I wanted to appologize to you folks for the way the last chapter was written. Unfortunately, I had a teething 8 month old in my lap as I was trying to write it and we all know how difficult a cranky baby can be. The content was right, but it didn’t flow like the first three did.
Both of them remained quiet on the forty minute drive into the city. The events of the day having left them with a multitude of questions and no clear answers.
“Cathy did tell me I would have a million questions ten minutes after we left.” Sharon thought. That was an understatement. She wondered if she did something to make Billy this way. This idea haunted her. The thought that Billy could be in so much pain because of something she did or didn’t do was unbearable. “I’ll need to ask Cathy about that tomorrow.” she pondered. That would also be the first thing she would ask when they sat down with Billy and talked about this. “How would they broach this with Billy?” she thought to herself. Turning to her husband she asked “Dollar for your thoughts?”.
Rick was drawn from his pondering when Sharon asked the question. He humored her with his standard answer to that question. “Doesn’t that question usually have a coin in it?” he responded with a smile.
“Inflation.” was all she responded, grinning.
“Well, I was trying to figure out how to sit Billy down and talk this out without embarrassing him or making him feel worse. It’s one thing to ask God for something like this, it’s entirely another to have to talk with your parents about it.” Rick offered.
“I was thinking about the same thing. Any ideas?”
“I don’t know. I guess the best way to do this would be to sit him down and explain what happened and be prepared to listen.”
Sharon contemplated his response for a moment. “You know, the more I think about this, the less I like that idea. I know I always hated it when my parents sat me down to have a talk.” she said while emphasizing the word talk by making the quotes gesture. “I think I have come up with a better idea.”
“Care to share it?” Rick asked.
“Honey, I love you and I definitely trust your judgment, but this time, can you please trust me and let me handle the first interaction with Billy on this?” she practically begged.
“Alright, I’ll let you devise and implement a supremely diabolical plan my dear.” he said with an evil laugh followed with a smile. Then more seriously he added “he did ask for his Mommy back after all.”
That startled Sharon. She took pains to keep Rick from seeing it though by smiling at him. “It sounds as if he is a bit jealous.” she thought. After contemplating the situation, she realized she would probably feel the same way if their places were reversed. Over the last couple of years she had been envious of Rick’s relationship with Billy. They were comfortable with each other. The image of looking down at Billy as she cuddle him came to her and sent a warm comfortable feeling through her. Sharon wasn’t ready to admit it, but she was actually looking forward to being close to her little boy again.
So of course as he pulled the car into a parking space and shut the car off, Rick turned to her and chose that moment to pipe up with “You’re looking forward to this aren’t you.” without a hint of surprise in his expression. When she didn’t answer he took both her hands and looked her in the eye and said “Honey, it’s OK.” comforting her. “I’m just glad you’re not dreading this.”
“I don’t know, it’s just that…it’s been a long time since he wanted any affection from me at all.” she said blushing as tears threatened. She fought them back and continued. “It hurts when he pulls away from me when I touch him.” she continued, losing the battle with her emotions as the tears spilled to her cheeks.
Rick pulled her toward him, hugging her over the console. “Does he really do that?” he asked.
Sharon tried to say “yes” but couldn’t manage it and settled for a nod.
“How long has he been doing this?”
"A long time."she answered through her pain. “about two years”
“I’m sorry honey, I…I didn’t know.” was all he could say as the lump in his throat got larger. After a couple of minutes of just holding her she calmed down. Rick pulled back, reached up and took hold of her chin and raised it up until she was looking into his eyes. “Look, I don’t know all the answers, but I do know several things. First, I love you.”
Sharon smiled gratefully as he continued.
“Second, I love that little boy with all my heart and so do you. Third, neither of us would ever do anything intentionally to hurt him. We’ve discussed this with someone we trust and determined that babying him is the solution for the moment. If diapering and cuddling him will make some of the hurt I heard this evening go away, then I’m all for it.”
Sharon’s smile got a little wider as she realized once again why she married the man next to her.
“Fourth, while I may not like having been faced with it, I don’t feel a bit bad about having made that decision. And last but not least, we are about to go inside and shop for our “baby boy” in a moment.” emphasizing with his fingers. “Put aside your concerns until tomorrow and enjoy yourself. You always loved shopping for them when they were babies.” he finished.
Sharon blushed slightly, let out a small laugh and then leaned over and kissed her husband tenderly. “I love you.” she said.
“I know honey,” he said smiling. “and I thank God that you do every day.”
They both got out of the car and hand in hand, walked into the store.
Rick immediately grabbed a shopping cart as they passed the corral.
Sharon hesitated as they approached the baby section of the store. She hadn’t been in this area in more than six years. She didn’t realize it would make her this anxious. To talk about babying her nine year old son was one thing, doing it was another.
Rick was a bit concerned as he watched his wife’s expression. “She’s having a harder time with this than I thought she would.” he thought to himself. Just as he was about to speak Sharon reached in her pocket and removed the copy that Cathy had made of the paper she had written with Billy’s words on it. He watched as she read through what she had written earlier.
