Robbins Family Reunion Chapters 1-3 (new order of chapters)

Chapter 1

The quiet purr of a Lincoln Towncar was just barely audible above the voice of Louis Armstrong on the stereo as Mrs. Linda Robbins pulled into the driveway of the house belonging to her younger son, Richard, and his wife Amanda and two daughters, Emma and Danielle.

“Looks like Grandma’s here,” Richard said in his medium baritone, looking out the bay window across their front yard. “Danielle, please go help your grandmother inside.”

“Sure thing,” Danielle said, and went off to help her seventy-nine-year-old grandmother with her things.

Richard turned to his eldest daughter. “Emma,” he asked in an even tone, “are you dry?”

“No, Daddy,” Emma said.

“Please go change for me, darling,” he said smiling, “and I’d appreciate it if you would cover up. You know the rules. You need to be wearing more than a t-shirt over your diaper when we have company.”

“It’s only Grandma,” she said, but toddled up to her room to change and cover up like her Daddy asked.

She reached the top of the stairs and made a right towards her bedroom door. Upon opening it she was hit with the mixed fragrance of baby powder and soiled diapers.

“I’d appreciate it,” said her mother’s voice over her shoulder, “if you would empty your diaper pail at some point today, baby girl,”

“Yes, Mommy, I will,” Emma said. “Daddy just sent me up here to change because Grandma just pulled up. Can I empty it after she leaves?”

“That’s fine, darling.”

“Thanks, Mommy,”

Emma smiled and shut the door to her room behind her. She went to her dresser and opened the top drawer. From it, she took a thick, white, disposable diaper with Barbie designs on the waistband. She also took out a pink Winnie the Pooh changing pad and her Pampers baby wipes. She carried them to her bed and set them down. Next she spread out the changing mat on top of her comforter and opened the container of baby wipes. Then she sat down on the left side of her bed, making sure her wet diaper was fully on the mat. She swung first her right foot then her left foot over the side of the bed so that she was lying down. She untaped each of the three tapes on each side of her diaper and lifted front up and laid it against the changing pad. She then lifted her behind and slid the back of the diaper out from underneath her. Then she wrapped it into itself and taped it shut, laying it on the floor with her left hand to be tossed into her diaper pail after she’d finished changing.

She lifted a baby wipe out of the container and began cleaning herself vigorously. The babyish scent lingered on her skin as the aloe soothed it. Next she sat up and took the fresh diaper in both hands and opened it up. Lifting her behind again, she slid the diaper into place and laid back down upon it. Then she took the baby powder from her bedside table and sprinkled it generously on her skin before pulling the front of the diaper up between her legs and taping it up.

Once freshly diapered, she set about finding something to cover it up. “It’s only Grandma,” she thought, and picked out her solid pink onesie, the one Grandma had bought her for Christmas this past year. She slipped it over her head, snapped the crotch, and was about to toddle back downstairs when she caught a look at her hair in the mirror.

Taking the hairbrush from the top of her dresser, she waged war on her somewhat wavy auburn hair, pulling into two matching pigtails and securing them with hairties. She then picked up her pink adult-sized pacifier that she’d tied to a white ribbon and hung it around her neck to complete her ensemble.

“Emma!” she heard her mother’s voice call. “Are you almost finished?”

“Coming, Mommy,” Emma called back.

“Oh, isn’t she just adorable?” her grandmother asked as her sixteen going on two year old granddaughter toddled down the stairs. “Look at you!”

Emma toddled over to her grandmother for a big hug.

“How are you doing?” she asked.

“Oh about as well as can be expected for a woman of my age,” Mrs. Robbins said with a smirk, “and how is my baby girl?”

“She’s as much of a handful as she ever was,” Amanda said grinning, “and it looks like we’ll be needing the highchair, after all. Danielle, can you give me a hand with it please?”

“To what do we owe this pleasure, Mother?” Richard asked as he laid a platter of cold cuts on the dining room table.

