Finally got time to work on this some more. This chapter is long, presenting several important points. I presented the time with Gary in a different manner than I’ve done this type of interaction in the past. I’m trying not to rehash the same scenes from either of my other stories. Let me know if I succeed.
Jim Deitz opened the front door to the house. He knew Laura wasn’t going to be happy that he had worked until past eight in the evening, but he didn’t know how else to handle things. It was easier to get lost in the tasks he had to complete at the office, and it improved his income.
The livingroom was empty as he put his keys in the dish on the table by the door as usual. On further inspection, he noticed a blanket laying on the floor with several toys strewn across it. Most of them looked to be Leggos, but a few toddler toys were sprinkled among them.
“Who is she watching now?” Jim thought, as visions of other peoples children running and screaming around the house entered his head. He headed toward the kitchen, looking for Laura. When he turned the corner, the booster seat on one of the chairs told him that whoever she was watching had stayed for dinner. He wondered if the child was spending the night.
When Laura stepped out of the pantry with three baby bottles in her hands, he raised an eyebrow and asked, “Who are you babysitting?”
He saw the frown cross her face when she looked at him. “Sit down,” she told him with a sigh.
“What is it?” he asked as he took a seat at the table.
“I’m not babysitting anyone, Jim,” she answered, putting the three bottles in the sink.
“Well, what…” and he stopped cold, his eyes wide. “Eddy?!” He tried to get control of his frustration as Laura’s eyes started to tear.
“Yes, Eddy,” she replied.
“What’s going on?”
“If you’d come to his appointment with Gary like I asked you to, you’d know that he’s become a toddler.”
“What?!” he asked, raising his voice. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, he’s not acting like a ten year old anymore,” she answered angrily. “Did you know that on the way to Dr. Stevens office this morning, Eddy wet and messed his pants without saying a word to me? Or that he never once asked to use the potty at all today, but wet and messed his diaper instead without getting upset about it?”
“Did you spank him?” Jim asked with a stern look on his face.
“Of course I didn’t spank him, what is wrong with you?” Laura asked in a thick voice. “He’s having a really difficult time, and you think I should punish him for it?!”
Jim looked away for a second before meeting his wife’s gaze again and answering, “I think you need to give him a reason to want to use the bathroom! Listen to you, the potty? Laura, he’s not a little boy,” he stressed.
“Oh really!” she demanded. “How in the world would you know WHAT he is? You haven’t even seen him today.”
Jim looked away again. He had nothing to say to that. She was right, he hadn’t even spoken to Eddy today. When he didn’t respond, she sat down at the table, her face angry.
“You weren’t there at the doctor’s office when he cried his little eyes out when they took blood, and then asked me to kiss his boo boo. You didn’t see him unbuckle his seat belt on the way to Walmart, THREE TIMES I might add, almost causing me to hit another car when I turned to tell him to leave it alone. Or see him cry his eyes out as he hugged his bear tight when he thought I left him as I was loading the bags in the trunk,” she explained. “Did you know when Gary took Eddy into the playroom at his office, that Eddy went straight for the toddler toys, ignoring the video games completely?”
Jim sat with his mouth open. Eddy loved video games, and usually could be found sitting in front of the TV playing when he wasn’t eating, sleeping or told to go outside and get some fresh air.
"I’ve been to the store three times today, because every time I turned around, he had regressed in another area. The first time was after the near accident, and I had no choice but to get a booster seat for him so he couldn’t unbuckle the seatbelt again.
When we sat down for lunch, he didn’t reach for his fork, he didn’t even seem to understand what it was for. He pushed his hand into the hot macaroni and cheese and scalded his fingers. The cries he made weren’t those of a ten year old, but a little boy. It took fifteen minutes to calm him down, and then I fed him because I couldn’t trust him to keep his hands out of the hot food. That’s why I got the booster seat, it keeps him in the chair, back away from the food.
Dr. Stevens specifically instructed me to get bed rails for him. I got ones that run the whole length of his bed, leaving no gap at the head or foot board so hopefully, he’ll stay in bed. The thought of Eddy running around the house in the middle of the night scares the daylights out of me, because he doesn’t seem to understand danger anymore than a toddler would. I put a plastic doorknob cover on the inside of his door so he’ll at least stay in his room.
If I hadn’t checked his diaper through the day, he’d have leaked all over the carpet in the livingroom. He behaves as if it’s perfectly natural for him to be going in a diaper. He didn’t say a word or fuss once when he wet or messed, and he’s had diarrhea all day long. I must have changed him fifteen times today, and every time he had a messy bottom.