After putting the paper back in her pocket, Sharon took a moment to blink back the tears that threatened again. “Am I ever going to be able to read that without bursting in to tears?” she thought. “I hope not.” she decided after a moment while silently thanking God for Cathy. “I hope I never get to a point when something like that doesn’t move me.” she looked at Rick and quietly said “OK, I’m ready.” as she moved forward into the toddler’s section.
“What’s first?” Rick asked.
“Diapers.” she responded with a bit of a grin knowing how he felt about changing diapers.
“Oh…joy.” he grumbled as they moved to the diaper isle.
“Wow…things have changed a bit six in years!” Sharon exclaimed as she looked at the huge selection of diapers covering the whole isle. There were several different styles in different sizes all from the same manufacturer, and about six different brands. She scanned the different packages and one caught her eye.
Rick marveled at the change in Sharon as she picked up the package of Huggies. It was as if contact with the pack of diapers instantly switched her into “Mommy mode”. He couldn’t help smiling as she examined the package with a critical eye. As far as he knew, diapers were diapers. He had to admit though, the kids rarely ever had rashes or leaks when they were younger.
Sharon noticed him smiling at her and said “What?”
“I just think it’s cute when you go into Mommy mode.” he replied.
Sharon blushed but couldn’t help smiling. This had been his response for years whenever she had talked about the merits or drawbacks of a particular product they were using for the kids. “These are perfect.” she told him as she inspected the package of diapers. “They won’t be as noticeable when he walks with the narrower crotch.” she added. Sharon remembered Billy had been a heavy wetter as a baby and made a mental note to get some diaper doublers for night time. “They have Pooh Bear on the back too.” she stated. “Billy loved his Pooh Bear when he was younger.” she said as she put the large pack of diapers in the basket.
“Hmmm…as I remember it, he wouldn’t go anywhere without it.” Rick reminded her.
“You’re right, maybe we should get another one just in case.” she said tentatively.
Rick saw it. She was wrestling with this. He thought for a moment and realized she was questioning her every decision. He needed to put a stop to this. “Well, do you want me to go see if I can find one?” he asked putting the decision back in her hands.
“Yes. Just in case he wants it again.” she answered.
“OK, I’ll be back in a minute.” he said as he headed in the direction of the stuffed animals they saw as they came to the back of the store. It took a few minutes, but with some searching he managed to find where they had stuffed Pooh Bears on the shelf. As he picked up the one he thought would be best, he started to walk out of the isle but stopped when he noticed a different colored Pooh Bear. As soon as he touched it, he knew that this was a better choice. It was lighter in color than all of the rest, but it was much softer than the others. When he looked at the tag he understood. It read “Baby Winnie the Pooh”. “Perfect!” he thought.
“I forgot about how much stuff you need.” Sharon told Rick as he came walking up to her. He held the bear out to her. She took hold of it and was surprised at how soft the thing was.
“Look at the tag.” Rick told her.
Sharon turned the bear over to get to the tag and saw what was printed on it and smiled. Once again she was overtaken by a strong sense of gratefulness at who she was married to. “He could have just grabbed any one of the Pooh Bears over there.” she thought. “He took the time to find something perfect. He really is OK with all of this.” she pondered smiling at him. Somehow that made her feel better. She had been feeling as if a building was sitting on her shoulders and now the weight just disappeared. “Perfect!” she told him.
“I thought it was appropriate.” he replied. He noticed her demeanor change. The worried look was gone for the moment and that made his choice all the more special. Glancing in the basket as she moved to the next isle he saw baby wipes, powder, and a package of diaper doublers in the lower part.
Sharon stood contemplating as she looked over the assortment of products on the shelf. After a moment she reached out and took a two-pack of orthodontic pacifiers off the peg and placed them in the basket.
Rick reached up and grabbed another package and put it with the first one. Scanning the shelf, he pulled two pacifier clips off and dropped them in the basket as well. “He specifically asked for them and I’m not ever going through that again.” he told her with a determined look on his face.
She couldn’t help but laugh hard as she remembered a frantic call from him several years ago. Rick was taking the kids to the park for the day and mistakenly put the diaper bag between them on the seat. It was a beautiful day and he had the back windows cracked a bit. Little did he know, Billy pushed his binky out through the window and dropped it. To make matters worse, he not only threw out that one but repeatedly reached into the pocket on the diaper bag and, one by one, sent all of the spares careening down the pavement as well. Becky had fallen asleep during the ride but was awakened to Billy crying. She immediately looked for his binky but couldn’t find it. Rick had suggested she look in the diaper bag but there were none left in there. With his nerves frazzled, he had resorted to calling Sharon and asking her what he should do. She suggested he find a store with one similar to what Billy normally used. It took him about an hour before he found one similar to Billy’s old binky.
Soon they found themselves in front of an isle of baby bottles. Sharon hesitated before asking “Should we?”
“I don’t know” Rick said purposefully being evasive. “She needs to make as many of these decisions as possible.” he thought.