“Let’s wait until we’re all situated and I’ll let the cat out of the bag. There’s no sense in having to tell it more than once. Put that chair here, please, Amanda. I’d like my granddaughters on either side of me.”

“Sure thing, Mom,” Elizabeth said, guiding the highchair to the left side of the place set for her mother-in-law.

“Thanks, Danielle. You’re always a huge help.”

“No problem,” Danielle said.

“Need any help in there, Dad?”

“If you’d like to grab the mustard and mayonnaise from the fridge, I can grab the rolls and the bread knife and we can sit down to eat.”

“What would everyone like to drink?” Amanda asked. “There’s iced tea, lemonade, apple juice, there might be a coke or two in here.”

“Iced tea for me, please, if it’s not too much trouble,” said Mrs. Robbins.

“No trouble at all, Mom,” Amanda said, pouring out a glass of iced tea and handing it to Danielle to pass.

“Rick? What can I get you?”

“Iced tea for me too, please.”

“Another iced tea, coming right up.”


“I’ll have some lemonade, please.”

“All right.”

One glass of lemonade and one glass of iced tea were set on the table, Rick taking his and Danielle taking hers.

“And that just leaves my baby girl.”

“I’ll have iced tea please, Mommy,” said Emma, cute as a button.

“In a bottle or a sippy cup darling?”

“Sippy cup, please.”

“Now, if everyone will take their seats, we can say grace,” Rick said cheerfully.

Everyone took their places at the table. Emma sat still in her fisher price highchair that she still fit in after all these years while Danielle and Amand helped buckle her in and adjust the tray in place.

“Mom,” Elizabeth said, “would you mind saying grace?”

“Certainly,” Mrs. Robbins said, bowing her head. “Dear Lord, we thank you for the food we are about to eat and that we are able to come together as a family on this day. We ask your blessing on us and on those who could not be with us today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”

“Amen,” chorused the rest of the family.

“Dig in, everyone.” Richard said, “don’t be shy.”

“Now, Mother,” Amanda said as she passed the plate of ham to Danielle and accepted the Swiss cheese from Richard, "you said you had something important to discuss with us.

“Well,” Mrs. Robbins said," as you know, my eightieth birthday is next month. I wish to throw a family reunion and I intend to invite Drew and his family."

“Do you think they’ll come?” Richard asked, “you know how he is.”

“He’ll come if he knows what’s good for him,” Mrs. Robbins said with a smirk.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

“I can’t believe she guilted me into this,” Drew Robbins said to himself for the thousandth time that morning as the phone conversation from a month before replayed itself over and over in his mind.

“She knows we don’t see eye to eye,” he said, barely audible enough, without realizing, for his wife, Elizabeth, to hear.

She laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Honey, perhaps it’s time you pulled over; let me drive for a while.”

He was about to argue and say that he was fine when Elizabeth squeezed his shoulder ever so gently and gave him an imploring look. He put the right blinker on, checked the rear view mirror for traffic and pulled over onto the shoulder. The unexpected stop woke their youngest daughter, Nicole, who was the lightest of sleepers.

“Are we there yet?” she asked through a stifled yawn.

“No, darling,” her mother said, unbuckling her seatbelt and opening the passenger side door. “I just thought that Dad could use a break, so I’m going to drive for a while longer. You can go back to sleep, sweetheart.”

“Oh,” Nicole said and turned over as best she could into a comfortable position, trying to get back to sleep while her older sister, Jenn, slept on in the seat beside her.

Elizabeth adjusted the driver’s seat and then the mirrors before buckling her seatbelt and restarting the ignition, her husband laying back in the front passenger seat praying the conversation with his mother and anxiety over the upcoming weekend would not plague his dreams. She flicked on the left blinker, glanced into the rearview and her side mirrors, and placed her foot confidently on the gas pedal.

After an hour on the road, the Robbins family and their blue Ford Expedition stopped for fuel. Elizabeth pulled up to the Mobil station at a rest stop and had the gas tank filled. Once the tank was full, she waved her keychain at the auto-pay icon on the pump, grabbed the receipt it spit out, and pulled out of the station and into the nearly adjacent parking lot of a Denny’s.