I wouldn’t dare let him bathe himself before I put him to bed, for fear he’d get hurt. If something happened to him…" Laura started before her voice broke.
Jim felt terrible. He had no idea any of this was going on. “I know,” he offered with a gentle touch to her shoulder.
“Gary told me not to push him right now. He’s fragile, and it might hurt him,” she relayed.
“So we’re supposed to just let him be a baby, without making him do for himself?” Jim asked incredulously.
With a determined expression, Laura looked him directly in the eye and said, “Yes. I know you don’t have much faith in what Gary says, but I swear, if you make that little boy feel worse than he does already, I’ll never speak to you again.”
Jim was flabbergasted. She had never threatened to leave him before. It scared him and made him angry at the same time. “Listen,” he started, but was cut off.
“No you listen. Gary helped Eddy a great deal the last time, and he helped me too. Just because you wouldn’t let him help you, doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Jim knew Laura, and knew she wasn’t going to listen to reason right then. “Fine, he’ll be a baby then.” When he saw her expression relax, he added, “But how long is this supposed to go on? I don’t think we can afford daycare right now, and I don’t know what facility would take him.” Jim made sure to keep his tone neutral when he said that, or Laura would get angry.
“We don’t need daycare. I’ve already shown Katie what she needs to know to care for him. She’s responsible, and she loves Eddy, and he loves to cuddle with her. If he was frightened of her or cried when she held him, then I wouldn’t leave him with her, but they’ll be fine.”
Jim felt better after hearing that. That was the only good thing to come out of his sister’s death. A picture of his nephew laying in the morgue when he went to identify the bodies leaped to his mind despite his attempts to force it away. Standing up, he took a deep breath and said, “I’m gonna go check on him.”
Laura got up, went to the fridge and pulled a baby bottle from a group of five others, and held it out to him. “Doctor Stevens wants him to have one every hour, and at least two at night. Please make sure he drinks this. If he needs to be changed, his diapers are in the top drawer of his dresser, and the wipes are right on top.”
Jim, feeling like he was in a dream, took the bottle from his wife’s hand, and watched her turn to the sink and begin washing the three baby bottles. Not knowing what else to do, he approached her, leaned over and kissed her cheek, before turning to head to Eddy’s room. He felt like hell a second later, when he heard her crying as he walked down the hall.
Laura stood before the sink, trying to get her tears under control. Her hands went through the motions of moving the bottle brush inside the brand new bottle, and dumping the soapy water out, as her thoughts strayed to her conversation with Gary earlier that day.
She had sat in the waiting area of Gary’s office, holding Eddy as he drank his bottle. It wasn’t easy for her watching the folks around them stare, especially when one of the children waiting would giggle and point. Eddy seemed oblivious as he nursed, his eyes closed and his face nuzzling his bear.
When he made a particularly loud mess in his diaper, Laura couldn’t help blushing. She felt terrible that she would be embarrassed by her little boy. Still, it wasn’t something that a ten year old normally did.
Gary stepped through a door, called her name, and stood watching as she got up with Eddy in her arms. When she approached him, she said, “Hi,” not knowing what else to say.
She was glad when he just replied, “Come on back,” and led her through the door instead of asking any questions there in the waiting area.
“Sit down,” Gary told her with a motion toward the couch.
The couch was comfortable, and Laura laid Eddy across her lap, offering him the bottle again. He was a little behind on the juice schedule, and she held it for him so she could make sure he drank all of it.
“I see things have gone quite a ways back. Tell me what’s happened,” Gary instructed.
It took fifteen minutes to explain everything, and she was just finishing up when another noise came from Eddy’s diaper. With a blush, Laura said, “I need to change him.”
“That’s fine, would you rather do it right there? It would probably be easier.”
“If you don’t mind. The changing station in the ladies room is really too small for him,” she answered with a grateful look.
“No problem, besides, I want to talk to Eddy while you do.”
Laura pulled the changing pad from the backpack, and laid it on the couch, before easing Eddy down on it. “Hold your ba-ba, Sweety,” she told him and began removing his shorts once he took hold of it.
“Do you like drinking from that bottle Eddy?” Gary asked in a neutral tone.
“Ba-ba,” Eddy answered with a nod of his head.
“Does the ba-ba make you feel better?” Gary continued.
“Are you a big boy?”
Eddy’s eyes teared, and he replied, “No! Baby.”
“I see…you’re too big to be a baby, aren’t you?” Gary asked, a perplexed look on his face.
“Noooo!” Eddy cried.
