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I was a child of the baby boom but you couldn’t have proven it by my neighborhood. I reckoned that my parents had bought the only house in America that had no other kids within walking or biking distance. I once questioned my parents about it but they told me I was being silly. They pointed out that I had lots of friends at school and that there was no reason for me to be bored while at home—the older people in the neighborhood were kind to me, and I did get more than my share of cookies and other treats from them. But that wasn’t what I wanted. I longed for a friend to do things with, someone who would always be around so that we could do things spontaneously without having to make plans days in advance.
In January 1962 my wishes came true when the McMorgans sold their house and moved to Florida. Before they left they told me that the family that was moving in had two boys, the oldest was in the seventh grade and the youngest wasn’t in school yet. Two weeks after the McMorgans left I was still waiting for the new family to move in.
“Billy,” my mom warned me for about the millionth time, “settle down. The new people won’t move in any faster because you look out the window every two minutes.”
Finally, a moving van showed up early one Saturday morning. I was totally frustrated when my mom forbade me to go over there.
“But what if he knows that there’s another kid his age in the neighborhood? I don’t want him to think that I’m ignoring him. Please, ple-e-e-e-e-ase let me go over.”
No amount of begging helped (in fact, it probably hurt) so I didn’t get to meet him until the next Monday when our teacher introduced him, Tim Perals, to our class. He seemed really nice, if a little on the shy side. At morning recess I introduced myself, Billy Murgon.
“My mom wouldn’t let me near your house on Saturday or Sunday when you were moving in,” I explained. “Do you like it here so far?”
“Yeah, it’s really nice. We used to live in an apartment. I hated it—there was no yard or anything. On top of that, there were a couple of kids in the building who were bullies and made everybody’s life miserable.”
Over the next few weeks Tim and I hung around together a lot. We got along really well and spent most of our free time doing things together. I told him about my family (my dad was a banker) and that I had an older sister who was just finishing up college. He told me that his dad was a civil engineer and that his mom stayed home to take care of his little brother.
As our friendship grew I began noticing odd things. For instance, he never invited me inside his house even though he had been inside mine (including my bedroom) several times. One day as I was walking down the street, I heard a little kid inside his house screeching at the top of his lungs. The next time I saw Tim I asked him if his little brother was sick.
“No,” he answered abruptly, “Carl is fine. He just gets like that sometimes.”
He immediately changed the subject and I let it drop. As time went by, I heard the same thing a couple more times. It also occurred to me that I had never seen Tim’s brother. At first, I thought that he was a little baby, but the way Tim talked about him made me guess that he must have been at least seven or eight years old. I wondered why he wasn’t going to school. It was a mystery that was beginning to bug me a little bit. I mentioned these things to my parents and they told me that it was none of my business and that I should stay out of it. I tried to, but I became more and more curious.
Spring break was approaching so Tim and I started making plans about the things we would do during our time off. Our first goal was to try to get our parents to allow us go to the movies by ourselves at least once, if not twice. We were starting to discuss other things when Tim made a surprising proposal.
“Would you want to come over to my house some morning or afternoon? My mom wants me to invite you over for lunch.”
“Well, if you want me to,” I answered tentatively.
“Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I don’t want you to come… it’s just that my brother can be such a pain.”
This was the first time he had ever introduced the subject of his brother. I wanted to ask a whole bunch of questions but I thought it would be better to keep my big mouth shut.
“It’s… well, it’s not easy to explain. My brother is hard to handle sometimes; it’s not his fault and I know I shouldn’t complain about it but he can really wreck a day.”
“I would like to see your house,” I responded, “that is, if you think it’ll be OK.”
“It’ll be OK,” he said. “My mom is really good at handling him.”
I was even more curious than before and found it difficult to wait the three days before going over there. I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t see Carl during my visit. Tim said that this wasn’t unusual because his brother was extremely shy around strangers. Tim showed me the house and we went up to his room. A short time later, Mrs. Perals came upstairs to see how we were doing. After she left, I watched her open the door to the room across the hall and enter. She said hello to Carl and closed the door behind her. I heard her voice every now and then but I never heard any answers. Tim caught on that I was paying more attention to what might be going on across the hall than to what he was saying.
“You’re wondering about what’s going on in Carl’s room, aren’t you?” he asked.
“Sorry,” I apologized. “It’s none of my business.”
“My mom thinks that I should tell you about Carl—because we’re friends—but she explains it a lot better than I can. Do you want me to ask her to explain it to you?”
“Yeah, that is if your mom wants to.”
During lunch, Mrs. Perals told me that Carl was autistic. I didn’t know what that meant but she was good at putting it into words that I could understand.
“Carl has a condition called ‘autism.’ It’s only within the last twenty years that doctors started giving a name to this condition. In Carl’s case, his autism manifests itself in several ways. Carl has not learned to speak yet. I try to work with him every day but progress is very slow. Also, he doesn’t adapt to changes very well. He can become quite upset if his routine is interrupted or if his surroundings are changed.”
“Will my visit today upset him?” I asked sincerely.
“No, Billy, it’s OK for you to come over whenever you want. You see, Carl doesn’t come out of his room very much so, while he probably knows that you’re here, your visit doesn’t actually interfere with his normal day.”
She paused for a few seconds before continuing.
“I happen to think that Carl is very bright in a lot of areas. I know that he is aware of almost everything that goes on in this house, even though he doesn’t always show it. That’s one of the awful things about this condition—people who have it have a very hard time socializing and being around other people. Maybe it’s because they have an exaggerated need for everything to be the same… There is one other thing,” she added, “he still wears diapers all the time—he’s never been able to go without them.”
Tim and I spent the afternoon playing ball in his backyard. I couldn’t get Carl off my mind. I felt sorry for him and wondered if anything could be done to help him.
“The doctors say that my parents should put Carl in an institution but my mom won’t hear of it. She reads everything that is written about autism and spends most of the day with Carl trying to teach him things. Most of the time he just ignores her but she keeps trying anyway.”
“Gee, your mom is really dedicated, isn’t she?” I observed.
“Yeah, I guess so,” he answered without conviction. “I just wish that she had some time for me, too.”
I had never thought about how much time my parents devoted to me. Since my sister, Julie, was eight years older, I had never felt that she and I were in competition for our parents’ attention. I guess it was natural for Tim to feel somewhat neglected.
“Do you ever try to do stuff with Carl?” I asked.
“Yeah, of course,” he answered. “Only I don’t see that it does any good. I think that he and I used to get along better when we were both littler.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, he has always pretty much ignored me but in the last few years he’s started having these really bad tantrums where he comes into my room and throws his diapers and plastic pants at me.”
“His diapers and plastic pants?” I said in surprise. “Nothing else?”
“No, never anything else. It’s kind of weird.”
“Yeah.” I agreed.
We were silent for a few seconds and an idea came into my head.
“You’re going to think that this is really weird but I think I know why your brother throws his diapers at you.”
“You do?” he asked skeptically.
“Well, maybe… I don’t know. Do you think that Carl can remember a time when you used to wear diapers, too ?”
“Yeah,” he answered slowly, “ that’s possible.”
“Then couldn’t it be that he’s mad at you because you don’t wear them anymore. I mean, your mom did say that Carl doesn’t like it when things change, right?”
“Yeah, she did… but… I don’t know. It seems a little farfetched.”
The next day, I went over to Tim’s house excited that my parents had given me permission to take the bus with him to go to the movies. His parents had also agreed but he didn’t seem as excited as I was.
“Don’t you want to go anymore?” I asked.
“Sure, I do,” he answered. “It’s just that something else has come up.”
“What’s happened? Did your parents put conditions on our going?”
“No, not exactly,” he assured me. “Last night, I told my mom and dad about your idea that Carl might be mad at me because I don’t wear diapers anymore. They think that you could be right. They want me to do an experiment to test your idea.”
“What kind of experiment?”
“They want me to wear diapers to see if that might make Carl more calm around me.”
“Really?” I asked in surprise. “For how long?”
“As long as it takes to be sure if it works or not,” he answered glumly. “They said that I don’t have to but I know that my mom will be really disappointed if I don’t.”
“Gee, I’m sorry I said anything. I kind of feel like it’s my fault… I’ll do anything to help,” I said after a short pause.
“You will? Thanks!” he said. “If we work together on this we can probably shorten the amount of time the experiment will take.”
“How’s that?” I asked, confused.
“Don’t you see? If we’re both in diapers we’ll be able to convince my mom even faster that the way we’re dressed won’t make any difference in Carl’s behavior.”
“Me? Wear diapers, too? In front of your mom and dad?” I screeched.
“You said you’d do anything,” he said accusingly. “Didn’t you mean it?”
“Sure, I did,” I answered. “But how can my wearing diapers help?”
“Look,” he began explaining patiently, “you haven’t met Carl yet but he doesn’t take well to strangers. My mom has got this idea that Carl will feel more relaxed around people who wear diapers, and me in particular. If you help me in the experiment we can prove that diapers have nothing to do with anything.”
I took a few seconds for me to put my finger on the faultiness of his reasoning.
“But won’t my involvement complicate things even worse?” I asked. “If I get involved in the experiment and we prove that Carl won’t come near me, you mom will still want you to keep on trying all alone, won’t she?”
“Maybe,” he said after a short pause. “But at least she’ll already know that the experiment is a long shot. She won’t be expecting it to succeed—she might even give it up sooner. Please help me—I don’t want to spend months in diapers all alone at home.”
