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From the start, Randy Wolfe was a big boy. At birth, he weighed a whopping 11 pounds, Huge for a first baby. Both his parents were quite large and came from large-size families. His mother, Grace, was a tall, wide-bodied woman with long, sandy hair and a pretty face. His Father, Shane, was a big Negro man, over six feet in height and powerfully built.
Shane was a very successful veterinarian, specializing in animal massage. Grace was a registered nurse. Between them, they were quite rich and lived in a comfortable house on the edge of town.
Apart from his size, Randy seemed like a normal baby boy. He was one of those placid types who rarely cried unless in need of something. The one strange thing about him was the speed at which he seemed to be growing. Friends and relatives joked that he’d be over seven feet tall when he was full grown! He was also an unusually quick learner. By 6mths, he was crawling. He walked at 10mths and was talking well before his second birthday. By then, he was over 3 feet tall and still growing fast.
By four years of age, Randy was out of diapers except at night. Before his fifth birthday, He was completely trained. His potty training had gone smoothly and everyone was proud of him. He even proved to be something of a role model in nursery school, with his skills, confidence and gentle ways. His nursery school teacher encouraged his parents to skip kindergarten, since he was fast acquiring most of the things taught there. So he entered first grade at five. Being much bigger than many five-year-olds, he fitted in fairly well with the older kids. His birthday being in June fitted in perfectly.
Towards the end of first grade, Randy and his parents began to notice a curious thing. As mentioned, Randy’d had little trouble getting potty trained and could hold his urine for up to four hours if necessary. Now, however, this "dry time" began gradually to decrease. At first, nobody was too worried; but as time passed, it began to grow more noticeable. At seven, it had dropped to three hours, where it stayed till he was almost eight. Then he began having occasional accidents. His dry time shortened rapidly over the course of a year. By the time he was approaching nine, he couldn’t go more than two hours without a washroom break, and that was pushing it. One day, after an embarrassing accident at school, he came to his parents.
"Mum?" he asked, "Am I getting sic?"
"I don’t think so, dear," Grace answered. "Why do you ask?"
"I keep having to wee," Randy explained, "it’s getting harder to hold it."
"Does it hurt to wee?" Shane asked.
Randy shook his head.
"We’ll speak to Dr. Shermann at your next checkup," Grace promised.
At the doctor’s, Randy told of his problem. Dr. Shermann had marveled at the boy’s health from the first. His large size had prompted him to keep an eye out for Diabetes, but Randy had always tested negative. The rapid growth had been due partly to genetics and partly to mild Gigantism, a condition cause by an excess of Growth Hormone. There was no family history of bladder or kidney trouble, so this turn of events was a puzzle.
"I’ll run some more tests," the doctor promised. "Perhaps something was missed."
Randy’s parents prayed for the best, but his dry time continued to shorten until he was having to go about every hour. Naturally, this posed a problem at school. He had to run to the washroom after every class, as well as during recess and lunch. It was getting scary and frustrating for everyone. He kept having to leave play to use the washroom and it was hard to concentrate on anything. He couldn’t even get a full night’s sleep! Finally, Dr. Shermann suggested they let him do an internal exam of the bladder itself.
"What’ll that mean?" asked Randy nervously.
"You’ll have to spend a day or two in hospital," Dr. Shermann explained. "We need to find out how much urine you’re actually producing and make sure there aren’t any new problems that don’t show in regular tests."
The family consented. Anything to solve this maddening mystery! They decided to have the test as soon as school was out for the summer.
For 24 hours, Randy’s washroom use was monitored. He was ten now, and found this embarrassing, but he didn’t complain because he understood why it was happening. Each time he needed to go, he had to notify a nurse who would give him a special container to wee in. This was then added to a collecting jar.
The result of this exam proved his urine production to be normal for his age. The problem was that, though he continued to "shoot up", as his mother jokingly put it, his bladder was lagging far behind. It was growing, but much more slowly, and would always be on the small side. Poor Randy was very disappointed at the news.
"What will this mean?" he asked the doctor.
"I’m afraid it may mean you’ll have to wear a catheter," Dr. Shermann told him. "You’ll produce more urine as you grow, but your bladder won’t be able to keep pace."
Randy shuddered. He’d seen catheters before when his mother once took him to work with her.
"Won’t that bet in my way?" he wondered.
"It might," Grace answered, "Especially with the way you like to play."
Randy was an active child and enjoyed running, cycling and similar sports.
"Is there anything else?" Mrs. Wolfe asked, turning back to the doctor.
"The only other choice," he replied, "would be to go back in to diapers."
"Oh no!" Randy gasped, turning white. "Not diapers! I’m too big! They’d never fit me!"
"Couldn’t this be fixed surgically?" Shane asked.
"I don’t like to suggest that unless absolutely necessary," the doctor said. "It’s a risky procedure."
Tears welled up in Randy’s eyes. "What’ll my friends think when they see me in diapers?: he asked. "And where can we find any that fit me?"
"I can answer your second question," Dr. Shermann said, placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder. "There are several places that sell diapers for older kids, even adults."
Randy gaped. "I thought diapers were only for babies," he said, "or those too weak to look after themselves. I’m neither."
Grace hugged her son, her own heart quaking. "I know this is murder for you, honey," she said, "but think of it this way: if you wear diapers, you won’t have to keep running to the washroom or worry about ruining clothes and furniture. As for what your friends think, we can only hope for the best."
"I guess so," Randy agreed, trying to hold back his tears.
Suddenly he went rigid. "Where’s the washroom?" he gasped.
"That way," Dr. Shermann answered, pointing through the main door of the office. "Men’s is the first door on the left."
Randy snatched up the key and fled.
While he was gone, Dr. Shermann turned the subject to the various different styles of diapers.
"If he must wear them full-time," Mr. Wolfe said, "we best use cloth. It’d save money in the long run."
"It’d be better for the environment, too," his wife added. "Are there any styles that fasten without pins? He’ll want to diaper himself when he’s older."
Dr. Shermann handed them some brochures. As they began leafing through them, Randy returned from the washroom looking doleful.
"What’s wrong?" his mother asked.
"I didn’t make it," Randy half-sobbed. "I wet my pants."
Actually, his shorts were still dry. Only his underwear was wet.
"Maybe you better take a diaper now," Dr. Shermann suggested. "I’ll send a nurse in to help."
Randy accepted tearfully. Everything seemed to be going to pieces for him. For all he knew, his life would never be quite the same.
"Who’ll change me?" he asked his mum as she helped him in to a disposable diaper.
"Daddy and I’ll help you out at first," Grace promised. "Then we’ll show you how to do it yourself."
"And what about school?" Randy went on. "The nurses won’t want to change a kid my age, and everyone’ll laugh at me in PE."
Grace’s heart broke. The situation made her think of a girl she’d known in high school. The poor dear had been born with abnormally large ears whose long lobes quivered or flapped whenever she moved her head. Other kids teased her mercilessly, calling her "Miss Big-ears," or "Bunnygirl." Only grace had stood by her, listening to her sobbing pleas for friendship. The girl’s parents hadn’t been rich and couldn’t afford the plastic surgery that would reduce and reshape her ears. It wasn’t until tenth grade that the needed operation was finally performed.
Now, looking at her diapered son, Grace couldn’t help wondering if the horrible fate of teasing awaited him. Why were kids so cruel? It simply wasn’t fair!
As soon as Randy was dressed, his shorts stretched tightly over the diaper, his parents showed him the brochures Dr. Shermann had given them. After studying them, Randy picked fitted diapers that fastened with Velcro.
"You’ll need plastic pants too," Shane reminded him.
"But they look so babyish!" Randy protested, his face reddening.
Mr. Wolfe flicked through the papers again, then handed over one that Randy had missed. "Look at these."
In the end, Randy chose plain plastic pants in blue, white and beige, the same as his regular underwear. The printed ones were cute, but some were just too childish. A few were downright babyish, especially those decorated with cars, cartoons or diapered cartoon characters.
Armed with the brochures, the family drove to a large medical supply store which Dr. Shermann had recommended. It had a whole section designated to incontinence aids and protection. Here, a smiling salesman greeted them and asked how he could help. Randy explained about his small bladder and the trouble it was causing him, then handed over the paper on which he’d marked his choices.
The salesman skimmed over the list. "I think we can get you rigged up, sonny," he said, "come with me."
Randy glanced at his parents.
"Go on, dear," his mum encouraged him, "we’ll wait here while the man gets you fitted."
"Fitted?" Randy repeated.
"That’s right," the salesman answered, "We need to make sure you get the right size. It’s a lot like buying undies or any other clothes."
Randy nodded and followed the man to a room at the back of the Incontinence department. There, he removed his shorts and let the man measure his waist, thighs and through the crotch from his navel to the small of his back.
"What will these diapers look like?" Randy asked as the salesman finished entering his measurements in to the computer.
"There are a variety of different designs," the man replied, "what would you like?"
"Plain white," Randy answered at once. "I don’t want to look like a baby just because I need diapers!"
The salesman pulled a box from under the computer table and extracted a sample diaper. Taking it in his hands, Randy was startled by the thickness.
"Gosh!" he exclaimed, "My pants’ll never fit over this!"
"That’s only a daytime diaper," the man said, reaching in to the box again. "The night diapers are even thicker. Here."
"Whoa! Any thicker than this and I won’t be able to close my legs!"
There was a tap on the door, and the salesman stuck his head out to meet the concerned face of Mrs. Wolfe.
"How are things in here?" she asked.
"I was just showing Randy what the diapers are like," the man explained.
Randy, still in just his shirt and the disposable diaper, held out the cloth diaper he was still holding. His mum gaped as she fingered it.
"You’re right," she said. "We’ll have to get you some new pants."
Turning back to the salesman, she added, "How long will we have to wait for the order? And how much will the diapers cost?"
"I’ll give you the bill in a sec," the man answered. "As for the order, you’re in luck. We’ve just received a new shipment in his size. I’ll put a stalk together for you. By the way," he added, turning to Randy, "I don’t want to sound rude, but you look as though you could use a change."
Poor Randy turned scarlet as he realized the man was right. He’d wet himself without even noticing! It must have been the shock of it all.
"Could you help me, please, sir?" he asked.
"Sure," the clerk answered. "I can even show you how to diaper yourself. Come over here behind the curtain."
Randy climbed on to the big changing table behind the heavy curtain and let the man change him.
"I feel like such a baby!" he muttered as he hopped down.
"Don’t feel bad," the man assured him, "There are lots of people your age and older who need diapers. Some just wear them for fun."
"NO!" Randy cried, his eyes wide with amazement. "Who’d want to wear diapers for fun?! They’d just get laughed at!" After a pause, he added, "How do you know this?"
"I’ve seen some of them," was the patient reply.
The salesman then explain how Randy could diaper himself. The trick was to pin the back of the diaper between your bum and the wall, then pull the front through your legs and fasten it tight.
"How do you know all this?" Randy asked.
For an answer, the man made sure the curtain was closed, unbuckled his belt and dropped his walking shorts to reveal blue plastic pants. Randy stared, astonished.
"You wear them?"
"Yes. I’m 24 now, and I’ve worn them full-time since I was 17."
Why?" was Randy’s next question.
"I was hit by a car while cycling home from school," the man answered. "The jerk ran a red light and got me from behind. I flew off my bike and wound up hanging over a fence by my hips. The shock ruptured my bladder."
"OUCH!" Randy gasped, wincing at the idea of such an injury.
"Doctors say I’m really lucky," the man continued. "They were able to repair my bladder, but not the muscle that stops you from weeing. Besides, the bladder is now about half its original size. So, in a way, I’m just like you."
Suddenly, Randy no longer felt so self-conscious. Here was an adult who needed diapers and didn’t mind talking about them. What was more, he talked to Randy as though he were his own age, not as though he were just a little child.
The clerk pulled up his pants, then tossed Randy his own. "Let’s head out before your parents wonder what I’ve done with you," he chuckled. "And by the way, my name’s Barry Hiller."
They shook hands, then Barry led Randy to the stalk room and began piling cloth diapers in to boxes. Randy ended up with three dozen day diapers, and a dozen night ones, all thick and fluffy. Barry included a number of plastic pants, being careful to keep to Randy’s preferred colours. The larger ones, for the night diapers, only came in clear plastic, but Randy didn’t mind. Nobody would see them except him and his parents.
Shane and Grace were waiting when Randy and Barry emerged with the parcels. Shane paid for everything and was surprised to learn that there was a ten percent discount, since they were buying in bulk.
"Thank you, Mr. Hiller," Randy said as they prepared to leave. "Thanks for everything."
"No problem," Barry replied, "and please call me Barry."
Grace raised her eyebrows at this.
"Oh, it’s nothing," Said Barry, "many of my customers use my first name. It helps them feel more comfortable."
Their next stop was for new pants and shorts. In spite of himself, Randy began to feel embarrassed again. Even in the dressing room, he felt reluctant to remove his shorts, exposing his diaper.
"Dad?" he asked, "how can I hide the diapers? All these pants fit so tight."
Shane thought hard. Randy was right. Anything large enough to hide the bulge of the diaper was far too big in the waist and too long in the leg.
"What about overalls?" Shane suggested. "There’d be nothing around your waist to draw attention to the diapers."
"Yes," Grace added, "and we can buy you some sweats to wear around the house or for PE."
Even in the sweats, the diapers still showed.
"It looks as if we’ll have to get some pants tailored for you," Shane said at last.
"Won’t that be expensive?" Randy asked.
"What about that website we saw in the brochure?" Grace reminded her husband.
Shane snapped his fingers. "I’d forgotten about that!" he exclaimed. "We’ll have a look when we get home."
As soon as they got home, Shane booted up the computer while Grace went to start the first load of the new diapers. (Barry had recommended they wash them once before using them.) Randy changed in to the last clean disposable diaper and joined his father at the computer. Shane logged on to the site. There was a wide assortment of clothes with pants specially designed to fit over diapers.
"They look so babyish," Randy said disappointedly.
Shane clicked on to another link. Here, there were clothes that looked identical to regular ones except for the roomier seats in the pants. The choices ranged from sports clothes to smart dress suits. There was even a tuxedo.
As Randy browsed, Grace came up from the laundry room. "I like those," she remarked. "They don’t look babyish at all."
"How can we get these, Dad?" Randy asked.
"There’s an order form here," Shane answered. "Pick the stuff you’d like, and I’ll fill it out."
In the end, aided by his parents, Randy chose several pairs of jeans, some fashionable walking shorts, a handsome dress suit, and some corduroys for the winter. He also picked a pair of rain pants and three pairs of shorts for PE. Shane filled out the form and sent it off.
With the new clothes, and encouragement from his parents, Randy’s confidence gradually returned over the course of the summer. He quickly became good at diapering himself, though he needed plenty of room to do so. His one persistent problem was loneliness. Try as he might, he couldn’t bring himself to face his friends. Many of them were on holidays, and those kids who’d stayed at home were not his favourites. One Saturday in early August, he got a surprise.
The family had finished breakfast, and Randy was tidying his room, when the doorbell sounded. Grace hurried to answer it. Seconds later, she called up the stairs.
"Randy, you have a visitor."
"Oh no!" Randy thought, "I’m in for it now!"
Feeling nervous, he descended the stairs. Then he stopped dead, eyes and mouth wide open. There, beside his mum, stood Barry Hiller! He wore a cream singlet and black cycling shorts that did nothing to hide his diaper.
"Barry!" Randy exclaimed.
"Surprise!" Barry laughed. "It’s my day off today, and I thought I’d drop in and see how you were doing. I like to do that with my newer customers."
"How did you find the house?" Randy asked.
"Wolfe isn’t a common name in these parts," Barry answered, bending down to untie his cycling shoes.
They went in to the living room and Grace went to the kitchen to fix drinks.
"How can you stand wearing those tight pants?" Randy asked.
"I’m used to it now," Barry explained, "but when I first learned that I’d be confined to diapers, I felt the same way you did. I didn’t even like to mention the word, never mind let anyone see them. Eventually, I got over my fears. When I’m at home, I often go around in just diapers, especially at this time of year. Plastic pants can be awfully hot."
"What did your friends think?" asked Randy.
"Most of them were too glad to see me alive to care much about what I wore," Barry replied. "I was very lucky there. The trouble now is, many girls seem to want to baby me. That’s my big beef. I don’t mind the diapers now, but I won’t be treated like some overgrown baby!"
Randy couldn’t entirely suppress a giggle. Barry was a strong, athletic man, almost a white version of his own father. When he’d recovered, he asked the question that had been nagging him for some time.
"How will I tell my friends about my diapers?
Grace came through from the kitchen as he spoke. "That’s what we’ve been wondering," she said as she poured cold fruit punch. "Any ideas, Barry?"
Barry sipped his punch, thinking hard. How was he to answer this one?
"Well," he said at length, "my advice would be to tell the truth if anyone asks you. I know it sounds scary, but if you try to hide it, kids’ll make a greater effort to find out. As for what they’ll think, I haven’t the faintest idea. Hopefully they’ll understand."
"I’m sure some will," Grace said, "but most kids these days are so cruel and selfish! I can’t think why they behave so horribly around anyone who’s different."
She told Barry about the large-eared girl she’d known in high school. Anger flashed in Barry’s gray eyes as he listened.
"That’s the worst case of shunning I ever heard!" he exclaimed. "Think of teasing a kid for something she couldn’t help. I wonder how she is now."
