Mommy, listen to this, I can play the Helga Hogg song on this xylophone almost!”
“That’s beautiful! Would you like to play it again?”
“Missus Clark’s Mommy, do you know any new games to play?”
“I’m afraid I don’t, honey. Do you wanna teach some?”
Janet was positively melting everytime a brainwashed Little waddled up to her to interact. I’m surprised she wasn’t a puddle on the floor with the number of times people referred to her as ‘Clarks’ Mommy’. Her melting would have been preferable, in fact. I might have been able to get away with more were she somehow in a liquid state.
No such luck was coming my way tonight. For as much as Janet was loving on the Littles who wanted her brand of loving, her eyes kept darting back to me. Things were going to get a lot worse. I knew that much instinctively.
The Little Voices meeting provided a sense of strength and community for the Amazons so they could all pat each other on the backs and indoctrinate each other on their preferred methods and attitudes. Nursery duty reinforced those attitudes by giving new Mommies and Daddies a glimpse of what they might achieve if only they stick with the program. It was brilliant in an insidious kind of way. Janet was getting an OD on babified Little dolls and would press me even harder to get her fix.
A terrible intrusive thought: What if they let Mark watch the Littles next? I wanted to throw up a little in my mouth at the idea.
A ping from Janet’s phone and she stopped playing with Pink-Haired Mary long enough to check it. A robotic message jumped out from her speakers proclaiming, “You’ve. Got. Diapers.” She smiled and put the phone back.
She’d taken my advice and gotten more diapers via an app. After she realized she couldn’t find the pack of night time Monkeez I’d tossed out of the shopping cart. Even that petty bit of rebellion had failed. I was a monster hunter who was low on silver bullets and my aim was that of an action movie extra.
I heaved a weary sigh that was three inches from becoming a yawn. “Hey Amy…” For somebody who crawled everywhere and tended to use thirteen words when five would do she had a way of sneaking up on me lately.
“You okay, bud?”
Her calling me ‘bud’ made me bristle almost as much as an Amazon calling me ‘baby’. “No. I’m tired and I wanna hurt something.”
“Wanna say something witty and super mean to me?”
Not when she just laid it all out there like that. “No.”
“Ah, well then would you like me to tell you how often your average Albienese octopus drinks tea, how many sugars they take in it and what tentacles they take it with? Though I must confess I’m not sure what they do in instead of sticking their pinky out emus have the same problem, or they would if they drank tea, but they fought a war to not hafta, and everybody knows that they prefer ginger beer now cassowaries, and don’t get me started on casso-”
“Amy…” I interrupted. “could you not? Could you please not.”
“Okay.” She hunkered down and rolled over onto her seat. She straightened the bright white floppy bow that matched her crinkling underwear like she was a news anchor straightening papers. “How can I help?”
I need help that week. Even if it was from a complete and total loon. Any port in a storm.
I pointed to Janet. “How do I hurt her?”
“Why would you want to do that? She seems nice.”
“How?” I repeated myself
She looked thoughtful for a bit and stroked her chin theatrically. “Hmm…First you’ll need some matches and several keg-” the rest came out as muffled nonsense. I slapped my hand over her mouth before she could finish whatever batshit homicidal sentence she was trying.
“I said hurt,” I whispered. “Not murder! Like...get inside her head or whatever but not get in trouble.”
“MMMMMMMMM!” Amy said. “Mmm- mmm-mm-mmm!”
I took my hand off her mouth. “What?
“You wanna brat!” she repeated herself.
Considering one of the titles in Beouf’s library center was entitled ‘Baby or Brat’ I didn’t exactly like the vocabulary. “Kinda. Yeah. I guess.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Much easier. Have you tried swearing? Grown-Ups genuinely don’t like it when you do that. I just think the words are really funny.”
“All week long. Believe you fuckin’ me.” It wasn’t even fun any more.
“What about singing the same song for a long long time?”
“They think it’s cute at first and then they get super sick of it.”
“It goes ‘Two little men in a flying saucer’-!”