I came up with one more roadblock to my involvement in the experiment.
“I don’t know that my parents would allow me to get involved in something like this,” I said. “I don’t know how I would explain it to them, either. It seems so… embarrassing.”
“Will you let my mom explain it to them?”
“I guess so,” I answered shakily.
We had to wait about a half-hour for Tim’s mom to come out of Carl’s room. Tim told her about his idea and my reluctance to ask my parents about it. I was relieved that she didn’t answer right away. I assumed that she was looking for a gentle way to let Tim down.
“That’s a very generous offer that you’re making, Billy. I don’t think that there are too many boys who would put themselves forward like you just did.”
I blushed at her compliments and looked down at the floor.
“You are also very perceptive. You pinpointed a possible cause for Carl’s behavior towards Tim that none of us had thought of before. I think that it would be very good if you could participate in the experiment, too. You might notice other things that no one in the family would see. Thank you very much for offering.”
She bent down and kissed me on the cheek. I was shocked (and not because of the kiss) that she was apparently accepting my offer. Tim became very excited.
“Thank you, thank you,” he repeated several times. “I owe you.”
“Settle down, Tim,” his mom said. “I haven’t spoken to Billy’s mother yet. She might not agree that it’s a good idea.”
My heartbeat started slowing down again. Please, mom, I thought, say no.
We went back up to Tim’s room while his mom called my mom. I didn’t hear any of the conversation but I knew what my mom’s answer had been as soon as I saw the expression on Mrs. Perals face.
“Everything is settled,” she said happily. “Your mom was thrilled to hear that you’re being so generous. She is very proud of you.”
I smiled as best I could and nodded my head. I was afraid that if I tried to say anything the words would get stuck in my throat.
“We can start after lunch while Carl is taking his nap. Your mom volunteered to go the to pharmacy to pick up a supply of diapers, plastic pants, and other necessities to outfit both of you for a couple of days.”
I was shocked but not surprised. My parents always set high standards for my sister and me. I guess my mom thought that what I was doing was worthwhile so she would get involved, too. Neither Tim nor I was looking forward to this experiment, although he thanked me several times for volunteering to join him. I was too polite to contradict him—it seemed to me that he had ‘volunteered’ me and not the other way around. For the rest of the morning, time seemed to be all screwed up. Sometimes it felt like it was crawling and other times it felt like it was flying by. The only constant was the dread I felt at being put back into diapers. I hoped that Tim was right—namely, that everything would be over in a couple of days.
My mom showed up around 11:30 with an armload of diapers and plastic pants.
“Why do we need all of those for just a couple of days?” I asked.
My mom and Mrs. Perals chuckled a little bit.
“You obviously don’t know how many diapers a baby goes through every day. These are Tim’s supply of diapers; yours are at home,” my mom explained.
“I have as many as this at home?” I asked in horror. “Why are they at home? I thought that I would be wearing them here.”
“You will,” my mom answered. “But, you don’t expect Mrs. Perals to take care of washing your dirty diapers, do you?”
This time it wasn’t just my voice shaking—I was also having trouble standing up. My mom took me home for lunch. I don’t remember what we ate but I remember trying to stretch it out for as long as I could. Eventually, my mom lost patience.
“You’ve spent enough time at the table; finish your milk and go up to your room.”
I maked the milk down and went upstairs feeling like I was going to jail. My mom tried to put a positive spin on what was going to happen.
“You know, Billy, dad and I have always been proud of you. What you’ve volunteered to do for Tim’s brother is very decent and dad was very pleased to hear of the sacrifice that you’re going to make.”
The more my mom spoke the guiltier I felt about hating what was about to happen. Everybody seemed to be proud of what I was doing but I just felt angry and scared. I was mad at Tim for putting me on the spot; I was beginning to suspect that he had set me up on purpose. And then there was the matter of my school friends. If word of this got out to any of them, would they think I was doing something noble? I doubted it; I was pretty sure that they would just laugh at me and call me all sorts of names.
“OK, Billy, take off your shirt, pants, and underpants and then lie down on the changing mat on the bed.”
Even though my mind knew that I wouldn’t be putting on my own diapers I hesitated to follow my mom’s instructions. It had been a long time since I had been naked before her. She waited patiently and I eventually found myself lying on the changing pad. My mom moved my hands away from my crotch and began to clean the area with a warm washcloth.
“We have to be very careful about rashes,” she explained. “It’s important that you be perfectly clean each time you get put into a fresh diaper. When you were a newborn… roll over so I can clean your backside… I wasn’t doing a good enough job of it and in about two weeks you had a tremendous rash. Nothing like that had ever happened with your sister when she was little so I was shocked. The doctor told me that certain babies have more sensitive skin than others. Anyway, we don’t want that to happen again.”
After I rolled over again, I watched as mom folded three diapers together. She asked me to lift up so that she could position them under me. They felt soft and fluffy. The powder came next. It felt cool against my skin as my mom shook it on and very relaxing as she spread it around. It smelled good, too.
“You’re not a little baby anymore so I’ll be using two pins on each side to keep your diapers secure. You wouldn’t want your wet and soiled diapers falling down all the time, would you?” she asked with a chuckle.
I wasn’t ready for diaper humor… Actually, I wasn’t ready for diapers at all. I felt myself panicking.
“Mom, why do I have to do this at all?” I asked in a tense voice.
Mom stopped pinning the diapers.
“Honey, I know that this must be awfully scary for you. I have to say that I was surprised when Mrs. Perals told me you had agreed to do this experiment. Did Tim make you into it?”
“No,” I answered, “I don’t think so. I’m the one who said I would do anything to help. I didn’t think he would take it the way he did.”
“Oh,” my mom continued, “I see. You do understand that the word ‘anything’ really does mean any thing, right? But, if it’s too hard for you… do you want to back out now?”
“No!” I answered strongly. “”It’s… it’s… I just wish I didn’t have to do this,” I said pointing to my diapers.
“Listen, Billy, I have a good feeling about this. I think that in a few months you’re going to be very happy with yourself for having helped out Tim and Mr. & Mrs. Perals, and, most especially, Carl—even if nothing comes of the experiment.”
“I know,” I said (trying to convince myself that it was true).
“Are you ready to finish up?”
My mom fastened the remaining pins. The diapers felt awfully tight but I assumed that she knew what she was doing. She then guided the plastic pants over my sneakers and pulled them up my legs. I lifted up again so she could pull them over the diapers. The leg opening and waistband also felt very tight. I guess this was good—it didn’t want these sliding off either when my diapers were wet or soiled. Soiled? Did my mom really say that my diapers would be soiled?”
“Mom, do I really have to use my diapers?”
“Yes. For everything,” she answered. Mrs. Perals and I agreed that that would be the only way to convince Carl that you really do wear diapers. She said that Carl, like you, notices everything even though he doesn’t show it.”
I couldn’t believe it. I would have to talk to Tim about this. There had to be some other way.
“That’s also why you’ll be wearing diapers twenty-fours a day, so that you’ll start to feel natural in them. Now, get up and let’s see if your diapers are properly tucked in.”
She ran her finger along the edges of the leg openings causing me to giggle. This sidetracked me from thinking about wearing diapers twenty-four hours a day.
“See, it can’t be that bad if you can still laugh. Here, put this t-shirt on… it goes well with the diapers.”
I put on the yellow-and-white striped t-shirt. She was right—it was perfect for wearing with diapers… unfortunately.
“What about pants?” I asked.
It was clear that my regular pants would never fit over these bulging diapers.
“You won’t need any,” she answered matter-of-factly. “Carl never wears them unless he’s being taken out somewhere, mostly to the doctor. Besides, he doesn’t like them so it’s actually better that you and Tim don’t wear any either.
“How will I get over to Tim’s?” I shouted in panic.
“Shouting won’t help anything, Billy. You’ll walk, of course.”
“But the neighbors will see me!” I said just as loudly as my last statement.
“Billy, there’s no need to shout,” my mom answered irritably. “As you’ve pointed out many times, there are no other kids your age in this neighborhood and, while I was at the pharmacy, I ran into Mrs. Harrels. I explained to her why I was buying diapers and plastic pants. She was very impressed with what you and Tim are doing. I’m sure she’ll explain to the other neighbors why you boys are back in diapers.”
I wanted to be indignant that my mom had told a neighbor; however, I was too unsettled to put my thoughts into words. How could she? Tim and I were going to be the talk of the neighborhood! This couldn’t be happening—I was going to wake up soon and find out that this was just some weird dream. I was going to laugh really hard at how silly it all was.
I had been avoiding looking at myself in the mirror because I knew that I would look ridiculous. However, curiosity was getting the better of me. I walked into my parents’ room and opened the closet door to see my reflection in their full-length mirror. I looked much worse than I had imagined. The triple diapers gave me a baby-like roundness from any angle. My body hadn’t started maturing yet and my hairless legs still had plenty of baby-fat on them. Moreover, the yellow and white t-shirt took years off me. Frankly, I could have passed for a large seven year old. I was devastated.
A little while later the telephone rang. My mom picked it up and I listened to her half of the conversation.
“Hello… Yes, everything went fine… That’s right, triple… [There was no doubt that she was talking to Mrs. Perals.] Yes… Yes… It will take some time, yes… He’ll get used to it, I’m sure… Oh, yes. I’m sure… They’re both good kids… Uh huh, we’ve always been proud of Billy, too… Ok, I’ll take him over now… Right, good bye.”
