Chapter Description: Clark's acts have consequences and he finds his wardrobe being slightly altered to give him less privacy.
I should have known that something was up the moment Janet sat me up from my morning change and I saw the sky blue Hippobottomus diaper taped around my hips. I didn’t though. That was because the toddler shorts and t-shirt that immediately followed were similarly colored.
“Going for a theme today?” I asked, stifling a yawn.
Like most school mornings, Janet was already busying herself putting socks and shoes on my feet for me. “I thought it would look nice,” she said. “Get some use out of the hippo diapers.”
I opened my mouth to insist that I liked Monkeez, but that would have been a lie. So I shut it and considered the benefits. With blue shorts, blue shirt, and a blue diaper on, fewer people would notice the statistically inevitable peekage when my shirt went the wrong way or the elastic waistband on the shorts slid down.
These diapers had a fade when wet design, which made certain other inevitabilities even less discreet than the bulging, puffing, and sagging that came with my forced wardrobe. I might have Zoge or Beouf pull my shorts down right outside the class bathroom to check instead of having them snake their fingers up the leg holes and straight into my padding, but that really wasn’t any more demeaning. Slightly less, perhaps.
It probably wouldn’t have come to that, either. Unless people pooped or their crinkling undies were swollen to the point leaking was likely, we didn’t get checked or changed outside of routine intervals. The most I’d have to stomach was likely a comment about hippos disappearing or something.
My eye twitched. “Are you gonna give Mrs. B. some of these?” I asked. It wasn’t likely, but the idea that someone might notice a white waistband when I’d been wearing blue earlier caused my skin to itch with anxiety. Just saying the words made my mouth taste of ash.
“I’m not throwing them away, if that’s what you mean.” Janet said. She picked me up and smirked. “I mean, I am. Eventually. One at a time. But I paid for them so I’m not going to waste them.”
I bit my tongue just in time for Janet to set me back down and remember to clip on the pacifier. If I hadn’t I would have called her out about how she wasn’t the one having to use these things. That wouldn’t have gotten me what I wanted, though. “I meant can you give her some for school…” I felt obscene just vocalizing that.
“Already packed a few in the diaper bag last night.”
That should have been another red flag that something was being planned. My life was full of them and my own hubris made them invisible to me until hindsight drenched them in glowing neon paint.
My Amazon Mindfuckery Alarm went on full alert when instead of carrying me straight out the door and buckling me into the carseat, Janet took me to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door. “Want a drink?” She held the milk filled bottle up and out so that I could reach but not enough.
“Why? Don’t we have to get to school?”
She motioned with her head to a digital clock on the oven. Wow. It was half an hour earlier than usual. “We’ve got to get their early, so I got you up even earlier. We have a little time together if you want.” She jiggled the bottle. “You want?”
My stomach growled slightly. “What’s in it?”
“Just cow. Haven’t had time to get goat.”
“Clark…” I was getting more and more used to the Amazons in my life saying my name as a kind of tired desperation or curse. “When have I lied to you?”
Did lying to herself count? Or calling me a baby? Discretion was the better part of valor. I took the bottle and started nursing. Yup. Cow milk. Slightly more watery than the cafeteria stuff. Likely one percent or maybe skim. Definitely cow milk.
Janet sat down in her chair and held me close to her in her lap. “Drink as much as you want, but I don’t want to take that in the car with us.” She took a long sip of her coffee. “I don’t want to forget it and have my car smell like overripe cheese in three days.”
Damn! Note to self: Find way later to smuggle bottle of milk into Janet’s car. Not today though. She’d see that coming. Bummer.
The five minutes we spent sitting there sipping our beverages in silence was kind of pleasant, actually. Very reminiscent of a certain ritual I used to partake in. Then Janet ruined it by burping me and peering down the back of my pants. “Sorry,” she said. “Thought I smelled something.”
Oh to have the ability to instantly and quietly induce vomiting in oneself. Let’s see how Janet dealt with ‘spit up’. I resolved to make fun of Sandra Lynn all that day to make up for it. She wanted to play dumb games and actually read the books in Beouf’s library and eat mashed potatoes with her hands at lunch, she deserved to be called out on it.