Gary placed his hand on Eddy’s shoulder and said, “It’s okay, I think I understand, you’re a special baby, huh?”
Laura saw Eddy settle down when he heard that and he gave a tearful, “Uh huh,” nodding his head vigorously.
“Well now, that’s different then,” Gary told him with a smile.
Laura felt better when Eddy smiled around his bottle nipple. As she watched Eddy, he seemed oblivious that she was changing his diaper, and didn’t blush once as she wiped his messy bottom clean.
“Do you use the potty?” Gary asked him.
Eddy didn’t respond. He stared at Gary with a confused look.
“Oh, I’m being silly huh? Special babies don’t use the potty do they? They wear diapers.” Gary asked with a foolish expression.
Eddy giggled and said, “Dipey,” as he nursed at the nipple.
With a curious expression, Gary asked “What else do special babies do?”
“Thnuggwe Mommy,” Eddy answered with a loving look to Laura.
“I bet you love to snuggle with Mommy don’t you?”
With a smile, Eddy answered, “Uh huh.”
“Well, that’s good, because I’m sure Mommy loves to snuggle with you,” Gary replied with a tickle to Eddy’s tummy.
“I sure do, Sweety,” Laura piped up, a big smile on her face. The giggle Eddy gave her made her feel warm all over.
“And what else do special babies do?” Gary continued.
“Mithtew Beaw,” Eddy answered with a nuzzle to the soft fur.
“Please don’t touch his bear,” Laura said. “He’s devastated when anyone tries to move it.”
“Oh, I won’t mess with Mister Bear, don’t you worry Sweetheart.” Gary told Eddy. “Do special babies play with toys?”
Laura saw a longing expression show on Eddy’s face as he nodded his head.
“How about we go into the playroom and let you play for a little while? Would you like that?”
“Yeth!” Eddy answered with a giggle.
“Great! When Mommy’s done putting a clean, dry dipey on you, we’ll go over there.”
Laura had to chuckle at the big smile that Eddy gave Gary then. He squirmed a bit as she tried to tape his fresh diaper closed, and she told him, “Hold still, Baby, you’ll get to go play in just a second, I promise.”
When Laura moved to put Eddy’s shorts back on, Gary grasped her hand, pulling them back. She just laid them on the couch, and asked, “Okay Sweety, are you ready to play now?”
“Yeth!” Eddy answered with a huge giggle.
Gary grasped Eddy’s hand and pulled him up to a sitting position. Lifting him, he set Eddy on his feet and began leading him toward a door on the far wall. “All right, lets get you to the toys then little boy.”
Laura watched as she walked behind them. Eddy waddled a toddler walk as the diaper interfered with his gait. He didn’t seem to notice that he didn’t have any pants covering his diaper. A second later, he stopped and looked behind him with worry in his eyes. “Mommy’s right here Baby, I’m coming with you, I promise,” She told him as she took his other hand in hers. The relieved smile he gave her made her hurt for him.
When they passed through the door, Eddy stopped short and stood with wide eyes.
Laura saw there were all kinds of toys there. More than she had ever seen in one place. The carpet was thick here, “Probably so little ones don’t get hurt if they fall,” she thought.
“All right Eddy, what do you want to play with?” Gary asked as he let go of the boy’s hand.
Laura let go as well, and stood watching, as Eddy looked around the room. She saw his gaze move from one toy to another, not stopping until he saw the blocks. Reaching out, he took her hand again, and began leading her over to a stack of large Leggos. When they got there, Eddy sat down on his bottom, moved his legs wide apart, and pulled a dozen or so blocks between them. Laura noticed he was already wet, but wasn’t surprised with all of the bottles he was drinking. A second later, he was busy pushing the blocks together as he nursed his pacifier, his bear set back against his diaper.
When Gary motioned for Laura to move back away from Eddy, she said “You play with the blocks, Baby, Mister Gary and I are going to go sit down and talk.” Eddy smiled when she kissed his cheek, and quickly pulled his paci out to return the kiss before taking it again and retuning his attention to the Leggos.
When they sat down, Laura asked, “What’s going on?”
“He’s a little boy.”
“I can see that Gary,” she said with exasperation. “Why is he, and how do we help him?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to state the obvious. It will take some time to figure out the why, and right now, we help him by treating him how he sees himself. You are doing just fine. I wouldn’t change how you interact with him unless he changes.”
Laura sighed then, she had hoped Gary would have a better solution than that.
“Look, did you notice he was confused when I asked about the potty?”
“Yes, and it doesn’t make sense, because he was using it yesterday.”