My mom came to tell me that it was time to leave. I felt my courage desert me—my legs became wobbly, tears pooled into my eyes, and my hands began shaking uncontrollably. My mom, who could read my moods even in normal circumstances, hugged me.
I nodded my head.
“Why are you scared?”
“Because I look like a baby.”
“Do you feel like a baby? Are you about to do something babyish?”
“No,” I mumbled.
(Actually, I was beginning to feel an urgent need to wet my diapers, which certainly was babyish but I knew that that wasn’t what she meant.)
“I agree. You’re about to give up some of your time and some of your freedom to reach out to another person—a person who may never know that you’re there. On the other hand, what you’re doing might change that person’s life. There’s nothing babyish about taking that kind of a risk or offering that kind of service.”
“I know,” I mumbled again. “OK, I’m almost ready to go.”
“Almost?” my mom asked with raised eyebrows.
“Yeah,” I said with embarrassment, “My diapers are wet. Could you check them, please?”
She assured me that my diapers could hold out for at least one or two more wettings. She did caution me that every time I soiled my diapers I was to notify Mrs. Perals immediately. The idea of soiling my diapers left me with a dull pain in the stomach.
We walked out of the house and onto the street. I had never felt so self-conscious in all my life; I would have sworn that the curtains moved in several houses. It was only when we got to the Perals’ driveway that I became aware that my mother was holding my hand. Maybe she thought I would run away if given the chance. More likely, she did it to give me a sense of security and a sort of vote of confidence. As I walked along and peed my diaper for the second time in five minutes I didn’t feel very confident… and, my diaper was getting really heavy.
Mrs. Perals Greeted us at the door, “Come in. Tim is in his room.”
Mrs. Perals and my mom stayed in the kitchen. Tim was sitting on the floor looking even more glum than I felt. I was relieved that he was wearing the same kind of triple diapers, plastic pants, and striped t-shirt as me. He had a bunch of Civil Was army soldiers strewn in front of him.
“Hi,” I said. “Is that a real Civil War battle or are you just goofing around?
“Just goofing around,” he answered. He looked at me closely. “Looks like we both got the same treatment, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“You’re pretty wet,” he said flatly.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “How about you?”
“I’ve been holding out but I don’t think I can last much longer.”
I sat down opposite him and we began an imaginary battle against each other. A few minutes into the battle, Tim suddenly stopped. He looked into my eyes and I heard the hissing sound of him peeing his diapers. He started turning red in embarrassment and then looked away. (I was embarrassed, too.) The noise seemed to go on for a long time. Tim didn’t look toward me but stared at the play soldiers for about a minute.
“We’re in bigger trouble than I thought,” he finally said.
“Trouble? What kind of trouble?”
I was already depressed and scared—I resented having to think about even worse things.
“I was wrong when I said that my mom would let us off the hook after two or three days if Carl didn’t show some kind of positive response to our diapers. She says that that’s not fair to him. She says that his brain doesn’t work like ours and that it might take weeks for him to notice. She says that I have to continue with the experiment for at least six weeks.”
“But, that’s almost all the way to the end of school!”
“And school’s another thing,” he added. “I have to wear my diapers everywhere, all the time.”
“But what about pants? You can’t go around school without pants!”
“Of course not,” he answered testily, “my mom will get me some to fit over my diapers and plastic pants.”
His eyes were beginning to tear up. I didn’t blame him. What an awful thought—to be sent to school in diapers!
“Maybe the school won’t allow you to wear diapers,” I suggested.
“Yeah, maybe… but my mom is pretty persuasive. I think she’ll get her way no matter what I or they say.”
Boy, was he ever trapped. My situation didn’t seem so bad after all.
“I’ll carry out my bargain… for the whole six weeks… I mean, I’ll wear diapers when I’m home or when I come over here. I promise.”
I hoped that I had said that clearly enough. I didn’t want any more misunderstandings that might result in my being maked to do stuff I didn’t want to do.
“Thanks,” he said.
Mrs. Perals walked into Tim’s room.
“Carl will probably wake up in a few minutes. How are you guys doing?”
“My mom told me to tell you when I need my diaper changed. I think I need to go home,” I said.
I didn’t look forward to walking back to my house alone, except that it seemed preferable to staying here and having my plastic pants leak. I had wet again (nervousness, I guess) and my diaper felt awfully soaked.
“No, honey, that’s not what your mom meant. I’ll take care of you, right now… just like your mom will take care of Tim when he’s over at your house,” Mrs. Perals explained.
While I was happy that I wouldn’t have to walk back to my house in a diaper I felt funny about Tim’s mom seeing my… diaper area. Also, I was really soaked. What would she think? I had only been in these diapers for about ninety minutes.
“How about you, Billy?” his mom asked. “Do you need a change?”
“Umm, I guess so,” he answered vaguely.
“Get up and let me check… Oh my, you’re soaked. In fact, I think we made a mistake in the choice of daytime diapers. Both of you definitely need heavier diapers.”
Now what? I thought as another wave of dread overtook me. She opened Tim’s closet and pulled out two thick flannel diapers and heavyweight plastic pants.
“It’s a good thing that we (my mother and her) only opened up a few of the packages of daytime diapers that we bought—we’re going to have to return the rest, and the plastic pants that go with them. We’re going to switch you to these heavyweight diapers during the day. I suppose that this also means that we’ll need to get you even heavier ones for nighttime.” Switching gears completely, she added, “Carl is still asleep so let’s be very quiet going into his room.”
I wondered why we were getting our diapers changed in Carl’s room until I figured out that she wanted to use Carl’s changing table. I got up on the table and lied down. I took the opportunity to take a quick glance around the room. It was decorated more like a baby’s room than an eight year old’s. Carl was asleep in a large crib. (Mrs. Perals later told me that this was because Carl moved around a lot in his sleep and fell out of regular beds.)
“Lift up, Billy, so I can take your plastic pants off,” Mrs. Perals whispered softly.
I complied and the plastic pants were quickly removed. The smell of pee became strong and I blushed. Mrs. Perals unpinned the soaking diapers and cleaned my diaper area. She slid the new diaper under me. It felt soft and extremely thick.
“This is a pre-folded diaper,” Mrs. Perals explained. “It is made out of two layers of flannel with four additional layers of terry cloth in the center strip. This ought to hold you for a couple of hours at least.”
She adjusted the diaper and began to pin it up. I was appalled by the way the diaper completely covered my stomach and stopped just below my ribcage. I could feel it rise very high on my back, too. If Mrs. Perals had been my mother I’m sure that I would have protested loudly but, since I barely knew her, I kept quiet. She pulled the plastic pants up my legs and they sealed me in. I got up and had to hold onto the table while Mrs. Perals checked to see that the diaper was completely encased inside my plastic pants—the diaper was so thick between my legs that I could hardly keep my balance. I sank into an even bigger depression. These diapers were huge by comparison to the first ones and the plastic pants made crinkly sounds at the slightest movement. Judging by the look on his face, Tim was as unhappy as I was over this turn of events. The only point of comfort for me was that I had already made it clear that I would not, under any circumstance, wear diapers to school. I felt really bad about what lay ahead for Tim. Mrs. Perals diapered him and we stumbled our way back to his room.
“Oh, God,” was Tim’s only comment.
“Yeah,” I answered, understanding him completely.
There was no way that things could get any worse for him.
“I’ll never be able to hide these diapers under my pants. I’ve got to get my mom to let me wear the thinner diapers to school,” he said in a choked voice.
“Yeah,” I answered sympathetically.
Mrs. Perals, who had stayed in Carl’s room, came out to tell us that he was just waking up.
“I want you boys to go outside and play where Carl can see you from his window,” she said.
“But that’s the front yard! People will see us.” Tim protested.
“I know that,” she said in an irritated voice. “I’ve already explained to you that the neighbors know all about what you boys are doing and why you’re doing it. Now, go!”
We cautiously made our way downstairs and out the side door.
“Now what?” I asked nervously.
“Do you want to play with Carl’s Tonka trucks?”
“What??” I asked incredulously.
“Just kidding. Let’s get my football out of the garage.”
As far as I could tell, Carl didn’t see us (or didn’t pay any attention to us) during the hour that we tossed the football around. But, lots of neighbors did. At least our activity gave us a chance to learn how to walk and run in our new diapers.
Mrs. Perals invited us to come back inside the house. She had prepared milk and cookies.
“I have to go over to Billy’s house for a few minutes. Carl is in his room. Keep an eye on him until I get back.”
She left carrying three large shopping bags—the diapers and plastic pants that were being returned. We sat silently eating our milk and cookies. Tim sighed loudly; I sighed loudly. What else was there to say? This school vacation wasn’t turning out anything like we thought it would.
Mrs. Perals returned just a few minutes later. We were still at the table finishing our snack.
“I’m back,” she said stating the obvious. “Are you finished?”
“Yeah, I guess, so” Tim answered sullenly.
“Good,” she answered, ignoring Tim’s bad mood. “Let’s go up to Carl’s room and see if he wants to play.”
“But, mom…,” Tim began.
“I know… but things are different now.”
I puzzled over this exchange as we made our way up the stairs. Mrs. Perals led the way into Carl’s room. He was sitting on a window seat, looking out toward the street. He didn’t turn around or acknowledge our presence in any way. I felt a little uncomfortable in his presence. A toy village with cars, roads, and garages was set up on the floor.