Her laugh came out through her nose in quiet little squeaks. Something clicked. “You’re bratting now, aren’t you?”
“Fuck off.” I turned my back to her.
“Does your mommy take you shopping? You could try the shopping cart trick.”
“I already tried it.” I said back over my shoulder. “She just ordered more diapers to replace the ones I tossed.”
More squeaking chirping laughter. Then she said, “Wait? You’re serious?”
“Yeah.” I said. “She noticed it was missing and just got more.”
Amy crawled back around and plopped back down. “Rookie mistake, my duede. You’re not supposed to throw things out of the cart, you’re supposed to throw them in. The more expensive the betterer.”
“Yeah, but then she can just not buy the thing she doesn’t want.”
“Not if you want it badly enough.” The hell did that mean? My expression must have said enough. “What do babies get to do when they don’t get what they want?”
“Then what happens?”
“They cry and…” And...and...it hit me. They make a scene and embarrass their parents and the adults have to find a way to stop the baby from crying, possibly even going so far as to bite the bullet and give in, buying something they didn’t intend on putting in the cart. “...oh.”
She smiled at me. It was the thin, sophisticated, smug smile of an experienced con-artist. “Yup!”
Holy shit. Why hadn’t I thought of that? It was dawning on me that I might be able to learn something beyond random animal facts and nonsense from this woman. “Thank you.” I said, even though it came out as mostly a yawn.
“No problem,” Amy replied. “Sleeping troubles?’
I hung my head. “Something like that.” My eyes flitted to Janet. She seemed bright and peachy, living her best life with not one but three Littles cozying up in her lap so she could read them a pop-up book. “Trouble keeping somebody else awake.”
“Cry louder?” Amy suggested. “I know some excellent songs that might help you work on singing from your diaphragm and prolonging both pitch and volume it goes like this ‘Two little men in a flying sau-’”
“Her room is on the other side of the house and the walls are too thick.”
“Ah.” The more experienced brat said. “Soooo...baby monitor?”
My stomach gurgled and I felt a certain fullness down below. Great. Now I’d have to take a dump before tonight’s bath if I didn’t want to have to sleep in it. I let out another yawn. “Nope. It’s just for show. She turns it off at night.”
Amy turned around like a dog chasing its tail so she could get a better look at my jailer. “Hm? No she doesn’t. She sleeps pretty good and mommies can’t sleep unless they think their babies are safe. Bonus snoozes if baby is happy.”
“Then why can’t she hear me talk about how much I hate her?”
“I don’t know. Maybe the monitor’s broken or something?”
“Have her check it out,” Amy told me. “That’s what Grown-Ups are for.” She left me to yawn and brood for the last ten minutes.
Another downside of Janet working the nursery that night was that we were the last out of the meeting. Once the so-called parents started filing out from their mind-fuckery think tank, they’d come in and check out their Littles and take them home. Meanwhile, I had to wait on Janet’s hip until the last couple of stragglers finished up their conversations and went home with their brainwashed babies.
Tons of cute little rituals and special hugs and nicknames. Mentions of treats on the way home, but only if Mrs. Grange said they were a good baby. Of course they were. Even Bradley got Janet’s approval, and he spent the entire night shaking in a corner muttering about how he liked to pee and poop his pants and suck his thumb.
The bar was so ridiculously low, that Littles had to actively try not to meet it.
“Ready to go?” Janet finally asked me. I was more than ready. But silence had served me best, and I was running out of new tricks to try. “Yes or no? Are you ready? If not, we can stay here longer.”
I growled slightly and nodded my head.
“Uh oh. Somebody’s being a grumpy guts.”
My guts agreed. “Janet?” I said. “Can you take me to the bathroom?” There was no looming emergency or inevitability. This was no first breakfast with Beouf. It was still worth a shot.
“Janet?” She replied disapprovingly.
“What?” I said. “No one else is in here.”
“We’re still in public. Anything outside our house or the car is public. That’s common sense.”
