Re: Short story: “Acting Like A Baby”
And here’s your big finish.
Mom finally returned a few minutes later and hoisted me up by my armpits, carrying me in front of her into my bedroom. “Alright then!” she said. “Let’s get that stinky diaper changed!” She seemed to have lost that angry edge, and went back to humming as she went through the arduous process of cleaning up my backside. I swear she used a hundred or more wipes. My legs were nearly cramping by the time she finished the job, covering my bottom and my girl parts with rash cream and powder before taping me back up into a clean diaper. That was probably the best I’d ever felt about being put in a diaper, after sitting in that mess for so long. I played along with her as she cooed and fussed over me while she put my socks and shoes on. Let her think she won that battle. Stay in character, make her think she broke me. I babbled and cooed and lisped in the car all the way there, quieting down as we got closer to the studio.
Finally we were there, and while she was still just as bubbly as ever, I was silent, watching, waiting, listening. She carried me over to the signup line, which had gotten pretty long for an hour before auditions, and we waited. I looked around. Some of the poor kids, infants or not, were dressed in the most ridiculous outfits, ridiculous even for the pageants I’d experienced. The lady standing in front of us was bouncing some little infant in what looked like an Easter dress, only pink, with the pinafore and the crinoline petticoats and the tights and ballet slippers and a goofy headband with a huge rose on it. I wanted to laugh. My own outfit was positively benign by comparison.
While we waited, another lady walked up with her own toddler, a boy in a simple blue t-shirt and the tell-tale blue Luvs diaper and sandals. She looked at the one ahead of us and over at Mom, and they exchanged knowing glances. “Amateurs,” Mom said, rolling her eyes. I knew the drill. Those kids never made the cut, usually because the producers didn’t want to waste time arguing with Mom about how it was a diaper commercial and they needed pictures of the diaper, not the kid’s Sunday best.
“Seriously. They’ll learn,” the woman agreed. “Sharon,” she added, “and this is Jerry.”
“Tabitha,” Mom replied. “and this is Charlotte, and Mommy’s really hoping she gets this gig!”
“Seriously, these things are a godsend! I’ve only gotten Jerry into a couple of unpaid shoots, but just the free case of diapers was worth the trouble!” Sharon declared.
“I know, right? I swear, I’d be bankrupt if it weren’t for these things! Charlotte has been in a bunch of these already, and I could really use another one today. Save me from having to pick up a box on the way home!”
“So how old is she?” Sharon asked. “Jerry will be three in June, and I’m hoping we’re all done with diapers by then.”
“Oh, she’s already three! We just had a birthday a little bit ago, didn’t we?” Mom grinned broadly at me. This was my chance.
I took the pacifier out of my mouth and said, “Mommy?”
“How come you keep telling people I’m only three?” I asked innocently.
Sharon’s eyebrow raised, as did several other moms within earshot, who turned to focus on the growing spectacle. “Charlotte, we just had a birthday party for you, and there were three candles on the cake, remember?” Mom said, her voice trembling ever so slightly.
I was in the zone now, and I had her right where I wanted her. “But Mommy, there were three candles on the cake last year too, and the year before that! When do I get to turn four like you promised?”
Gasps. Jaws hanging open. Scowls of derision I could nearly feel burning through my mother, just from the residual heat. “Charlotte! What are you talking about?!” She forced a nervous laugh, looking around at all the other mothers. “She has such an active imagination, I swear!”
They weren’t buying it. “Someone should call CPS on you!” one of them snapped.
“Poor kid! What a sicko!” another added in. Mom tried to fend them off with stuttering protests but failing. I was struggling not to burst into giggles when one of the producers walked up, one I recognized from a commercial I’d done a year or so before. He grabbed Mom’s arm and pulled her aside. “Tabs, today isn’t your day,” he whispered.
“Come on, Mark! We need this gig!” she protested.
“Tabs, I’m gonna have a riot on my hands if I shoot her today. You need to get out of here before someone calls the frickin’ cops!”
The other women had spread the word, and by now there was practically a mob of angry mothers yelling epithets at Mom from the signup table. “Fuck!” she hissed. “Alright, alright, I’m going.”
“I’ll call you next week, see if we can get her in on a private shoot in a few months. You know the marketing people love her anyway…” Mark offered.
“That’d be great, Mark,” she said, stiffening up. “Please do.” With that, she turned, me still on her hip, and marched toward the car. She buckled me up in the car seat, slamming the door behind, and when she got in on the other side, she turned at me with a look that stunned the grin right off my face. It wasn’t rage, or at least not totally. There was more of a crazed appearance to it. She was almost grinning at me when she spoke.
“You know what, Charlotte? I get it now. It’s just too hard for your little psyche to have to wear diapers for these little shoots when you wear big girl panties the rest of the time, isn’t it?”
I nodded silently, confused and slightly afraid.
“You poor little thing. Mommy doesn’t blame you for acting out. But she knows how to fix this little problem for you. You know how?”
I shook my head, my eyes bulging.
“Mommy thinks little Charlotte just needs to stay in diapers until the next diaper commercial comes along. What do you think of that idea?”
My jaw dropped, and the pacifier fell away. “No, Mom! Please, not that!”
“Well that’s EXACTLY what’s going to happen. We won’t have any more problems with little Charlotte getting used to wearing diapers the day before the audition if she wears them all the time, now, will we?”
“But… But how long will that be?!” I squeaked, terrified.
“Well, since little Charlotte hates doing diaper commercials so much, Mommy’s thinking we should just take a break from them for a while. Maybe when we start running low on diapers, we can try another one. Sound good?”
“But Mom! The spare bedroom! It’s…” I was on the verge of tears.
“Filled with them, that’s right!” she completed my sentence for me. “Mark said a few months on that private shoot. You might get through four or five boxes between now and then, huh?”
“But… Mommy, I’m sorry!” I bawled.
“Maybe, if you get out there and nail it, Mommy will start you potty training again afterward. What do you think?”
“Mommy! I don’t want to…” I blubbered.
“You don’t want to do that shoot? That’s fine, there’s probably two dozen boxes in there. We can wait until you’re ready…”
And that was the day I learned that you can never truly get revenge on your parents. Because they will ALWAYS one-up you. I did that shoot for the Luvs people two and a half months later. In the meantime, I did six pageants in three states, along with a local daycare commercial, a spread in Parents magazine, and a casting call for a TV show. And I was diapered the entire time. The worst part? I got the part in the TV show. My big break, right? Yeah, I wish. They wanted a toddler. I was now contractually obligated to wear diapers until they decided to write my potty training into the show, which, thanks to an endorsement deal with Huggies, didn’t wind up happening until season 3, episode 17.
I hate my life…