Sharon took a moment and closed her eyes picturing holding a bottle for Billy while rocking him in a rocking chair. After a moment she grabbed a three-pack of bottles and a bottle brush. “It felt right” she thought to herself.
“At least we don’t need formula.” Rick offered.
“But we will need juice.” she replied grabbing two big containers of white grape juice. “And water.” she added grabbing four gallons of water off the shelf remembering the dentist had advised nothing but water at night when Billy was likely to fall asleep with his bottle in his mouth.
As she was moving further down the isle, she found herself stopping and wondering. After a moment she reached up and grabbed the Pooh Bear bib from the rack and placed it in the basket and a second later a large jar of applesauce joined it.
Rick was happy to see that she had just done what she felt was right, rather than asking him about it. He thought the idea of feeding Billy was a bit unique, but he left her to make that choice. “Is that everything?” he asked hopefully while thinking about the amount this was going to hit their credit card for.
“No, not yet.” Sharon told him.
Rick sighed loudly.
“It won’t be long, I promise.” she assured him as she moved toward the clothing. She looked for a bit before she found what she was after. Holding up the sleeper, she couldn’t help but smile. “It’s so cute!” she said as she moved her fingers over the appliqué of Pooh Bear sewn onto the front. She placed it in the basket and picked up an identical one except green and dropped that in with the other. The next thing to hit the basket was a pair of slippers. One had Pooh and the other had Tigger on it.
“What now?” Rick asked as Sharon moved toward the back isle where the baby furniture was displayed. This worried him a bit. Would she want to get him a highchair or a crib? He was a bit relieved when she stopped and looked over them for a moment and then moved on.
“I thought it might be a good idea to buy him a couple of toys more appropriate to what he is asking for.” Sharon explained as she moved into the baby toy isle. She found the toddler toys and looked specifically for the Little People sets that he had played with when Bobby had come over for the day. Like a light coming on, it suddenly became clear. She looked at her husband and said “That’s why he prefered to play with Bobby instead of Becky. I didn’t understand why he made that choice but marked it off as Billy trying to make his cousin’s day fun. The more I think of it, the more I realize he was loving playing with these.”
Rick winced as Sharon put several sets in the cart.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Well we finished the Christmas shopping already.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean when you add to Billy’s presents that means we will need to add to Becky’s.” he replied.
She hadn’t thought of that. Rick was not flexible at all on this issue. He had made sure that their gifts were similar in value overall. “OK. We’ll only get three then and get Becky the other two games she wanted.” Sharon offered.
“Alright.” he replied.
Just then she saw something that looked perfect. She walked over and grabbed the crib toy from the shelf. It was Pooh Bear themed. It made music and showed lights with all of the Winnie the Pooh characters displayed on it. She saw the expression on her husband’s face and grabbed one of the Little People sets and placed it back on a shelf. “What’s wrong?” she said when his expression didn’t get better.
“Are you planning on putting him in a crib?” he asked.
“Oh!.” she laughed. “No. It converts to a toddler night light that sits on his night stand.” she finished. Relief immediately replaced his worried expression. “What if he wants one?” she said very softly with concern in her voice.
“We’ll deal with that if it becomes an issue, but I’m not going to worry about it now.” he replied.
“OK.” she sighed. “I think this is all of it for now.”
“Lets get checked out and go home.” he suggested.
As the checkout lady rung up the items she held up one of the footed sleepers and said “This is just adorable!”
“I know, it’s so cute!” Sharon replied.
“I bet your baby is gonna love that” the checkout lady added as she indicted the crib mobile.
Sharon hesitated for a moment and then replied with a worried expression “I truly hope so.”
“Trust me.” the checkout lady continued. “My sister’s baby boy loves it. Yours will too.”
Sharon couldn’t help herself, she smiled. Now she understood what Cathy had been trying to tell her about mothers wanting a second chance at babying their child. She had to admit, the idea was becoming less frightening and more appealing as time went on.
After they got through the checkout and had loaded all of their purchases in the car Sharon asked “Where are we going to put all of this?”
As they pulled out of the parking lot, Rick said “Hmmm…How about the garage?”
“I really don’t think it would be a good idea to take a chance on either of the kids seeing this stuff until we’re ready.” she answered. “I wonder if Mom would store it for the day. I can have her bring it to the house day after tomorrow.”
“That would be fine, but how are you going to explain why you and I just went to Walmart to buy baby essentials?” he offered.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Well, I guess I will have to tell her.”
“Would that be fair to Billy?” Rick asked worriedly.
“Yes it would. He’s going to be spending Christmas day as a baby. I think it would be a good idea to let everyone know what’s going to happen so that no one causes a problem.” Sharon explained.
“You have a point there. But how do you think Mom and your sister will take this?” Rick responded.
“I’m not positive, but I think they will be OK with it. If nothing else, they won’t make it harder on him. I will just be very firm that this is going to happen and if they can’t deal with it then maybe Christmas should move to Mom’s.” she replied. “I’ll take care of letting everyone else know what’s happening, don’t worry.”
“Alright.” he answered.