"I haven’t seen her since we graduated," Grace answered, "but she was so much happier after her ears were fixed. I even heard her telling some of her tormentors that she’d attach big lobes to their ears if she only knew how. Then she’d take pictures and show them to everyone if they didn’t leave her alone."
"That’d be easy enough to do with diapers," Barry observed, winking at Randy.
At last, the first day of school arrived. Randy was entering sixth grade. This morning, he showered carefully to remove any lingering smell of urine, put on a fresh diaper with blue plastic pants, and a pair of navy walking shorts he’d saved for the day. With this, he wore a smart cream polo shirt. Looking in the mirror, he could see the bulge of the diaper. Well, he’d have to face the kids and hope for the best.
Shane dropped Randy off on the way to an early house call. Randy went straight to the nurse with a note from Dr. Shermann explaining his situation. The nurse read it over then gave him a pitying look.
"Will you be needing any help?" she asked in an annoyingly condescending voice.
"No thanks," answered Randy. "I can manage by myself if there’s anywhere I can change in private."
A look of disappointment flashed across the nurse’s face. Randy had a strong suspicion she’d been hoping he’d say "yes," thus giving her an excuse to baby him, or something equally embarrassing.
"Fine," she said, "you’ll be responsible for your own changes. One thing though, you’ll have to use disposables."
"Why?" Randy asked, surprised. "I only wet my diapers. I never poop, and I go–"
"I’m sorry," the nurse interrupted, "it’s for sanitary reasons."
Randy was in a pinch. He was wearing a cloth diaper now, and hadn’t any disposables at all. Since he lived very close to the school, he’d be going home for lunch. That would allow him to change before returning to school. That first day, it wasn’t an issue, as it was only a half day. At dinner that evening, however, Randy told his parents of the nurse’s rule.
"Did you tell her you come home for lunch?" Grace asked.
"I tried," Randy answered, "but she wouldn’t listen."
Shane and Grace exchanged glances. "Couldn’t you bring a few disposables home from the hospital?" Shane asked, "at least until we can buy some?"
"I can try," Grace replied, "But if Randy’s coming home for lunch, I can’t see what’s bothering the nurse. How often do you think you’ll be changing?" she asked, turning to her son.
Randy thought. "Probably at recess and lunch," he said, "and maybe after PE."
"In that case," Grace suggested, "Why not bring your used diaper home in a plastic bag when you come for lunch? You could do the same after school."
"What about the smell?" Randy wondered.
"That shouldn’t be a problem if the bag’s tied tight," Shane assured him.
So the next day, Randy went to school with a clean diaper and a travel-pack of unscented wipes in his backpack.
At first, things went smoothly. Randy changed at recess, using the wheelchair-accessible cubicle in the boys’ washroom. The smell from his backpack when he took the used diaper home at lunch was hardly noticeable and he didn’t have to go near the nurse. In PE, there was some staring, but that was all. He was glad he’d chosen plastic pants that so closely resembled underwear. From a distance, you couldn’t tell if he was wearing a diaper.
It was late in September when problems began. Two new students had joined the class; a tough-looking, red-haired boy; and a hard-faced blonde girl. Randy suspected they were twins or perhaps cousins, since they always seemed to be together when he saw them. He noticed too, that the boy kept staring at him when a teacher wasn’t looking. One Tuesday, as the recess buzzer sounded, Randy fetched his diaper as usual, and headed for the washroom. As he reached the door, he found that the nosy red-head had followed him.
"Hey!" the red-head called as Randy entered the washroom. "What have you got in that bag?"
Randy hesitated a second, then walked in to the wheelchair-accessible cubicle without responding. It was really none of the boy’s business. As he emerged, the red-head was waiting for him.
"What’s in that bag?" he repeated.
Randy was about to walk away from him again, but then Barry’s words came back to him.
"It’s my used diaper," he said calmly. "I have a medical problem and have to wear them."
"What kind of sickness would make you need diapers?" asked the red-head, skeptically. "I bet your just lazy and don’t want to use the potty."
"No," Randy answered, "My bladder’s too small. If I don’t wear diapers, I have to run to the washroom about every hour."
"Oh," said the red-head, and walked away.
That evening, Randy recounted the day to his parents, telling them of his encounter with the nosy red-head.
"You handled it perfectly, son," Shane praised, "but I don’t like that boy’s attitude. He sounds like one of those nasty ones who pretends to be sorry and then puts the info to his own use. You want to watch out for him and any of his friends."
Randy was able to avoid the red-head for the rest of that week, but the following Monday, trouble struck again. Randy gathered his things and was about to head home for lunch when the red-head, the blonde and two others caught up with him.
"Hey, Wolfy!" called a biggish dark-haired boy. "Ralph says you wear diapers! Is it true?"
Anger stirred within Randy. Only relatives and close friends of the family ever called him Wolfy. Suddenly, someone yanked down his pants from behind.
"It is!" shouted an excited voice.
"What does it matter?" Randy demanded, pulling up his pants.
The red-head, whom he guessed to be Ralph, stepped forward.
"What’s the real reason you wear diapers?" he asked.
"I told you," Randy answered impatiently, "my bladder’s too small."
"Sherer!" sneered the blonde girl from the back of the little group. "I bet you’re just too chicken to use a potty--afraid something’s goona bite your bumbum."
"What would you do if your bladder were so small that you had to wee every hour?" Randy asked.
"I’d do it," said Ralph stubbornly. "I’m not scared of the potty."
Randy decided it was time to leave. With a last dirty look at Ralph and his friends, he walked briskly away.
"They’re so stupid!" he thought.
The house was empty when he got home, but he found lunch waiting in the fridge. He ate, changed quickly and hurried back to school. As he reached the school grounds, he looked for Ralph and his little gang. They were nowhere to be seen.
The first class after lunch that day was math, followed by PE then English. In math, Randy noticed that both Ralph and the blonde girl kept shooting glances at him. When he was called to write an equation on the blackboard, he could sense them watching his every move. As he returned to his seat, Ralph caught his arm and hissed, "You’re pants are slipping!"
This was not true, as Randy always checked them before leaving his desk.
"You there! Brinckman!" Mrs. Morrison said sharply, "Pay attention!"
In PE, Randy changed in to his PE strip and joined the cue filing past Mr. Bradley in to the gym. Class that day was Dodge-Ball. The object was to "tag" members of the opposing team by hitting them with the ball as they crossed the gym. Each team had a "safety zone" at the end of the gym from which to shoot. The rule was that all shots must be aimed below the waist. Randy noticed that Ralph, who was on the other team, kept fumbling the ball. He was frequently tagged and sent off. Once he even hit one of his own teammates! Mr. Bradley penalized him for aiming above the waist, then benched him for unsportsmanlike conduct for swearing at him. He spent the rest of the game glaring at Randy. Randy himself was very good. His sharp eyes and quick reflexes made him a difficult target and a dangerous opponent.
When the game finally ended, everyone hurried back to the changing room. Randy changed quickly, picked up his clean diaper and headed for the washroom. The wheelchair-accessible cubicle was already occupied. Randy waited, but the boy seemed to be taking forever. Finally he knocked.
"Wait your turn!" came Ralph’s voice from within.
Peeking beneath the door, Randy saw Ralph’s striped sneakers. He could only see him from the knees down, but that was enough to tell him that Ralph was just standing there, not doing anything.
"What’s taking you so long?" Randy asked. "Nearly everyone else is gone."
Ralph didn’t reply.
"We’ll be late for class if you don’t hurry!" Randy called impatiently.
"Then change your diapee on the floooooooor!" said Ralph in a whiny, baby voice.
At that moment, the buzzer sounded. There wasn’t time to change now. Furious, Randy grabbed his things and hurried off to English class, hoping his diaper wouldn’t leak. What had Ralph been up to? Did he really have to go, or was he just being spiteful? Privately, Randy suspected the latter.
When 3-00 came, Randy collected his things and hastened to leave, hoping to get away from Ralph and his gang. Unfortunately, they were a step ahead of him. As he reached the main door, there they were. They allowed the kids in front to pass, but when they saw Randy, they closed ranks, barring his way.
"Excuse me please," Randy said as he approached them.
"Show us your pass, Wolfy," Ralph ordered.
"Pass?" Randy repeated. "What pass?"
"You know what pass, baby," snapped the blonde girl.
Not wanting to play this stupid game, Randy turned away, intending to leave by another door.
"Scared of the door guards, baby?" Ralph sneered. "Just show your passy, then you can go."
Randy turned back. "Your just being stupid!" she said, "Nobody needs passes here. Now if you’ll excuse me please."
He started to move around Ralph, but suddenly two pairs of hands yanked down his pants, tripping him. As he went down, someone slapped his diapered bum. It didn’t hurt much through the diaper, but he still felt it.
"That’s what happens to pushy babies!" said the blond girl. "Now go home and tell your mummy you need a clean diapee! You’re soaked!"
"Who’s being rude?" Randy demanded, getting to his feet. "Is it ruder to say "excuse me please" than to pull someone’s pants down in public?"
As he bent to pull up his pants, he felt someone writing on the back of his plastic pants. Things might have turned nasty if the principal, Mr. Goldman, hadn’t arrived. He took one look at the seen and scowled.
"What’s this?" he asked. "What’s going on?"
"He pushed me!" Ralph shouted, pointing an accusing finger at Randy.
"Liar!" Randy yelled before he could stop himself.
"In to my office, all of you!" Mr. Goldman commanded.
In the office, Mr. Goldman turn first to Randy who recounted the whole event. When he’d finished, there was a tense silence.
"Do you really consider yourself in the right?" Mr. Goldman asked Ralph. He spoke quietly, but something in his voice made everyone shiver. No one answered.
"I see you need a few lessons on respect," Mr. Goldman said at last. "You will stay here for half an hour, and I’ll be contacting all of your parents. Randy, if you’re not injured, you may leave."
Mr. Goldman now placed each of the four members of Ralph’s gang in a separate corner. "No talking, any of you," he warned as he returned to his desk. "One sound or movement, and I’ll add ten minutes to your time."
Randy got home to find his mum on the phone.
"I was wondering what was keeping him," she was saying as Randy entered the kitchen. "What happened? ... Oh dear! Not that Ralph kid again! ... I think I have an idea that might cure him. ...Ah! Here’s Randy now! Thank you for phoning, Mr. Goldman."
The first thing Grace noticed as she turned from the phone was that Randy’s diaper was sagging heavily. "Didn’t you change after PE?" she asked.
"Never had a chance," Randy answered. "Ralph hogged the wheelchair-accessible cubicle till it was too late. Then he pulled my pants down before I could leave."
"Yes. Mr. Goldman was just telling me," Grace said. "How cruel can kids get?"
"One of his friends even wrote something on my plastic pants," Randy added, dropping his pants to show her.
Grace read the sentence and turned white with shock and anger. In large letters was written "spank the rude baby."
"Go get changed," Grace said, "and we’ll talk this over. Daddy should be home soon too."
Randy changed, saving the plastic pants bearing the message. By the time he came back downstairs, Shane had come home.
"What’s happened, love?" he asked his wife. "You look ready to kill."
Grace and Randy filled him in. Randy handed over the plastics with the message.
"What’s Ralph’s last name?" Grace inquired.
"Brinckman," Randy answered promptly.
"I know that family," Shane said, "His dad’s a rich lawyer, and his mum’s part owner of a training stable. I’ve treated some of the horses there. Mr. Brinckman’s spoiled Ralph rotten."
"Is that why he’s being so mean?" Randy wondered.
"I don’t know," Shane admitted. "But it might explain his lack of respect for men and boys. His mum’s the disciplinarian of the family."
"How could people like that get married?" Randy asked in amazement.
"Don’t ask me," Shane laughed, "but if anyone deserves a spanking, it’s Ralph."
"I wish I could talk to his mum," Grace muttered as she began making dinner.
The next morning, Randy was astonished to learn that not only had his mum contacted Mrs. Brinckman, but she’d invited her and Ralph over for drinks on Friday.
"I don’t want to see him!" Randy snarled. "He’s a jerk!"
"I know how you feel," Grace said, "but you get to help teach him his lesson."
"What do you mean?" Randy asked.
"You’ll see," Grace said mysteriously.
Ralph remained sulky and bad-tempered for the rest of the week. Despite his revulsion, Randy pretended to forgive him and invited him over Friday after school, saying he’d teach him some things that might make him better at Dodge-Ball. So it was that when Friday afternoon came, Ralph was waiting eagerly at the main door for his mum. Randy, of course, had gone on home to help his mum prepare for their company.
Barry Hiller, who was in on the secret, arrived at 4-15; having come straight from work. Grace had told him everything when she dropped by the store to get supplies for work. The Brinckmans showed up soon after. Grace greeted them warmly, then everyone settled around the living room.
"So, tell me," Grace said, going straight to the point, "what’s your reason for treating my son as you did?"
Ralph jumped. He hadn’t expected this.
"It--it–w-w-was only a joke," he faltered.
"Liar!" Randy snapped. "You just wanted to see my diapers!"
"Diapers?" Mrs. Brinckman asked. "Oh yes! I remember now. And what have I told you about teasing?" she added sternly.
"Very well," Mrs. Brinckman decided. "Then it’s time to start the lesson."
"What lesson? Ralph asked, suddenly fearful.
"The one Mr. Goldman spoke of," His mother answered.
Before Ralph could say another word, a heavy bandage was dropped over his eyes and bound securely round his head, completely blindfolding him. The next thing he knew, he was being marched upstairs, held tightly by both arms. At the top, Grace released him just long enough to fetch something from the linen cupboard.
"Hey!" Ralph protested, plucking at the blindfold.
"Don’t touch!" Grace scolded, rapping his hand.
They took him in to Randy’s room.
"Off with your pants and underwear!" Mrs. Brinckman commanded.
"Not here!" Ralph gasped.
"Get them off!" Grace ordered. "Now!"
Ralph made no move. Grace glanced over her shoulder at Randy who’d followed them in to the room. Quick as a flash, Randy stepped forward, yank down Ralph’s pants and jumped back to his place by the door.
"This isn’t fair!" Ralph whined.
"Oh yes it is!" Mrs. Brinckman said unsympathetically. "Now lie down!"
As soon as Ralph was down, Randy snatched up the two night diapers that lay on his bed and handed them to Grace along with a tin of baby powder. At the same time, Mrs. Brinckman pulled off Ralph pants and underwear.
"Give back my pants!" Ralph shouted, thinking it was Randy who’d taken them off.
"Babies don’t wear pants," Grace cooed. "They wear diapers."
"I’m not a baby!" Ralph screamed, "and I’m not wearing –!"
Mrs. Brinckman cut that short with a sharp smack on his thigh.
"Be quiet!" she snapped. "Anyone who thinks it’s funny to undress people in public can’t call himself mature! I’m surprised Mr. Goldman didn’t spank you himself!"
Grace gave Ralph a liberal sprinkling of baby powder. Seconds later, Randy had him in the diapers. He was wondering how his plastic pants would fit over the mass when Grace pulled a new pair from her pocket.
"Put these on," she said.
Shaking them out, Randy saw that they were made of a much tougher material than his own, and had a light chain threaded through the waist instead of elastic. "Which way to they go?" he asked.
Grace and Mrs. Brinckman traded places, and Grace got the pants on Ralph. Then she pulled him roughly to his feet, fastened the lock at the back, and removed the blindfold.
When Ralph saw his reflexion in the mirror, he went white.
"What have you done?!" he cried.
"Given you what you deserve," said his mother, "but this is just the beginning. Now come downstairs."
"I can’t walk in these!" Ralph protested.
They went downstairs, Ralph reduced to an awkward sort of waddle by the thick diapers. Barry was waiting in the living room. He took one look at Ralph and doubled over with laughter.
"Who’s the baby now?" he asked in a mocking voice.
Mrs. Brinckman made Ralph sit beside her while Grace went to get drinks. She put Ralph share in to a large water bottle to which she added a tasteless diuretic. As she returned to the living room, Shane and Randy came in.
Grace poured glasses for everyone else, then handed the bottle to Ralph.
"I can’t drink all this!" he protested, for there was about half a liter in the bottle.
"I’ve seen you drink more than that at the ball park," Mrs. Brinckman reminded him. "Now drink up."
At this point, Shane raised the camera he’d hidden behind his back. "On your feet!" he ordered.
"Noooooooo!" Ralph wailed, nearly dropping the bottle. "Not pictures!"
He tried to hide the diapers, but they were far too thick.
"Up!" Grace barked.
Defeated, Ralph struggled to his feet and shuffled to the center of the room.
"Smile," Mrs. Brinckman cooed from behind him.
Snap! Shane got a clear shot of him standing there, bottle in hand, legs maked apart by the diapers. Stepping up behind him, Randy raised his arm, bringing the bottle to his lips. Snap! Another clear shot.
"Can I go now?" Ralph whined, "I need to pee."
"What do you think diapers are for, stupid?" Randy asked.
Mrs. Brinckman sat Ralph down, and Grace held the bottle to his mouth. Ralph drank as fast as he could, desperate to get this over with.
"Good boy," Grace cooed. "Now you can have some more."
"I’ll burst!" Ralph gasped, "I’m –"
His words were drowned by a loud belch.
"I see you don’t need help with burping, Sonny boy," chuckled Barry. He’d been watching from the far side of the room, shaking with silent laughter.