A few minutes later we were at school earlier than usual and Beouf was already busy when Janet and I walked into the room. “Hey guys,” Beouf said. She was busy filling up the tiny bottles we sipped from during centers with water.
Janet let go of my hand and dug around the diaper bag. “I’ve got the diapers.” She took out a handful to show Beouf. It was like she was seeking approval or something…
Beouf didn’t turn around, still busily washing and filling up bottles. She must have skipped doing that last afternoon. Or perhaps she prepped and filled things just a few minutes before I normally arrived on campus. “Good. Stack ‘em where his name is.”
Most baby or Litte-centric diapers are white with some decorations on them. The decorations, amount and placement varies, and the stuff is always infantile so as to make someone sitting and walking around in their bodily waist seem cute; literally wrapping turds in happy smiley paper, but from a distance, most of them are generally white when first applied. From the way she was holding them and my proximity, I could tell that Janet was holding at least three different diapers, not just the blue hippo ones or my standards.
“Ooo!. Who’s Billy?” Janet called from Beouf’s so-called bathroom. “These ones with dinosaurs are cute!”
Beouf turned around and handed me a bottle fresh from her sink. I started guzzling if for no other reason than it might inconvenience her slightly to have to refill it so soon.
“Oh, those are the store brand ones I think,” Beouf called to Janet. “They’re no Monkeez but they’re pretty good. What size are they?”
“That’s a nine in Monkeez. They’re the same size.” Whatever brand Billy wore didn’t market to Littles…not as parents at least. “Don’t tell anybody, but go ahead and swap one or two with Clark’s. I don’t think anybody will mind.”
I wondered if Billy would think it was funny that I was stealing his underwear or whether he’d get mad in just how little say either of us had in the matter. Could be good fuel for stirring up trouble later. Still drinking the water, I made more than a few hippos disappear in my personal River Denial. The milk had rushed through my empty stomach and straight to my bladder.
The loud belch as a ‘fuck you’ to Janet for patting my back went uncommented on. I was basically invisible whenever two or more giants started talking to one another.
Janet came walking out into the classroom. “Where’s Mrs. Zoge and Ivy?”
“They’ll be here.” Beouf said. “They promised.” The tone of their conversation was quickly taking on a kind of grim overtone. Something was going on. “Ready?”
Janet chewed on her bottom lip “Yeah. Let’s do this.” I was suddenly very aware that I was being stared at. “Clark? We need to have a talk with you.”
Stupidly, I pointed to myself and looked around, even though there were only
“Yes, you,” Beouf said gently. She wasn’t using her ‘babytalk voice’ but she definitely wasn’t using her ‘fellow adult’ voice either. They both sat down at Beouf’s kidney table. Janet grabbed two Amazon sized chairs and seated them so that no one would be sitting in the ‘teacher’ position.
“What’s going on?” I asked. This wasn’t how things went. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go…
Janet patted a Little sized seat. “Sit. Let’s talk.”
They were supposed to leave me with Zoge and Ivy. I’d quietly brood and think of ways to amuse myself. Then the day would begin and I’d get to work making someone-anyone- regret that my coffee had been spiked that one time. That’s how the world worked now!
I sat down, feeling strangely numb. I wasn’t old or fat enough yet to go to a doctor’s office and be told I had congestive heart failure or cancer or something. I likely never would be based what I’d witnessed with Amazon medical technology and my current doctor had a jar filled with grape flavored tongue depressors. It very much felt like it.
Janet started. “First, we both want to start by saying that we both love you very much.” Uh oh. “And we know you’ve been having a lot of big emotions and the reasons for a lot of those emotions are perfectly valid.”
“This isn’t easy,” Beouf jumped in. “Maturosis expressing itself never is. That’s why my classroom exists. I’m trying to help you cope with your body changing and teach you new skills so that you can successfully manage your emotions and not feel ashamed of who you are and to pinpoint what degree of care you need so that you can have a happy and fulfilling life.”
