This chapter explains a few things and sets up a few others.
I hope you like this,
Rick watched Becky as Peter held her. Peter was patting her poopy diaper and rocking her gently back and forth. She showed no discomfort at being messy, but just contentedly nursed on her binky. He knew from this point forward he would have to check her diaper often to be sure she didn’t leak.
Becky loved Uncle Peter so much, and still felt awful that she had made him cry. She smiled as she felt him pat her dipey. She loved her dipeys, and didn’t want to give them up. They made her feel secure, and that was worth a great deal to her at the moment.
After several minutes, Peter asked “How about I let Daddy change your dipey now, and you take a good nap this time?”
Becky, still tired nodded her head.
Peter turned, kissed her forehead and told her “I love you so much Baby Girl. Go to Daddy now, OK?”
“OK.” she told him and hugged him tighter for a moment and then turned toward Daddy and put her arms out.
“Come here Baby Girl. Let’s get your stinker butt changed.” Rick said as he took her in his arms. Laying her down, he tickled her and said “You are such a good girl.”
Sharon was so relieved when Becky started giggling around her Binky. She knew they’d made it through this difficult time.
April looked at Billy, sitting in his mommy’s arms and asked “Can I see your binky for a moment Baby? I promise I’ll give it right back.” When Billy nodded his head and opened his mouth a bit, she took it in her hand and moved next to Becky. “Do you know why that binky feels so much better than Billy’s binky did?” she asked her.
Becky shook her head and said “No.”
“Can you take your binky out and hold it up where you can see it Sweety?” she asked.
Becky, with an anxious look, reached up and pulled the pacifier from her mouth. When April saw her hold it so she could see it, she held Billy’s binky right next to it. Becky, along with her parents, was stunned. The nipple of her pacifier was almost three times larger than Billy’s. “This binky was made for bigger baby girls like you Sweetheart. That’s why it feels so much better.”
Becky smiled a great big smile and put the binky back in her mouth.
Rick lifted Becky by the ankles and spread the changing pad under her. Once he had gotten a clean diaper and the wipes, he stood a moment, waiting for Peter to leave. When he saw Peter nod his head, he understood that he wanted to see what Becky’s reaction was if she was changed right in front of them. Pulling the tapes free on her diaper, he pushed her legs toward her tummy, forcing them apart and giving him more room to clean her up.
April caught on and asked Becky “Did you enjoy the Ball Sweety?” with a smile.
“Yeth! Dat wath fun!” she said with a big smile, completely at ease as Daddy pulled the diaper down and used the front to wipe a good part of the mess from her bottom.
Taking it a step further, Peter said “I bet you liked riding in the carriage too, didn’t you?”
“Dat wath gweat!” Becky responded excitedly.
Figuring he would help, Rick told her “Boy you sure made a big mess in your dipey Baby Girl. Peeee yeeew!” he said and poked her tummy.
Becky giggled loudly and smiled at Daddy. She loved when Daddy changed her dipey.
“Alright Baby, I’m gonna go talk with Mommy for a bit. You have a good nap OK?” Peter told her and bent to kiss her forehead.
Becky pulled her Binky out and pulled him close so she could kiss his cheek. “OK, night night Uncle Peter.” she said, then took her binky again.
Peter, April and Sharon all told her “Night night Baby.” in turn, then left the room.
No sooner did Sharon sit down with Billy in her lap, than he said “Nummieth Mommy.”
“OK Baby.” she told him and laid him down. Once he was nursing comfortably at her breast, she turned to April and asked “Where in the world did you get that pacifier?”
“Oh, Speech therapy uses them for older children who are developmentally delayed and need to learn to suck. That one and the other three I had the pharmacy deliver are the biggest size they make.” April explained.
“I had no idea they made one that big.” Sharon replied. After thinking a moment, she asked “What did you put in the second bottle that Becky drank?”
“Juice, why?” April asked.
Sharon looked surprised and replied “I thought you might have given her medicine.”
“No. I was only trying to buy time until the pacifiers got here. I’m not particularly fond of Xanax, so I wouldn’t give her any more than she’s taking now unless there was a VERY good reason for it. You have to understand, Billy loves his binky because it stimulates the soft pallet in the back of his upper jaw. Because he is so small, he can get the stimulation he needs from a toddler’s pacifier. Becky needed a much larger pacifier to get the same comfort from it.” April explained.