After rousing her two sleeping children and her husband, they made their way inside where they were greeted by Michele, a lovely hostess who looked in her mid-twenties with vibrant wavy red hair and deep chocolate eyes.

“Your waitress will be right with you,” she said in a voice that sounded like smoked honey as she laid four menus and four sets of silverware on the table.

Barely two minutes later, another striking young lady who looked more or less the same age as Michele, but with shoulder-length chestnut hair and eyes the color of oak walked gracefully to their table, pen poised in her left hand and a pad held at the ready in her right hand.

“Good morning,” she said brightly. “My name, as you can see,” she pointed to her name tag and smiled broadly, “is Penny, and I’ll be your server today. Can I start you off with anything to drink?”

“I’ll have a cup of coffee, please,” Elizabeth said.

“Make that two, please,” said Drew, still waking up from his nap.

“I’ll have an orange juice, please,” said Jenn.

“Chocolate milk for me, please,” said Nicole.

“Two coffees, one OJ and one chocolate milk, coming right up,” said Penny and she whisked away to place the orders.

“I never know what to get when we come here,” Nicole said, perusing her menu. “What’re you having, Jenny?”

“I think I’m going to have the Grand Slam,” Jenn said

“Hmmm…” Nicole thought as her eyes darted here and there across the menu looking for something she thought she’d enjoy. “Two buttermilk pancakes, two eggs, two bacon strips and two sausage links,” she read.

“I think I’ll have that as well,” she said, and put down her menu.

“Are we all ready to order?” Penny asked as she placed the coffees in front of Drew and Elizabeth, the orange juice in front of Jenn and the chocolate milk in front of Nicole. In the middle of the table she placed a bowl of half-and-half containers, sugar and artificial sweeteners, and two straws.

“I’m ready,” Drew said.

“Okay, what will you have?” Penny asked cheerily.

“I’ll have the t-bone steak and eggs.”

“All right,” Penny began scribbling onto her pad, “and how would you like your steak?”

“Medium-well, please.”

“And your eggs?”

“Over easy, please.”

“Okey dokey, and would you like hash browns or grits?”

“Hash browns, please.”

“And bread or toast?”

“White toast, please.”

“And for you?” Penny asked, turning to Elizabeth.

“I’ll have the Belgian waffle platter, please.”

“All right, and that comes with two bacon strips and two sausage links. And for you?” she turned next to Nicole

“I’ll have the Grand Slam with scrambled eggs, please,” Nicole said.

“Easy enough, and last but not least, for you, miss?” Penny asked

“I’ll have the same but with eggs over easy.”

“Great,” Penny gathered up the menus and went off to place the orders.

Just as Penny was placing the Robbins’ orders with the kitchen, Michele, the hostess was leading a family of four with two young girls, one in a stroller and one holding her mother’s hand as she toddled to a table near where they were seated

“Oh, your girls are both just adorable!” Nicole gushed without really meaning to.

“Why thank you,” said the young mother, beaming.

“How old are they?”

“Ashley here is three and a half,” she said, indicating the toddler, “and Jessica here is two.”

“How wonderful,” Elizabeth smiled kindly. "I have fond memories of when these two were that age.

The young mother hid a sigh within a laugh. “Yes, it’s wonderful, but it has its difficulties, too. Ashley, for example, still thinks toilet training is a game. Sometimes she’ll play along but other times she holds back until she’s put back into a diaper.”

“Still in diapers at three and a half?” Nicole asked incredulously."

“Unfortunately. The doctor says it’s extremely important not to rush things, though, and to be supportive without pushing too much. Late training seems to be a common things these days.”

“Yes, I consider myself very lucky that these two,” Elizabeth said, indicating her two daughters, “were both trained by age two.”

“Mother!” Nicole said, aghast that her mother would talk about her own toilet training in public.

“I’m sorry, darling. These are just some things that mothers talk about. You will too, someday.”

