It was midday when Jacob woke up again, and he could hear distant talking. Rubbing his eyes and stretching his legs, he realized that he was starving, and his diaper was soaked. He desperately needed food and a diaper change, but he was trapped in the playpen and his caretakers weren't close enough to notice his predicament.
Tears streamed down his face as he stood peering through the net of his prison and before he knew it, he heard himself begin to wail in self-pity. He didn't understand why his life was so hard or why everything always felt so difficult. He just wanted something to soothe the burning in his stomach and the wetness in his crotch.
Suddenly, he heard a door open and he was lifted into the air. He felt fingers in the waistband of his diapers, but he couldn't stop crying. He just continued to wail over his predicament.
Angelique and Simon were in the office downstairs discussing the length of their vacation when their conversation was cut short hearing the high-pitched wails coming from the living room. They opened the door and rushed in afraid something might be seriously wrong with their charge.
Upon reaching the playpen, they observed that the boy wasn't injured, and nothing seemed to physically be wrong with him. Angelique reached in and lifted the wailing toddler into her arms before sneaking two fingers into the waistband of his diaper. Sure enough, it was soaked. The experienced babysitter assumed that his soiled diaper and missed meals were causing this emotional meltdown that she and her husband were witnessing.
In an attempt to defuse the situation as quickly as possible, she handed the fussing toddler to Simon. "Will you change him while I warm him something to eat?" she asked.
"Sure, Honey," Simon replied.
After he turned to take Jacob to the changing table upstairs, he heard her call out to him. "Oh, give him this to drink while you change him. It should calm him some," she said while handing Simon the boy's sippy cup filled with water.
Simon raised the sobbing toddler so that the little one's head was resting on his shoulder. He took the cup from his wife with his free hand then ascended the stairs.
Once Simon deposited Jacob onto the changing table, he tried to give the boy the cup of water, but his eyes were unfocused while he continued to sob. Instead, he simply placed the plastic teat in the toddler's mouth and patiently waited for him to notice.
Almost immediately, Jacob grabbed the cup from Simon's hands and began to greedily gulp down the water. He was disappointed that it wasn't milk but grateful to have anything fill his stomach.
Seeing that the child was pacified for the time being, Simon gathered the changing supplies and started to change the soiled diaper. He was a bit surprised to see such a major emotional meltdown from his former emotionally detached client. However, Angelique had described Jacob's earlier emotional meltdown during their earlier conversation, and he assumed that it was what was causing him to rapidly emotionally regress. The 22-year-old now had the emotional regulation skills of a true toddler.
Just as Jacob finished the cup of water, Simon had finished putting the new diaper on the boy's bottom. Simon took the sippy cup from Jacob's hands and looked down at the sniffling toddler. He reached down to grab another wipe and cleaned the dried tears from Jacob's face.
"You have a fresh diaper and some water in your tummy. Do you feel a little better?" He asked.
Jacob nodded his head.
Simon theatrically tapped his chin and said, "Hm, I'm starting to think the voice box of my favorite little hellion might be broken. It seems like he doesn't talk anymore. He only cries."
The therapist tickled Jacob and asked, "Are you ready to get some grub in your tummy?"
Jacob giggled at his theatrics and doubled over in laughter in response to being tickled.
"Yessss I'm ready!" Jacob lisped between giggles while trying to evade Simon's tickles.
"I'm glad to hear that," Simon said and scooped up Jacob then carried him downstairs.
When Simon and Jacob entered the kitchen, they found Angelique in the middle of pouring some soup from a pot into a colorful plastic bowl.
Simon pulled open a drawer in the kitchen and fished out a bib for Jacob. He deposited Jacob in the high chair and carefully placed the light blue bib around Jacob's neck.
Jacob was too hungry to put up a fuss over the bib. His eyes were fixated on the spoon Angelique was using to stir the steaming bowl of soup, and his tiny body was twitching in anticipation. He didn't have to wait too long because once Angelique finished stirring the bowl, she sat herself in the dining chair closest to the high chair.
While Angelique began to feed Jacob, Simon busied himself with the rest of lunch preparation. He began setting the table and fixing the plates for him and his wife.
After the first spoon, Jacob was in heaven. The soup was hitting the spot, and he was experiencing a flood of childhood memories. Jacob was sure that this was almost the same exact soup recipe his grandmother would use when he was growing up. He didn't even care that some of the broth would dribble down his chin while he chewed on a chunk of sweet potato, dumplings, fig or chicken.
Angelique was happy to see just how much Jacob enjoyed the soup. She noticed that the little boy would lick his lips in anticipation of another spoon, and his eyes would close in delight while he chewed.
When Angelique fed Jacob the last spoon she managed to scoop up from the bowl, she announced, "All done!" Jacob opened his eyes with a look of disappointment on his face as though his hunger was not fully sated.
Before Jacob could protest, Angelique said, "Don't worry sweetie. I've got some crackers and juice for you to munch on while Simon and I have lunch."
Simon was pouring their drinks into the glasses on the table while Angelique placed a small plate of table crackers and a sippy cup with fruit juice on the tray of the high chair for Jacob.
Jacob immediately began to chow down on the crackers and once his mouth got too dry to continue, he guzzled down some of the juice. The toddler had an almost insatiable appetite. By the time he reached the end of the bowl of crackers and finished his cup of juice, Jacob was stuffed. He rested his head on the back of the high chair and closed his eyes in contentment.
While the little boy was devouring his food, Angelique and Simon were enjoying their meal and discussing their plans for the rest of the day. They agreed that the garden needed some work this afternoon, and they decided they would plan to have a family movie night this evening.
