"Rise and shine, sweetie," Angelique said, rubbing the sleeping toddler's tummy.
When his eyes finally blinked open, she moved him to the changing table and said, "Good morning, Jacob."
"Morning," he mumbled back, stretching his legs in the air.
She undid his diaper and checked its contents. Her expression shifted to reflect her displeasure with what she found.
"Has your tummy been hurting?" she asked, her voice laced with concern.
"No," Jacob replied, yawning.
"Hm," she mumbled, picking the naked boy up and taking him to the bathroom.
She sat him on the counter to quickly brush his teeth, allowing him to rinse only when she was finished. Drying his face, she carried him over to the toilet and sat him on the toddler seat she had just installed.
"Can you go?" she asked expectantly.
Sitting with his feet dangling towards the floor, Jacob was genuinely surprised he was being allowed to handle his business with dignity. He didn't want to waste the opportunity and got straight to the task.
"I don't think so," he said, giving up after a few attempts.
"That's alright," Angelique said, calmly helping Jacob down and leading him to the shower. She had been bathing him in silence for a short while before she announced, "After breakfast, we're taking a trip to the grocery store."
Jacob's eyes lit up in excitement. For days, he had been wondering how good candy would taste with his child palette, and he finally had a means of getting them to buy him some. Silently, he envisioned the pile of candy that he'd get. He imagined himself in a land with an ocean of orange soda in which the plants grew tiny fruit snacks. Child heaven was near, and he couldn't wait.
In a matter of minutes, Angelique had successfully styled his hair and dressed him in a pair of Jeans and a white, V-neck shirt. When they arrived downstairs, Simon was busy stirring a pot of oatmeal.
"You two are right on time," he commented, pouring the breakfast cereal into two large porcelain bowls and one small plastic one.
"It smells good in here," Angelique complimented, settling Jacob into his highchair and placing a bib on him.
"Why thank you," Simon replied, serving her bowl of oatmeal.
The older man approached Jacob with his small plastic bowl in hand. "I realize it's unreasonable to expect you to eat as slowly as I've asked. So, I'll be feeding you this morning," Simon said, keeping a hold of Jacob's spoon when he put the bowl on the tray.
"I can feed myself," Jacob argued, reaching for the spoon in Simon's hand.
"I'm not fighting with you over this, Jacob," he said, mixing the bowl of oatmeal.
Jacob crossed his arms, upset by the retraction of his prior privilege, but he was too hungry to go without eating. He offered no resistance when Simon placed a spoonful of oatmeal near his lips. Agonizingly slowly for the boy, Simon fed him his breakfast, and when he was finished eating, he was allowed to roam the living room while Simon ate his own breakfast.
"Jacob, it's time to put your shoes on," Simon hollered, sliding on his sneakers near the garage door.
The little boy obediently walked over and held his foot up for Angelique to slide into his sandals. Once his shoes were on, he followed his caregivers into the garage. Simon opened the door to the backseat, and Angelique buckled him into his car seat.
Before he started the car, Simon handed Jacob a tablet with cartoons downloaded onto it. He perused through the tablet's contents before deciding to continue his progress through the Batman cartoons. While Jacob's attention was concentrated on his TV show, the couple discussed the items on their shopping list for most of the drive.
Jacob's episode came to an end around when they arrived at the grocery store. Simon came around to unbuckle him from the car seat and help him out of the car. He kept a firm hold on the boy's hand as they crossed the road. Angelique walked slightly ahead of them, and when they reached the storefront, she grabbed a cart and wiped it down. As though it was a routine affair, Simon helped Jacob sit comfortably in the child seat before securely buckling him in.
While they made their way inside, the little boy excitedly took in the atmosphere of the store, looking around with one thing on his mind, and when they passed the registers, he found exactly what he wanted. There was a large bin in the middle of the floor filled with bags of cotton candy in different colors.
"Can I have one of those?" Jacob asked, pointing at the small bags of cotton candy.
The couple exchanged looks with each other. They both were unsure of Jacob's tolerance for sugar and could only hope that he wouldn't overreact.
"If you behave for the rest of the trip, we'll pick one up on the way out," Angelique promised.
Jacob cheered internally. He knew a bag of cotton candy was undoubtedly going to provide him with the sugar rush he was craving. Licking his lips in anticipation, he resolved to be on his best behavior for the trip.
They traversed down a few aisles with the couple picking up a few items every now and then. The stacked shelves mesmerized the perpetually hungry toddler. It had been quite a while since he had last been to a grocery store and regressed as he was the shelves appeared so much higher and longer. It was almost like he had entered an entirely new world that they were slowly exploring.
They had just walked into the fourth aisle when an older woman briskly called out to them. "Simon! Angelique! Who have you two brought along with you today?" she asked.
"Cheryl! It's so nice to see you," Angelique said, walking closer and hugging the woman.
"This is Jacob. He's our foster child," Simon answered, pushing the cart towards her.
"Aren't you so handsome!" she exclaimed, pinching the boy's cheeks.
Jacob smiled up at her, resisting the urge to swat her hands away. He knew that if he wanted the cotton candy, he'd have to pretend to be an adorable tyke for their acquaintance.
"Hi," he said, reaching to shake her hand.
"You're so precious. It's nice to meet you, Jacob," she said, shaking his small hand gently. "Unfortunately, I need to head out now because I have to get back to work, but it was nice to see you all," she explained, waving and walking past them.
"Bye!" the couple said in unison, waving until she was out of view.
The trio continued with their shopping trip. Every couple of aisles, a stranger would walk up to them to share how cute they thought Jacob was. Half an hour later, they walked through the final aisle with a cart packed with food and household items.
"Can I have the cotton candy now?" Jacob asked when they passed the bin of cotton candy filled bags once more.