“Oh, look. Carl has set up his village,” Mrs. Perals observed. “Why don’t you boys play for a while?”
Tim had a funny look on his face. He shrugged his shoulders and sat down on the floor. I joined him. Mrs. Perals excused herself and left the room.
“So what do we do?” I asked.
“I guess we play,” Tim answered.
In the beginning it felt kind of funny acting like a four-year old, pushing our cars around the roads, having imaginary crashes, and filling up our tanks at the gas station. But Tim and I loosened up quickly and we were soon making vrooming and screeching-brake noises to accompanying our play. It was actually kind of fun. Despite our best efforts, though, Carl didn’t pay any attention to us.
Mrs. Perals returned about a half-hour later.
“I think that’s enough for today, boys. Why don’t you find something else to do? I almost forgot… before you go, let me check your diapers.”
I was glad that we didn’t need to be changed. I would have felt really uncomfortable getting my diaper changed with Carl in the room—even if he was totally ignoring me. Tim suggested that we watch TV. We turned it on just in time for the Three Stooges. During the first commercial break I wanted to talk to Tim about what had just happened (or, in my mind, didn’t happen) in Carl’s room.
“I guess it proves that you were right,” he said.
“Huh? How do you figure that?” I answered in surprise.
“It’s been a long time since I went into Carl’s without him making a big fuss. You saw him today—he even let us play with his toys! Even though you probably think he was ignoring us, he wasn’t. He knew exactly what we were doing and he let us continue doing it. Even more amazing, he let you, a stranger, into his room. He usually screeches in terror when people he doesn’t know get near him. It’s got to be the diapers that make the difference.”
Mrs. Perals must have overheard us. We jumped a little bit when she spoke from the doorway.
“You’re right. Timmy. Isn’t this exciting? What a change you boys have brought about! Billy, I can’t thank you enough for suggesting diapers as the solution. I’m sure that Carl will be more receptive to learning if you boys are helping out. But, in order to build on today’s success, you have to make sure that he never sees you out of diapers. You do promise that you will always wear diapers until Carl learns everything he can possibly learn?”
“OK,” we answered.
Her eyes glistened with tears as she bent down and gave each of us a kiss on the cheek before leaving the room.
“What made you change your mind?” Tim asked.
“About what?” I responded.
“About wearing diapers to school,” he explained.
“I’m not wearing diapers to school!” I objected.
“Then why did you just promise my mom that you would always wear diapers until Carl finishes learning?”
“I meant I would always were them over here,” I answered heatedly.
“That’s not what you said,” he said self-righteously.
“Well, it’s what I meant,” I answered in a tone that suggested that the discussion was over. “By the way,” I added, “how come your mom called you Timmy instead of Tim?”
A look of horror crossed his face. “Oh, brother! She hasn’t called me that since I was in second grade.”
“It must be the diapers,” I said smugly.
Near the end of the show, my mom arrived with Tim’s new diapers.
“Mr. Parker was very accommodating,” I heard my mom explain to Mrs. Perals, “he took back all the unopened packages. He also gave us the same 10% discount as before. Oh, by the way, I selected quieter plastic pants for the boys to wear during the day. I thought it would be less embarrassing for them.”
“Yes, I see,” Mrs. Perals answered.
“Here are the new nighttime diapers. They have four layers of flannel but the center section is made up of eight layers of terry cloth. I’m sure that they will do for overnight wear. If not, Mr. Parker says that he can order some diaper doublers from the manufacturer, although he agrees that that should be unnecessary. He doesn’t generally keep a lot of these in stock so he only had six on hand—I kept three for Billy. He says that the rest should arrive by next Tuesday.”
“Thank you so much for taking care of everything,” Mrs. Perals said. “Now, I have to tell you our little bit of news.”
In a very excited voice, she recounted how Tim and I had spent a half hour playing in Carl’s room and what his lack of objection meant.
“And, just a few minutes ago,” she concluded, “Timmy and Billy repeated their promise to stick with this until we were reasonably sure that Carl had progressed as far as he could go. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Billy’s willingness to wear diapers twenty-four hours a day.”
I didn’t hear my mom’s answer. I was distracted by Tim’s smug, “I told you so.”
I couldn’t believe that I had let myself get cornered again. There was no way that my mom and dad would let me break a promise that they thought I had made to Mrs. Perals.
“Yeah, Timmy,” I said sarcastically, “I guess we’re both in it all the way.”
My little jab seemed to bounce right off of him.
Tim and I agreed that having to poop our diapers was the most unreasonable request of the experiment. Mrs. Perals, however, was adamant that we needed to learn how to do this ‘naturally’ so that Carl would continue to accept us. Just thinking about it made me feel queasy. What made my first time even more traumatic was that it happened when my dad and I were alone.
After dinner on the first night that I was in diapers, my mother measured me for new pants and then went out to buy them. I decided to watch TV and a little while later my dad joined me. By the time the program was half over I really needed to poop. I was desperately holding it in because I didn’t want my dad to see me behave in such a babyish manner. Even though he knew all about the experiment (including that I had to use my diapers for all my bodily needs), I felt ashamed at using my diapers for that purpose in his presence. I started to squirm in discomfort.
“Are your diapers uncomfortable?” my dad asked.
“Kind of,” I replied.
I continued to squirm as I sat on the couch.
“Come here, Billy,” my dad said. “I’ll rub your back.”
This was my dad’s cure all for whatever ailed you. I guess it worked most of the time. Anyway, I got up from the couch and nearly lost it right then and there. Tears filled my eyes and started running down my cheeks.
“What’s the matter, son? Are you in pain?”
“I have to do number two really bad,” I sobbed.
He pulled me close to him and rubbed my back. I felt my bowels relax and when I bent my knees a little bit I started filling my diaper. The more I pooped the bigger my sobs got. When I was finished I could feel the heaviness of this seemingly huge mass of poop pulling down on my diaper.
“Finished?” my dad asked.
I nodded my head and continued to cry. I felt so embarrassed that my dad had witnessed my infantile behavior. Also, I wondered how long it would be before my mom got home to change me. The smell emanating from my backside was very unpleasant. This was definitely the most miserable experience of my life.
“I think we’d better get you changed before you get diaper rash.”
I stiffened noticeably under his embrace.
“What’s the matter?” he asked in a semi-serious way. “Don’t you think your old man knows how to change a diaper? Believe me, I changed lots of them when your sister and you were babies.”
This was news to me. I didn’t think that dads ever did things like that. (Remember, this was in 1962.) He led me upstairs. I couldn’t get my sobs under control. Each step I took caused the load in my diaper to shift, reminding me of what I had just done.
“It’s almost nine o’clock,” my dad said, “I think it’s time for you to get into your nighttime diaper.”
I remained silent (except for my slowly diminishing sobs) as my dad prepared everything. My dad took my shirt and shoes off.
“I think it’ll be best if I take your diaper off in the bathroom.”
He lowered my plastic pants and I stepped out of them. The smell was awful but my dad didn’t seem at all affected by it. He then unpinned and lowered my diaper. He dumped the loose contents into the toilet and flushed it. While the bowl was refilling he rinsed the diaper in it. He gently squeezed out the excess water and threw into the diaper pail (that I hadn’t yet noticed). He flushed the toilet again. I thought the whole thing was disgusting but my dad took it all in stride. He washed his hands and moistened a towel to clean me with.
“We may as well get you cleaned up here,” he said as he got down to business.
He had me turn around while he cleaned my backside. He rinsed the towel twice before he was satisfied. We went back to my room and my dad laid out the nighttime diaper on the changing pad.
‘Here you go,” he said. “Hop on, big guy.”
I had pretty much gotten myself under control and my dad’s attempt at humor actually got me to laugh for a second or two. I lied down on the diaper. He took a bottle of baby oil from the dresser.
“What’s that for?” I asked.
“When you wet during the night you’ll need extra protection because it will be longer before you get changed. But,” he added with emphasis, “if you need to get changed in the middle of the night don’t hesitate to wake us up.”
He oiled my front and backside.
“Oops… forgot the pins in the bathroom,” my dad said as he scurried off to get them.
In the few seconds that he was gone I took note of the diaper. I had heard my mom say that it had four more layers in the center than the daytime diapers but it sure felt like more. I wondered how I could possible sleep wearing such bulky things.
“OK, here we go. Ready?” my dad asked in a lighthearted tone.
I nodded my head and smiled. He adjusted the diaper and fastened the top pin on my right side. When he fastened the corresponding pin of the left side I was aghast that this diaper rose even higher than the daytime ones. It actually came into contact with the lower part of my ribcage. He quickly fastened the remaining pins.
“See,” he said with a certain measure of pride. “Perfect. It’s like riding a bicycle—you never forget how to do it. Now, let’s get you into your plastic pants.”
My dad unfolded the pair that he had earlier placed on the bed. They crinkled loudly as he pulled them up my legs and over the diaper, just like the ones Tim and I wore earlier in the day. Also, the leg openings and waistband seemed to grip tighter. The thought passed through my mind that this was good because I didn’t want my diapers to leak all over the bed.
When I stood up I fully realized how thick these diapers were. The huge bulk of material between my legs made me unable to bring my knees together.
“Did mom buy you new pajamas?” my dad asked.
The import of the question didn’t sink in for a second or two.