“I was shocked at how much of a difference the pacifier made to her. I couldn’t believe she calmed down that quickly once she had it.” Sharon replied.
“You have no idea.” Rick said softly as he closed the door to the bedroom most of the way.
Looking startled, Sharon said “Are you sure you want to leave her in there alone?” with great concern in her expression.
“I asked her if it would be alright if I went to talk with you out here once she went to sleep. She had absolutely no problem with it. All she required is that I pat her diaper until she went to sleep.” he said incredulously.
The other three were shocked at this news.
Just then, there was a soft knock at the door. Rick immediately went back into the bedroom.
Peter stood and went to answer the door. As he opened the door, a tall, completely bald gentleman asked “Is Sharon or Rick in?”
“May I ask who you are?” Peter asked, not understanding.
“My name is Craig Cranston. Cathy Fenton asked me to stop by and check on Becky. She said there was a rather serious problem earlier and gave me a call.” he explained.
Peter opened the door wide as he offered his hand and replied “Hi I’m Peter Richardson, Billy and Becky’s doctor.”
Craig shook his hand and offered “Cathy has great things to say about you Doc.”
“Come on in. Sharon is right inside.” Peter told him as he stepped aside. Once Craig was inside, Peter gently closed and locked the door. Leading Craig, Peter went to stand before Sharon and introduced them.
Rick came out of the bedroom just then with a look of disbelief on his face. “She woke up for a second, smiled at me and then nursed her binky and went back to sleep. She had to hear them talking just like I did.” he told Sharon.
“That doesn’t surprise me.” Craig said and offered his hand and introduced himself to Rick.
When Rick finished with the introduction he asked “Why doesn’t it surprise you?”
“Before I explain that, please take a few minutes and tell me what’s been happening.” Craig requested.
All four of them took turns explaining what had taken place since Christmas. When the whole story was told, Craig started explaining. "You have to understand. When a child of Becky’s age, especially one who’s a bit immature as you’ve told me, has her sense of security ripped away, she will gravitate to behaviors and things of a time that she felt the safest.
You’ve all seen that process as it’s unfolded. First sucking her thumb, then the greater attachment to her bear, then wanting you to take her to the potty. The diapers and wanting to be a little girl were next, with that desire becoming stronger after being changed a couple of times. Each of these things were comforting to her. The one thing she couldn’t reconcile was, why was she so afraid, and Billy not."
Sharon was glad Cathy had asked Craig to come. The way he explained all of this made perfect sense to her now.
“The next logical step for her was to become like Billy. By being a baby like him, she feels she won’t be afraid.” he explained. Lowering his voice to a whisper, he added “We all know that Billy is afraid, but she doesn’t know that, and that perception is what made it so you could come back out here.”
“I don’t understand.” Rick told him.
“Well, perception is everything to a child. Becky knows that Billy went through the same thing she did, and yet she doesn’t see him clinging to Mommy and crying every time someone opens the door. This causes a dilemma for her. It essentially leaves her two choices, from her point of view, ignore the fear, or be more like Billy. Since she has seen she can’t ignore the fear, she started behaving more like him. She has convinced herself that it was the diapers, the binky and the nursing that made it so Billy isn’t afraid. By having these things, she expects that she won’t be afraid, so she isn’t.” Craig elaborated.
“OK, that makes sense, so what do we do now?” Rick asked.
“Well, essentially, you have two choices. You can take the binky, the diapers and the bottle from her, and try to help her get through this without them, or you can allow her to have them and help her to understand that she doesn’t need them. The first option will almost certainly cause problems for her that will take several years to work through, while the second option will undoubtedly cause problems of it’s own.” he explained.
Sharon immediately stated “The first option isn’t an option at all at this point. While it might have been a mistake, I promised that little girl that no one would take her binky away and I have no intention of breaking that promise.”
“That settles that then. I would STRONGLY advise that you don’t break the promise. It would only make things a hundred times worse.” Craig told her.
“Well then what do we do? She’s going to get ridiculed if she goes out nursing a pacifier or bottle.” Rick asked with concern.
“There are ways to minimize that, but no, there is no way to completely avoid someone laughing at her or calling her a baby. Now, if you handle this right, you can reduce the impact that it has on her.” he answered.
“OK…” Sharon said, wanting to hear more.