At that instant, Ralph’s bladder let go. It seemed as if the flow would never stop. When it finally did, he turned imploringly to his mother.
"You’ll stay in that diaper until bedtime," Mrs. Brinckman told him.
"And if you don’t leave me alone," Randy put in, "I’ll show Dad’s pictures to all your friends."
"Nooooooo!" Ralph screamed.
"Yes!" Randy promised, "and I mean it!"
The Brinckmans stayed until Ralph had finished his second huge drink. When it came time to go, he was dismayed to find that his mum only gave him his shoes.
"Where are my pants?" he asked.
"You’ll go home as you are," Mrs. Brinckman answered.
"I can’t go outside like this!" Ralph sobbed, now crimson from the neck up. "What if someone sees me?"
"Should have thought of that before you undressed Randy," Grace said coldly.
Reluctantly, Ralf followed his mum out. He’d wet his diaper again and it was beginning to droop, making him waddle more than ever.
"Remember what I said!" Randy called as they drove away.
Grace invited Barry to stay for dinner.
"That’d be great," he said cheerfully. "What are we having?"
"Spaghetti with chicken sauce," Grace replied, smiling. "It’s a family favourite."
"Yum!" Barry said, licking his lips. "I’ve always loved pasta!"
The dinner was a merry one, made better by the fact that Shane had no late calls that evening and could enjoy everything.
"Where did you get the idea to diaper Ralph up like that?" Barry asked.
"You," Grace answered simply.
"Me?" Barry asked, puzzled. "How so?"
"Don’t you remember?" Shane said, "You said it’d be easy to get back at those who teased Randy about his diapers."
Barry’s face lit up. "Oh yeah! I’d forgotten!"
"Where did you get the idea in the first place?" asked Randy.
"From a story I read off the net," Barry explained. "There are several sites offering stories of all sorts. Diaper discipline is fairly common."
"I never thought we’d have to use it," Shane admitted, "but I see the sense behind it now. You should have seen Ralph’s face as he left. He was beet-red."
"What about Ralph’s friends?" Barry asked, turning to Randy. "Are you going to diaper them too?"
It was Grace who answered. "I don’t know if I’ll be doing that, but if necessary, I’ll pass the idea on to their parents."
"Two of them are girls, though," Randy said. "They’d be harder to do."
"I don’t see why," Shane answered. "The embarrassment would probably be even deeper since it’d be harder for them to hide the fact. Besides, I’m sure they’d smarten up if they saw the pictures. The threat would be enough."
That set everyone laughing.
Dessert was home-made gingerbread.
"I won’t need any snacks tonight," Barry remarked. "I’m stuffed. You’re an excellent cook, Grace."
"Thank you," Grace answered. "I don’t get much time to devote to it, being a nurse. I’m glad I don’t work the night shift anymore."
"Did you?" Barry asked.
"I used to," Grace said, "but after Shane and I got married, I renegotiated my contract and asked to do only day shifts. Nights pay more, but they’re just too tiring for me. Oddly enough, since Randy was born, I’ve only done mornings or mid-days; and I haven’t worked weekends at all."
"How did that happen?" asked Barry.
"You could call it a gift from my boss," Grace laughed. "She’s one of those rare folks who believes that a mother should be allowed time with her kids."
"Where’s the washroom?" Barry asked suddenly. "All that punch has burst the dam!"
Laughing at his words, Shane pointed Barry to the washroom. As he rose, it was plain that he was in need of a change. His diaper was sagging heavily, despite his tight shorts. When he returned, he gave Grace an apologetic look.
"I don’t lose track of my diapers like that very often," he said. "I only hope I didn’t leak."
Grace glanced at his chair and shook her head.
"Thank goodness!" Barry said, relieved. "I leaked at Mum’s place once. It was on Mother’s day, and she told me off in front of everyone! I was wearing a disposable diaper that day, and I’ve never worn one since; not even to work."
Grace reached for the plastic bag containing the used diaper. "Why don’t I wash that for you?" she offered. "I’ll put it in with Randy’s tonight, and drop it off for you Monday afternoon. I pass your store on the way to work."
Barry hesitated, but accepted in the end.
"Guess I’d better head home," he remarked, looking at his watch. "It’s getting late."
Shane glanced out the window. It had started to rain heavily and the roads looked treacherous.
"How far do you have to go?" he asked.
"I live across town," Barry answered, "not far from the store."
"You’ll never get there in this downpour," Shane said, "Let me give you a lift. Your bike will fit in the back of the station wagon."
"Thank you so much!" Barry said gratefully, "and thanks again for dinner, Grace."
The rain fell almost continuously for the rest of the weekend. Randy busied himself with his homework and straightening out his room. On Sunday, he was visited by his friends, the Morrison brothers; 11-year-old Keith, and 9-year-old Lanny. He felt shy of telling them about his diapers, but once more he remembered Barry’s advice and did. To his great surprise, they didn’t mind at all. In fact, they were pleased.
"Now you can play properly," Keith said, "It was never much fun when we had to keep stopping to let you use the washroom."
"Do you know of any boys our age who wear diapers?" Randy asked.
"Yes," answered Lanny, "Paddy Manning, that big sandy-haired boy who lives across from the school."
"The fifth grader?" Randy asked. "I think I’ve seen him. "Is he the one that stays in the library at recess and never plays with anyone?"
"Sometimes he plays with us," Keith said. "But he gets teased horribly. Some of the seventh graders call him Pissin’ Paddy. I’ve heard them."
"That’s horrible!" Randy exclaimed. "And I thought Ralph Brinckman was bad!"
"What’s Ralph done to you?" Lanny asked curiously.
Randy told the whole story. Both Keith and Lanny laughed hysterically at the diaper punishment.
"He deserved it!" Keith gasped, "teasing you for something you can’t help! Tell me, did your mum put you in to diapers?"
"No," Randy replied, "I chose them myself. Dr. Shermann said it was either diapers or a catheter. I was scared at first, but then mum told me how much easier it would be if I wore diapers. She’s right. I hated running back and forth to the washroom every hour."
"What did you say was wrong?" Keith asked.
"My bladder’s too small," Randy answered. "I guess I outgrew it."
On Monday, Randy noticed a change in Ralph’s behaviour. After each class, he dashed out of the room, barely waiting to put his things away. This made him wonder what was up. He didn’t have to wait long to find out, either. Ralph caught him on the way out at lunch.
"This is your fault!" he snarled.
"What’s my fault?" Randy asked, startled.
"Mum’s making me drink four glasses of water at every meal," Ralph explained sulkily. "She says it’s part of my lesson."
Before Randy could reply, he stomped off. Randy was left wondering just what was up. He thought he knew, but it still puzzled him.
Ralph’s behaviour continued for the rest of that week. Once, he even wet his pants during PE. By Friday, he was in a foul temper, but his need to use the washroom kept him from spouting off at anyone.
On Saturday, Ralph and his mother again visited the Wolfes, Ralph wearing a disposable diaper.
"So," said Grace when they were settled. "Have you learned your lesson yet?"
"Why are you doing all this?" Ralph demanded.
"I gave you all that water on purpose," Mrs. Brinckman explained. There was no sympathy in her face, and the chill in her voice made Randy shiver. "I was also giving you mild diuretic to make you pee."
"But why?" Ralph insisted.
"I wanted you to learn first-hand what it’s like to have to go every hour round the clock like Randy does. Do you understand now?" Mrs. Brinckman’s voice was colder than ever.
"How much longer will I have to do it?"
"This is it for now," Mrs. Brinckman answered. "But if anything of this sort ever happens again, it’ll be two weeks. Either that, or you will wear diapers to school for everyone to see."
Ralph turned white, then scarlet. Randy couldn’t help laughing. "And don’t forget, I still have those pictures to show your friends," he reminded him.
Randy had no further trouble with Ralph after that. The threat of more embarrassment had shocked him out of his rough ways. The other three members of his gang still bothered Randy occasionally, but stopped after he threatened to have them diapered as well.
Keith and Lanny introduce Randy to Paddy Manning shortly before Christmas. When Paddy learned that Randy wore diapers, it was as though an immense weight had been lifted from him.
"I thought I was the only one!" He exclaimed. "Why do you wear them, if you don’t mind me asking?"
Randy explained, then asked, "How about you?"
"I have a birth defect," Paddy said. "My bladder isn’t complete."
"What do you mean?" Randy asked.
"Mum says it’s the muscle that stops you from weeing. It’s not there. My bladder just keeps emptying. Doctors put a valve thing in, but that’s pressure sensitive. Whenever my bladder’s full, the valve just gets pushed open. I can’t stop it."
"So you don’t even know when you’re weeing?"
"Oh I do. I can feel it coming out. I just can’t control it."
Randy and Paddy soon became good friends. Paddy didn’t mind that Randy was a grade ahead of him, even though there was only two months between them age-wise.
"Are you going away for Christmas?" Randy asked.
"Yes," Paddy answered, "We’re leaving right after school on the last day. We’re spending Christmas break with my aunt and uncle. They own a goat ranch outside Regina."
"Sounds like fun," Randy said. "What do they raise the goats for?"
"Milk and hair," Paddy said. "Have you ever handled goat’s hair? It’s really soft and good for knitting."
"I’ve seen Cashmere," Randy said. "Grandma Wolfe has a Cashmere sweater."
Christmas was a lively event at the Wolfes’. Shane’s brother, Tom, came up from Florida with his wife Annette. Annette was 7mths pregnant with their first baby, so this would probably be her last big trip for some time. They were also joined by Grace’s parents and sister, Shane’s mother and stepfather, and Barry. (Barry had planned to join his own family, in Edmonton. Having just paid his college fees, however, he couldn’t afford the airfare. He’d compromised by sending a huge parcel containing gifts for everyone, along with a letter of apologies and a promise to be there for Easter.)
"What are you studying?" Grace asked as they sat in the family room Christmas eve. (The living room was off limits until Christmas morning.)
"Trauma counseling," Barry answered. "I made the decision after my accident. Mum says first-hand experience is always a plus when you’re trying to help people through tough times, and I agree. Think of all those folks injured in accidents who have nobody to talk to that really understands how they feel!"
"Excellent reasoning!" Tom praised. "You have a kind heart and good brains."
Barry blushed. Shane shot his brother a warning look.
"Don’t over-do it with the praise," he advised.
With everyone eager to help, Christmas day was a happy one indeed. Grace even allowed Barry to phone his parents. Randy enjoyed himself thoroughly.
Two days after Christmas, a biggish parcel arrived from Regina, addressed to the family. Grace signed for it, but waited till Shane came home from an emergency call before opening it. Inside were two beautiful, hand-knit, Cashmere vests; burgundy for Shane, snowy-white for Grace. For Randy, there was a neat blue cap with a scarf to match, and a dozen new diapers in a size larger than he now wore. Grace read aloud the letter enclosed with the gifts.
Dear Mr. And Mrs. Wolfe,
Hello from the prairies!
I can’t tell you how pleased my husband and I are that Paddy’s made a friend of your son. It’s an immense relief to all of us that he’s finally found someone in a situation similar to his own. All through school, he’s been teased and tormented endlessly about his diapers. It’s turned him in to a total loner. My brother and his wife were considering home-schooling him if things didn’t change very soon. I can’t think why kids are so cruel these days, or how parents and teachers can allow such horrible behaviour. The worst part is that some of the biggest bullies expect others to handle them and their possessions with the greatest care, while they don’t give a hoot about anything that isn’t theirs. Your Randy is a rare type, to say nothing of the Morrison boys.
In case Paddy didn’t tell you, my husband Deryl and I own a goat ranch. We raise two herds: Cashmeres for their hair, and Saanens for their milk. There’s quite a market for goat’s milk in these parts and the hair makes fine knitting yarn. Knitting has been one of my hobbies since childhood, and I often turn to it when I’m not otherwise occupied. I hope the things I’ve enclosed fit.
Well, I must go help with the milking. Deryl and I do a lot of the work ourselves, though we have a group of women who volunteer. No milking machines for us! They’re too hard on the goats’ poor udders! Do keep in touch,
Yours in gratitude,
PS: I’ve enclosed some diapers for Randy. I know they’re a bit on the large side, but from what Paddy’s told us, it won’t be long before they fit.
Setting the letter carefully aside, Grace tried on the white vest. It was loose, but not sloppy. Shane’s also fitted well. Randy’s cap was a bit large for him, but he’d soon grow in to it.
"They must be very nice people," Shane remarked. "How often do you get gifts like this from folks you’ve never met?"
"True," Grace agreed, entering the Sandersons’ address in her book. (She would later copy all addresses in to the card file her sister had given her for Christmas.) Poor Paddy must have had a really rough go up till now."
When school started again, Randy told Paddy how pleased and surprised he and his parents had been by the gifts.
"Aunt Katie told me she was sending you something," Paddy said. "I told her about you when she phoned before Christmas."
"I didn’t know you’d been teased that much," Randy admitted, "It sounds nasty."
Paddy was about to reply when the buzzer signaling the end of recess sounded.
"Can you come home with me after school?" Randy asked as they headed for class.
"Sure," Paddy answered. "Mum’s never home before five, and Dad’s away on business this week. If your mum doesn’t mind, I’ll leave a message on Mum’s voice mail."
Paddy’s story was a shocking one. Things hadn’t been bad in kindergarten, but by first grade the trouble had begun. A classmate had noticed his diapers as he changed in to PE strip one day, and things had gone downhill from there. Word of his diaper-wearing had spread through the school like wildfire. Despite the teachers’ efforts, he’d been tormented almost continuously. Students kept asking how he could handle first grade if he couldn’t keep his pants dry. Others claimed that they didn’t want to play with a big baby and flatly refused to let him join in anything. He’d done his very best to ignore them, devoting himself to schoolwork. Nevertheless, he became horribly lonely and grew to hate being around anyone except adults. Some kids had tried to be friends, but they in turn got laughed at for "playing with a baby."
Paddy had met the Morrisons when he and Lanny had been classmates in third grade. While their friendship was a blessing, he’d still felt lonely, convinced that he was the only kid his age who needed diapers. This was why he’d been so glad to meet Randy.
"I didn’t believe it when Lanny first told me about you," he admitted, "or I would have looked for you. Why’s everybody so cruel?"
"I wish I knew," Randy said. "It’s not fair."
Soon after this, Paddy, Randy and the Morrisons formed a little study group. They were soon joined by Cindy Lewis, a classmate of Lanny’s, who had been blind since the age of three. She too was often teased and left out of games. Keith, being the eldest, did his best to help the others. Randy’s tendency to be a role model didn’t bother him in the least. It was rather an odd group in several ways. Keith was the oldest, (Cindy was 5mths younger), but Randy was the biggest and strongest.
Grace was pleased with the way things were turning out for Randy and Paddy. Paddy’s story had made her want to cry, and Shane had huffed with anger at his torment. Now, here he was with a group of people who accepted him for what he was, not judging him by what he wore.
"Funny," she remarked over dinner one evening in April, "how things can change when you least expect."
The little group stayed together for the rest of the school year. They saw to it that Cindy was included as much as possible, describing things as well as they could. She in turn did her best to teach the boys about blindness and how she had to live.
When the year finally ended, and report cards came out, all five received good grades. Even Cindy, whose marks had fluctuated widely throughout the year, finished with a C-plus, better than she or her parents had dared hope for.
"Did you know there’s a summer camp for disabled kids?" Cindy asked one bright June day.
"I’ve heard of such camps," Paddy replied, "but they’re expensive. Besides, I don’t know if needing diapers would count. I’m not disabled in any other way."
"Me neither," Randy added.
"Where is this camp?" asked Grace, who’d heard their discussion through the open patio door.
Cindy gave her the brochure she’d brought along. Grace studied it.
"I’m afraid we’ve missed the deadline to sign up this year," she said. "Is it held every summer?"
"Yes," answered Cindy. "I’ve been going since I was 8."
"Would needing diapers count as being disabled if there’s nothing else wrong?" Randy asked.
"I don’t see why not," Grace said. "It says kids aged 8 to 12 with any physical disability may attend the camp. Maybe you can go next summer."
"Too bad we’ll have to miss this one," Paddy said sadly. "At least we’ll be back at school in September."
At this point, Cindy’s father arrived to take her home. Paddy and the Morrisons left half an hour later. That evening, Grace showed Shane the camp brochure Cindy had left.
"Let’s call the administrators," Shane suggested. "Maybe Randy could go as an assistant or something."
"I’d like that," Randy said, "but would that be allowed on my first trip?"
"Even if it isn’t," Shane reasoned, "it might encourage them to include those who need diapers. Think how much better Paddy’s felt since you made friends. I bet there are loads of other boys and girls out there who all think they’re the only one their age who wear diapers. If they could meet each other, it’d make all the difference in their lives."
Grace and Randy nodded in agreement.
"Do you think Barry might know of a camp for diaper wearers?" Shane asked presently.
"Now why didn’t I think of that?" Grace laughed. "I’ll ask him."
It so happened that Barry dropped in just after school had let out. Grace told him of Shane’s idea, and showed him the camp brochure they’d saved.
"There are camps for teens and adults," Barry said, "but I don’t know of anything for kids apart from day camps for pre-schoolers. Still, one never knows."
Randy ended up spending the summer at home. Paddy came over almost every day to play with him. Barry too was a frequent visitor, often popping in on Saturdays. His hearty nature rubbed off on everyone.