I nibbled on the sides of my tongue to keep myself under control. “Fine. Mommy can you take me to the bathroom?”
“You want to go potty?”
Not in those words but… “Yes.”
“I don’t know,” Janet clucked. “I don’t think they have any potties that will fit you here. You’ll fall in.”
My eyes did a loop. “I’ve been trained for thirty years. I know how to balance on an Amazon toilet.”
“Is your diaper clean?”
My cheeks flushed. “Obviously.”
“Yes or no?”
A quick knock on the door interrupted any kind of answer I had. In stepped the one Amazon without their very own living doll. Black hair that was almost curly, with thick rimmed glasses, Mark came into the nursery uninvited. “Janet?”
“Oh!” Janet brighted. “Hey Mark!” She turned to look at him directly. “What’s up?”
The dork awkwardly scratched the back of his head and broke eye contact. “Nothing. I just...uh..wanted to see what the Little playroom looked like from the inside.” Wow, that sounded creepy. “Wow, that sounds creepy! I’m sorry!” At least he was self aware.
“No,” Janet said. “I know what you mean.”
“Thanks,” Mark blushed. He pretended to look around, but it was obvious he was trying not to look directly at us. The gangly asshole caught me staring at him. “Hi, Clark”
Fuck off, creeper. I turned up my nose.
“He’s feeling kind of shy tonight,” Janet told him.
I blanched. “No I’m not. I just don’t like him.”
“Clark!” Janet gasped. “Be nice!”
Truth be told, I was.
“No, no, no,” Mark laughed. “It’s fine. It’s awesome that Clark feels he can express himself so freely with you around. It means he trusts you and feels safe.”
I had a front row seat of Janet’s cheeks turning rosy. “It does.”
“No it doesn’t!”
“Oh hush,” Janet told me. “You’re just being a fusspot, now.”
Mark flashed a smile Janet’s way. His front teeth were so big and toothy, like a horse’s. I wanted to punch them in but good. “Sounds like a fusspot to me.”
I bit my tongue again as my flaring nostrils picked up the last traces of Janet’s perfume. She’d put it on early that morning, and the very last fading notes of honeysuckle and lilac wafted up my nose. Meanwhile, my crinkling ass still reeked of baby powder.
“Missed you at the back half of the meeting today,” Mark went on. “Frank told this funny story about him and Cecily when she first got adopted that I thought you’d really like and would relate to.”
“Yeah?” Janet said. “I’ll have to ask him to tell it to me before the next meeting.” Yes!
A horse tooth chomped at a swollen toad-like lip. “Yeah,” Mark said. “Yeah...” He hesitated, but only just. “So if it’s not too personal, can I ask you a question?”
“Mommeeeee!” I whined. “Can we go home now? I’m getting sleepy.” I yawned to add to the lie. Didn’t even have to fake that one.
“Just as second, baby.” She lightly jostled me as an almost reflex. After a second thought she asked Mark, “Would you mind reaching into his diaper bag and getting his Lion?”
“Oh yeah. Sure.” I focused with laser eyes as the creep snatched Lion up by his main. “Here you go buddy.”
I grabbed Lion from Mark like I was saving him from a hostage situation. “Thanks.” I didn’t say it like I meant it because I didn’t.
“You’re welcome,” Mark said evenly, like a true Beouffist. Beouffist? Beouffite? Beouffian? Point being he’d clearly read all the same books that Melony had. Little Voices was more popular in his old town. Janet was adopted by this cult. He’d grown up in it. “So...question?”
Janet smiled politely. “Go for it.”
“No offense, but you’re the um...newest Mom in the group, right? Not counting Lois and Bradley, I mean. You’ve only had Clark for a month?”
My ex-coworker shifted her weight uneasily. I gave her a hug. Good. Go with that feeling. “Yeeeeeah….” she said. “Why?”
