Re: Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant
Monday, March 30, 2043. 8:31am. After the transformation.
Ken and Karen were waiving the floating 3-D display controls in their caddies, catching up with news events and then took time to play with the virtual mobiles again. The mobile icons changed between turtles, birds, balls, and other items when the infants touched them. Their baby caddies were equipped with 3-D holographic-projectors that extended from the top and bottom of the frame to project 3-D images and detect motions, and the only thing they needed was a portable tablet the docking socket below each of them.
“Access, app, change theme, shapes,” commanded Ken to his mobile app from his CCVS. Suddenly different colored shapes appeared on the virtual mobile, replacing the previous icons. Ken had always started his youngest children with geometric shapes before teaching them common objects. He thought they would be good for redeveloping his own visual cortex too. Karen looked over and discovered the shapes not only changed shapes, but they also changed randomly into different colors when touched and so she ordered her mobiles app to duplicate Ken’s.
The door chimed a high-pitched arpeggio when the consultant and her chauffeur parked their vehicle and started pacing up the sidewalk. In obedience of the new courtesy culture that had taken shape since doors could do that, Emily Trudeau got up and waited for the right time to open the door and greet the guests.
In came a 9-year-old girl pulling the handle of her carrying case on wheels, nearly as tall as her and printed with her logo and her name, “Maribel McMillan, Regenerate Consultant.” Shortly behind came in her chauffeur, her own surrogate mom, Sheri Valdez. She pulled two identical cases to that of the little Ms. McMillan and carried in her arm what looked like a rolled up child-size mattress. Almost comically, they both had the same businesslike, slight, aristocratic gait as they walked in the house. However, they revealed their true, friendly demeanor when they came to greet Mrs. Trudeau, almost as if they were long, lost, close relatives.
Maribel was wearing a pair of classic relaxed-fit bluejeans, a mint green silk turtleneck sweater, and fresh white tennis shoes with a pink version of that timeless Nike Swoosh. Being one of the last of the Baby Boomer Generation, she had always loved jeans. Her mom was wearing a gray and pink workout outfit and she looked fit enough to suggest the outfit got plenty of use. After the three of them finished gathering the cases and mattress into a corner of the living room, hugging, and kissing, Maribel’s surrogate mom crouched down and told her quietly, but audibly enough to be heard by the baby couple, that she would miss her this week and she loved her. Her hands gently held Maribel’s arms and Maribel smiled back. Then, Ms. Valdez went to greet Ken and Karen and say a final goodbye to Emily before returning back to her car.
Maribel was going to be a resident consultant for the week.
Emily thanked the mom for her help, and Maribel for coming out here, and Maribel returned the thanks to Emily, addressing her as “Ms. T,” saying she loved the opportunity to meet the Hendersons. Then it was Maribel’s turn to greet Ken and Karen, who had long since turned off their mobiles apps out of courtesy.
“Hello, remember me? … yes? … I was there to greet you shortly after you two were born.”
“We remember,” said Karen’s CCVS, “we were awake just long enough. You are Maribel.” Maribel happened to be in the still holographic-photo taken by the press to announce the birth of the world’s first, married, regenerate couple. Not only were they the first couple to undergo the regeneration procedure at the same time, they were the first regenerate fraternal twins and also celebrities in their own rights. Ken Henderson was the founder and long-since retired ex-CEO of Starball Enterprises, the company responsible for putting computer programming in the hands of every man woman and child around the world, effectively obsoleting most of the expensive computer programmers of the world. He was always affectionately named, “The Geek To End All Geeks.”
“We appreciate you coming all the way out here to help us, … put us on the straight and narrow,” said Ken, through his CCVS, always the comedian.
They all got a chuckle out of the religious reference, with the loveliest giggles coming from the infants. Maribel had grown up Catholic in her last life and was growing up Catholic in her new life too, as her new mom was Catholic. Emily was also a fellow Catholic, but was raising two Mormon regenerates. Since the previous month, on Sundays, she had been dropping them off to a volunteer who had been taking them into the Mormon services while she spent her time at Mass. Before that, the babies would be with their mother at Mass. It broke Emily’s heart that she couldn’t baptize them as infants in her own church because it was against Mormon beliefs to infant baptize, almost as much as it did to drop them off on Sunday for a few hours of being away from them at such a young age.