“I agree with not rushing the child, though,” Jenn said. She suddenly found all eyes on her following her unexpected contribution on the matter.

“I just mean it’s like anything else in life…nothing happens before it’s time.”

“Perhaps,” the young mother said, "but I doubt her kindergarten teachers will thank me if I send her in diapers with a note saying “she didn’t seem ready and we didn’t want to rush her.”

“Understandably,” Jenn said.

"Are you ready to order?’ A waiter whose nametag read “John” was standing at the young family’s table, so the Robbins again said it was nice meeting them and that they wished them the best of luck before turning back to their own table. No sooner had Drew picked up his coffee cup than Penny reappeared with a platter full of hot food.

Nicole took a long, deep, breath. “I love breakfast,” she sighed as she smelled, in turn, her mother’s Belgian waffle, sizzling bacon, eggs, pancakes, and steak.

Silence descended upon the Robbins’ table as each tucked into their breakfast. Not a word was uttered until the plates were clean and cups were empty. They heaved a collective sigh of contentment.

“Can I get you anything else?” Penny asked, noticing they’d finished their meals.

Drew looked around to each family member in turn and, sensing no objection, he said, “just the check, please.”

“Coming right up.” Penny said, and walked off to the register. She returned moments later with the check enclosed in a leather case and four peppermints.

“I’ll take that whenever you’re ready,” she said.

Drew passed the mints out, then took the check, opened it, slid his American Express gold card into the slot, closed it, and put it back on the edge of the table.

“How far is it to Grandma’s house?” Nicole asked as Penny took the check and Drew’s card from the table and went to swipe it.

“It’s roughly an hour from here if we don’t stop again,” Drew said.

“Oh, that’s not too bad. I’m really excited to see everyone. We haven’t seen Emma or Danielle in ages.”

“Well, then,” Elizabeth said as Drew signed the restaurant’s copy of the receipt and placed his copy in his wallet, “let’s be off, shall we?”

"Not so fast,’ Drew said. “Let’s all use the rest room before we go.”

Chapter 3

Chapter 3

The phone conversation with his mother two weeks before plagued his dreams even after he’d let Lizzie drive, and with an hour at most until they reached her house, its incessant looping began giving him no peace.

'“Hello?” Drew said, picking up the phone.

“Hi, Drew, it’s your mother,” Mrs. Robbins said.

“Hi,Mom,” Drew said, “How are you feeling?”

“I can’t complain really.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“How are the girls?”

“Doing well, thanks.”

“And Lizzie?”

“Also, well.”

“That’s wonderful. Listen, the reason I’m calling is because, as I’m sure you’ll recall, my birthday is coming up and this year it falls on the Sunday before Memorial Day.”

“Yes, I had noticed that. Is there anything special you’d like?”

“Now that you mention it, there is, Andrew, and that’s why I’m calling. I’m turning eighty years old and I would like to spend my birthday with my family.”

“Ah,” Drew said, “and what did you have in mind.”

“I’d like to have you, Lizzie, and the girls come to stay for the weekend.”

“And Richard?” Drew asked tentatively, afraid of what he knew the answer would be.

“Richard has been invited as well. He’s my son, too, remember.”

“I know, mother.” Drew said, beginning to tense up, “but you know that he and I don’t see eye to eye.”

“You still haven’t let that go?” Mrs. Robbins asked, though she was truly only half surprised.

“I don’t agree with the way he’s raised his children,” Drew said stubbornly.

“And what business is it of yours how he raises them?”

“None, but…”

“Exactly!” Mrs. Robbins cut her son off. "Emma and Danielle are wonderful children. They’re respectful, they’re polite. They never fight. Emma got straight A’s last year and recruiters from Yale and Columbia have been in contact as she’s starting to look into colleges.

“But she’s still…” Drew couldn’t bring himself to say the words, lest he admit their being truth in them.

“She maintains a healthy balance,” Mrs. Robbins said firmly.

“I just don’t think that is behavior I want modeled for my children,” Drew said defensively.