By mid July, Randy was going around the house in just diapers. With the intense heat, he now understood the sense behind it. Eventually, Paddy gained enough courage to do likewise. Cindy, of course, had gone to the camp, and the Morrisons had gone to Australia to visit relatives. Everyone enjoyed their holidays.
Cindy returned from the camp at the end of July, and was soon playing with paddy and Randy. The Morrisons wouldn’t be back until late August, but they sent letters every week. All looked forward to seeing each other at school in September.
It was a clear, bright Saturday in late August. Shane had left right after breakfast to see a prize show dog who was due to whelp. Grace was busy with housework, hoping to get as much done as possible before it became too hot. Randy, clad only in a diaper, white plastic pants, sneakers and a blue sun hat, was in the vegetable garden picking peas and cherry tomatoes for the salad his mum planned to make for dinner. As he worked, his mind wandered over the past year and how his life had changed. At this time last year, he’d been trying to get used to wearing diapers. Now he didn’t mind them at all. It was so much better than having to run to the washroom every hour. True, there’d been trouble with Ralph, but he was sure that wouldn’t happen again. The thought of how he’d helped punish the red-headed trouble maker still made him laugh.
"Randy!" Grace called from the patio door, "Would you like to come in for a drink?"
"Yes please," Randy answered. "I’ll just finish this row of pea plants."
Both his vegetable baskets were full. He placed the last fat pods on top, picked up the baskets and headed for the house. Grace beamed as she relieved him of his load.
"That organic fertilizer’s really made a difference," she remarked.
"Will that be enough?" Randy asked.
"I think so," Grace said as she began examining the tomatoes. "Now go change your diaper, then you can have some cold punch."
Randy’s diaper wasn’t really wet, but he changed anyway. It gave him an opportunity to use the toilet. (The very idea of pooping in his diapers had always disgusted Randy.) As he fastened his clean diaper and pulled his plastic pants back on, the doorbell sounded. Hastening downstairs, he reached the door at the same time as his mum. He pressed the button to activate the intercom.
"Who’s there?" he asked.
"It’s Paddy," came the answer.
Grace flung open the door.
"Come in, Paddy!" she exclaimed, smiling. "You’re just in time for some cold drinks."
Paddy stepped inside. He wore a cream golf shirt, beige shorts and sandals. His bare arms and legs glistened with sunscreen.
"Boy, it’s hot!" he remarked. "Wonder what the temperature is."
"It’s supposed to go up to about 30," Grace answered. "It’s a good thing we were able to get our air conditioner repaired before this hot spell started."
Randy was reaching to close the door when a voice hailed from outside.
"Hey there, Randy!"
"Barry!" Randy shouted back, "Is that you?"
Grace followed her son’s gaze. Sure enough, there was Barry, pedaling briskly toward the house. He was wearing blue cycling shorts, but no top.
"Hello, Barry!" Grace called, waving. "Come and have a drink!"
Barry jumped from his bike and started to chain it to the big maple tree in front of the house.
"Why don’t you put it in the garage?" Grace offered. "It’ll be safer."
"Thanks," Barry answered.
Randy took the key from his mum and led Barry around to the outside door. They brought the bike inside and chained it to the rack next to Randy’s. Randy then made sure the outer door was locked and returned to the front. Barry removed his cycling shoes and helmet, and everyone headed for the kitchen.
"Where’ve you been, Barry?" Grace asked as she served drinks. "Haven’t seen you for a bit."
"It’s been study, study, study for the end-of-term exams," Barry replied. "Then I went to see my folks for a couple of weeks. I’ve been saving up since Easter. What have you guys been up to?"
"I was in hospital for a week," Paddy said. "Something happened to the valve thing in my bladder so that I couldn’t wee properly."
"Ouch!" Barry exclaimed.
"That must have been scary," Grace put in.
"What did they do?" Randy asked.
"I think they replaced it," Paddy answered. "I don’t really understand it all, but it sure hurt."
Grace refilled everyone’s glasses. Then she filled Barry’s water bottle and placed it in the fridge to chill. As she returned to the table, they all heard the loud humming of the electronic garage door opener.
"That’ll be Dad," Randy said, hurrying to unlock the inside door.
Shane came in, pausing to remove his shoes.
"Hi there!" he exclaimed. "I see we have some company!"
Barry stood up and smiled. Paddy, caught with a mouthful of lemonade, waved from the far side of the table.
"Barry!" Shane said cheerfully. "Long time no see!"
"Haven’t had much time for visiting," Barry admitted. "I was up to the ears in studying till the end of July. Then it was off to Edmonton to see the family. I probably won’t see them again before Thanksgiving, if then."
"And how about you, Paddy?" Shane asked.
Paddy told of his surgery. Shane winced.
"I must say," he remarked, "it doesn’t make much sense, putting you through all that discomfort if it won’t change anything."
"It makes a bit of difference," Paddy said. "Doctors say that if they didn’t put the valve thing in, I’d be weeing all the time. I’d be even worse off than you, Randy."
Both boys laughed.
"How’s the bitch?" Grace asked.
"Six healthy puppies!" Shane said triumphantly. " Three and three! Her owners are over the moon!"
"What are you doing next week?" Randy asked Paddy.
"Mum’s taking me shopping for school stuff on Monday," Paddy answered. "Then I have a doctor’s appointment Wednesday, and a dentist appointment Thursday."
Randy grimaced. He’d always hated visits to the dentist.
"Pretty full week," Grace observed. Turning to Randy, she asked, "Were you wanting to go with Paddy to get your school things?"
"Do you think Mrs. Manning would mind?" Randy asked.
"I’ll ask her," Paddy promised.
"Talk about coincidence!" Barry laughed. "I have to buy my books too!"
Paddy and Barry stayed to lunch, then Barry left for the afternoon shift at the medical supply store. Paddy called his mum to ask if Randy could go shopping with them on Monday. Mrs. Manning didn’t mind in the least.
"It’s a good thing you two have made friends," Grace told Paddy as he was leaving. "That’ll be one less thing to do come next Saturday."
Monday began early for Randy. The Mannings were due at 9-30, hoping to get the shopping done before the stores got too busy. Randy hurried through breakfast and was ready in good time.
"What kind of car does Mrs. Manning drive?" Grace asked as she and Randy waited in front of the house.
"It’s a white Ford station wagon with a red roof," Randy answered.
He’d barely spoken when he spotted the car in the distance. A moment later, they were there.
"Hey!" Mrs. Manning called out. "Ready to go, Randy?"
"Yes!" Randy called back. He skimmed over his list one last time, then headed for the car.
"Want a lift, Grace?" Mrs. Manning asked. "We’ll be passing the hospital."
"Thank you," Grace replied.
They dropped Grace off at the hospital, then went on to the mall. Mrs. Manning led the way to a quality stationery store she knew, where school supplies were on sale. It was easy to pick out all that they needed. Then they headed for a sports store to buy new runners and PE strip for Paddy.
"I know you have to get your pants by special order, Randy," Mrs. Manning said. "But you could at least pick up a new singlet or two."
Randy looked around. Since he was so much bigger than most boys his age, he’d have to go over to the men’s section. In spite of himself, he felt suddenly shy.
"Don’t look so worried," Paddy encouraged him. "Remember, you aren’t the only one in diapers."
By the time they’d finished their shopping, both boys had everything they needed. Mrs. Manning had even bought them new backpacks. On the way home, Randy asked if they could stop in at the medical supply store so he could buy some new plastic pants. Mrs. Manning agreed, as Paddy needed more powder and rash cream. Both were a good deal cheaper here than at the drug store. As they headed for the incontinence department, Randy spotted Mrs. Brinckman and Ralph. Ralph looked sulky and was trying to hang back, but his mother had him firmly by the hand. As they drew nearer, Paddy punched Randy’s arm and pointed. Following his line, Randy saw that Ralph was wearing a fairly thick diaper and clear plastic pants, but no shorts.
"But Mum!" Ralph was saying as the boys and Mrs. Manning approached, "I’ve said I was sorry! Why can’t I–-?"
"Hush!" Mrs. Brinckman hissed angrily. "I told you what would happen if you were caught teasing again! Now any more whining and you’ll go to school diapered, without pants!"
Ralph glared at his mother.
"Wonder what he did this time?" Randy whispered.
"Must have been something really bad," Paddy answered.
"Whatever it was," Mrs. Manning said, "he must have forgotten the diaper threat."
Both boys were hard pressed to muffle their giggles.
To reach the rack given over to plastic pants, they had to pass the Brinckmans. Ralph spotted Randy and tried to hide behind his mother. Randy felt a strong urge to say something. His expression must have been revealing, because Mrs. Manning gave him an encouraging look and Paddy whispered, "Go on. Say it."
"What are you hiding from?" Randy asked. "I have to wear them two, you know."
"Yeah, but at least you get to wear pants," Ralph answered sulkily. "Mum won’t let me. She won’t even let me stay inside. Whenever she goes out, I have to go along. Everyone in our neighbourhood knows about my diapers now."
"Be glad it’s only for a short time," Randy said unsympathetically. "I have to live in them all the time."
"Not like this!" Ralph shot back. "And you don’t have to go everywhere with your mum like some stupid baby!"
So far, Mrs. Brinckman had remained silent, only keeping a firm grip on Ralph’s hand. Now she stepped forward and flashed a smile at Randy.
"I told him," she said, "if he behaved like a baby, he’d be treated like one."
"What did he do this time?" Randy asked.
Mrs. Brinckman looked sternly at her son. "Tell them!" she commanded.
Ralph didn’t answer.
"Well?" Paddy prompted.
Ralph glared at the two boys, but remained silent. Mrs. Brinckman altered her grip slightly and rapped his hand. Ralph gave a stifled yelp, but refused to speak. Finally Mrs. Brinckman spoke up, looking furious and disgusted.
"I caught him teasing our new neighbours," she explained. "Their oldest son has a medical problem that makes him stagger a bit. He’s also quite potbellied. I don’t think he’s overweight, it’s the way he’s built. Ralph, tell them what you were calling him."
"Mum! Ralph protested, "They don’t have to––ow!" He yelped as his mum smacked him again.
"Tell them!" she repeated, "Or it’ll be diapers at school for a week."
"I–I–I called him Gimpy," Ralph said reluctantly.
"And?" Mrs. Brinckman prompted.
"I distinctly heard you call him a gimpy Pig!" Mrs. Brinckman said.
All three were shocked.
"How could you be so cruel!" Mrs. Manning gasped. "The poor chap must have been devastated!"
Randy, too furious to speak, simply scowled and went to choose some plastic pants.
That night, over dinner, Randy told his parents of Ralph’s latest actions and what Mrs. Brinckman was making him do.
"That young rat!" Shane growled. "A little public humiliation’s just what he needs! I’ve never heard of such cruelty!"
"I wonder if the boy was allowed to watch Ralph being diapered?" Grace put in.
"Mrs. Brinckman didn’t say," Randy replied. "But I hope so."
On Friday, Paddy dropped in again. This time, he brought Cindy. Grace was glad to see her and asked about the camp. Cindy was full of stories about the fun she’d had. There’d been a wide variety of activities, from water sports to hiking and survival exercises. They’d even had simulation activities in which kids and staff had to manage with a disability other than the one they already had.
"What was that like?" asked Randy eagerly.
"It was pretty funny," Cindy said. "I think the toughest one was being blindfolded. Most of the kids in the "blind" group either chickened out or worked very slowly. I got to be the boss. It gave me a chance to get back at two boys who kept teasing me about my blindness."
"Did they stop?" Paddy asked.
"Yes," answered Cindy. "I made them do some of the hardest things."
"Like what?" Grace inquired.
"Making them try to find things with sloppy directions," Cindy giggled.
"What do you mean?" asked Randy.
"Well," Cindy explained, "they always moved my things and wouldn’t tell me where they were. If I asked, they just said things like "over here," or "It’s there. You’re not looking.""
"That’s stupid!" Paddy snapped.
"So mean!" Grace added.
"Was there anyone there who wore diapers?" Paddy asked.
"I think there were a few who wore diapers to bed," Cindy answered. "I don’t know if anyone needed them full time, though."
"Maybe they were too embarrassed to say," Grace said.
Just then, the doorbell sounded. Grace went to answer it, and returned leading Keith and Lanny. Randy leapt to his feet.
"You’re back!" he cried. "How was it down under?"
Grace served lunch, and they swapped stories while they ate. Keith and Lanny had had a wonderful time, visiting their mother’s relatives and sight-seeing.
"We have a new cousin!" Keith announced. "Aunt Linda had her baby on July 30."
"Lovely!" Grace exclaimed. "Boy or girl?"
"Boy," answered Lanny. "His name’s Adam."
"Is it her first baby?" Cindy asked.
"Second," Keith replied. "Cousin Crystal is three."
The afternoon passed quickly. The kids played in the yard, running through the sprinkler and rough-housing over the grass. The boys saw to it that Cindy wasn’t left out, and all enjoyed themselves. Both Randy and Paddy had very heavy diapers by the time Grace called everyone in to tidy themselves up before going home. Paddy, of course, had brought a clean diaper and plastic pants to change in to. Grace helped him with the change, and noticed that he had a nasty rash around his scrotum.
"Does your Mum know about this?" she asked, concerned.
"Yes," Paddy answered. "She’s using some sort of cream, but it doesn’t seem to be working. It stops the itch, but it won’t kill the rash."
Grace thought a moment. She’d seen rashes of this sort at work.
"What kind of cream is she using?" she asked.
"I can’t say the name," Paddy said. "It’s some kind of salve."
Grace nipped in to the bathroom and returned with a large jar of zinc oxide cream and a smaller one of medicated body powder.
"This is what Randy’s using," she explained, "It really makes a difference."
She began carefully applying the thick cream to the affected area. Paddy shivered as the cream touched him.
"It’s cold!" he gasped.
"You aren’t the first to say that," Grace laughed. "It’s always like that at first. It’ll feel a bit slimy, but it’s the best thing I’ve found for diaper rash. We use it at the hospital. Once the rash is gone, then you just need this powder. It neutralizes the urine and keeps the skin dry."
"Thanks," Paddy said, "I’ll tell Mum. Where do you get it?"
Grace pulled Paddy’s diaper snug and fastened the snaps.
"You can take these," she said, handing over the two jars. "I get it from London drugs. The medical supply store sells both in bulk if you want to stalk up. It’s a bit expensive, but it’s worth it."
All too soon, it seemed, school started again. Paddy and Randy walked to school together.
"It’s too bad Cindy can’t walk with us," Paddy remarked.
"Why can’t she?" Randy wondered.
"She’s too far away," Paddy said. "I think one of her parents drives her."
As they reached the school grounds, Randy recognized the hard-faced blonde girl who’d mocked him so cruelly last year.
"Hey, Wolfy!" she called. "I see you’ve found a playmate. What made you want to play with Pissing’ Paddy?"
Paddy’s eyes flashed, but Randy forestalled his retort with a quick look.
"There’s room in the playpen for three," he said to the girl.
"What d’you mean?" she demanded. "I’m not playing with babies. Who wants to be changing diapees?"
"Who said anything about changing them? You’ll be wearing them if you’re not careful," Randy warned.
"Oh yeah?" the girl challenged. "Who’s goona make me?"
"Mum," answered Randy simply, "I’ll have her talk to your Mum, like I did to Ralph."
"You can’t scare me, Baby!" the girl sneered, and marched off.
"Don’t be so sure!" Randy called after her.
"Do you think she’ll believe you?" he asked.
"I don’t know," Randy admitted, "but I hope she gets caught. I’d like to see her in diapers, with no pants."
Both boys laughed. Randy, of course, was approaching the age when boys begin to take an interest in girls.
"I bet she’d look cute with a big bum," Paddy whispered.
Just then, a brunette woman in a business suit came up, followed by a boy of about ten. Randy guessed at once that this must be the one Ralph had been teasing. He was about the same height as Paddy and had dark hair like his mother’s. His gait was a bit jerky, and his blue shirt was stretched tightly over his swollen belly.
"Let’s ask these boys," his mother said as she passed Randy and Paddy.
The strange boy shied as she turned toward them.
"Please," she asked, "Where do we go to sign up new students?"
"You need to talk to Mr. Goldman," Randy answered. "We’ll take you to his office."
"Thank you, dears," the woman said, smiling. "I’m Mrs. Oliver, and this is my son, Darwin."
Darwin held out a trembling hand to Randy and Paddy.
"Hi," he said in a husky voice. "I have CP. Please don’t laugh at me."
"What’s CP?" Paddy asked.
"Cerebral Palsy," Mrs. Oliver answered. "That’s why he has trouble walking."
"Is it painful?" Paddy asked as they headed for the building.
"No," Darwin said, "but it makes it hard to play. If I fall down, I can’t get up by myself. And kids always laugh at me because of my stomach. They call me Fatty or Piggy."
"He’s not overweight," Mrs. Oliver put in. "He only looks that way because he has trouble holding his stomach in. My husband has the same problem. He was injured in a car crash when he was 20, and his abdominal muscles were paralyzed."
They parted ways at the door to the main office. As Randy headed for his classroom, (seventh graders were at the far end of the building), Ralph caught up with him. He wasn’t wearing diapers. Randy had all he could do to keep from remarking that he’d "finally grown up". Ralph, however, must have read his mind.
"I still have to wear them at home," he said irritably. "Mum says I have to do it for the rest of the month."
"I met the boy you were teasing," Randy told him.
"Doesn’t he look weird?" Ralph asked.