I was angry. Furious. Indignant. Later that night, stewing in my crib, I would go on to replay this a hundred times and come up with scathing one-liners and counter arguments. None of this was new information to me. Beouf had had this outlook on Littles for years and had spent close to a month and a half doing it to me.
So my pulse did not quicken. My breathing did not change. All I said was. “But…?”
Janet answered. “But your behavior has been unacceptable.”
“We thought you’d grow out of it if we gave you some patience and time to process things,” Beouf said. “But it’s only getting worse and we’re here to tell you that we’ve seen what you’re doing and we’ve been patient with you, but feel you’re taking advantage of that patience.”
My nose crinkled into a light snarl. “I thought my progress report said I was doing well.”
“Only because there was no section for conduct.” It was Janet who said that. I was slightly taken aback, but only for a moment.
I set my jaw. I didn’t so much as blink. “So what’s the punishment going to be?”
Beouf shook her head, her curls of hair jiggling slightly after she stopped. “Not a punishment.”
“Just a warning, then?”
Janet mirrored Beouf. “Not that either. We’re changing a few things to help you follow procedure.”
My fingers were now flexing, gently batting at the near everpresent pacifier on my collar. “So I am being punished.” I wanted to rip it off and toss it at them. I wanted to twirl it around in my fingers.
“No,” my old mentor tried to correct me. “Rules are things that have consequences. You can make good choices, or bad choices. We’re helping you with procedures. You’re not going to be punished, but you’re going to start doing things the right way. You don’t get in trouble for not using soap when you wash your hands, but someone’s going to make sure you do it until you remember to.”
That upset me more than it should have. I’d learned the distinction between rules and procedures a long long time ago. She’d taught me that. The fact that she was rattling it off to me again, using handwashing as the metaphor made me want to leap out and claw at her eyes. I was barely allowed to eat with my hands. No way was I given the autonomy to wash them by myself!
I withdrew and leaned back, crossing my arms and trying my best to look nonplussed instead of pouty or bratty or defiant. I had to play it cool to find a way to turn things on their ear. “What’s going to happen?”
Jannet huffed, definitely stressed, definitely afraid of how I’d react. Beouf reached out and patted her gently on the back. “I’m going to be coming here a few times a day to check in and help,” Janet said. She smoothed back her hair. “Instead of planning, when my students are at lunch or specials, I’ll be coming here to spend time with you and check on you. Give you a little extra attention.”
Translation: Another pair of eyes on me. Some of my lackeys might try and razz me because my Mommy was coming in, but that was nothing that couldn’t be navigated.
Kind of funny too. We’d met because Janet was coming into my class while her kids. Another parallel. This time she was taking her lunch off to spend time with me. Another role reversal.
But my classroom wasn’t my classroom.
Beouf smiled slightly, veering more into her comfort zone by the minute. “And we’re going to have talks during Circle Time and whole group about appropriate behavior expectations and what to do and who to talk to if someone is making you feel uncomfortable or if you see someone acting inappropriately. I won’t be mentioning anyone by name or calling anyone out. This isn’t to embarrass you, it’s to re-teach expectations and procedure.”
Translation: The A.L.L. was being put on notice and the more mindfucked among us would be empowered to snitch. I could probably subvert that after a day or two. I’d done it before. This was fine. I’d lie low today.
Beouf kept rolling. “When you go to therapy, it’s back in small group. Not by yourself. We’ve already talked with them and convinced them to give you more opportunities for socialization.”
I actually had to fight to keep from smiling. These idiots! They were giving me ammunition to agitate! The only reason I didn’t throw back my head and cackle maniacally is the old adage of ‘When your enemy is making a mistake don’t correct them’.
“That’s it.” Beouf said. Janet glanced, almost winced, like Beouf was lying about something. “Almost.”
“Okay…” My frown was returning. “What?”
The front door opened. In came Zoge, holding Ivy’s hand as usual. I looked at Ivy and almost swallowed my tongue.
In general, Ivy Zoge was usually dressed as the consummate upper middle class girly girl toddler. Always wearing dresses and skirts of various styles; sometimes tights. Onesies happened but usually there was another layer to make it more than a t-shirt that snapped at the crotch. If her Mommy dressed her in pants it was dressing down and usually because of the weather.