“Tell me, did you bring skirts for her? Short skirts?” he asked.
“Yes, why?” April answered.
“Well, it might sound unusual, but I want you to dress her so her diaper is either prominent under sweatpants, or just visible when she is standing while wearing a skirt.” he explained.
“What? Why would we do that?” Rick asked in disbelief. He wasn’t happy that Craig wanted to embarrass his little girl.
Looking to Sharon, Craig asked “Tell me, a month before Christmas, if you saw a girl Becky’s age nursing a binky or a bottle what would you have thought. Please try to look at it without allowing for what’s happened.”
“I don’t know, I guess I would have thought that the parents were not right in allowing her to do that.” Sharon answered.
“Do you agree with that?” Craig asked Rick.
“Yes, that’s how I would’ve seen it.” he answered.
“OK, now lets change the picture a little bit. If you saw a girl Becky’s age sitting in a large stroller, her diaper obviously wet and plainly visible, nursing a pacifier or a bottle, what would you have thought?” he asked.
Sharon thought a second and then smiled as she answered “I would have thought that there was something wrong with the poor girl.”
“Exactly and you wouldn’t dream of showing her any negative feelings about how she was acting or dressed, would you?” he continued.
“No. I wouldn’t. I would feel for her parents, and be more likely to treat her as a toddler, speaking sweetly to her.” Sharon answered.
Smiling, Craig continued with “That’s exactly why I want you to dress her as I said. People will treat her as a toddler and be kind instead of cross with her. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be someone somewhere that will not be nice, and may even be downright nasty about it, but on the whole, she’ll find a lot more acceptance if the diapers are obvious. Especially if you encourage toddler behavior from her.”
“You mentioned this option had problems of it’s own. What problems?” Sharon asked.
“Well, I can guarantee that it will be years before she will sleep without that binky. The bottle won’t take as long, but it will be difficult to get her to give it up. The diapers may be an issue as well, especially if she starts puberty while wearing them.” he explained.
“Hmmm….that didn’t occur to me.” Sharon said. “It doesn’t matter though at this point, we’ll deal with that as it comes up.” she decided.
“I agree.” Rick said smiling at his wife.
"OK. With all of that settled, then this is what I want you to do. First, get the largest size diapers like Billy’s you can find. You’ve told her that her diapers are little girl diapers, and we want her to see that she will be wearing baby diapers.
Second, get several short skirts. Like I said, they should be short enough so that the crotch of the diaper is showing when she stands up. With you carrying her or her sitting in a stroller, her skirt should ride up enough for the diaper to be in plain view. Also, get several pairs of sweatpants that are one size too small. That will make the diaper obvious.
Third, get some diaper doublers. I want you to put two in her diaper every time you change her. Do this for two reasons, one, it will make the diaper more prominent, and two, she will not be able to go more than a few minutes without noticing she’s wearing a diaper. That should help reduce her anxiety more." he explained.
“We have some here already.” April explained.
“Yes, Billy is a heavy wetter and it helps with leaks.” Sharon explained. She sat Billy up to burp him right then as Rick started speaking.
“That reminds me, Becky wet several times earlier, enough to completely soak the diaper she was wearing and made no mention that she needed to be changed.” Rick explained.
“Again, I’m not surprised with everything that’s going on. She wants to be taken care of, it makes her feel safe.” Craig explained.
“Alright, I understand now why that happened.” Rick said with a smile.
“OK. Forth, make sure that you have a bottle for her at all times, and I would clip her binky to her shirt. She needs to know that it’s OK to nurse it. Also, PLEASE be sure to have at least two spare pacifiers.” he told them.
April smiled and got up, went to the kitchen area and came back with three more of Becky’s binky’s and laid them on the coffee table.
“Now there are other things that may come up. Eating for instance. Do you feed Billy anything yet?” Craig asked Sharon.
“He just started with apple sauce this morning.” she answered.
"Well, if Becky sees him being fed, then she may want you to feed her. I would advise you to only give her finger foods if you have a problem feeding her.
That brings up THE most important point. I cannot stress this enough. If anyone that interacts with her on a regular basis has a problem with seeing her, and treating her as a toddler, then they need to bow out now. It would do a fair amount of damage to her self esteem if someone she cares about makes her feel that she’s wrong or has no business behaving this way. You would be spending lots of money over the years to fix that, trust me. And PLEASE be honest with yourselves, if you can’t handle this, admit it. Telling her it’s OK while showing her it’s not will cause more problems. Trust me, you can’t hide your feelings from a child." Craig finished.