"No," answered Randy firmly. "He can’t help the way he looks or moves, and calling him names won’t change anything."
"But it’s true," he insisted. "He’s—"
"Don’t say anything," Randy warned, "or I’ll tell your mum. And I still have those pictures of you."
Ralph paled. He was about to speak when their teacher, Mrs. Franklin, appeared. She was a tall, slim woman with a pleasant, but stern face. Randy was sure she would be one of those strict ones, a stander of no nonsense. Ralph wouldn’t get far trying anything in her class.
The students filed in to the classroom, and Mrs. Franklin called the roll. Once that was completed, she held up a seating plan.
"If anyone would like to move before I pass this around," she said, "Please do so now. Once you fill in the name box, that’s where you stay unless I state otherwise."
Randy glanced around the room. Ralph and the hard-faced blond sat side by side. He was sure this would mean trouble. Mrs. Franklin apparently sensed problems too, for she gave the girl a sharp look, and asked her to trade places with the girl on her left. Randy felt relieved. At least now they couldn’t swap secret plots.
Grace picked Randy up after school that day. It was only a half day, and her shift at the hospital finished around the same time. Randy told her about Ralph and his friend.
"Those two should be in separate classes," Grace said, frowning. "What’s the girl’s name?"
"I think it’s Margaret," Randy answered. "I don’t like her. She always talks to me like I don’t understand normal English."
"You mean baby talk?" Grace asked as she maneuvered out of the school parking lot.
"Sometimes," Randy said. "She never calls me anything but Wolfy or Baby, and if she gets close enough, she tries to pat my bum."
"How rude!" Grace exclaimed. "No manners whatsoever!"
"What do you think they’ll do if they catch Darwin?" Randy wondered.
"The Olivers must be the new neighbours Mrs. Brinckman mentioned," Grace said. "It sounds as if he’d be at a real disadvantage if Ralph’s lot caught him. If only kids weren’t so cruel!"
Randy was right in suspecting that Mrs. Franklin would be strict. She was. Nobody in her class was allowed to speak without raising a hand, and then only after she acknowledged them. Her assignments always kept them busy, making it impossible to plot mischief. Randy soon noticed that Ralph was beginning to look more and more irritable. Mrs. Franklin must have heard something of his behaviour, for she kept a particularly close eye on him. When they did group exercises, she was careful never to place him and the blond girl in the same group. He kept shooting nasty looks at Randy as though blaming him for this turn of events.
Things went fairly well until about mid October. One chilly Wednesday, Randy, having just changed his diaper, was crossing the playground when he heard a scuffling somewhere nearby. Seconds later, Ralph’s voice rang out.
"Hey, Piggy! Let’s see you do the robot dance!"
"What’re you talking about?" came Darwin’s unmistakable voice. "I don’t dance."
"Or would you rather do the belly dance?" Ralph asked as if he hadn’t heard. "You’re the perfect figure for it. You just need a-----"
"Ralph!" Randy shouted furiously, "How dare you!"
Ralph spun around. "Spoil sport!" he spat. "You’ve wrecked our----"
At that moment, Paddy came hurrying toward them, leading Cindy by the hand.
"You’re gonna get it!" he shouted at Ralph.
"Get what?" Ralph demanded.
Before anyone could answer, the buzzer sounded.
"You wait till your mum hears about this!" Randy called.
When Randy came home for lunch, Grace saw at once that something was wrong. The boy’s face was pale with anger, and his eyes smouldered.
"Is it Ralph?" she asked.
Randy nodded and recounted what he’d heard.
"Did he hurt Darwin?" Grace asked.
"I didn’t see," Randy replied. "I hope not. I wish I could smack him!"
"I’ll phone Mrs. Brinckman and tell her," Grace promised. "This is becoming unacceptable."
When Randy returned to school, the first thing he saw was Darwin, sitting on the grass near the fence.
"What happened?" he asked. "Has Ralph’s gang been after you?"
"Someone tripped me," Darwin answered. "Two kids kept asking if one of my grandparents was a pig. I told them not to be so rude. Then a red-head said he’d show me who was boss and pushed me over."
"That was Ralph," Randy said. "He’s always trying to make fun of Paddy and me because of our diapers."
"How can I stop him?" Darwin asked. "I can’t get up now, and when I told him that, he said I’d have to crawl in. Then he ran off with a blond girl and left me here."
Randy pulled Darwin to his feet and brushed the grass from his pants.
"Come on," he said. "The buzzer’s about to go."
When Shane learned of Ralph’s actions, he was as angry as Grace had been.
"I’ve said it before," he said over dinner, "and I’ll say it again: they should reinstate corporal punishment in our school system! That’s what brats like Ralph need, a good spanking. I’ve often been tempted to talk to his dad. That man’s far too easy on him."
"Yes," Grace agreed. "I heard Mr. Brinckman at the hospital today. He says Boys just need a little more time than girls, then they’ll catch on."
Shane snorted. Randy scowled.
"That’s stupid!" Shane growled. "At this rate, he’ll never learn to respect men or boys. Who wants a son like that? I tell you, that man’s wearing blinkers!"
"What are blinkers?" Randy asked curiously.
"It’s a figure of speech, son," Shane explained. "It means Mr. Brinckman’s refusing to see his own son’s faults."
Little did they know what was going on at the Brinckman household.
As it turned out, Mrs. Oliver herself had informed Mrs. Brinckman of what Ralph had done. Mrs. Brinckman was in a fury. She was relieved that Darwin hadn’t been injured, but this was the final straw as far as teasing was concerned. This time, she would let Ralph have it!
The next day, she set to work. It was her half-day at the training center. Ralph was going to a friend’s house after school to study, and wouldn’t be home until dinner time. Her husband had left on business that morning, and wasn’t due home until just before Halloween. That gave her a golden opportunity. Her first stop after work was the medical supply store. There, she ran in to Barry Hiller.
"What can I do for you, Mrs. Brinckman?" he asked, smiling.
"I’d like to buy a case of the thickest disposables you sell," Mrs. Brinckman answered. "And a dozen of the heaviest cloth diapers."
"Hmmm," Barry said. "Ralph been acting up again?"
"Yes," the woman answered. "I did warn him, but he just won’t smarten up. And where can I get some of those oversized baby clothes I’ve heard about?"
When Mrs. Brinckman got home, her bank account was somewhat lighter, but her car was loaded. Barry had set her up with two dozen heavy-weight cloth diapers of the sort designed for total incontinence. With them went a supply of stout plastic pants, either transparent or striped. He’d also given her a stalk of heavy disposables for school. Next, she’d visited a store that catered to adult- and teenbabies, where she purchased an assortment of clothes with the most juvenile patterns she could find.
As soon as she got home, she gathered all Ralph’s "big boy" clothes, locked them in her bedroom and replaced them with the new ones. Only his jackets did she leave out, in the front hall closet.
"Pity I can’t get an over-sized crib or stroller," she muttered as she put away the boxes. "A highchair wouldn’t hurt either. Still, I can manage. Maybe the embarrassment will be enough."
* * *
When Ralph came home from the study date, he suspected nothing. He dropped his backpack, took off his jacket and shoes and went to the kitchen to greet his mother. Only then did he begin to feel that trouble lay ahead. Mrs. Brinckman was not smiling as she greeted her son.
"I heard all about what happened yesterday," she said, going straight to the point.
"You are house campussed for the rest of this month, effective tonight."
"What does that mean?" Ralph asked.
"It means you will not leave the house except to go to school or when you’re with me," Mrs. Brinckman said. "And you will wear diapers full time until November 30, including school."
Ralph blanched. He’d been punished before, of course, but never like this!
"But Mum!" he protested. "What about volleyball practice? I’m on the team!"
"Too bad," Mrs. Brinckman answered. "You should have thought of that before."
"And what about Halloween?" Ralph persisted desperately.
"Forget it!" his mother snapped. "Unless you want to go out as a baby. Now let’s get your diaper on before our company arrive."
"Company?" Ralph gasped, turning white. "What company?"
"The Wolfes," Mrs. Brinckman replied. "Now get your butt upstairs."
When Randy learned that he and his parents were going to the Brinckmans for dinner that evening, he was shocked.
"What’s going on, Mum?" he asked. "Ralph would never invite me to dinner."
"He didn’t," Grace said. "His mum did. She has something to show us."
Randy finished his homework quickly and Grace helped him in to a fresh diaper. Then he put on a pair of navy corduroys, with vest to match, and a white shirt. This was not his best suit, but it made him look very grown up, in spite of the diapers. Grace too looked smart, in a beige skirt and sweater with a pretty print blouse. Shane wore an outfit similar to Randy’s except that his shirt was striped.
The Brinckmans lived in a large house on the other side of town. When the Wolfes arrived, the first thing they saw was Ralph, standing at the front door. He’d obviously been told to watch for them. Despite himself, Randy burst in to laughter at the sight of him. He was dressed in a diaper so thick that he could hardly waddle. His t-shirt only covered the top few inches and seemed to accentuate the bulk. Even Shane and Grace were hard pressed to hold themselves together. Ralph turned scarlet.
"Mum, they’re here!" he called.
Mrs. Brinckman appeared seconds later, looking smart in a print dress that hung to her calves. Ralph tried to duck behind her, but she cuffed him on the head.
"That’s bad manners!" she scolded loudly. "You greet our guests properly!"
Ralph, still scarlet from the neck up, held out his hand as the Wolfes approached the door.
"Hello, Mr. And Mrs. Wolfe," he said in a small voice. "Hi, Randy."
All three of the Wolfes were grinning as they removed their shoes.
"Take them in to the living room," Mrs. Brinckman instructed Ralph, as though he were about three.
Ralph waddled ahead of them in to the large living room. They made themselves comfortable and Mrs. Brinckman disappeared briefly in to the kitchen. Ralph started to follow her, desperate to get out of sight.
"Oh no you don’t!" Mrs. Brinckman scolded. "You go sit with our guests! You know better than to walk away from company!"
Ralph returned and sat in the armchair across from the couch.
"So," Grace said, unable to resist, "I see you didn’t learn from your last lesson."
"Please!" Ralph begged. "I was only----"
"Stop that!" Mrs. Brinckman snapped as she came through from the kitchen with a tray of appetizers. "Or I’ll spank you here and now!"
Ralph glared. Now it was Shane’s turn to speak out.
"Maybe this’ll teach you to respect others, boy," he said. "How can you be so cruel as to make fun of people for things they can’t help?"
"I didn’t hurt him!" Ralph persisted.
"You probably hurt his feelings!" Mrs. Brinckman snapped. "Mrs. Oliver was almost in tears when she told me what you’d done and said. It’s high time you learned how it feels to be teased."
She placed the tray on the table and invited everyone to help themselves. Randy looked at the big plate, and grinned.
"Mmmmm! Mushroom caps!" he cried, "one of my favourites!"
"They do look delicious," Shane agreed, taking one. "How do you make them?"
"Easy," Mrs. Brinckman laughed. "You just fill some nice big mushroom caps with seasoned cheese or seafood mix, then stick them under the broiler until they’re golden."
Ralph reached toward the plate, but his mum slapped his hand away.
"Babies don’t eat these," she cooed. "And bad babies don’t get treats. Here’s yours." She indicated a large bottle.
"I’m not a baby!" Ralph shouted furiously.
"Prove it!" Randy sneered.
Ralph opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Mrs. Brinckman popped the fat nipple in to it. Ralph, his face as red as his hair, drank the contents as quickly as he could, egged on by threats of missing dinner.
"YUCK!" he spat when his mother finally removed the nipple.
"What was it?" Randy asked.
"Formula!" Ralph sputtered.
By this time, dinner was nearly ready. Mrs. Brinckman had put together a delicious chicken casserole. As they entered the dining room, Randy noticed that one of the chairs had been fixed up for Ralph. The seat was covered with an absorbent pad, and a heavy wev belt hung over the back, next to a Winnie-the-Pooh bib. Once everyone had seated themselves, Mrs. Brinckman brought Ralph in. She strapped him in to the chair and tied his bib on. Then she brought in the casserole, hot and bubbly. Ralph glanced hopefully at the big dish, but Mrs. Brinckman shook her head.
"Yours is coming," she told him.
As the wolfes began serving themselves, Mrs. Brinckman slipped back in to the kitchen and soon reappeared with three junior-sized food jars. One contained squash, another held chicken and rice, and the third was chocolate pudding. Ralph’s eyes blazed.
"Not that stuff!" he cried.
"Too bad, baby, Mrs. Brinckman cooed.
"Sop calling me a baby!" Ralph yelled, now angrier than ever. "I’m not! And I hate squash!"
"You’re sure acting like one," Grace observed.
"Can’t I at least have normal food?" Ralph begged.
"I told you you’d get the full treatment if you misbehaved," Mrs. Brinckman said coldly. "If you don’t like it, remember that you brought it upon yourself. Now sit quietly while we eat."
Ralph knew he was defeated. He sat there, glaring at everyone as they ate. It wasn’t until she was halfway through her dinner that Mrs. Brinckman reached for the first jar and a small spoon.
"Mum!" Ralph burst out, turning scarlet again. "Why do you have to do this in front of people? Can’t I----?"
"Eat!" his mother commanded, "or go without!"
So Ralph had to let her spoon-feed him. All three of the Wolfes were grinning ear to ear as they watched. At last it was over. Ralph then had to watch as they ate a yummy apple crisp for dessert.
"This is Great!" Grace praised as she finished. "Do you think I could have the recipe?"
"Sure," Mrs. Brinckman replied. "I’ll give you a copy before you go."
Everyone went back to the living room while Mrs. Brinckman cleared the table. Ralph kept fidgeting in his chair.
"What’s wrong?" Grace asked.
"I need to go," Ralph complained.
Three pairs of eyes promptly fixed on his crotch. It was obvious that he’d already wet at least once.
"But I need to poop," Ralph persisted.
"What’s this?" Mrs. Brinckman asked, coming through from the kitchen.
"I need to poop," Ralph repeated.
"Do it then," his mother answered. "It’s nearly your bath time anyway."
"Bath time? But it’s only seven-thirty!"
Ralph turned to Randy, his brows raised.
"I don’t know. I don’t poop my pants," Randy said in answer to the unasked question. "Only babies do that.
"Stop it!" Ralph snapped.
"Stop what?" Randy asked innocently.
"Stop calling me a baby!" Ralph hissed.
"So," Shane said. "Now you know why Mrs. Oliver was so upset. And think how Darwin must have felt about being called a pig."
Ralph was about to reply when his bowels went in to action. There was an audible gurgling sound, then a nasty smell began to fill the air.
"Phew!" Randy gasped before he could stop himself.
Shane and Grace both wrinkled their noses.
"Muuuuuum!" Ralph wailed.
Mrs. Brinckman, who’d gone up to prepare Ralph’s bath, came back in at that moment. She paused as her nose told her what had happened.
"Come on, stinker," she said. "In to the bath with you."
With a hasty apology to the Wolfes, she hustled her son upstairs. His full diaper made him waddle worse than ever. When the two returned, some time later, the smell of baby powder preceded them in to the room. Ralph was now dressed in an even thicker diaper and a blue, footed, cotton sleeper with a fat, diapered teddy bear on the front. All three of the Wolfes roared with laughter. Ralph burst in to tears and tried to run back upstairs.
"Say goodnight," Mrs. Brinckman cooed.
So Ralph had to go up to each of them in turn. Shane and Grace managed to control themselves enough to respond, but Randy couldn’t stop smirking.
The Wolfes left soon after Ralph was in bed, Grace happily clutching a copy of Mrs. Brinckman’s apple crisp recipe.
On Friday, Randy woke to the loud patter of rain against his window. Looking through the curtains, he saw that it was pouring. The sky was an ominous shade of gray, and a heavy cloud mass loomed away to the west.
"I hope this clears up before PE," Randy thought as he went to shower.
When he reached the kitchen, Grace was dishing up hot porridge.
"Pretty nasty out there, isn’t it?" she remarked. "Let’s hope the storm holds off till tonight."
"Yeah," Randy agreed. "I’m not looking forward to PE in this rain. Mr. Bradley’s been making us do a lap of the grounds at the start of each class this month."
"Want a lift to school?" Shane asked. "It’ll be better than trying to walk."
"Thanks, Dad," Randy said, "but I’m supposed to meet Paddy at the corner of our street."
"We’ll watch out for him," Shane promised.
As soon as Randy finished his porridge and toast, he hurried to brush his teeth and fetch his backpack and a spare diaper. Then he pulled on his blue raincoat and rubber boots and headed for the garage where his dad waited for him.
"At least there’s no wind," Shane observed as they drove out. "But I don’t like the look of those clouds."
They’d just reached the corner when Paddy came hurrying in to view, wearing a white rain poncho over a bright yellow slicker and knee-high rubber boots. Shane tooted his horn to attract the boy’s attention. Randy opened his door and then moved over. Paddy crossed the road, shook the worst of the water from his poncho and jumped in.
"Thanks, Mr. Wolfe," he said gratefully, slamming the door.
They reached the school in good time. With a last word of thanks, the boys jumped out and ran to the building.
"Whew!" Paddy panted. "Yuck Yuck yuck!"
"Yeah," Randy agreed. "Do you think the storm’ll hold off?"
"I hope so," Paddy answered as they headed for the grade 6-7 cloak room, next to their respective classrooms.