“Uh… I don’t know,” I answered.
He opened the dresser and handed me the shirt to my blue ski pajamas. I pulled it over my head and pulled it down to cover the top part of my plastic pants but it slid right back up to the waistband,
“I guess you’ll have to wear it that way,” my dad chuckled. “Your pants are to puffy and too slippery for the shirt to stay in place.”
I didn’t think it was at all funny that these huge plastic pants would have to remain fully exposed. We went back downstairs to watch TV. My dad noticed that I shivered a couple of times as I sat watching. It was springtime but the evenings still got pretty cool.
“Are you cold without your pajama bottoms?” he asked.
“Kind of,” I answered.
“Come here,” he said.
He picked me up and sat me on his lap. My legs were draped over his and my head rested against his right shoulder. He rubbed the upper part of my legs for a several seconds until I warmed up. I guess I could have returned to the couch but I was very comfortable and my dad didn’t seem to mind either. When mom got home I made a move to get up but dad stopped me.
“You don’t have to move,” he said. “But, I wouldn’t let mom see you sucking your thumb. She was always after to stop doing that.”
I yanked my thumb out of my mouth, horrified and embarrassed that I had unconsciously done it.
“It’s OK with me,” he said, kissing me on the top of the head, “you’ve had a hard day.”
The next few days saw a repeat of the same pattern: I would go over to Tim’s in the morning, come home for lunch, and then return in the afternoon. Tim and I started getting very casual about our diapers—going outside in them wasn’t a big deal anymore. All the neighbors had seen us and seemed to be supportive. We even got more ‘treats’ from them than normal.
Unfortunately, spring vacation was almost over and we hadn’t done any of the things we had said we would. Our moms had bought us pants to wear but our thick diapers caused an obvious bulge that we knew we couldn’t hide. (The style of the day was tight-fitting clothing, especially boys’ pants, which had tight, straight-cut legs. To wear anything else was totally un-cool.) Tim and I were very worried about going back to school.
On the bright side, Mrs. Perals was very happy with the improvements she was beginning to see in Carl. He had not thrown a tantrum all week and he had even engaged in play with Tim one morning before I got there. On Friday morning, she greeted me effusively.
“Billy, you don’t know how happy you’ve made us, Mr. Perals and me. We were on the verge of deciding to put Carl in an institution but your idea has made all the difference. Thank you so much.”
I was embarrassed by this attention and by the hug and kiss she gave me, especially since Tim was standing right there.
“You’re welcome,” I stammered.
“I know that you’ve given up your whole vacation to help us. How would you like to come with us tomorrow on a family outing? We’re driving up highway 16 to a little spot where we like to have picnics. Afterwards, on the way home, we’ll eat at The Chicken Farm. How does that sound?”
“Great!” I said. “But I’ll have to ask my mom when I go home for lunch.”
“Mom,” Tim chimed in, “can Billy stay over tonight? Especially since we’re going to leave pretty early.”
“That’s a wonderful idea, Timmy. In that case, I think you should call your mom right now, Billy.”
My mom gave her permission and then Mrs. Perals talked with her for several minutes.
“There now, that’s all settled,” she said as she put the phone down. “When you go home for lunch, your mom will have your things ready. You’ll be having dinner with us tonight, too.”
I was happy to see that Tim was as excited as I was about my sleepover. Before things went any further, I couldn’t resist teasing him when we were alone in his room.
“Are you sure it OK with you that I sleep over tonight, Timmy?”
“It’s great,” he answered enthusiastically. Then, seeing the smirk on my face, he reacted to my having called him Timmy. “Arrgh! Not you, too! It’s bad enough that my mom and dad are doing it now!”
“Your dad started calling you Timmy, too?”
“Yeah,” he admitted sheepishly, “I guess it’s OK.”
We were interrupted by Mrs. Perals.
“Boys, come here—but be very quiet.”
We silently followed her out of Tim’s room and stopped outside Carl’s door. He was sitting with his back to us, playing with his miniature village. He was vrooming and screeching the cars around the various pretend streets and highways. After a few seconds, she signaled us to follow her downstairs.
“Wow,” Timmy said in amazement.
I didn’t get it, so Mrs. Perals explained.
“Except for when he’s upset Carl never speaks, at least not until now. It’s unbelievable that he’s actually imitating the noises that he heard you and Timmy make over the last several days when you played with his village. Do you remember that I told you that Carl was aware of lots of things, even when it seemed like he wasn’t listening? Well, this proves it,” she said excitedly.
I was getting excited, too. I was overwhelmed by the idea that I had actually made a difference in somebody’s life. It was amazing. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom and dad. I felt ten feet tall.
“Wow,” I said, echoing Timmy.
I returned to Timmy’s loaded down with my sleeping bag and my dad’s huge duffel bag, ninety-five percent of which was diaper supplies. I tried to argue that it was too much, but my mom pointed out very logically that I would need another three diapers today, at least one overnight diaper (she packed two – ‘just in case’), and six diapers for tomorrow. I gave up, embarrassed that I actually needed all those diapers and plastic pants.
“You can put your stuff over there for now,” Timmy said pointing to the far corner of his room.
We did our routine thing of playing in Carl’s room for about forty-five minutes. Beforehand, his toy village had been set up for us when we arrived, but that wasn’t the case this time. Instead, there was a large stack of Lincoln logs piled on the floor. Timmy and I sat down and built and rebuilt various ‘real’ and wildly fanciful buildings. As usual, Carl sat on the window seat apparently ignoring us.
As the afternoon wore on, I became apprehensive about meeting Mr. Perals. I had seen him outside from a distance but I had never talked to him. I told Timmy that I hoped his dad wouldn’t think that I was in the way during their family outing.
“Are you kidding?” he answered. “It was his idea to invite you.”
Mr. Perals turned out to be a very kind man. When he got home he spoke to Timmy and me for a few minutes about our day before changing out of his business clothes. He then went into Carl’s room.
“What does you dad do in Carl’s room?” I asked.
“The same kinds of stuff we do. Depending on Carl’s mood, my dad sits on the floor and plays games or maybe even tries to talk to him. Most of time Carl doesn’t pay any attention to him… you know, like the way he ignores us.”
I was beginning to understand what extraordinary parents Timmy and Carl had.
Dinner was a pretty typical affair. This was the first dinner I ate with them and I didn’t know how things worked—particularly concerning Carl. Timmy explained that he ate at the table about 50% of the time. The times when he didn’t (because he was being fussy or uncooperative), his mother would bring his meals to his room. At the table that night, I noticed that Carl’s food had already been cut up and that he wasn’t eating what the rest of had. It seems that Carl was a fussy eater and would only eat a limited number of things. He did feed himself, although rather messily.
The first crisis during my visit came shortly after dinner while Timmy and I were throwing a baseball around the backyard—I started feeling the urge to poop. The more I ran around, the more I knew I couldn’t hold out much longer.
“Can we stop for a while?” I asked.
“Do you need your diaper changed?”
“Well, uh… not exactly,” I answered.
I saw a glint of understanding in his eyes.
“Well, go ahead, poop your diaper if you have to,” he urged.
“But, your mom has never changed me when I’ve been poopy,” I answered shyly.
“I’ve gotten used to it, so can you.”
A few minutes later I was ready to be changed. Timmy and I went together in search of his mother. She was doing the dinner dishes and Mr. Perals was drying.
“Mom,” Timmy announced without preamble, “Billy needs his poopy diaper changed.”
I was too embarrassed by his bluntness to look at her directly.
“I need a few more minutes to finish the dishes. Can it wait?”
“I’ll take care of it,” Mr. Perals said putting down his drying towel. “I’ll come back and finish drying when I’m done.”
“That’s won’t be necessary,” his wife answered him. “Timmy can help me finish.”
What I had been sure was going to be a horrible experience turned out to be very pleasant. If I had thought about it logically, I would have realized that Mr. Perals was already used to taking care of Carl. (I already knew that he set time aside every day to be with Carl.) It should have occurred to me that Mr. Perals had probably done hundreds, or even thousands, of diaper changes before this moment. Anyway, Mr. Perals talked to me the whole time, asking about school and the things I liked to do. Before I knew it he was pulling my plastic pants over my clean diaper.
“There you go,” he said. “Feel better?”
“Yes, thank you, Mr. Perals.”
I felt a lot better. That was also the last time I felt embarrassed about getting my diapers changed.
We were changed into our night diapers around 9:30 and we went to bed just after 10:00. I had imagined that we would talk for a while, but I was suddenly tired and fell asleep almost right away. A storm blew in during the night and woke me up. I couldn’t tell what time it was but it was still dark. A few lightning bolts lit up the room and several claps of thunder rumbled through the house before it started to rain. I wasn’t particularly afraid of thunderstorms but I still wished that Timmy had been awake. The rain started coming down heavily and I wondered if our picnic the next day would be cancelled.
I was lying awake wondering how long the storm would take to pass over when I heard the bedroom door creak. At first I thought it was Mr. or Mrs. Perals checking up on us. As the door opened I saw Carl silhouetted against the nightlight that burned in the hall. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I wanted Carl to know that I was awake.
‘”Hi, Carl,” I whispered.