The Ivy that had just come in was certainly ‘girly’ with pink ribbons in her hair, matching socks that went all the way up to her knees and a t-shirt that stopped just after her belly button but I’d never seen her diaper so intentionally displayed. Not on her. She wore absolutely no bottoms or anything that had any chance of concealing her padded behind. Had she leaked or something? Zoge changed her in the car? No. If so Zoge would be carrying her straight into the bathroom and digging around for spare clothes. This was very intentional.
Ivy looked up to her Mommy. “I thought me and Clark were going to get to match.” She was wearing the girls’ version of the hippobottomuses. She was just as pink as I was blue, diaper included.
I stood up so fast that the chair knocked over onto its back. Janet’s hand struck out and grabbed me by the wrist. “Wait wait wait! It’s okay, baby! It’s okay.” It didn’t hurt, but I wasn’t going anywhere.
“What’s happening?!” I demanded. “What’s going on?” I was pulling anyway. Twisting my arm anyway that it would go, vainly hoping that it would build up enough sweat so that I could maybe slip out and make a dash for it. Where? Fuck if I knew. “What are you going to do?!”
“We’re going to take your pants off, honey.” Beouf said. “You don’t need them.”
“For how long?”
“Rest of the week,” Beouf said. “Longer depending on the weather if it stays warm.”
I had already braced myself for something based on my behavior; ‘Until you’re good’, or even ‘the rest of the day’. But making it a kind of uniform? NO!
It would be like at the grocery store all over again. It would be like my first day of class all over again. But worse! All of that was on the exhale. On the inhale I realized that there were at least four different diapers stacked up with my name on them on Beouf’s changing table. Each one different and distinct from one another.
They would know! They would all know! Everyone would know what I was and what I’d done to myself! And they wouldn’t care that I’d been forced to do it!
My knees buckled and I planted my ass straight on the carpet, still digging my sneakers in and pulling away from Janet. “No! Just no!”
“This isn’t about choice,” Beouf said gently. “This is about procedure. You’re clearly still having major potty anxiety and this is to help you start to get over it.”
“I’m not having potty anxiety!” I shrieked. “I’m having the opposite!”
“Babies don’t have to worry about their diapers or who sees them,” Janet said, almost a whisper. “Diapers aren’t underwear. People don’t care if they see a baby’s diaper. Everyone already knows.”
“I’M! NOT! A! FUCKING! BABY!”
No one had come for my shorts yet. I was still flopping on the ground, dangling like a fish on a hook. Beouf stood over me, arms folded. She seemed a lot more confident when she did it than me. It had a quieting effect, and not in a way that felt good.
Was I seriously the only one of my old clique that couldn’t do ‘the teacher’ glare?
“Oh really?” Beouf said, firmly. “Do big boys make a mess and ruin their stuffed animals?”
“Lion’s mine. I can do what I want with him!”
Zoge came in for the double team. “So if you had a car, you’d be allowed to crash it?”
My half-snarl became full blown. “That’s not the same and you know it!”
“What about my stuffies?” Beouf rang in. “Those belonged to me and I was letting everyone play with them. Do big boys tell their friends to get other people’s things all dirty on purpose? I had to stay up all night trying to wash them and I don’t know if it’s safe to give them back.”
Ivy whispered. “Bye-bye Jessennia.” She sounded sad.
“How is what Billy did my fault?” I asked. I purposefully ignored everything I knew about incitement and conspiracy just to make that argument.
Beouf didn’t let up. “Do big boys try and flick other people in the ears? Do they try to make circus games to purposefully make their friends feel bad or give themselves an excuse to rough house and push too hard?” My face melted in surprise. “You’re smarter than a lot of people give you credit for bubba, but you’re not nearly as clever as you think.”
Janet came in for the kill shot. “Do big boys call out for their Mommy when they’re sick and then start acting all nasty as soon as they’re feeling better? Do big boys pretend to masturbate in front of people at school? Do big boys lie and say they heard things that never happened?”
Skinner had told someone about it.
Text and email were still a thing.