Randy had to help Paddy out of his poncho so as not to spray too much water around. All around them, kids were shedding wet gear and changing in to school shoes. Randy was about to pull his shoes from his backpack when Paddy punched his shoulder and pointed towards the door. Looking up, he saw Mrs. Brinckman and Ralph just entering. Ralph pointed out his locker and Mrs. Brinckman steered him firmly toward it. In seconds, she’d slipped off his blue and white slicker and seated him on one of the stools to remove his boots. Randy’s jaw dropped. Ralph was dressed in striped, elastic-waisted corduroys and a white t-shirt with Porky the Pig on the front. The bulge of a diaper was plainly visible, accentuated by the tight-fitting waistband of his pants. The cloak room rang with laughter, and Ralph turned scarlet. When he’d got his shoes on and risen from the stool, the crinkle of plastic was audible even above the giggles.
The rain kept everyone inside at recess. Randy changed his diaper and went to look for his friends. He found Paddy in the library reading to Cindy.
"You should have seen Ralph in class," Randy said. "He stayed hunched over the whole time. Didn’t do much to hide the diaper, though. It was showing at the back."
Cindy had to clap her hand to her mouth to muffle her giggles.
When Randy returned to class, the first thing he saw was Ralph, hunched over his desk in a vain attempt to hide his diapers and shirt. Clearly, he hadn’t moved all recess.
By lunchtime, it was raining even harder, and a west wind was rising. Randy hoped they wouldn’t be outside for PE.
PE proved to be a dramatic class in several ways. Ralph kept very close to his locker as he changed, trying to hide his diaper. It did little good. The crinkling of the plastic cover gave him away. When he turned from his locker, Randy saw that the tapes were connected by a heavy, orange x, clearly visible against the blue background. If he’d tried to open the diaper to use the toilet, it would have been obvious.
Randy finished changing and joined the queue filing past Mr. Bradley. Ralph tried to hang back, but the man spotted him.
"Your mum told me all about your punishment, boy," he said coldly, "and after what you did, I agree with her 100%. I have a little something for you myself. Now, in with you!"
When the roll call was complete, Mr. Bradley announced that, due to the rain, they wouldn’t be doing their usual lap of the ground. Everyone looked relieved. The pounding of the rain on the roof echoed throughout the gym, and distant thunder could be heard.
Mr. Bradley now took Ralph in to his office next to the changing room. The other boys began whispering among themselves, wondering what would happen next. Several had been the butt of Ralph’s pranks last year and hoped that this time he’d get it good.
Ralph and Mr. Bradley came back a few minutes later, and the gym exploded with laughter. Ralph’s legs had been wrapped in tensor bandages so that his knees were almost rigid, reducing him to a jerky, staggering gait just like Darwin’s. His shorts were gone, leaving the diaper fully exposed with its orange x.
Mr. Bradley now set the boys running laps around the gym. Ralph had all he could do to walk, never mind run, with his bandaged legs. About half way through the first lap, he fell. He struggled to rise, but couldn’t get his stiff legs under him.
"Help! Help!" he shouted. "I can’t get up!"
"Crawl!" Randy answered as he passed.
"Say please!" shouted another boy, giving him a swat on his diapered bum. "Don’t be a cry baby!"
Things didn’t get much better for Ralph. They played floor hockey, and several times he went down. Each time, he was maked to wait for someone to help him up. By the end of the class, he was crushed. He glared at Mr. Bradley as he entered the changing room, but got no sympathy.
"Now you know how Darwin has to manage," Mr. Bradley said.
"Can I take these off now?" Ralph asked, pointing to the bandages.
"No!" the teacher answered firmly. "I’m hoping Darwing sees you like that. Here, take your shorts."
Ralph had a good deal of difficulty getting dressed. His pants barely fit over the bandages and made him stagger worse than ever. When 3-00 finally came, he headed for his locker as quickly as he could. He hoped he could get away before Darwin saw him, but not so. Darwin and two younger kids were in the hall when he emerged from the grade 6-7 cloak room, pushed by Randy and Paddy.
"Looks like you’ve been practicing the robot dance!" Darwing called. "Want to do one with me?"
Ralph hung his head and burst in to tears. His raincoat covered the pig on his t-shirt, but did nothing to hide his stagger.
"Well?" Darwin taunted, "What’re you waiting for?"
Ralph tried to lunge at the boy, but he stumbled and fell. Howls of laughter went up as he hit the floor.
"Poor baby!" Paddy shouted over the din. "Better crawl to your mummy and ask her to help you up."
"Sto-op I-it!" Ralph howled, struggling to get up and falling again.
Paddy and Randy left him, still laughing. Darwin followed.
Grace was waiting in the staff room. When she saw Darwin, she smiled.
"I was just going to look for you," she said. "Your mum called just as I was leaving to come here. There’s been a bad accident near her office. Traffic’s backed up everywhere and she doesn’t know when she’ll be able to get away. You’re to come home with Randy and I. Are Trevor and Katie with you?"
"Yes," Darwin answered, "They’re just outside."
"And how about you, Paddy?" Grace asked. "Will you be all right?"
"I just live across from the school," Paddy said. "I come to get Randy so he doesn’t have to walk alone."
As they left the staff room, Mrs. Brinckman appeared, leading a very dejected Ralph. She spotted the little group and turned toward them.
"Tell them," she said.
Ralph moved toward Randy. His face was still very red, and streaked with tears. "I–I–I’m ss–sorry," he stammered, "f–f–for everything."
"Say it properly!" Mrs. Brinckman warned.
Ralph drew a deep breath. "I’m sorry I called you names and pushed you around."
Randy and Darwin nodded their acceptance of his apology. Ralph turned back to his mother.
"Can I stop wearing the diapers now?"
"No," Mrs. Brinckman answered. "You still have to complete that part of the punishment, and you’re still grounded till the end of the month. Let it be a reminder for you."
"And the bandages?"
"That was just for PE. But if you do anything like this again, you’ll wear them for a whole day. Understood?"
Ralph nodded miserably and the others agreed that this was fair.
"Right," Grace said. "Now let’s get going before the sky falls on us. Look at that thunder head!"
Mrs. Brinckman held the door open. While still under the overhang, Grace opened a huge golf umbrella and all huddled close together. Grace ushered Randy and the Olivers to the car, then saw Paddy to his house. He wasn’t directly across from the school, but on the corner of the street. She insisted on accompanying him right to his door. Not until he was inside did she hurry back to the car.
As soon as they got home, Grace called Mrs. Oliver’s office. The secretary answered, and informed her that Mrs. Oliver had just left. Grace felt worried, but managed to hide it. She considered calling Mrs. Oliver on her cell phone, but decided against it. Apart from the chance of bad reception, all concentration would be needed in this weather.
Shane came home around five, just as Grace was starting dinner. He was lucky enough to have avoided the worst of the traffic jams.
"How did things go at school?" he asked Randy.
Randy told everything, with a detailed description of what Ralph had had to face. By the time he’d finished, everyone was in tears of laughter.
"Who’s idea was it to bandage Ralph’s legs?" Shane asked as soon as he could speak. "And how did you know what to say, Darwin?"
"I think the bandaging was Mr. Bradley’s idea," Randy said, "but I’ll bet Mrs. Brinckman put him up to it. She’d told him about the punishment."
"I knew what to say when I saw the piggy on his shirt," Darwin said. "He looked even more like a robot than I do."
"A diapered robot!" Randy said, and set everybody laughing once more.
Grace turned away from the stove. "Dinner is served!" she announced, and everyone hurried to wash up. Returning to the kitchen, they found macaroni and cheese with meatballs waiting. This was followed by a green salad, then hot cherry pie.
"Do you think Mum’s okay?" Katie asked as they finished.
"I hope so," Darwin answered.
At that instant, lightning streaked past the kitchen window. Seconds later, a clap of thunder shook the house. Then the rain fell harder than ever, rendering the window almost opaque. Katie squealed.
"Gosh!" Shane exclaimed, "that cloud must be right over us! Look at the rain!"
Grace sent the kids in to the living room. Shane followed.
"I hope lightning doesn’t hit the house," Darwin said nervously.
"We have lightning rods," Shane reassured him.
Even as he spoke, lightning cracked again, followed by another huge thunder clap. As it faded, the phone rang. Grace answered it in the kitchen.
"Hello? ... Dianne! Are you all right? ...Yes, I have them here. I’ve just fed them dinner. ...All right, I’ll watch for you. But be careful! The lightning’s very close, and the road’s a river!"
Entering the living room, Grace informed the kids that Mrs. Oliver was on her way. Shane went to the front window to look out for her. The house had a wide overhang, so the view was fairly clear.
"What kind of car does Mrs. Oliver drive?" Shane asked.
"It’s a red Buick van," Katie called from the living room.
Mrs. Oliver arrived about ten minutes later.
"You made it!" Shane exclaimed, "come and have some coffee before you go."
"Thank you," Mrs. Oliver said, "but we really should get home. Roger’ll be wondering what’s happened to me."
"Roger?" Grace asked.
"Well, at least wait till this rain eases a bit," Grace insisted. "I don’t know how you were able to see any distance."
"It wasn’t easy," Mrs. Oliver admitted, "even with the new windshield wipers on full power. Still, we’ll have to chance it."
"All right," Shane acquiesced. "Call when you get home."
Grace helped the Olivers in to their coats and boots and, with a wave of thanks, they disappeared in to the storm.
As soon as the Olivers had left, Randy got started on his homework. He’d have all weekend to finish it, but he always tried to do as much as possible on Friday. Today, his heaviest assignment was a 200-word composition for English. The class had been studying creative writing, and had been given a choice of themes on which to base their stories. Randy had decided to write about an attempted kidnapping in which the captive child must find a way to escape and get help. The captive had nothing to use but his hands and his brains. It would be a tough call.
Randy was about half way through a rough draft of his story when the phone rang. Picking it up, he was pleased to hear Mrs. Oliver’s voice.
"We made it!" she said. "We’re safe! That lightning was scary for all of us, but we didn’t get hit."
"Great!" Randy answered, relieved, "I’ll tell Mum and Dad."
Just as he hung up, Shane came in to the kitchen.
"Who was that, son?" he asked.
"Mrs. Oliver," Randy replied. "They’re home."
"Thank goodness!" Shane said. "I was wondering when they’d call."
He glanced at the papers on the table. "I see you’ve started on your homework," he remarked, "What are you writing about?"
Randy showed him the theme. Shane smiled.
"That’ll be a challenge," he said. "But I must say, your teacher seems determined to focus on potentially true situations. I bet most kids would either panic or die of shock if someone just grabbed them like that."
"I hope it never happens to me," Randy said.
Grace came up from the laundry room with her arms full of clean diapers. She glanced at the clock, then at Randy’s homework.
"How much longer are you going to work?" she asked. "It’s getting late."
"I want to finish the first copy," Randy answered. "Then I can do the good copy tomorrow. I know that’s not due till Tuesday, but you know what Mrs. Franklin’s like."
Grace looked closely at her son. He sat very upright, and there was a look of concentration on his face. Nevertheless, his eyes were beginning to droop, and he looked a bit pale.
"I think you’d better leave it for tonight, dear," she advised. "You’ve had a busy day. Put these diapers away and then go jump in the tub."
Randy marked his place, put his papers in order and rose slowly from the table. Grace followed him upstairs and set the diapers on his bed. Randy picked out the night diaper and plastic pants, then stowed the clean ones on the shelf in the closet while his mum went to fill the tub.
It was not until he lowered himself in to the steaming water that Randy realized how tired he was. He didn’t spend much time soaking, but scrubbed himself, got out and began applying body lotion. He was nearly done when his mum knocked on the door.
"Yes," he answered, "I just need to use the toilet."
Grace was waiting in his room when he came out of the bathroom. He reached for his diaper, but she stopped him.
"I’ll put it on for you," she said. "You’re almost asleep on your feet."
"Thanks, Mum," Randy yawned, "but I’m still awake enough to do it myself."
He’d put on the body powder before leaving the bathroom, so there wasn’t much left to do. He put on his diaper, pulled up his plastics and reached for his PJ’s. Grace, who’d been waiting respectfully outside, came in to kiss him goodnight. As Randy crawled in to bed, she asked, "Did the Olivers phone?"
"Yes, they’re all right," Randy said.
"Good," Grace answered, "see you in the morning."
Randy slept quite late, he was so tired. When he finally awoke, the wind still blew strongly, but the clouds were higher and less dense. The worst of the storm had passed. He got up, changed, dressed, and went downstairs to find his parents at breakfast.
"Morning, Sleepy head," Shane chuckled. "I was just going to wake you. How do you feel?"
"Hungry!" Randy answered, and set his parents laughing.
Grace gave him a large bowl of porridge sprinkled liberally with maple sugar. He was about half way through when the phone rang. Shane answered it. He listened for a moment, then said,
"How close is she to delivery? ... Right. I’ll be right over."
"What is it?" Randy asked as his dad began gathering up his equipment.
"A mare’s about to foal," Shane told him, "and her owner thinks there may be a problem. I’d better fly."
Randy helped his mum with the dishes, then spent the rest of the morning finishing the rough draft of his story. It was a bit longer than the instructions called for, but he didn’t think this would matter much.
Barry dropped in just before lunch. All were glad to see him. Between school and work, he hadn’t visited since August. He was impressed by Randy’s story and even gave him a few pointers.
"Is this your first story?" he asked.
"The first long one," Randy said.
"Well, you’ve done a pretty good job," Barry praised, "just watch out for those run-on sentences–like this one." He pointed to the third paragraph on page 2. Randy made a mental note to change this in his final copy.
"Another thing you might want to watch," Barry went on, "is vocabulary. Try not to use "said" quite so much when indicating dialogue. I know it’s not easy to think of other verbs off the top of one’s head. I used to have the same problem."
"This is only the rough draft," Randy explained. "I’ll have to hand it in as it is. Once I get it back, then I start the "good" copy. Mrs. Franklin marks all the places where we’ve messed up and puts notes in the margins."
"She sounds like a good teacher."
"She is," Randy agreed, "but she’s really strict."
"I bet Ralph doesn’t like that," Barry guessed.
"He doesn’t. She wouldn’t let him sit next to Margaret in class."
"Who’s Margaret?" Barry asked.
"I think she’s his cousin, or something," Randy replied. "They always seem to be together."
"How did she take to seeing Ralph in diapers?"
"Probably just laughed along with the rest of us," Randy said. "I didn’t see her." After a pause, he asked, "How did you know about that?"
Barry nodded towards Grace who smiled back. "Besides," he added, "I was working when Mrs. Brinckman came in to stalk up."
"Lunch, Barry?" Grace asked with a smile.
"Thanks," Barry replied. "Just let me change my diaper first, or I’ll leak."
Randy also went to change. He was first to return to the kitchen and found his mum spreading the table. Quickly, he grabbed a handful of serviettes and helped to finish the task.
Barry came in to the kitchen just in time to see Grace turning away from the stove holding a large platter.
"What’s that?" he asked. "It sure smells good."
"Grilled cheese sandwiches!" Grace announced, "made with sharp cheddar!"
"Yum! Yum!" Barry exclaimed, grinning. "I don’t get those very often anymore.
Shane came in just as they were getting started.
"Just in time, dear! Grace said, "it’s your favourite."
Barry couldn’t help smiling at this. Shane set down his med bag, threw off his jacket and boots and half skipped to the table. That set Barry laughing.
"How’s the mare?" Grace asked.
"Just fine," Shane answered, "There was nothing really wrong. The foal was just a bit too big. Mind you, Maxine’s no smalley herself. Seventeen hands."
"How big’s the foal?" Barry asked.
"About 100 pounds. A perfect colt."
"Is it her first?" Barry asked.
"Second. Her first one was a filly. She’s three now, and in excellent shape."
"What’s the colt’s name?" Grace put in as she brought a fresh load of hot sandwiches to the table.
"The owners haven’t decided yet. They’ll contact me tomorrow. The filly is Martina, after her mistresses grandmother."
Everyone ate heartily, and Barry helped to clear up.
"Are you doing anything this afternoon?" Grace asked him.
"I should get home and study a bit," Barry answered without much enthusiasm. "The mid-terms are coming up in a couple of weeks."
"Surely you can afford a break," Grace insisted. "From the sound of things, you don’t get much free time anymore."
Barry let himself be persuaded. It was true that he spent most of his time studying when not at work. He didn’t complain, but Grace had noticed the lonely expression in his gray eyes.
Barry joined Randy in watching cartoons for an hour, then helped him with his math and French homework. Math wasn’t one of Randy’s better subjects, but Barry was a whiz at it and even gave Randy a couple of shortcuts to help solve some of the trickier problems. Randy was beginning to see him almost as a big brother.
On Sunday, Randy awoke with a headache and a sore throat. He was puzzled by this, for he’d felt fine at bedtime last night. He changed out of his night diaper and put on one of his warm sweat suits.
"Is something wrong, dear?" Grace asked as he entered the kitchen. "You look pale."
"My head aches," Randy answered. "I hope I’m not getting a cold."
"Best take it easy today," Grace advised. "Have you finished all your homework?"
Randy spent the morning tidying his room and doing a few small errands for his mum. After lunch, however, his headache returned and his nose began to run. Grace gave him a dose of child’s aspirin and suggested he take a nap. He slept for a couple of hours and woke feeling a little better. Paddy dropped in briefly, and they watched Barney.
"I didn’t see you at the park today," Paddy remarked as the show ended.