He didn’t move for several seconds. Then, as if making up his mind, he ran into the room and knelt close to my sleeping bag. I unzipped the side and he silently crawled in with me. We were lying on our sides, facing each other. I reached out to put my arm around him even though I knew he hated to be touched. Instead of backing away or protesting, he clung tightly to me. I could feel his whole body trembling. I whispered soothing words to him and rubbed his back until the storm passed. Finally, he stopped trembling. About a minute later, he started squirming for me to release him. I expected him to go back to his room (I wondered if I would have to help him get back into his crib) but all he did was roll over and fall asleep. I fell back to sleep, too.
The next morning the sun was shining… and Carl was still with me. I opened my eyes and saw him staring intently at me, just a few inches away from my face. I smiled at him. I want to think that he smiled the tiniest smile back at me but I can’t be sure. In any case, at that very moment Mrs. Perals walked into the room to wake us up.
“Carl! What are you doing here?”
She looked in my direction for an answer. Before I got the chance, Carl jumped out of the sleeping bag and ran into his room all the while making loud vrooming and screeching sounds. We looked at each other and laughed. I gave her a brief summary of what happened while she changed me into fresh diapers and plastic pants. After she left to take care of Carl, it occurred to me that his was the first time I had wet my nighttime diapers unconsciously, without waking up. Also, I was amazed that Timmy was still sound asleep.
At breakfast, Mrs. Perals had me repeat my story about Carl and the storm. Everyone was amazed that he had approached me like that. I was getting nervous about this experiment. I hoped that the Perals didn’t think that I could produce miracles.
This first outing since agreeing to wear diapers full-time was an eye opener. I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had to take with us. Mrs. Perals said that Timmy and I should prepare five diaper changes each. This meant taking ten diapers, plastic pants, and pre-moistened wash cloths, a can of baby powder, some extra pins, and a ‘just in case’ item, our night diapers and baby oil. Once this was added to Carl’s diaper supplies and selected toys, there was barely room left in the car for the picnic supplies and food.
“Is everything packed?” Mr. Perals asked.
“I think so,” Mrs. Perals answered. “I’ll go upstairs and try to get Carl dressed. Boys,” she said to Timmy and me, “put your pants on now.”
It actually felt kind of funny wearing pants. Timmy and I had gone around in nothing but our diapers since the previous Monday, six days before. We were heading back downstairs when the screeching started. Obviously, Carl was unhappy about something.
“I don’t think Carl wants to wear pants,” Timmy observed.
The screeching stopped abruptly and Mrs. Perals came downstairs holding Carl’s corduroy overalls.
“He took one look at them and began screeching. He’s definitely not in the mood to dress up today. If we want to go, I think we’ll have to take him on his own terms. Do you mind?”
This last question was addressed to me. My confused look prompted Mrs. Perals to rephrase the question.
“Do you mind going out in public with Carl wearing only his diapers? Would you feel embarrassed?”
“No,” I answered honestly.
“I’ll go get Carl,” Mr. Perals volunteered.
A couple of minutes later Mr. Perals came downstairs leading Carl by the hand. Carl took one look at Timmy and me and began screeching. He disengaged himself from his father and started slapping Timmy and me on the pants. Mr. Perals took Carl back upstairs to try to calm him down.
“I was afraid of that,” Mrs. Perals admitted. “Carl has gotten used to seeing you guys in just your diapers and he obviously wants you to stay that way… I think that I’ll have to stay home with Carl, but you three guys can have a boys’ day out,” she suggested.
“Gee, mom, that’s not fair. Maybe we can just have our picnic in the backyard. I don’t mind. Do you, Billy?”
Obviously, I was disappointed that we wouldn’t be going anywhere but I knew it would have been very impolite to complain about it.
“No, I don’t mind,” I said.
“That’s very nice of you,” Mrs. Perals responded, “but after being so good all week you guys deserve a reward.”
“I know how we can still have the picnic!” Timmy said brightly. “Nobody knows about our secret picnic spot. Billy and I don’t have to wear our pants in the car and nobody’s going to see us when we get there. We don’t have to wear our pants and you and Carl get to come, too. How about that, mom?”
“That’s not for me to answer. Billy is the one who has to agree to your plan.”
I only knew sketchy details about the picnic site. It was somewhere out in the country up highway 16 in the middle of nowhere. Timmy had also told me that it was located on the side of a hill overlooking a lake.
“Nobody will know?” I asked in a tremulous voice.
“Nobody,” he said firmly.
Since Mrs. Perals didn’t contradict him I figured that it would be OK.
“OK,” I answered, “I agree.”
“Yippee!” Timmy shouted. “Let’s take our pants off and show Carl. I’m sure he’ll be OK now.”
Timmy was right. Carl came downstairs without protest. We were getting into the car when Mrs. Perals put two rolled up items on the window ledge behind the back seat.
“Those are your pants. You’ll need them when we stop at the Chicken Farm on the way home. I can stay in the parking lot with Carl if he puts up a fuss because you’re wearing pants.”
The ride north to the picnic site was very pretty. It took us a little over two hours to get there. The roughest part of the trip was getting out of the city. Every time we stopped at a street light and a truck pulled up next to us I was afraid that the driver would look down into the back seat. I don’t know what worried me more—that the driver would think that we were riding around the city in our underwear or that he would figure out that we were wearing diapers and plastic pants. I was a lot happier after we got on highway 16. It was a little-used country road and we barely saw any traffic, and no trucks. Carl was very well behaved. He started out in the front seat between his parents but about halfway there he indicated a desire to climb into the back seat with Timmy and me. (Car seats and seat belts weren’t a big concern in 1962.) He spent the remainder of the trip leaning against me, asleep. Once again, I got nervous when Mr. & Mrs. Perals commented on how relaxed Carl was around me.
The long ride was definitely worth it. The picnic spot was about a half-mile off the road, down a little dirt lane. Actually, the lake was a reservoir. It had been built about five years before. Mr. Perals knew about this out-of-the-way spot because he had been the chief engineer on the project. Later that day, he explained to me how tunnels had been dug under the mountain across the lake so that the water could flow by the make of gravity to the city on the other side.
The first order of business was a diaper change for Timmy and me. It sure felt funny lying on a blanket looking up at the clouds while getting cleaned and put into fresh diapers. I was amazed that I didn’t feel the least bit embarrassed. One thing did occur to me as rather odd—Timmy and I needed our diapers changed but Carl didn’t.
We ate lunch and Timmy suggested we do some exploring. Since the reservoir didn’t allow swimming or motor boating, the whole area was really calm. There were people out on the other side of the lake in rowboats but they were too far away to be of concern. Timmy had been here before so he knew the best places to find flat rocks to skip across the lake. After doing this for a while, he suggested that we investigate the grove of trees a little distance away.
“What for? I asked.
“Indian arrowheads,” he answered. “My dad found two of them while they were working here.”
This sounded like an exciting proposition but it produced nothing after a half-hour of searching. We headed back to the picnic area.
“Ah, here come the Big Rustlers,” Mr. Perals said.
I didn’t get it. Did Mr. Perals think we had stolen something because we had spent so much time in the woods?
“Dad!” Timmy protested.
“Yes, dear, don’t tease the boys,” Mrs. Perals added.
I still didn’t know what they were talking about.
“My dad sometimes calls Carl ‘Little Rustler’ because of the noise his plastic pants make,” Timmy explained.
I felt my face flush.
“See, dear, now you’ve embarrassed him.” Mrs. Perals scolded her husband. “Billy, don’t pay any attention to what he says. His jokes are usually awful anyway!”
Mr. Perals broke out into a hearty laugh and apologized.
“Where’s Carl?” Timmy asked.
“He was sleepy and I didn’t want him getting too much sun. He’s in the back seat of the car.”
The two back doors of the car had been left open and Carl was stretched out.
“Are we staying much longer?” Timmy asked.
“No, just until Carl wakes up.”
Mr. Perals went back with us to the water’s edge. He taught us a couple of neat tricks to make our stones skip even farther across the water. We’d been at it for about twenty minutes when Mrs. Perals called down to us to come quickly. We took off up the hill as fast as we could.
“It’s Carl,” she said. “He’s not in the car.”
“Stay calm, honey. We’ll find him,” Mr. Perals said evenly. “We know that he’s afraid of water so it’s unlikely that he went toward the reservoir. Besides, one of us would have seen him if he had. He couldn’t have gone far. Boys, you go that way into the woods; Mom and I will look on this side.”
Before the search could get underway Carl came running out the woods making vrooming andscreeching noises. Mrs. Perals called for him to come to her but he ignored her and kept merrily running circles around the car.
“For heaven’s sake,” was Mrs. Perals only comment.
A diaper change all around and we were ready to pack up the car. We made it back to highway 16 but we turned in the direction opposite to the way I thought we should go.
“How come we’re going this way?” I asked no one in particular.
“The drive around the reservoir is very scenic. We’ll go around to the other side and follow highway 49 south until we come to the junction that will take us back to highway 16,” Mr. Perals answered. “It’s a little out of the way but I think you’ll enjoy it.”
On the other side, we passed a miniature golf course that I wished we could have stopped at. I guess the scenery was pretty but I was getting a little bored with it. Darkness was setting in when we arrived at The Chicken Farm. Timmy had been talking about it for the last hour. It was a different kind of restaurant with one thing on the menu: fried chicken. You paid on the way in and the only decisions you had to make concerned whether you wanted mashed, baked, or French-fried potatoes, and what you wanted to drink. He said that it was a fun place with all kinds of crazy signs and jokes about chickens. I was looking forward to it. The restaurant parking lot was about half full when we arrived. Mr. Perals drove to the empty side of the lot so we could put our pants on.