“How’d you know when you were ready to adopt? How’d you know you were meant to be Clark’s Mommy?” He scratched the back of his head again. Probably because. “It’s just...I want to start my own family and help a Little who needs me and everybody else seems so old hat at this by comparison. I was hoping to talk to somebody who was maybe going through the same stuff I’m going through but more recently.”
I was so surprised by the question that Lion ended up on the ground. Oh hell no! No way was I going to have to live through another retelling of the second worst day of my life.
“Yeah. Janet said. “Sure. So Clark, actually, went to my school..”
“Oh,” Mark interrupted. “Hold on!” He bent over and handed Lion back to me. “Here you go, Clark.”
I took Lion, a little softer that time. “Thank you.”
“Welcome. Go ahead.”
“Thank you,” Janet continued. “And it all started when I got called in to substitute for his class. Just for an hour.”
“Beouf, right? Maturosis and Developmental Plateau Unit?”
“No. His class. Before his Maturosis started expressing himself he was a teacher. Preschoolers.”
“Ooooh! Okay.” As if the very concept that I might have enough brains to teach was a novel concept. I wondered if Mark’s parents had faces as punchable as his. I dropped Lion again. He picked it up. “Here you go, bud.”
Fuck it. Janet didn’t have the finger mittens with her. “Ooops.”
“He’s playing games with you,” Janet told him.
“I know,” Mark said. “I like games.”
“Mommy, can we please go home? I’m tired.” I wanted so many things. To not have to hear this again. To go back to Janet’s house and go to sleep. To get rid of this supremely punchable douche. Lion went on the floor again.
“Put it in the bag,” Janet instructed. She nuzzled me while the fuck boy did as she bid. “If you can’t hold onto your stuffie, he’ll just rest in the bag till we get home.”
“Can we go home?” I pleaded. “Pleeeeeease?”
“In a minute, honey. Mommy’s talking with her friend.”
Mark brightened a bit. My mood turned a shade darker.
“So, before I was his Mommy, we were friends. Then his-”
“J…” I stopped. Somehow her hand had already gotten to the pacifier. “Mommy! Dooon’t!”
“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” Janet replied. She let the pacifier dangle at my onesie’s collar. “Then his Matur-”
“Mommy, you said you were gonna take me to the potty!” How did Amy do this?
“Maturosis started to express itself,” Janet finished her sentence.”
Mark adjusted his glasses. “He’s potty training?”
“Oh no. He’s just going through a phase.” Her free arm hooked and squeezed the front of my Monkeez. “Definitely a phase. He’s trying to push boundaries and see what he can get away with. Insisting he’s bigger than he really is.”
Mark was gaining confidence. “Oh yeah! ‘Terrible twos’ stuff.”
“Terrible thirty-twos,” Janet chuckled.
“I’ve got a brother who's ten years younger than me. I remember when he was two or three and just starting to figure out the potty he’d hold it in for as long as he could, and then decide he had to go to the bathroom right as we were getting ready to go somewhere.”
“Yeah,” Janet said. She was starting to sway slightly. “Kinda like that, but in reverse.” The kisses and nuzzles she peppered me with were failing to put me at any sort of ease.
“Sorry,” Mark blushed. “You were saying?” For all his Amazon strength, Mark’s eyes were as soft and jelly-like as my own. If I could just figure out a way to get him to take off his glasses and reach them...
Janet’s blush started to match his. “So then I think the early signs of his Maturosis started creeping out. He started getting more temperamental, not quite tantrum-y. We think he started to lose his potty training and was sneaking diapers from Mrs. Beouf’s room to try and hide it.”
“No,” I interrupted. “You were cosseting me! You said so!” Her body flashed hot like an oven.
Douche came in for the rebound. “That’s cute. Maybe that meant you were sensing it or noticing it on a subconscious level?” Janet didn’t shut him up so he kept digging. “Not that I believe any of that instinctual mambo jumbo stuff or whatever or just because if people cosset on Littles it means their Maturosis is expressing. It’s just nice to think that you saw someone you knew who was in trouble, and your first reaction was to want to take care of them. I think it says a lot about you.”