“I think you need to look beyond appearances, Andrew. She’s a model student. She’s being inducted into the National Honor Society later this month. She’s vice-president of her class and is extremely involved in the community.”

“And does she still wear diapers?” Drew asked.

“It’s hardly any business of yours, seeing as you’ve disowned her as a relative, along with her sister and parents.”

“Just answer my question, please.”

“Yes, she does.”

“And baby clothes?” Drew asked heatedly. These were the only things that really mattered to him.

“Yes,” Mrs. Robbins said, her temper beginning to bubble.

“Well, Mother, I’m afraid that the last thing Lizzie and I want or need right now is to have one of our children witness such ridiculous behavior and come home thinking it is acceptable to imitate her.”

“The only ridiculous behavior I’m witnessing is yours, Andrew, and since you seem unwilling to listen to reason, I’ll make this very plain. It’s been five years since you’ve even spoken to your brother, five years since my grandchildren have seen each other. It’s my eightieth birthday and I want my family together and if you can’t put aside your differences with your brother, then you can stay home and send Lizzie and the girls instead, but don’t think that I will ever speak to you again if you’re not here.”

Sensing imminent defeat, Drew hung his head, not that his mother could see, and acquiesced. “I understand, Mother.”

“Excellent. I’ll see you two weeks from today. You can arrive anytime after noon. Dinner’s at 2pm sharp.”’

At the end of the long, winding driveway, they pulled up in front of an enormous three-story red Neoclassical house. For Doric columns spanned from the second floor balcony to the porch.

“It’s just like I remember it,” Jenn said.

“Before we go in,” Drew said slightly nervously, “there’s something you should probably know about your cousin Emma.”

“Oh?” said Nicole, who barely remembered Emma or Nicole at all.

“Yes,” Drew continued, his eyes glued to a spot between his daughters on the back seat. “She’s been having, er, accidents and she has to wear protection.”

“Protection?” Nicole asked, her brow furrowed in an utter lack of comprehension.

“She wears diapers, Nikki,” Jenn said helpfully.

“How old is she now?”

“She’s sixteen; she’s just two months older than Jenny,” Elizabeth said.

“Anyway,” Drew said. “Your mother and I wanted you to know so that it didn’t surprise you if you found out by accident and so that you don’t make fun of her for it.”

“I promise I’ll be sensitive to the situation,” Nicole said, feeling as if she’d just been let in on the family secret.

“What a load of rubbish,” thought Jenn quietly as she opened her door and stepped out into the bright sunlight of a beautiful day in May.

Robbins Family Reunion Chapters 1-3 (new order of chapters)

In case anyone’s curious, the reason for the switch of the two chapters is that I decided I wanted to tell most of the story going forward in time, rather than flashing back every other chapter. I thought that might get confusing for the reader.

Robbins Family Reunion Chapters 1-3 (new order of chapters)

Sorry…didn’t catch that I had 2 Elizabeth’s. Changed Rick’s wife’s (Emma & Danielle’s mother) name to Amanda.

Robbins Family Reunion Chapters 1-3 (new order of chapters)

This story is a fresh of breath air, after the lack of good stories it seems we’ve been having on the forum lately. I really, really liked your short story Commencement, and was waiting to hear more from your, Lauren. A few suggestions.

How old is Emma? 18 or 16, you said both, I know Jenn is about the same age. How about Danielle? Is she about the same age as Nicole? I’m guessing like 13-14, but I could be wrong. I really like to know ages, so if you could eventually fill me in that’d be great.

I really like the family reunion idea, especially with the tension between the two brothers over the diapers. I have a feeling things will get interesting when Drew’s daughters start getting curious with Emma’s diapers.

Lastly, I’m sure you’re gonna get into this, but give us some background on exactly why Emma’s in diapers. I didn’t expect you to do it for Commencement, as that was just a cute short story, but for a longer story like this, we kind of need to know why, as it’s not really normal for a 16 year old to be in diapers. Also give us some background on why Danielle’s not.

All in all, this is an incredible start. Keep up the good work, I’ll be waiting for every chapter!