"I think I’m getting something," Randy said. "I don’t seem to feel like doing much."
Paddy left just before dinner. Randy joined his parents at the table, but found he couldn’t eat much. He felt strangely heavy, and his stomach seemed to have shrunk. Grace noticed that he was shivering slightly despite the warmth of the house.
"Are you sure you’re all right, son?" Shane asked, concerned.
"I don’t know," the boy replied. "I’m so tired."
Randy did not join his parents in watching the evening comics, as he normally did on Sundays. He picked out his clothes for school tomorrow, then took a long, hot bath. The steam did something to ease his headache, but the mild nausea still persisted. Grace met him as he emerged from the bathroom, and accompanied him to his room. This time, he didn’t protest as she put him in to his night diaper and a pair of his heavier pajamas. Once he was in bed, she fetched a cup of ginger tea to help his stomach.
By Monday morning, he was no better. As he rose, his stomach began to gurgle ominously. Hastening to the bathroom, he barely reached the toilet before an attack of diarrhoea hit him.
"How are you feeling?" Grace called softly from outside the bathroom.
Not receiving a response, she gently opened the door. Instantly, her nose told her what she needed to know. Randy looked up at his mum as she came close.
"Can you bring my day diaper please, Mum?" he asked. "I forgot it in my room."
"You go on back to bed," Grace said firmly. "You can’t go to school like this."
Randy was in no shape to protest. He wiped up, flushed the toilet and walked slowly back to his room. Grace helped him in to another night diaper and back in to bed.
"I’ll bring you some breakfast in a bit," she said.
"Where’s Randy?" Shane asked as he ate his breakfast. "He’ll be late for school."
"I sent him back to bed," his wife explained, "He’s had nasty diarrhoea this morning, and he’s awfully pale."
Shane looked worried. Randy very rarely had colds of any sort. "Have you called Dr. Shermann?" he asked.
"Not yet," Grace answered, "but I will if he’s no better by noon."
Grace was just making some ginger tea for Randy when Paddy arrived. She greeted him with a worried look.
"I’m afraid Randy’s too sick for school today," she told him.
"What’s wrong?" Paddy asked.
"I’m not sure yet," Grace admitted, "it looks like a mild flu."
"I hope it’s nothing serious," Paddy said. "Want me to take his homework? I can have the office give it to Mrs. Franklin."
"That’s very kind of you," Grace praised, "but I’ll take it in myself. I have to write a note explaining his absence anyway."
Paddy hurried away, and Grace took the ginger tea upstairs. Randy was awake, and raised himself on one elbow as she approached his bed.
"Here’s some tea," she said. "I’ll see that Mrs. Franklin gets your homework."
Randy heaved himself up against his headboard and took the hot cup. "How long will I have to stay in bed?" he asked.
"Hopefully just for today," Grace said gently. "Paddy might come over after school, and you can get up for him if you feel better. Just don’t get too close."
Randy finished the tea and handed the cup back. Grace helped him to settle down again. Then she hurried downstairs, poured the remaining ginger tea in to a thermos and returned to Randy’s room.
"I’ll leave this here in case you feel queasy later," she told him. "I’m off to work now. Daddy’s downstairs if you need anything." she blew him a kiss and left.
"How’s he doing?" Shane asked as Grace came downstairs.
"I’ve left the rest of the tea for him," Grace said. "He was on the verge of falling asleep when I left his room."
"I’ll stay here till you get home," Shane promised. "There’s nothing urgent at the moment. If I get an emergency call, I’ll buzz Mrs. Manning. She’s nearest."
Grace nodded. Mrs. Manning was a dress maker and worked mostly from home. Her husband was head chef at a luxury hotel.
On her way to the hospital, Grace dropped off a package for Mrs. Franklin, containing Randy’s homework and an explanation of his absence. As she was leaving the school, she ran in to Mrs. Brinckman and Ralph. Today, Ralph was dressed in red pants and a Squirrel Nutkin t-shirt. He looked rather subdued, and Grace was sure the punishment was beginning to affect his mood. The diaper made his pants bulge noticeably, and the crinkling was audible with every step.
About mid morning, Shane crept upstairs and found Randy sleeping peacefully, one hand clutching "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone". Carefully, he lifted the boy’s hand, slipped the marker in to place, closed the book and set it on the night table. He smiled down at his son and tiptoed out of the room. He went up again at noon to find Randy awake and drinking from the thermos.
"How do you feel?" he asked.
"Still drowsy," Randy answered quietly, "and hungry."
"Feel like getting up for lunch? You’ll be needing a diaper change by now anyway."
Randy set down the thermos and rose. His diaper sagged heavily. He hesitated, unsure whether to put on a day diaper or another night one.
"Better use another heavy one," Shane advised, "That way you won’t have to change as often."
Randy took his father’s advice. He went to use the toilet before changing, but there was no more diarrhoea. Once changed, he felt better. He put on his robe and went down to the kitchen to find a bowl of chicken-vegetable soup and a honey sandwich waiting for him. He smiled his thanks and began to eat. He was about half way through the soup when Grace came home.
"Feeling better?" she asked.
Randy nodded. "I’m awfully thirsty though."
"Not surprising," Shane laughed, seeing how soaked your diaper was. You must have been weeing constantly in your sleep."
"How long did you sleep?" Grace asked, fixing herself a sandwich and some coffee.
"I don’t know," Randy answered.
"Most of the morning," Shane put in.
"Just as well," Grace said.
After lunch, Randy read over the word list from the next unit of his spelling book. He was able to finish most of the assignments before he began to grow drowsy again. This time, he didn’t go up to bed, but lay on the couch. Grace placed a large bottle of ginger beer on the end table by his head. Ellen Murray, a classmate who lived at the far end of the block, came by around 3-30 with the day’s homework. Grace thanked her, but urged her not to stay since Randy was pretty tired and might be infectious.
"Can’t I at least say hi to him?" Ellen pleaded.
"All right," Grace said, "but don’t get too close."
Ellen pulled off her jacket and shoes and entered the living room. Randy raised himself on one elbow as she approached the couch.
"Hi," he said with a weak smile.
"How are you feeling?" Ellen asked.
"I’ve been tired all day," Randy answered, "and my nose won’t stop running unless I’m on my back."
"Yuck!" Ellen empathized. "I had something like that back in April. Mum made me spend a whole weekend inside. If I wasn’t in bed, I was watching TV or playing on the computer."
Randy reached for the bottle and took a swig.
"What’s that?" Ellen asked.
"It’s ginger beer," Randy replied. "It’s really good for bad stomachs. So’s ginger tea."
"I’ve always liked ginger," Ellen remarked. "I wish I could try some of that. I’ve never had it before."
At that moment, Grace came in to the living room.
"Did you say you wanted to try some of Randy’s pop?" she asked.
Ellen nodded. Grace nipped in to the kitchen, returning with a tumbler. The bottle was full except for a few mouthfuls, so there was plenty to spare. Grace poured some out and handed it to Ellen.
"Thank you," Ellen said. She was a small girl for her age, with long, thick, auburn hair which she wore either in a ponytail or a braid.
"What’s the homework?" Randy asked.
"French and Science."
Randy grimaced. He didn’t mind French, but Science wasn’t one of his better subjects. Ellen handed him a slip of paper on which she’d written the assignments. There was just one French exercise to do, and the Science was to read the pages on the respiratory system and draw a labeled diagram.
"Do you think you’re up to that?" Grace asked. She’d been reading over Randy’s head.
"I think so," Randy answered. "I’ll need a change first, though."
"Change?" Ellen asked. Then she turned scarlet. "Oh! I forgot! Shall I go away?"
Randy’s face reddened too. He’d never even referred to his diapers in front of a girl, let alone asked for a change. For a second, he and Ellen stared at each other, then suddenly they both burst out laughing. Grace couldn’t help joining in.
"Little slip of the tongue there, honey," she chuckled.
"Guess so," Randy agreed.
Ellen glanced at the clock.
"I’d better get home," she said. "Mum’ll be wondering where I am. See you at school tomorrow, I hope."
"Same here," Randy answered. "Thanks for bringing the homework."
As soon as Ellen was gone, Grace hurried to fetch the diaper-changing supplies. Randy was up when she returned to the living room, but she gently pressed him back on to the couch. She helped him in to the dry diaper, then went for clean pajamas and some slippers. Once dressed, Randy went to the kitchen table where Grace had set out his books. He was just getting started when the doorbell rang. It was Paddy. Grace ushered him in and soon had him seated across from Randy.
"Feeling better?" Paddy asked.
"A bit," Randy said. "I was just going to start my homework."
Paddy opened his backpack and pulled out his. He had Math and Socials. Grace was busy preparing snacks.
"Lots of homework, Paddy?" she asked.
"No, but this Socials is a bit tricky."
Grace came to the table with a plate of oatmeal cookies.
Paddy held up the assignment. It was to be a 300-word essay on the tanning and preservation of animal hides by native Indians.
"That shouldn’t be too hard," she encouraged him. "What books are you to use for the research?"
"We’re supposed to do it in the library, starting tomorrow," Paddy answered.
"When’s it due?" Grace asked.
"Well," Grace said, "it should be all right. I admit, there aren’t many books to choose from on that subject. If you run in to trouble, let me know and I’ll let you borrow our copy of the Canadian encyclopedia."
"Thanks," Paddy answered, leaning forward to take a cookie.
There was little talking after that, as the boys were soon lost in homework. Shane, who’d gone to check up on the new foal, came home as they were finishing up. Entering the kitchen, he found Grace helping Paddy with a math equation and Randy sipping a cup of chicken broth.
"How long have you been up?" he asked.
"Since Paddy came," Randy replied. "I wanted to do my homework."
"Don’t strain yourself," Shane cautioned, "you’re looking pale again. Have you eaten anything besides that broth?"
"I was just going to start some veggie," Grace said. "You will join us for dinner won’t you, Paddy?"
"Thank you," Paddy said, "but I can’t. Mum wants me home by 5-30."
"Better go then," Shane advised, glancing at the stove clock, "it’s almost 5-15 now."
Paddy was startled. Neither he nor Randy had noticed the time, so busy were they with their homework. He gathered up his things, thanked Grace for the cookies and hurried to put on his jacket and shoes.
Randy didn’t stay up much longer. He ate some salad and a bowl of apple pudding, then went for a bath. He was able to put on his diaper without help and was in bed when Grace came up with a cup of ginger tea.
"Will I be able to go back to school tomorrow?" Randy asked.
"That depends on how you feel," Grace said gently. "If you have doubts, no. We don’t want to push it. I told Mrs. Franklin it might be a couple of days before you were back."
Tuesday Morning, Randy woke feeling strangely heavy. At first, he thought it was just the usual drowsiness. Then he felt a cramping in his belly and an unpleasant gurgling. Quickly, he rose and headed for the bathroom. As he reached the door, however, the cramps suddenly intensified, making him double over. The next thing he knew, a gooey mess was filling the back of his diaper, followed by a gush of urine.
"Oh no!" Randy groaned. "What’ll I do now?"
He straightened up and shuffled back to his room. The full diaper felt horrible. He’d always been revolted by the thought of pooping his diapers, and now he’d done it!
"Muuuuuuum!" he called, "can you come here, please?"
Grace had been making breakfast when she heard poor Randy’s cry.
"Oh dear," she thought, "he must be in agony."
She started the toaster, then rushed upstairs. Randy lay on his bed looking miserable. As she approached him, a nasty smell hit her nose.
"Whew! Looks like you didn’t make it to the washroom."
"Please! It’s awful!" Randy sobbed.
Grace opened the window a crack to remove the stink. Then she grabbed a fresh diaper and plastic pants, pulled Randy to his feet and led him in to the bathroom. Slipping her hand carefully inside his plastics, she removed the diaper pins one by one. Then she had him stand over the toilet and slowly lowered the diaper. It was a nasty mess indeed. In spite of her efforts, some of it escaped on to the mat.
"Don’t worry," she encouraged Randy, "it needs washing anyway."
Randy couldn’t answer. Grace tipped the worst of the mess in to the toilet before removing the diaper completely. She had to use a fair amount of toilet paper to clean him up, flushing several times. Finally, after wiping everything, she had Randy sit on the toilet while she ran a bath for him.
"No school for you today!" she said decidedly.
"Guess not," the boy agreed.
At that moment, Shane’s voice called from downstairs.
"What’s happening up there?"
"A mess, I’m afraid," Grace answered.
Shane came up. He froze in the hall as his nose told him what kind of mess.
"Phew! Don’t suppose you’ll be going far today, son!"
Grace helped her son in to the bath and got him cleaned up. Then she rinsed off the soiled diaper in the toilet.
"Should I call Dr. Shermann?" Shane asked. "This is bad."
"Better," Grace said. "If we’re lucky, we can take him in today. I’m scheduled for the afternoon shift, so I won’t miss anything."
Randy now felt weak and tired. He made no move as Grace got him in to a clean diaper and back to bed. Shane called Dr. Shermann’s office and was relieved to learn that he had an opening at 10-00.
"Thank goodness!" Grace sighed when she heard this. She dressed Randy in a warm sweat suit and his raincoat, and they drove over to the office. Dr. Shermann wasted no time getting started.
It turned out that Randy had a case of stomach flu. The ginger tea had kept him from vomiting, but the diarrhoea had been almost as weakening.
"No school for the rest of this week, at least," he told Grace. "Keep on with the ginger. I see you’re one for natural remedies."
"I always have been," Grace admitted, "I’m encouraging their use at the hospital. Common meds have far too many side effects for my liking."
Randy didn’t return to school until the following Friday. One of his classmates came every day with the homework assignments, and Paddy was a frequent visitor. Randy was always glad to see him, and sometimes they worked together. Ellen was usually the one who brought his homework since she lived closest to him. Even the Morrisons came when they could. Once, Mrs. Franklin herself paid him a surprise visit, bringing some peppermint tea she’d made up, and a bag of ginger candy. All this helped to keep Randy in good spirits. Active as he liked to be, it was hard to stay in bed, or even indoors.
"You’re lucky you’re in diapers," Ellen remarked one day.
"Lucky?" Randy repeated disbelievingly, "What’s so lucky about it?"
"Well," Ellen explained, "when I had the flu, I was up every hour or so to use the washroom. Once I missed the toilet and messed all over the floor. At least you don’t have to worry about that."
"Be glad you’ve never pooped your pants!" Randy said, a bit defensively. "It feels so grose!"
"Sorry," Ellen said, blushing. "I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that at least you won’t be caught out if it comes suddenly."
"True," Randy admitted.
When Randy finally returned to school, he was greeted by loud cheers as he entered the cloak room. Only Ralph remained silent and sulky. Today, he wore a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and gray pants. He acknowledged Randy’s return with a nod, and waddled off to the classroom, his diaper crinkling with every step.
The rest of October passed smoothly. Randy quickly regained his vigour.
"Are you going out on Halloween?" Paddy asked during the last week of the month.
"I think so," Randy answered, "How about you?"
"Yes, I’m going as a clown. The clown costume was the only thing Mum could find that would fit over my diapers."
"I’m not sure what I’ll go as," Randy said. "Mum’s having a tough time finding anything. I’m too big for most of the kids’ stuff, and too small for the adult costumes."
"Let me talk to Mum," Paddy suggested. "I bet she could make something."
"There isn’t time."
"You’d be surprised what Mum can do," Paddy said. "She has loads of scraps from making dresses, and she can sew pretty fast when she has to."
Halloween saw Randy rigged up in a bear cub costume that Mrs. Manning had made. She’d done an excellent job considering the short time she’d had to put it together, and the diaper made it look more "cubbish," as she jokingly put it. Randy was proud of her efforts. He’d even won second prize in the school costume parade. (First prize had gone to Ellen who’d dressed as Little Red Riding Hood.) Both Randy and Paddy had come in from trick-or-treating with their candy bags laden.
"It’s too bad you couldn’t come with us," Keith told Randy the next day at school. "We went to the Brinckmans, and you should have seen Ralph!"
"What happened?" Randy asked eagerly. "Was he allowed to go out?"
"No," Lanny answered, "but he had to help hand out goodies! Mrs. Brinckman had him dressed up in bright red plastic pants and a red shirt with "Help! I’m spellbound!" on the front. The diaper was huge!"
"You should have seen his face!" Keith added, struggling to keep from laughing, "You’d think Mrs. Brinckman had painted it red too!"
With that, all three boys dissolved in to laughter.
With November, the weather turned cold and wet. There was no more running around the school grounds, but Mr. Bradley still kept the boys working out with games of floor hockey, volleyball and dodge ball. Twice a week, they did aerobic exercises. Randy didn’t mind this much. He wasn’t good at everything, but he was a natural athlete. Many of his classmates, however, were hard pressed to keep pace. Mr. Bradley was a forgiving teacher when he saw that they were trying. He was a strong believer in childhood fitness, but was careful not to overdo it. Ralph, still encumbered by the thick diapers, remained ever sulky.
"Does your mum ever make you wear diapers as thick as these?" Ralph demanded of Randy one day.
"Only at night," Randy replied. "And I don’t wear disposables."
"I don’t know why you’re complaining," Randy said. "You only have to wear them for another couple of weeks. Besides, it’s your own fault. If you—"
"Get out!" Ralph snapped, and stalked off.
After that, Randy did his best to avoid Ralph. Harder to escape was Margaret, the mean blonde. She seemed to be following him everywhere.