“We’ll take Carl away from the car first,” Mrs. Perals said. “Once you’ve got your pants on, come to the front door.”
She and Mr. Perals walked around the building to the front door. Timmy and I checked out the parking lot and decided it was safe to get out. I stood up and quickly turned around to take my pants off the window ledge.
“Did you take my pants?” I asked Timmy.
“No,” he answered. “Mine aren’t here either.”
I didn’t believe him.
“Quit fooling around and give me my pants,” I said sharply.
“I don’t have them,” he said in a panicky tone. “There weren’t any pants on the ledge when I looked.”
“Maybe your mom moved them,” I suggested.
We got back in the car and started looking everywhere. The pants were definitely nowhere inside the car.
“Maybe she forgot and put them in the trunk,” I suggested.
“But we can’t get into the trunk,” he pointed out. “We don’t have the key.”
“You mom or dad will come back to look for us, won’t they?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” he answered.
It seemed like an hour but it was probably only ten minutes when Mr. Perals came looking for us. We explained what we thought had happened. He spent a couple of minutes looking through the trunk but he found nothing.
“I’ll be just a minute,” he said as he headed back toward the restaurant.
He came back with a perplexed look on his face.
“You’re sure your pants aren’t inside the car?” he asked.
“Of course we’re sure,” Timmy said in an exasperated voice.
“Well, mom says that she didn’t touch them. The last time she saw them was when she put them on the window ledge. I don’t see how they could just disappear.”
“What are we going to do?” Timmy asked with genuine panic in his voice.
“Eat dinner, I guess,” his dad answered. “Mom already got us a table and paid for the dinners.”
“Can you bring ours out here to us?” he asked.
“I don’t think the restaurant would allow us to take their dishes and silverware out of the restaurant,” he answered. “Besides, I don’t intend to leave you out here all by yourselves. Now, come on. Let’s go inside.”
He opened Timmy’s door.
“Please, dad, no.” Timmy begged.
“Look, Carl has already gone in. It’ll be OK for you guys, too.”
“But Carl is different!” Timmy pointed out.
“Let’s not keep mom waiting,” Mr. Perals said.
Timmy hesitated for several seconds before getting out of the car. (I think he felt guilty about his reference to Carl’s autism.) I had no choice but to follow suit. I’m sure that we looked like the saddest boys in the world. I know that I was terrified and on the verge of tears. Only my pride stopped me from breaking down.
“Hold up a second, guys. I just got an idea.”
“Really?” Timmy asked in a hopeful voice. “You mean we don’t have to go inside?”
“I didn’t say that. I think we can get you inside more discretely.”
He led us around to a screen door at the back of the restaurant. Timmy and I stayed back in the shadows so as not to be seen. Mr. Perals walked into the kitchen and the last thing I heard was him asking to see whoever was in charge.
“Ok, boys, you can come in now,” Mr. Perals said opening the door for us.
We cautiously approached.
“It’s OK, come on,” he coaxed.
A grandmotherly woman smiled at us.
“Boys, this is Mrs. Pattersen. She owns the restaurant.”
She smiled again before asking, “Which one of you is Timmy and which one is Billy?”
We identified ourselves and she offered her hand for us to shake. I could feel the kitchen crew staring at us. I didn’t think this was the time for formal introductions.
“It just so happens that your mom is seated with your brother at table number 64, not far from that door over there. Follow me, and you’ll be at your table in no time.” She must have noticed how nervous we were. “Don’t worry about a thing boys. Accidents happen all the time.”
She led us to a circular booth where Mrs. Perals and Carl were already seated. We only had to walk past three or four tables but I still felt like I was having one of those dreams where you walk naked down a busy street. I heard several kids snicker and several adults make sympathetic comments. Mr. Perals let Timmy and me slide in first so that we would be better hidden. I didn’t see where it mattered anymore—everyone had already gotten an eyeful.
“Dad, what did that lady mean by ‘accidents happen all the time?’” Timmy asked.
“Well,” he answered sheepishly, “ I wanted to keep the story short so I told her that my two older boys were embarrassed to come into the restaurant because, like their little brother, they had no pants available to wear over their diapers. Mrs. Pattersen must have thought that you had wet your pants.”
I wasn’t embarrassed by the cover story as much as Timmy seemed to be. Personally, I thought it was neat that Mr. Perals included me as one of his sons.
The waitress came over to ask us what drinks and potatoes we wanted. She seemed like a nice lady and I thought that she was being silly because she was trying to make Timmy and me feel better about being in diapers, but Mr. & Mrs. Perals assured me that her behavior was all part of the Chicken Farm ‘treatment.’ I could see some of the funny signs and riddles about chickens that Timmy had talked about. I wished that he and I could go around the restaurant to see the others. Our meals came and I have to say that I enjoyed mine very much. It was the best fried chicken I had ever tasted.
“Did you enjoy your meal, Billy?” Mr. Perals asked.
“Yes!” I answered enthusiastically. “Could you tell my dad where this restaurant is?”
He chuckled and said that he would be happy to. We ran into Mrs. Pattersen again as we were leaving through the kitchen. She thoughtfully invited the Perals to use her office if any of us needed a diaper change.
“I know that Carl needs a change,” Mrs. Perals said. “How about you guys?”
“Yes, please,” I answered and so did Timmy.
I was on the verge of pooping my diaper and I was worried about riding home in the car with the smell and the itchiness.
“Carl is getting restless,” Mrs. Perals announced. “I’ll take him outside to walk around while you change these guys. And since it’ll be rather late by the time we get home, you may as well put them into their night diapers.”
Timmy and I were told to wait in the office while Mr. Perals went for our diaper supplies. While he was gone Timmy and I both pooped our diapers. We got the giggles and couldn’t hold ourselves in. Mr. Perals (sniff… sniff) wrinkled his nose as he came back into the office a few minutes later.
“It looks… I mean, smells like I’ve got my work cut out for me, doesn’t it?”
This sent Timmy and me way over the edge. And then, seemingly from nowhere, I got a tingly feeling all over followed by a strong sense of absolute contentment. In a flash of enlightenment I knew that I was happy to be back in diapers. Also, seemingly from nowhere, I got an erection.
Mr. Perals started changing Timmy on the floor. He removed his plastic pants and then unpinned his diaper and began cleaning him. I was amazed to see that Timmy had an erection, too. What did this mean? Was he as happy as me to wear diapers? If so, how long had he known this? The more I thought about these things the harder my erection became. I tried to think about something else before it was my turn to have my diaper changed. It didn’t work. But, just as Mr. Perals seemed to have ignored Timmy’s erection, he didn’t comment on mine either. Once we were both ready, Mr. Perals sent us out to the parking lot to let Mrs. Perals know that the office was available for Carl’s diaper change.
“Do you want to go out front and read the chicken jokes at the entrance?” Timmy asked with a mischievous smile.
“Wearing our big nighttime diapers?” I answered with a giggle. “…Sure, why not?”
We walked along the building and turned up the sidewalk. The signs leading up to the front door were really corny but Timmy and I both knew that we were there to be seen and not just to laugh at the jokes. Three older ladies came out of the restaurant and stopped in surprise.
“Does your mommy know that her little boys are out here all alone?” one of them asked as if we were three years old.
“Yes, ma’am,” Timmy answered with a straight face. “We came to read the funny signs. Just because we wear diapers, it doesn’t mean that we’re totally stupid.”
“Well, I never!” the woman answered.
Timmy’s dad came up behind us.
“I thought I’d find you guys here. It’s time to leave. Mom and Carl are already in the car.”
“Sir, I think you have very rude boys,” the woman said to Mr. Perals.
“Well, ma’am,” he answered, “I heard your question and I understand why you got the answer you did. They’re obviously big boys, not little boys.”
“Well, then,” the woman continued, “would you mind telling me why these big boys are wearing diapers?”
“I don’t mind at all,” he answered. “They wear diapers to keep their pants dry.”
The woman turned really red in the face and huffed off toward the parking lot. One of the other ladies smiled at Timmy and me and, then, winked.
I fell asleep on the way home. The next time I woke up, it was morning and I was in my own bed. I must have been very tired because I couldn’t remember anything about getting there. Also, for the second day in a row, I had wet in my sleep. This made me very happy. I got up and went downstairs. My mom and dad were already in the kitchen.
“Hello, sleepyhead,” my dad said as I was still rubbing sleep out of my eyes. “Did you have fun yesterday?”
“Yup,” I answered through a yawn.
“Good. Eat your breakfast and get cleaned up. I’ll change your diapers as soon as you’re ready,” my mom said. “You’ll go over to Timmy’s while dad and I will go to church.”
I must have looked at them funny because dad added.
“You can’t go to church in just your diapers, now can you?”
“No, of course not!” I said horrified at the idea. “What will I do for school tomorrow?”
[In 1962, the Blue Laws in my state were still in effect. These prohibited department stores and other business from making sales on Sunday. There was no way that we could replace my missing pants before Monday.]
“It’s all been worked out,” she said. “You’ll just be a little late getting to school.”
Except for meals, Timmy and I spent most of the day together. During the walks back-and-forth to his house I felt completely different. Now that I realized that I liked wearing diapers I didn’t care if the neighbors saw me or not. I wished I could think of a way to discuss this with Timmy. Carl seemed to be different, too. He actually came and sat next to us while we were watching TV. I was beginning to believe Mrs. Perals—Timmy did have lots of potential to develop. These thoughts and activities kept Timmy and me from talking about something really important—what to do about school.