“That just confirms he moved back into the toddler stage. Things are fragile now. Pushing him will probably make things much worse at this stage. Don’t get me wrong, there will come a time when you’ll need to push him, but not now. It could damage him.”
“So what do we do?” she asked with concern.
“You treat him like a toddler. Of all the toys and video game systems in this room, what did he choose to play with? The Leggos. Unless something drastic changed, he should have gone for the video games right off the bat.”
“You’re right, I expected him to want to play the Wii.”
“I had a feeling when he didn’t even blush as he toddled in here in just a diaper that he would choose toddler toys. He wants to be a baby right now. I suggest you let him until we can figure out how to help him want to be a ten year old.”
Laura sighed. Just then, Eddy got up and toddled over to them, with a block in each hand. When he reached Laura, he worked his way between her knees and snuggled close. “I love you so much Sweety,” she told him with a gentle pat to his diaper.
“Wub you,” he replied softly and snuggled closer.
A minute later, he pulled back from her, smiled at her, and turned to go back to the toys. When he sat back down and resumed playing, Gary said, “That’s exactly what I’d expect from a toddler. They need to make physical contact every now and then to make sure they’re okay.”
“So what now?” Laura asked.
“Well, if I were you, I would go get some Leggos,” he answered with a chuckle. A second later, he added, “I’m sorry, I know it’s hard to understand, and it’s not easy seeing your son stepping backward like this, but I really think we’ll be able to help him figure out how to get back where he was.”
“I’m so glad you said that…” Laura started, but couldn’t finish when her voice broke.
“Hey, it’s all right. I honestly think Eddy will be fine. It’s just going to take time,” Gary told her as he place a hand on her arm.
When Laura got control of herself again, he told her, “I do think you need to be careful though. From what you told me about the seatbelt, he doesn’t seem to understand that he could get hurt. I’d watch him carefully, and not let him out of your sight until you have a good idea of what he’ll do.”
“I had to pick up a booster seat for the car so he couldn’t get to the buckle anymore. It was the only way I could think to keep him buckled,” she answered with a sigh. “I don’t know what we’re going to do about the house.”
“Well, baby-proof what you can, and find a way to keep him away from everything else,” Gary offered.
“I’m scared to death of what might happen if he gets up in the middle of the night and wanders the house.”
“Why don’t you pick up some of those plastic covers for the doorknobs. They make it very difficult to open a door unless you have a strong grip.”
With a startled expression, Laura said, “I didn’t even think of that. I got rails for his bed earlier because he fell out of bed this morning. Scared the devil out of me, I tell you. He sounded just like a little boy, crying his eyes out, using toddler talk.”
“I noticed the speech pattern. It’s not unusual with regressive behavior, in fact, it’s usually one of the first signs.” Gary looked at his watch, and with an apologetic expression, said, “I’m afraid we’re just about out of time. I want you to bring him back again on Thursday if you can. We’ll see what’s changed between now and then. Hopefully, he’ll have at least settled out, and with any luck, he’ll be moving in the other direction.”
“All right,” Laura sighed. “We’ll be here.”
Lowering his voice, Gary replied, “Good. Now, I want to see how he handles being taken from the toys. If he gets upset, try distracting him. If it’s necessary, I’ll send him home with two of the Leggos.”
“I’ll make sure we have them with us when we come back if he does.”
As Laura put the last bottle in the dish drainer, she made a mental note to put the two Leggo pieces in the diaper bag. She had been surprised at how upset Eddy got when they told him it was time to leave the toys. Letting him take two of them was the only thing that had settled him down.
Moving to the booster seat, she took a wet washcloth and wiped it down. After the incident at lunch, she had made the third trip to Walmart. She certainly didn’t want to buy a highchair, and fortunately, this booster had straps that kept Eddy in place, preventing him from leaving the chair or reaching out for something that would hurt him.
Once the chair was back in place, she wandered to the livingroom. Picking up the diaper bag, she opened it and made an inventory of the diapers she would need to restock it. The only reason she bought it was because the bottles were falling over inside the backpack, leaking into the diapers, and ruining them. She was glad she had found this one. It didn’t have cute designs all over it, and only with the bottles in the end pockets could you actually tell it was a diaper bag.
Reaching down to the floor, she picked up the two Leggo pieces and put them in an inside pocket of the bag. She thought about straightening out the toys on the floor, but decided it would have to wait. It had been a long day, and she was tired.
Laura decided to check in on Eddy and his father. She wasn’t pleased that Jim had automatically decided that she had done the wrong thing, and worried that he would say something that would make Eddy feel terrible about himself. With a sigh she headed toward his bedroom.