As Angelique and Simon were finishing their lunch, they noticed Jacob sigh in contentment and relax in his high chair. They both smiled at each other happy that he was finally beginning to settle down around them.
When the couple finished their individual meals, they both got up, took their dishes as well as Jacob's to the kitchen sink and began to wash them together. It was a team effort. Angelique scrubbed the dishes and handed them to Simon for rinsing and drying.
"I was thinking that I might give Jacob a haircut after his bath," Simon began. "What do you think about that idea?" he asked.
"I was actually thinking that he needed a haircut this morning when I was getting him ready for the day. Right now, his little Afro makes it a bit difficult to get his hair dried quickly, and our little sweat monster needs to get his hair washed often," she agreed.
"Great! I think I'm going to take it down to about the two inches he used to keep his hair at and fade the sides along with the back." Simon explained.
"That sounds perfect. I can't wait to see it. He will look so adorable," Angelique enthused.
When Angelique handed the last dish to Simon, she walked over to the high chair with the dish rag in hand.
Jacob had spent most the time that Simon and Angelique were washing the dishes experiencing the dreaded food fatigue. Right before they finished, he felt himself becoming more energetic, so he started kicking his legs in the air trying to entertain himself. When he saw Angelique start to approach, he stopped swinging his legs and looked at her expecting her to take him out of the high chair.
"Looks like someone is just about finished digesting the enormous meal he had," Angelique told the toddler.
She reached over the tray and patted his belly. "I don't know how your little stomach made room for all that food."
Jacob meekly replied, "Thank you for the soup. I really liked it."
Angelique kissed his forehead and said, "Aw, you're so precious. You're welcome."
With that, she used the dish rag to wipe down the high chair tray, cleaning up all the crumbs left behind in the wake of Jacob's food frenzy.
After Simon finished rinsing and drying the last of the dishes, he walked over to join Angelique and Jacob in the dining area. Looking at the little toddler with crumbs and other food residue covering his upper body, he announced, "Okay, it's time for your bath, Jacob."
Simon lifted Jacob out of his high chair, keeping the dirty child held at a bit of a distance. He wanted to at least try to keep his shirt clean enough to be able to use it until he had his own shower in a few hours.
Once they made it to the bathroom, Simon stood Jacob on the tiled floor and pulled the shower curtain aside to turn on the faucet in the tub. He filled the tub with warm water and added an ample amount of bubble bath soap to the water.
Jacob was observing how strange it truly was now that everything felt so much larger since he was regressed. Looking at the amount of water filling the tub, he was actually a bit afraid of drowning in it.
Immersed in memories from the last few times that he had a bubble bath during his childhood, Jacob recalled how much he loved playing war games with his little sister in the water using a few of the beach toys their mother had bought for them. It was then that he felt some sadness over the loss of his little sister creep up on him. This time, however, he wasn't able to just snuff it down. Instead, he began to cry.
Simon turned off the faucet and was checking the temperature of the water making sure that it wasn't hot enough to scald the child. When he heard sniffling behind him, he turned around and saw a few tears running down Jacob's little cheeks.
"What's wrong buddy?" Simon tentatively asked the crying boy.
"I miss my little sister," Jacob whimpered. His little body trembled as he began to sob.
Simon didn't even hesitate before pulling the crying child in for a comforting hug.
"I loved her so much. I can't believe she's gone," Jacob sobbed into Simon's chest.
"I know buddy. I know" Simon rubbed the boy's back.
When Jacob's cries died down, Simon pulled him back a bit and said, "Jacob, your sister lived her entire life knowing you cared deeply for her. That was the greatest gift you gave her, your moments in time together."
Jacob nodded his head and rubbed at his eyes. When he finally stepped out of Simon's embrace, he looked sheepishly at the man's shirt.
Simon noticed Jacob's embarrassed expression and was confused until he looked down and saw the mess of snot, crumbs and food residue covering his shirt. "Oh, well I guess I've got to get another shirt once we are done here," he said casually.
Simon reached over and undid the plastic strips on Jacob's diaper and tossed it into the trash near the toilet. It was about a good distance away, so he did a celebratory fist bump when it went in perfectly.
Jacob laughed at the man's giddiness.
"What are you laughing at? You're next." Simon jokingly told the laughing boy.
"Noooo," Jacob protested between giggles while Simon tickled him before he was deposited into the bath water and stood up against the rim of the tub.
Simon opened a bottle of shampoo. "Alright, it's time to get you squeaky clean. I'm going to wash your hair because you're getting a hair cut after your bath."
Jacob would never admit it, but he enjoyed the sensation of his caretaker massaging the shampoo into his scalp. When Simon finished lathering the shampoo in his little Afro, Jacob found himself a bit disappointed that his massage ended.
When Simon was scrubbing the food residue off of the little boy with a washcloth, Jacob asked, "Are you going to cut my hair yourself?"
"Yes, I am," Simon confirmed. He went on to explain, "I actually got pretty good with the clippers over the years. I've been cutting my own hair since I was in college."
"Oh, that's cool. Are you going to cut it like I used to have it cut before?" Jacob curiously asked.
"That's the plan, Stan." Simon cheekily responded, knowing that Jacob was likely too young to get the Paul Simon reference.
Once the toddler was scrubbed clean, Simon opened the drain in the tub, grabbed a nearby bowl and rinsed Jacob's hair along with his little body using water from the faucet.
When he was done, Simon wrapped a large white towel around the boy's body and lifted him out of the tub. Sitting on the rim of the tub, he took time to make sure Jacob's hair and body was as dry as possible.