"Why do you keep following me?" he demanded one Friday towards the end of the month. "I thought you were with Ralph."
"Can’t you figure it out, baby?" Margaret cooed.
Randy thought hard. He could only come up with two reasons, and these he offered. "Either Ralph’s told you to watch me, or you’re just being a snoop."
Margaret frowned. "Look who’s calling names now."
"Want me to tell your mum you’ve been following me?" Randy asked.
"I said that won’t scare me, baby," Margaret sneered.
"Bet you wouldn’t say that if you were put in diapers!" shouted a voice nearby.
Randy jumped and spun around. There was Paddy, grinning from ear to ear. Margaret saw him too.
"What do you want, Pissing Paddy?"
"Leave us alone!" Randy snapped. "Go find your own baby! Maybe Ralph would like you to change him."
Margaret shot the boys a dirty look and marched off.
When Randy came home from school that afternoon, he was in a foul temper. Shane noticed it at once.
"Has Ralph been after you again?" he asked, "or did he do something to Darwin or Paddy?"
"It’s not Ralph," Randy said furiously, "it’s Margaret. She won’t leave me alone! She follows me everywhere!"
"What’s her last name?" Shane asked.
"I don’t remember. Why?"
"Maybe it’s time to pad her up too."
Randy couldn’t help grinning at this, but he doubted whether it would happen.
Grace came home soon afterwards, bringing Barry with her. She’d seen him coming out of the medical supply store and invited him over.
"What’s up with you, honey?" she asked when she saw Randy.
"First Ralph, now Margaret," Grace sighed. "Why are kids so rude?"
"At least Ralph isn’t still bugging you too," Barry said.
That was the last time they’d see Barry before Christmas. December meant the end-of-term exams, so there was no time for visiting. Randy too was busy with quizzes and tests.He now spent much of his time reviewing things with Paddy, Cindy and the Morrisons. Darwin joined them occasionally, but seemed shy. They didn’t pressure him, figuring he must have a study plan of his own.
When the Christmas report cards came out, Randy had B minuses in math and science, and A’s in everything else. Paddy too had excellent grades. The Morrisons had average scores, but Cindy had straight C’s.
"I thought I was better than that," she half sobbed to Grace.
"Don’t feel discouraged," Grace soothed her, "it’s only the first card. There’s plenty of time to improve. Besides, it must be so much tougher to keep pace, being blind."
Christmas was a fun-filled day for Randy. Barry had gone home this time, but he called to wish them a merry Christmas. The Mannings came over on Boxing Day, and Paddy and Randy spent the day frolicking in the back yard.
With January came a field trip to the museum of Anthropology in socials. This Randy enjoyed thoroughly. Mrs. Brinckman came along as an assistant, enabling her to keep an eye on Ralph. Ralph no longer wore diapers, but she wasn’t taking chances and had one in her bag as a threat. Overall, it was a successful day, and Randy thought his mind would burst with all he’d learned. He’d been especially fascinated by the clothes, namely how they signified a person’s status in a tribe. The higher the rank, the more elaborate the decorations. Deep down, he wondered what would have become of anyone who had a problem like his. Would they have lived in diapers? Would they have lived at all? Even back then, it would have been a nuisance having to stop every hour or so to wee.
February proved to be a wet month with a sprinkling of snow. It was a hard month health-wise too. The school was hit by a spate of bad colds and flus, especially among the older students. Randy was lucky and didn’t get sick again. Keith, Lanny and Cindy came through with only minor colds. Poor Paddy came down with a nasty chest cold, which kept him away from school for over two weeks. Now it was Randy’s turn to return the favours. He checked in with the sixth grade teacher, Miss Law, and volunteered to take Paddy’s homework to him. Grace, too, offered her assistance, for which Mrs. Manning was grateful.
"I’ve never met anyone so in to natural remedies," she remarked one Saturday afternoon. "That eucalyptus lineament’s really helping with Paddy’s cough. It was all he could do to breathe before you started using it on him."
"It’s the same stuff I used on Randy when he was a baby," Grace said proudly. "There are other things that are good for coughs too, but they’re pretty harsh for a kid. Have you ever used a mustard plaster?"
"Heavens, no!" Mrs. Manning gasped. "That’d burn his skin off!"
Several teachers were also taken ill, leading to a stream of substitutes. Randy was relieved that Mrs. Franklin was one of the lucky ones. He shuddered to think of what Ralph or Margaret might have done if there’d been a substitute!
By mid March, things were almost back to normal. The weather grew warmer, and Mr. Bradley had the boys running the grounds again whenever possible. If it was too cold or wet, they did laps of the gym. The aerobics continued, and it was clear that many of the boys were improving. Randy actually found himself encouraging those who still lagged behind in stamina. Even Ralph began to reap the benefits of the regular workouts. They seemed to take up the energy he normally put in to teasing and tormenting others.
"I’ve often said too much energy was half the trouble with kids like Ralph," Mr. Bradley remarked during a parent-teacher’s meeting. "I’ll admit, exercise may not cure everything, but it always helps."
With April came a provincial fitness assessment of sixth and seventh graders. This was a month-long program designed to test general fitness and strength of boys and girls. Some said it was too much, but others praised the idea.
"What better way to test everyone at once?" Grace said. "With childhood obesity running rampant almost everywhere, there has to be some way of controlling it. What better way to do it than to offer prizes to the fittest?"
In fact, there were prizes of some sort for everyone. The top students in their schools would receive blue, red or green badges. The award of excellence would go to the top sixth and seventh graders of the province. Everyone else would get participation pins. These prizes would be handed out during a special ceremony in mid May.
"I bet you’ll be one of the top three for our school," Paddy told Randy, "you’re a natural athlete. Think of it! The first kid in diapers to win first prize! That’d wipe the smirk off Margaret’s face for sure!"
"You’re not bad yourself," Randy said. "I may be a better runner than you, but you’re way better at the long-jump and chinning. And you beat me in gymnastics too. I’m too big for that."
This was true, of course. The two of them were evenly match when it came to coordination, but Paddy had an edge in upper body strength.
The program consisted of a series of activities aimed at testing strength, coordination and endurance, to be performed at regular intervals throughout the month. PE classes now became practice sessions for these tests, keeping everyone very busy. Even Margaret no longer had the chance to pester Randy or Paddy.
Poor Darwin was having a difficult time of it. His CP made it hard to complete many of the exercises, but Randy did his best to keep his spirits up. Cindy was also finding it a struggle.
"We must be the only disabled kids in this test," she said.
"I doubt it," Shane answered. "Remember, the are hundreds in the program. This is a provincial test, involving many different schools. Other kids with disabilities are certain to be involved, and probably aren’t lucky enough to have good friends to help them along."
The program ended with a one-mile endurance run, the hardest test of all. Randy and Paddy were to run on the afternoon of May first. That day, when Randy came home for lunch, both his parents were waiting.
"Randy," Grace said as they ate a light meal, "I’ve bought you some light-weight undies for the run. They’ll be more comfortable than your regular diapers, and easier to run in."
"How much will they hold?" Randy asked. The last thing he needed was to leak in the middle of the run.
Grace pulled a bag from beneath her chair and handed him a pair. They looked exactly like normal underwear, except that they were made of terry cloth, with extra layers in the center, and a thin, waterproof shell.
"There are two styles," Grace said. "The others are thicker, but don’t have the built-in shell. You’d have to wear plastic pants."
After a moment’s thought, Randy chose the thicker pair. They’d be sure to last. The plastic pants were thinner than the ones he wore with his diapers and tighter. They were also the same colour as his shorts, so they wouldn’t be noticed.
Randy didn’t change his diaper before going back to school. There’d be a chance before the run began. He hurried to the gym and changed in to PE strip with the others. There was to be a half-hour warm-up before the run. Mr. Bradley called the roll as usual, then the warm-up exercises started. Sixth and seventh graders were all together, so the gym was fairly crowded and noisy. Finally, Mr. Bradley called out, "If anyone needs to use the washroom, now’s your chance. Meet Mrs. Neilson and I at the track when you’re done."
Randy fetched the training pants and their plastics from his locker and hastened to the washroom. The undies felt a little strange at first, but once he’d pulled up his shorts, it wasn’t much different from a thin diaper. With the loose-fitting shorts, he found he could move much more freely. As he came out, Paddy passed him on his way in. Randy waited outside the washroom. When paddy emerged, he was wearing a thin, disposable diaper under his shorts.
"Couldn’t your mum get you some pants like mine?" Randy asked as they headed for the track.
"There weren’t any in my size," Paddy answered.
Out on the track, the teachers were giving students last-minute reminders about not starting too fast and about keeping a steady pace. Each student was given a name sticker to wear on their right breast. Then they were off.
At first, Paddy and Randy were side by side. After two laps, however, Paddy fell a little way behind. By the third lap, Randy was in the lead. His long legs proved a big advantage. As he began the final lap, he felt a surge of excitement. The nearest runners were close behind, but their footsteps were faltering. He began to increase his pace until, for the last 200 meters, he was almost sprinting.
"Keep it up, Randy!" shouted Mr. Bradley from the side.
Randy finished the run two yards ahead of a trio of girls. There was a burst of applause from the staff as he crossed the line and went in to a gradual run-off. As he stopped, Mr. Bradley came up to him.
"Excellent, Randy!" he cried, slapping him on the back. "7-59!"
Randy couldn’t believe his ears. He’d been so busy concentrating on the run itself, he’d lost all sense of time. He stood for a minute, hands on knees, breathing hard. As he straightened up, Paddy staggered to a halt beside him.
"8-20 for you, Paddy!" Mr. Bradley called. "Well done! Better start your cool-down, both of you."
This they did, jogging slowly back towards the school building. They did one lap of the playing field, then went in to change.
"I think we were the first boys to finish," Paddy remarked as they put on their diapers after showering.
"Really?" Randy asked. "I wasn’t paying attention."
Other boys were now coming in. All were flushed and sweaty. Some took quick showers, others simply splashed water over their heads or faces. Ralph was one of the last to finish. He came in looking exhausted and clutching a stitch in his side.
"They won’t be giving me anything," Randy heard him mutter as he passed.
* * *
"How did it go?" Grace asked as Randy came to meet her after school.
"7-59!" Randy answered.
Grace’s face became radiant with pride. "Wonderful!" she exclaimed, hugging her son tightly. "You’re sure to win a prize with that. How did Paddy do?"
Randy told her.
"I didn’t hear. Nor Cindy."
At that moment, Mrs. Oliver appeared, Followed by Darwin. The boy had a bandage on one knee, but his face glowed.
"9 minutes!" he shouted when he saw Randy.
"Great!" Randy called back.
"Excellent!" Grace put in. "What happened to your knee?"
"I tripped at the end," Darwin explained, "right after I crossed the line."
"Too bad," Grace said. "But at least you finished. Have you seen Cindy?"
"She finished just ahead of me," Darwin said. "I didn’t hear her time, though."
When Shane learned of Randy’s performance in the endurance run, he was as proud as Grace had been.
"It proves what I said," he joked. "Diapers won’t stop you!" It’ll be interesting to see what happens on awards day. Wonder how Ralph did."
"He was one of the last," Randy said. "I didn’t expect much else. He’s not much good at anything that involves hard work."
"He might be," Grace hinted, "if he hadn’t wasted so much time and energy teasing people."
Shane and Randy nodded in agreement. "He hasn’t teased anybody since the fitness program started," Randy observed.
"Probably too tired," Shane guessed.
The rest of the week was routine. The count-down to the final tests was on, and everyone busied themselves with reviewing material and finishing projects and assignments. Also, there was the science fair, to be held at the beginning of June. Neither Randy nor Paddy were participating in it, but they had enough to do with studying.
Awards day came, and a school assembly was held in which the badges were prevented. It began with the singing of O Canada, then Mr. Goldman stepped to the podium. There was a quiver of anticipation in the air as he gave a short introductory speech. Finally he said,
"And now, let us prevent the fitness awards for our school. The awards will be presented by Mr. Bradley, head of our physical education department, as follows: seventh grade boys, seventh grade girls, sixth grade boys and finally sixth grade girls. The recipients of these awards have been selected based on their performance in the endurance run and their combined scores from the program as a whole. We ask that you refrain from applauding until each group of awards has been handed out."
Mr. Bradley now took the podium.
"Thank you, Mr. Goldman," he said. "This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the presentation of the provincial fitness awards. In third place for seventh grade boys, with a running time of 8 minutes 45 seconds, and a total of 72 points, Homer Chase!"
A slim, curly-haired boy marched up to the podium to accept his badge. He bowed, then stepped over to a position next to Mr. Goldman.
"In second place," Mr. Bradley continued, "with a run of 8 minutes 30 seconds, and 79 points, Toby North!"
Randy gave Toby the thumbs-up as he passed. Toby winked in returned.
"And in first place," Mr. Bradley said, his voice quivering slightly with emotion, "with a time of 7 minutes 59 seconds, and a total of 86 points, Randy Wolfe!"
Randy’s heart missed a beat. His legs trembled as he made his way forward. Several of his classmates applauded despite the request not to. As he accepted the gold badge and moved over to join the other two, he saw that he was facing a large camera which he had not noticed before. Mr. Goldman gave hurried instructions, and all three boys stood in a row, holding up their badges. There was a sharp click, a flash, and everyone burst in to applause.
The winners for the seventh grade girls were: Ellen Murray in third, Ruth Chapman in second, and Rebecca Stamp in first.
Next came the sixth grade boys: Jimmy Quinlen in third, Keith Morrison in second, and Paddy Manning in first.
None of the sixth grade girls were familiar to Randy. He felt sorry that Cindy hadn’t placed among the top three, but was still proud of her for trying.
"Congratulations to all of you," Mr. Bradley said. "Those of you who did not place among the top three for your grades will receive participation pins in the mail within the next week. All badge winners will be nominated for the top boy and girl in the province."
The assembly concluded with the singing of God Save the Queen, then everyone filed out. Paddy caught up to Randy outside the gym and they high-fived each other all the way to the cloakroom.
"I told you you’d win!" Paddy shouted. "I told you!"
"And I said you’d win too!" Randy answered, grinning.
That night, the Mannings treated the Wolfes to a sumptuous dinner by way of celebration.
"Who would have thought," Mrs. Manning remarked. "That the only diapered students in the school would both win first place."
"I thought you were joking when you said that," Randy told Paddy.
The last few weeks of school passed quickly. Grace received word of the summer camp for disabled kids from Cindy’s parents and signed Randy up. She and Mrs. Manning agreed that his presence might inspire any others who needed diapers full time to be more open and relaxed about the problem. She even signed Paddy up for the camp.
"How are we going to pack enough diapers?" Randy asked.
"I’m afraid you’ll probably have to use disposables," Grace said. "There was nothing said in the papers about access to laundry facilities."
"That’ll make an awful lot of garbage," Randy said.
"It will," Grace agreed. "That’s what I don’t approve of. I’m sure arrangements could be made for diaper service or something. It could even be a volunteer job for local women. I’m tempted to talk to the camp director about it."
The final report cards came out. Randy had straight A minuses. His friends also did very well. Even Cindy came through with B’s in everything except science, which was a C plus.
" Are you guys going away this summer?" Paddy asked the Morrisons.
"No," Lanny answered. "Grandma and Grandpa Morrison are coming out from Toronto to see us. So are Uncle Mark and Aunt Vicky."
"All your dad’s relatives?" Randy asked.
"Yes," Keith said.
"That’ll be fun," Grace said. "Do you have reunions like this regularly?"
"No," Keith replied, "but we try to divide holidays among us. We’re going east next Christmas."
They all got together for a last visit before the camp. Even Darwin came over with his dad. Roger Oliver was a tall, broad-shouldered man who always seemed to be smiling. He kept everyone laughing with jokes and little stories. He wasn’t at all bothered by the fact that Paddy and Randy were clad only in diapers and t-shirts.
"After all," he said, "those plastic pants don’t look much different from shorts. I had to wear diapers for a year after my accident."
"Really?" Randy asked in amazement. Here was another adult who’d needed diapers, if only for a short time. "How did you get your control back?"
"It wasn’t easy," Roger admitted, "but I kept trying. Doctors say it was partly luck."
Barry dropped in that afternoon. When Randy and Paddy showed him their badges, he was all smiles.
"Is this fitness thing going to be an annual event?" he asked.
"We haven’t heard yet," Shane answered, "but personally, I’d push for it. It’d give kids something to look forward to and work for.
They had a delicious barbecue dinner that evening, and everyone stayed quite late.
"Guess what?" Darwin said suddenly as he and Randy helped to clean up. "I’m going to the camp too!"
"Are you?" Randy asked, startled. "Why didn’t you tell us earlier?"
"I wanted to surprise you," Darwin giggled. Everyone laughed.
"You’re just like your dad," Grace said.
"Like father like son!" Roger chuckled, nodding vigourously.
The Olivers were the first to leave.
"Thanks for the dinner, Grace," Roger said. "See you at camp, Randy."
The others left soon afterwards.
"I guess we won’t see you till after the camp," Lanny said. "Make sure you remember everything so you can tell us."
"I will," Randy promised, "if my head doesn’t explode!"
The Morrisons left laughing. Randy helped Shane to put away the barbecue, then went to get ready for bed. It was the perfect end to a busy year, and a busy, fun-filled summer lay ahead.
Author’s note: I hope you’ve enjoyed this, my first ever diaper tale.
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