"Yep, you earned it," Simon replied, tossing a bag into the cart.
"Yay," Jacob cheered, swinging his legs in the air.
Jacob waited as patiently as he could while the groceries were checked out. In such a small town, the line was nonexistent. He considered asking for another candy, but he ultimately decided not to push his luck. A whole bag of cotton candy was about to be his, and that was good enough.
After the couple loaded the groceries into the car, he asked, "Can I have my candy?"
"Alright," Simon answered, returning to the truck to get it while Angelique buckled Jacob into his car seat.
"Here you go," Simon said, presenting him with the opened container.
Jacob immediately took the cotton candy from Simon and stuffed a handful of the treat into his mouth. He sighed in delight. The taste was even better than he thought it would be. The texture was smooth and delectable as it slowly melted in his mouth. For the entire trip back to the house, he enjoyed bite after bite until it was all gone.
"Jacob, your entire face is sticky," Angelique said, disapproval evident in her voice as she unbuckled him.
"It tasted really really good," Jacob replied, beginning to feel the effects of all the sugar he ingested.
She sighed, knowing that the boy was clearly unable to tolerate candy well. The experienced babysitter knew that they were in store for a taste of hell for the rest of the afternoon.
Angelique grabbed a small bag from the trunk and handed it to Jacob, "Will you take this inside?" she asked, hoping to help him burn off some of the excess energy.
"Yup," he answered, taking it from her and running inside to hand it to Simon.
They continued with that process for a while until all of the smaller items were inside. Unfortunately for the couple, Jacob didn't feel the slightest bit tired. He continued to run in circles around the kitchen, savoring the exhilaration he felt. Wound up like he was, he felt like king of the world. He felt unstoppable and invincible.
Simon tried to calm him down by feeding him a cup of water, but no amount of water or scolding seemed to have an effect on the child's reign of terror. Near exhaustion from chasing the little boy around, he sat down at the dining table for just a second. When he looked up, he watched in terror as Jacob climbed the coffee table and jumped onto the couch.
"Jacob! No!" he shouted, running over to the living room.
When the hyperactive boy noticed his caregiver running over, he quickly slid off the couch and ran behind it, giggling as he forced Simon to chase him around the couch. Jacob was able to successfully evade his grasp a few times, but the older man finally caught him.
"You need to calm down before you hurt yourself," Simon declared, placing the toddler in the playpen.
"No, I want to be out!" Jacob demanded, kicking at the mesh.
"Not right now," Simon said, dropping onto the couch, completely worn out.
After a few minutes of shouting and screaming, Jacob gave up on trying to get his way. He laid down and kicked his legs in the air, basking in the blissful feelings his sugar high provided him with. He rolled around the playpen and mumbled to himself, reciting poems he had learned in elementary school.
A few minutes later, Angelique lifted him out of the playpen and told her half-awake husband, "I'll take him for a second." Sitting down at the dining table, she stood Jacob in front of her. "Sweetie, we have to talk about something important," she began, holding the arm of the fidgeting toddler.
"Okay," he replied, looking up at her expectantly.
"Jacob, I think you're constipated," she said, pointing at his stomach. "So, I bought a laxative to help you flush your system," she explained, showing him the bottle.
The tyke screwed up his face, knowing exactly how badly medicine like that tasted. "No, I don't want it," he whined, shaking his head.
"I can mix it with some juice and that way it won't taste bad," Angelique offered.
"No! I don't want to!" he screamed, pulling his arm out of her grasp.
"Jacob, stop this behavior this instant, or you're going in timeout," she warned using a stern tone of voice.
"I'm not being bad. You are!" he shouted, continuing to twist and turn.
"That's it," she said, carrying the boy over to the naughty step. "You are to sit here for the next five minutes," she told him firmly.
When his caregiver walked away, Jacob started to cry. It was already bad enough that he was forced to use his diapers in his sleep, but now they wanted him to humiliate himself even further. He remembered how awful laxatives were from his childhood, and he didn't want to experience it again.
When his time was up, Angelique crouched down in front of him and said, "I know this isn't very fun for you, but it's been over a week, Jacob. This needs to happen one way or another."
"I-I don't want to," Jacob stuttered between sobs.
"Alright," Angelique said, lifting him into her arms. She grabbed a box from the counter and went upstairs.
When they entered the nursery, Jacob was sure he was getting another spanking.
"Please don't spank me," he begged, clutching her blouse tightly and sobbing even louder.
"Jacob, you're not getting a spanking. This isn't supposed to be a punishment," she consoled the bawling boy.
She held him for a moment, waiting until his sobs morphed into soft sniffles to gently place him on the changing table. His cries grew louder as she pulled his pants off and undid his diaper. But before Jacob could realize what was truly happening, she flipped him over and swiftly inserted and squeezed a liquid suppository into his bottom. Startled by the strange and uncomfortable sensation, he instantly stopped crying.
"All done. Now was that so bad?" she asked, wiping away his tears.
She left him idly lying down for a moment to toss out the applicator and retrieve a training toilet from the closet. After placing it on the floor away from the rugs, she thoroughly cleaned the seat with a fresh wipe.
Angelique removed the still sniffling boy from the changing table and sat him on the training toilet. "I'll be right here until you go," she promised, grabbing a basket of clothes to fold.
After about ten minutes, the laxative did its job and Jacob had his bowel movement. The exertion mellowed him out, and while Angelique quickly cleaned him up and put him in a pair of sweatpants, he began nodding off.
She laid him down in the crib, handing him a cup of water and kissing his forehead. "Have a good nap, Jacob," she said, closing the door to the nursery.
With his sugar high morphing into a low, he eagerly drank the cup of water and quickly fell asleep in the crib, completely exhausted.