“Thank you. That’s very sweet.” I saw Janet’s smile and my stomach sank.
“He’s really lucky.”
“Just a second, Clark. We’re still talking.”
Not if I had anything to say about it. I couldn’t gouge out Mark’s smug douchey eyes but I could get him to leave. I didn’t have the fuel or energy to do anything more than a half-assed tantrum, but I had one semi-metaphorical bullet in the chamber.
“When did his Maturosis fully express itself? I hope that isn’t too personal.”
I leaned forward, and grabbed Janet’s shoulder, just enough so I could lift my butt up off of Janet’s cupped hands.
“At school. We think it started happening late last school year, like I said. But it became more obvious the first week of this one.”
I closed my eyes and tried to pretend that I was alone, like in my crib, or in the corner of the room. This was fine. This was doable. No one was really looking at me. Billy did this kind of thing all the time. I just…
“At least he had a diaper on for...you know.”
“He wasn’t wearing one at the time. He couldn’t figure out the tapes.”
My whines turned into quiet groans while my seat filled up. There’s a kind of predictability in the lifespan of a diaper when it comes to wetting. Poop is a major wild card. Some are wet and rocket out of you. Others are like tiny rocks that have to be forced out. This particular one was a day and half’s worth of solid mess, the kind that comes out on its own after the initial push and you swear you’re a couple pounds lighter afterwards. I kept my eyes clenched as it slithered out of me. If Janet had taken me to the toilet it would have likely resembled a giant brown snake. As is, it was going to be a huge stinking lump.
Now three red faces were in the nursery. Mine wasn’t just from straining. It felt more than weird doing that on purpose.
“Good thing he’s got one on now.” Mark chuckled nervously. He knew. He definitely knew. They all knew.
Good. Fuck ‘em.
Janet hoisted me up on her shoulder. She patted me, smushing my personal humiliation against me even more. “Yeah.”
“Like the ‘Terrible Twos’,” he started
She finished. “Only in reverse.”
“I’ll give you two the room.”
Janet started carrying me over to the nursery’s changing table and digging through the diaper bag. It really wasn’t so bad with no other Littles to watch. It’d be even better when Mark left. “Thank you,” she said, not looking back. I did my best to hide my dirty smile. I immediately failed.
Horseface Doucherson could see the writing on the wall, too. “Yeah. See you next week?”
Janet handed me Lion and I gave the dumb thing the biggest most rib crushing hug. “That’d be great.” She unpopped the snaps between my legs. “Maybe we can keep talking after? Or leave the meeting early? Maybe get some coffee or something?”
“What?!” I shouted. Janet started unfolding the new diaper.
“Okay.” Mark replied. “I’d like that. I’d like that a lot. See you then!.” He left us while Janet pulled the bottom of my onesie up past my navel.
“Janet!” I called up.
She handed me the pacifier. “You know the rules of the game, Mister.”
I put the binky in my mouth. “Huff ong iff oo?” Rules of our agreement said I had to put it in, not be quiet.
“What’s wrong with me?” The tapes coming off the plastic backing sounded extra loud there. Practically a crack of thunder. Janet’s voice, by contrast, was unnervingly kind and quiet. “I know when you’re trying to get under people’s skin, Clark. I know when you’re pushing people away.” She crossed my ankles, lifted my legs up and started wiping my backside for me. “My big...smart...secure...mature...Little boy...who begs to go potty even in a wet diaper…and then poops his pants so that Mommy will stop talking to her friend and give him all of her attention.”
The wipes she dragged across my penis felt extra cold. She put on a little too much powder too. Still, she made sure the diaper was snug and secure before she tossed the old one and buttoned me back up.
“It’s okay, baby.” She picked me up and gave me one last kiss on the cheek. “You don’t have to be jealous.”
Seeing a creeper hitting on a recent divorcee and ‘new mother’ and wanting to take a taser to his balls was not jealousy! In my fury I sucked the pacifier harder and mumbled indecipherable obscenities that would have made even Lion blush all the way to the tub.