“I’m hear to help you with your new childhood, and to make it as good and healthy as your first one. First, I need to talk something over with your mommy, and come back to you to talk to you both,” she said with loving, cutesy, older-sister type affectionate inflections in her voice.
Maribel McMillan and Emily Trudeau were going over the questionnaires that Ken and Karen Henderson had taken long before the consultant date when Karen started crying. Both babies were overdue for their after-breakfast diaper change. Maribel offered to help with the situation because she had packed two changing pads in her cases, thinking it would be better if routines were as synchronized between both infants as possible. They each took a baby and started their work.
“I notice you don’t cry when you are wet and stinky,” said Emily as she poked Ken’s tummy.
Flailing his arms and giggling in response to the stimulus, he talked through his anklet CCVS, which was muffled by his pants being around his ankles, “I was like that in my last childhood too. I never cared if I was wet, or yucky. I was potty trained late for my time, just about the time I turned three.” Physically incapable of controlling their weak pelvic floor muscle for long periods of time rendered all 4-month-olds incontinent, despite the adult cognitive level and the faster advancement of the motor skills of the Hendersons. “I do want to start a little earlier than that the second time around. Maybe I can start … exercises … for my potty muscles. … However, mommy doesn’t think elimination communication is practical right now and thinks diaper changes at this age are easier.”
“Kegal exercises for 4-month-olds?” she replied, " … um … I think I’m going to have to side with your mommy on this one. And I’m sure your pediatrician would do the same. Let’s wait until all your muscles are toned up before we give special worry about the ones down there. Maybe when you are able to walk to the potty?" The babies giggled at the cute sassy inflections of their consultant. “I was not able to go potty all by myself until about the same age as the first time I was potty trained: 31 months. I too wanted to be a little earlier to help my mommy out but had to accept my limitations. Enjoy being a baby for now,” said Maribel.
She turned to Emily, “Ms. T., you don’t mind me calling you that, do you?”
“Not at all dear,” responded the babies’ mommy.
“Is it okay if I get out their play mat while we finish up?”
“Sure, let’s do that.”
After washing hands and disposing of the diapers, the little consultant and the mommy put the two darlings on the unfolded mat in the living room. There was no need for a playpen as the Hendersons knew to stay put for mommy. Besides, despite even the bright colorful interactive toy icons enticing them on the blanket, the only thing this couple was interested in at that time was engaging in their passionate bond with each others’ eyes. They did this until they fell asleep.
“Ken seems to take a liking to logical and mathematical stuff. Karen prefers sensual, artistic and verbal stuff. We have a left brain baby and a right brain baby. However, given their histories, it looks like both of them should be a little bit balanced in their operational skills,” said Maribel.
“I knew their profiles when I chose to be their mommies. I chose them because I wanted to provide for special babies and did not care what their personalities and backgrounds were, of course, but I read up on them because of my curiosity and love for them. And I’m willing to do this even though there is a … chance of not being successful, and the likelihood they will, … leave the nest much earlier,” said Emily with a hint of sorrow.
Maribel reached across the table to put her hand on Emily’s, and Emily moved her arm forward to accommodate the regenerate youngster. It was time for the compassionate elder side of Maribel to come forward.
“Please understand, that they will make it. Count on that. Don’t even consider thinking otherwise,” responded the consultant. It was also Emily’s way of comforting and convincing herself, as she had seen cases go both ways.
“The oldest regenerate right now is 13 and he has little interest in leaving home, even though he is back in his profession. I messaged him once and he has told me that he thinks he could probably make it on his own but wants to stay home because it was easier. Sound like a typical teenager?” they chuckled, “But, with enough of an anchor of wisdom of his previous life he knows that he is still very susceptible to temptations of youth and will stay home until he is ready. Your children are with you for the long haul, Ms. T. Besides, the law says they are yours until they are 18. The only difference between them and real children is they can vote at age five, they do not need public education, and the child labor laws are much more gentle and flexible.”
“Sleeping birdies, wake-up!” said the cheery 9-year-old. “It’s time to begin!”
She placed them on their backs and briefed them on how the week was going to progress. In place of the holographically projected baby caddie tablet-apps which offered no touch sensations, she brought out two physical, interactive baby mobiles and put their suspension frames together, adjusting them so that they could hover the mobiles over them while they are on their backs. One mobile had pet animals and the other had geometric shapes. She put the mobiles on the stands and asked the two to touch them. Even though the icons were non-projection, they were capable of changing color and patterns on interaction. Karen’s mobile was the pets mobile and their colors were appropriate for their types. The canary was yellow, the dog was blue, and the cat was orange with tabby bands.