“You said to encourage her to behave like a toddler. How long should we do that?” Rick asked.
"Definitely while she’s here on vacation. This is anything but a steady routine, and building security in this environment while trying to change her behavior would be impossible. I would wait until you’ve been home for a month or so before you start working to help her get back to where she started.
One thing that will help is if, right from the start, you limit the toys and activities to anything you would allow a five year old to do. If you do that now, then you have something later to entice her to move forward. I would also adjust her bedtime for that same reason. Kids are willing to change to get a later bed time, so it will give you more to offer once she gets settled at home." Craig answered. Letting them digest that information, something occurred to him as he watched Billy nurse. “Unfortunately, there might be another problem that I don’t know how you’ll be able to solve.” he added with concern.
“What?” Sharon asked looking worried.
“Well, there is every possibility that when she sees Billy nurse, that she will want to.” Craig explained.
Sharon laughed for a moment, the concern leaving her expression immediately. “Trust me, that won’t be a problem.” she told him. When everyone looked puzzled, she smiled and told them “Becky absolutely cannot stand warm milk, it makes her gag.”
Everyone laughed at that.
Peter looked at Sharon and told her “I have a car here that I rented just in case we needed something. I can take April over to the local Walmart or Target and see if we can get some skirts and sweatpants that meet the needs. We’ll also pickup diapers and diaper doublers while we’re there. Any idea how many you’ll need?” he asked.
Sharon thought about it for a moment. She had no idea how much Becky wet, but if this morning was any indication, then she probably needed six or so a day. When she considered that they would be encouraging toddler behavior, and that would mean offering more bottles, she decided eight or ten would make better sense. Doing the math for the days they would be there, she added a little extra and said “Three hundred diaper doublers and one hundred and fifty diapers would take care of it until we get home with some to spare.” Sharon quickly answered.
“God! You should be an accountant!” Peter exclaimed.
Sharon laughed. April asked then “Do you want me to pick up some applesauce and pudding? They both would probably like that for desert or a snack.”
“That’s a great idea. And some oatmeal for breakfast.” Sharon answered.
“Oh, don’t worry about breakfast Honey, that’s already taken care of.” April said with a smile.
“OK, out with it.” Sharon said.
“Well, we have breakfast and dinner reservations for each day. I’ll get a box just in case, but I don’t think after tomorrow morning they’ll want to eat here.” April replied.
Rick growled then. Peter looking exasperated, moved to stand before Rick and said “Fine, you want to know? I’ll tell you. The morning you left, another article ran in the paper explaining everything that the kids had gone through, with some detail about the after effects. The next morning, there were more than two hundred checks delivered to the newspaper. All of them made out to you. Frank got the bank to put them in an account to pay for this trip. Now, are you satisfied?”
“Jesus.” Rick said softly.
“You live in a community that cares about it’s people. They wanted to see that the little ones had a good time. Now please, don’t ask any more questions. And one more thing. I have strict instructions that if either of them really want something they see here, you are to present your hotel key card and purchase it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a toy, a shirt or an ice cream cone. Don’t think, don’t hesitate, just buy it. The bill is taken care of.” Peter explained as he handed Sharon and Rick each a key card.
“Actually there is one more thing.” Peter said with a pained expression. “I was only supposed to be here for three days, but I will be staying for the full two weeks. After what I did to that little girl, I want to make sure she’s alright.”
“Peter,” Sharon said, “while I’m sure that Becky would love to have you here to enjoy this time with her, I know you have other responsibilities. Any one of us could have made that same mistake. Stop beating yourself up for it, your human dammit.”
Sharon’s use of colorful language got Peter’s attention. “I know, but I really want to stay if you don’t mind me tagging along.” he replied.
“Are you kidding? You can take turns carrying Becky.” Rick said with a chuckle.
They all laughed at that and Sharon added “We’d be glad to have your company, and the kids will be delighted.”
“I’ll make you a deal Rick, I’ll stay and help carry Becky if you leave all of your credit cards at the hotel safe.” Peter said with a mischievous grin.
“OK fine!” Rick answered in a half hearted grumble.