On the lighter side, Zoge clapped her hands over Ivy’s ears as soon as Janet said the first syllable of “masturbate”. Impressive, really.
I was on the backfoot mentally. “Quit saying big boy!” I whined. “Quit infantilizing me! I’m an adult!”
“You haven’t been acting like one,” Janet said. “For a long time.” She softened. “Come on baby. You need help. Let us help you.”
The air was still. Time was frozen. Ivy crinkled up to me. “It’s okay Clark. It’s not bad. That’s why I’m dressed this way. We get to wear things that Grown-Ups never could. It’s fun!”
“Mrs. Beouf and I called the other parents and asked them to help, too.” Zoge chimed in. “Many of your classmates will be dressed the same way today.”
“Exactly,” Beouf said. “Nobody is gonna notice. Nobody is gonna care. Nobody is gonna make fun of you. You’ll blend right in. Just another member of the class.”
Translation: Just another baby.
Ivy came and put her hand on my free bicep. “Pleeeeease, Clark! It’ll be fine! No more Grown-Up stuff. Let’s just be Littles!”
So I bit her.
Fucking bit her. Just like that.
Snapped out, right past the tip of her middle finger, along the first knuckle joint. Bit down and clamped down as hard as I could. Ivy shrieked and yanked back, scraping it against teeth. Damn! No blood that I could see or taste but I think I left a mark. I was hoping to take something clean off and swallow.
“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” and the rest was her blubbering incoherently. Zoge snatched up her pet and rushed her away, shushing into the bathroom to search for a bandage or to just kiss her boo-boo and sing bullshit, possibly brainwashing, Yamatoan nursery rhymes.
“One thing at a time,” Beouf said. But not to me.
Janet bent down and picked me up by the arms, holding me out while I thrashed, kicking in the air. “This is for your own good, Clark.” I clawed at her wrists and pounded as hard as I could. Only a few flinches and jerks of her head showed that she felt it at all.
“I’m not thanking you later!” I screamed.
Beouf circled around behind and grabbed the waistband. “You don’t have to.” My shorts came off quicker than when a magician rips the tablecloth off a dinner table.
That’s when I started wailing in earnest. Everything bubbled over and I started screaming and crying, the lizard part of my brain still somewhat enjoying how uncomfortable Janet was becoming. I stopped kicking and did my best to cover up, failing the entire way.
“He’s wet,” Janet said over my caterwauling. “Should we change him? Maybe start him off in a Monkeez?”
Please! Please oh please! Don’t let me walk out wet so that everyone could see. Everyone would know! Monkeez too! Nice, mostly white, simple, uniform Monkeez! Same for the arriving buses! Same for breakfast! Same for lunch! Same for the playground! Same for the departing buses! I could keep dry and clean at least for those parts if I timed it right!
This is why, I realized, they were having me drink up so early. They didn’t want me to deliberately starve or dehydrate myself to prevent me from disgracing myself.
“It’s already started,” Beouf replied. Her voice was loud but nothing about her face read as ‘shouting’. “We’ll change him at Circle Time. Or in the cafeteria if he poops. Standard procedure.”
The back door cracked open then shut itself. Had Tracy been watching this? Spying? Listening from the other side of the door? The bell started ringing! This intervention had run late! Teachers, assistants, monitors, and custodians were power walking by to their various posts. The few that turned their heads got to see me, dangling by my armpits and crying in just my t-shirt, shoes, and wet diaper. They would be just the first that day.
Ivy’s crying mixed with my own in a battle to see who would be the loudest.
How much had the people next door or just outside heard through the thick brick walls? What had they thought they heard? Had they like me heard of someone being condemned to public humiliation in the guise of helping, pushed beyond the brink of reason?
More likely it sounded to passerby like a couple of babies; toddlers at best. Each one wailed because they lacked the emotional stability to control themselves as perpetual children did.
No doubt, that’s what the Grown-Ups closest to me would retell it as such over the coming days until I inevitably found some other story to give them. Just a couple of fussy babies, one with a boo-boo and the other mad because he wanted a change and wasn’t wet enough.
Armchair Maturorosis Experts might even label it the result of “Potty Anxiety”.