Next she asked them to touch the icon that was different in some way, other than its shape, of course, because the icons were made of a base polymer with LED veneers. One of Karen’s animal icons would either be in a different stance, or making noise, or behaving differently in some other way, while one of Ken’s shape icons would change colors, shadings, patterns, or display shapes within shapes differently as the development exercises go on. Also, the mobiles were motorized so that the bars and arms would move to patterns and randomness when the time came to start moving the icons. Despite their solidness, the icons on Karen’s display could simulate motion, as the icons’ shapes were rectangular at areas nearby legs, wings, and even come heads of each figure.
Play time was interrupted early so that there could be some preparations for lunch. Maribel got out a bright pink insect-like device, whose exact purpose the couple knew. It was a painless motorized syringe for drawing small amounts of blood for many at-home tests. “Millie Mosquito” was its name. As intimidating as the name would have been to children of earlier generations, repellents had been perfected at this time, and insect-borne diseases like malaria and Lyme’s had been eradicated. So it became socially acceptable for depictions of these parasites to be used as childhood icons. Allergy testing could be done at home too, which was a good thing because this was the standard thing to do for all babies being introduced to fruits and vegetables for the first time.
“Let’s see what Millie says about you, Ken.” She placed Millie on Ken’s thigh as, out of his view, a tiny red droplet formed within the device’s vile. She removed Millie, detached her vile and placed it on Millie’s base while the nanobots went to work looking for reactions to agents. She did the same with Karen. The process was going to take a while so until the device was ready, she played ticka-tummy with her two tiny clients. When the chime went off, she said, “excuse me,” and got her tablet out. RF interaction between devices had, of course, long since been the norm.
“Okay, Ken: … Peanuts are a wait-and-see …. all nuts are wait-and-see. … Goat meat is a no! … Goat milk is a no! … tomatoes can wait …,” said Maribel. She turned to Karen, “Okay, Karen: … Nuts are a wait-and-see too. Expected at this age. … Strawberries are nos! … Tomatoes are nos! … It’s a good thing we found these things out now!” She immediately took out two jars of what looked like a puree, out of her case, and immediately disposed of them. The color of the puree suggested strawberries. There was no need to have anything like that around the house. Karen never had been allergic to any food that severely before, and especially had never been allergic to strawberries, so she was shocked to see first hand that the experts were right when they said that DNA was not the only factor which determined propensity towards allergies.
First few days were for bland fruits and veggies. The tester tested for everything, and just because the allergy tests said yes on somethings, wouldn’t mean tiny tummies would say yes. She started with durians that were cut up, mashed, and softened with water by her and her mom last weekend. Ken recognized the taste and asked, “I assume that you used fresh durians. Why don’t your hands smell like their rinds?”
Long the staple fruit of Indonesia, it had finally taken a huge root in the Americas within the previous 20 years, and has always had the reputation for the tell-tale repugnant smell, despite the really nice flavor of their flesh. Soon, buses and other public places on this continent forbade their presence, just like in Asia. “No durians or produce with excessive odors,” said the signs here. Typical Americans: make sure rules are as general as possible, just in case someone finds another stinky think to bring onto a bus.
“We had plenty of time to get the smell off with salad oil. Besides, this variety was bred to have a weaker smell. Let’s give you a little milk to wash-” Maribel was interrupted by Ken’s hacking and crying. Too late. Durian yuck was on his bib and everywhere else. It was a little thicker than the rice cereal so it was a little painful coming up. After she gave a bottle to Karen to prevent the same mishap on the other one, Maribel was happy to take care of her own mistake on Ken. She took off the bib and wiped the face of Ken who could not fight his protest grunts and instinct to turn away from the cold wet rag, and so he apologized for it. She went to wash her hands again, and try durians again on Ken, this time with the milk. Emily resisted the maternal urge to help until it was burping time and she had to participate. New tummies have always had minds on their own, separate from infants, and they still needed help with nasty painful air pockets.
The two of them put the infants in their cribs for nap time and had lunch themselves. After nap time was finished, and another diaper change was done, the babies spent a little bit of time with mommy. Afterwards, it was exercise play time for both. For 4-month-olds, it was rolling along the long foam mat Emily unpacked. Karen was much more gleeful to roll around than Ken, though both enjoyed it.
“You’re an excitable little one aren’t you Karen,” said Maribel, as she ticka-tummied Karen.
Letting out a loud cackle that almost drowned out her CCVS, she responded. "I haven’t felt this free in decades. I can’t do anything for myself at all except talk, but for some reason just rolling around made me feel much freer than I feel like I had in my last childhood.
“I don’t know if you know what it’s like dear- oops I mean Maribel,” She did not want to address a person who was older than her both chronologically and physically as “dear.” “You know what it’s like to want to go back to your childhood, and you have it now to go back to as a Great Blessing from God. I’m not sure if you know what it’s like to not have all that much of a childhood in the first place but to have a complete one now!” Karen’s original mom, God rest her soul, had had the best intentions for her daughter when she, as regional tradition encouraged, made sure Karen was a responsible little girl from about the time she was able to walk. The disadvantage was that childhood was short circuited to adulthood too quickly.
After more mobile-time, more bottles, another small nap, and … of course… another diaper change, it was dinner time. Ken and Karen were excited over the new item because they loved it in their previous lives: butternut squash! To their dismay they both gagged and made reflexive yucky-faces at the bitter mash brought on because they did not expect to be that strong on their sensitive little taste buds. It tasted exactly like squash but for whatever reason did not register right at all with either of them.
“Forgive us, Maribel, and mommy. We will get used to it again,” responded the infant girl.
“We know that, Karen,” responded Maribel, continuing to feed them persistently. Hunger was a stronger feeling which encouraged them to persist in swallowing the bitter yuck in their mouths anyway.
“I used to love to bake it for Thanksgiving,” said Karen. “It still puzzles me why we as children are programmed to hate things that are only slightly bitter.”
“I don’t know either. Who does? Sweet things are so much sweeter at your age too. A banana tastes as good to you as banana ice cream does to a bigger kid like me. Enjoy being babies when you can.”
All four managed to eat dinner at the same time despite two of them having to feed the other two of them in addition to themselves. Then there was a brief total free time where the two of them get to do what they want. It was 'net time for the Hendersons. When they caught up on the news, they started their bonding again with each other only to have it interrupted because they spent much more time on the news than they thought and free time was now over. It was mommy-child time now. Maribel cleaned the table and washed the tableware, no small feat for a small body, and then proceeded upstairs to get their bath ready. She had a cup with a small spout and a kids toy watering can. She had always been nervous about this time because it was hard to gauge when the little ones use their diapers after dinner. It goes without saying that it was definitely preferential that they soil before they get in the tubs. Thankfully she hasn’t had too much drama with regards to that in her profession.
When the baby tubs were full, Maribel and Emily went to work on Ken’s and Karen’s baths, removing the CCVSes, clothes, and diapers, and placing them in their bath seats. The baths were relaxing to both babies, mommy, and the little helper. Just a month ago, the infant couple were always nervous about being in water when they couldn’t sit up. After they were clean and rinsed, Maribel took out a the cup with the pour spout and dribbled warm water on their tummies, chest, head, and after leaning them forward: their upper backs, all the while watching the infants let out loads of cackles and giggles. She also used the watering can in the same manner as before, as it had a shower head on the spout and got similar results from the infants. Then, Emily and Maribel got them dry, put clean diapers on them, and got their footed sleepers on. Ken’s was pale with Yosemite Sam on the front. To Ken, this was still funny that Disney’s logo was on the tag, even though it had been two decades since Disney bought Warner Brothers. Karen’s sleeper was white with patterned pink hearts and flowers. It was noticeably funny to her how footed sleepers for 4-month-olds had treads on the bottoms of the feet, even though they were a long way from being used for walking.
Maribel got ready in her own Cinderella print night gown and laid out her sleep mat and blanket in the nursery. She was going to spend the night in the infants’ room. Ken and Karen each got a bottle prepared by Maribel. Then, Maribel grabbed her tablet and a watch, and said goodnight to Ms. T. and her two fellow regenerates, shortly before the lights went out. Ken was puzzled why there wasn’t a glow by the tablet which he presumed she would read before going to sleep herself, and also why did she wait until bedtime to wear a watch?