I woke up Monday morning feeling unprepared and worried. I was certain that the other kids would figure out pretty fast that Timmy and I were in diapers. We had only worn pants for a few minutes during our vacation but it had been long enough for us to figure out that our diaper bulges were obvious and that our plastic pants were noisy. I thought that we should try to explain the situation before our friends had a chance to work it out themselves. But how? You just can’t walk up to somebody and say, Hi, let me tell you why I’m wearing diapers and plastic pants. Maybe Timmy had worked out a plan.
My mom got me out of bed at my usual time and I was dressed and ready by 8:00. I wasn’t sure why I had to be ready so early. The stores didn’t open until 10:00.
“Timmy will be over shortly,” she said. “I’ll deliver your diapers and other supplies to the school nurse before she gets busy and then we’ll get you guys some pants. I phoned Mrs. Carson (owner of a boys clothing store) and she said that she’s usually there by 9:00. She’ll let us in early to take care of you. If everything goes on schedule, you should be in school by 9:30.”
I didn’t see why we had to go with my mom to deliver the diapers to school. I argued that someone might see us but she dismissed my complaints and said that we would stay ‘safely’ in the car while she took care of the business inside. She parked about a block away from the school on a side street that practically no kids used. I was feeling relatively secure when everything suddenly changed.
“Oh, no, we’re parked right in front of Franklin’s house. He’s coming down his walk and he sees us,” Timmy groaned.
Franklin walked up to the car and made a motion for us to roll down our windows.
“Whatcha doing sitting there?” he asked. “Not going to school today?”
“My mom has to take us on some errands. We’ll be in school later.”
“OK,” he said preparing to walk away. His eyes suddenly focused on Timmy’s lap. “You’re not wearing any pants!” He moved slightly forward and saw that I was in the same condition. “What’s going on?”
We began squirming in our seats, unable to answer, attempting to pull our shirts down further over our plastic pants. His eyes darted back and forth between us, a confused look on his face.
“It’s my fault,” Timmy admitted generously, “I got Billy into this.”
“Into what?” he asked.
“Well, it’s kind of hard to explain, but it started because of my little brother.” Timmy tried to explain.
I was listened so intently to Timmy, hoping that he would come up with a good explanation that I let go of my shirt. My thickly padded crotch and plastic pants came into view just as Franklin turned back toward me. I knew that he had seen them.
“You’re wearing diapers and baby pants!” he said in a shocked voice.
“Sshh! Keep your voice down,” Timmy begged. “It’s complicated. Please don’t tell anyone.”
Franklin then saw Timmy’s diaper and plastic pants, too. He was clearly conflicted. He seemed genuinely shocked but, judging by the tiny smile that curved his lips, he also seemed to realize that he had a wonderfully juicy piece of gossip for the rest of our class.
“Please!” Timmy begged again.
I noticed my mother coming back to the car.
“There’s no time to tell you now. We promise that we’ll explain as soon as we come back. Please!” I begged in turn.
“OK,” he agreed reluctantly, “I won’t tell anyone.”
I was fuming at my mother. This was all her fault. If she hadn’t made us come with her, Franklin wouldn’t have found out. I intended to give her a piece of my mind. She sat down behind the wheel and, instead of striking out at her, I fell apart.
“Franklin saw our diapers,” I whimpered, tears filling my eyes.
My mom reached out to me, but I remembered in time that I was mad at her. I pushed her away and wiped at the tears that were running down my cheeks.
“This is all your fault,” I spat out.
My mom saw how upset I was and left me alone. I was barely back under control when we arrived at Mrs. Carson’s clothing store. It was only 8:45. Timmy was uncomfortable that I had fought with my mom.
“Franklin would have found out anyway,” he said rationally. “Everybody’s going to find out.”
“But I don’t want them to!” I shouted in frustration. “They’ll all laugh at us.”
The silence that followed made me feel worse. Even my mom must have thought that our situation was hopeless. The minutes passed slowly and my mood grew more and more depressed. Finally, Mrs. Carson arrived and opened her store.
“The husky boys pants are all located in this rack, here,” she said. “I’ll turn the lights on so you can see better.”
I was surprised that my mom was buying us husky boys sizes but I guess it made sense. She selected pants identical to the ones we had ‘lost’ at the picnic.
“Try these on,” my mom said.
Timmy and I hesitated, wondering where a dressing room was.
“I don’t think you need a fitting room,” my mom joked. “I thought that you’d be anxious to cover up your diapers.”
Timmy and I looked at each other and giggled. I guess we were so nervous that we weren’t thinking straight. The pants fit as well as the originals. Our plastic pants rose about three inches higher than the pants but there wasn’t anything we could do about that. I tucked my shirt in and went in search of a mirror. I hadn’t had a lot of time to how I looked in the other pants. Timmy came up next to me to look at himself as well. We sighed at our reflections in the mirror; I was barely able to hold back more tears.
“OK, let’s get these labels cut off,” my mom said. “And, while we’re here, we may as well get you some play clothes and Sunday pants.”
I think that Timmy was just as happy as me to delay our return to school for as long as possible. Our brief glance into the mirror had said it all— we were going to get killed when we went back. Even if Franklin had kept his word and not told the other kids about seeing us in diapers and plastic pants, one look at us would tell them all. Our diapers gave us a rounded look, especially in the crotch area and at our backsides. Nobody would miss the fact that it looked like we were wearing football padding.
Before we were done, Timmy and I had heavily wet our diapers.
“Mom, can Timmy and me get our diapers changed before going back to school?” I whispered.
“May Timmy and I get our diapers changed,” she corrected me. “Sorry, boys, I don’t have extra diapers with me. You’ll have to ask the nurse to help you.”
We arrived back at school during recess and managed to get to the nurse’s office without being seen. She took one look at us and knew who we were without us needing to introduce ourselves.
“Do you boys need your diapers changed?” she asked. “Which one of you is Timothy Perals?”
Timmy identified himself.
“And you must be William Murgon.”
“Good, then let’s start. William, your mom said that you boys were used to having your diapers changed together. That will make things easier. Follow me, please.”
She brought us to a room that had two beds and storage cabinets.
“Under normal circumstances, you will be changed in here. Your diaper supplies have already been put into this locker. Now, take your pants off and let’s get started.”
She was very gentle. She noticed that we were both shaking with fear. She tried to calm us down but we told her that it was our friends’ reactions that we were afraid of. She tried to reassure us by saying that we weren’t the only boys in school to wear diapers and that, in any case, we had nothing to be ashamed of. Timmy asked her what other boys wore diapers and she admitted that they were all in the kindergarten or first grade. I think that she realized that this was little comfort to us. When she had finished re-diapering us, she told us that every day at the end of school, we were to come and pick up our dirty diapers and bring them home. Apparently, my mom had left a canvas bag for each of us.
Recess was over and we went back to class, walking down nearly silent hallways.
“I hope our classroom isn’t this quiet,” Timmy said. “You can hear the noise our plastic pants make!”
“Yeah, I know, “ I answered nervously.
Every head turned as we entered. We knew instantly that Franklin had told. The kids began snickering and whispering as soon as they laid eyes on us. Mrs. Kellring, our teacher, tapped her pencil to restore order.
“Take your seats, boys,” was all she said.
Red-faced and angry with Franklin, we took our seats. Our plastic pants ‘scrunched’ loudly as we sat. Mrs. Kellring quieted the snickering that had broken out in the desks adjacent to ours and continued with the lesson. I couldn’t focus on anything and have no idea what we did that morning. All too soon, it was time for lunch.
I was torn between running after Franklin and punching his lights out, or staying in the classroom for a while until the rest of the kids left. Timmy joined me at my desk.
“We can’t hide here forever. We have to go to lunch,” he pointed our reasonably. “We can take care of ourselves. We just have to tell people the truth and hope for the best.”
That was much easier said than done. I don’t know how many kids openly stared at us or laughed behind our backs as we made our way to the cafeteria. We went to sit down at our usual table but our friends wouldn’t let us.
“No babies here,” Fred said unkindly.
This was devastating to me. Fred and I had shared lunch together practically every day since we were in first grade. The fact that my other friends didn’t say anything to contradict him made it all the worse. Timmy and I went outside to the far end of the schoolyard and sat against the fence to eat alone. The shunning continued for the rest of the day.
After school, we went to my house feeling pretty low. My mom changed our very wet diapers and we got down to our homework. It had been decided that we shouldn’t let Carl see us until we could give him our undivided attention. So, our new routine would be to finish our homework and then go over to Timmy’s house.
“Do we have to put our pants back on to go to my house?” Timmy asked.
“No, make yourselves comfortable,” my mom answered.
After the treatment we had received in school, I was happy that no kids lived in our neighborhood. It felt really good to walk outside in just my diapers and plastic pants.
Mrs. Perals informed us that Carl had not been very communicative today.
“I think he’s upset because his routine has changed. He got used to you guys being around all day so it’s going to take him a few days to get used to you being around only in the afternoons.”
We went up to Timmy’s room and kicked off our sneakers.
“Do you arm wrestle?” Timmy asked.
“Yeah, sure,” I answered.
We laid down on our stomachs facing each other. He won the first round and I won the second. We rested for a couple of minutes before starting the ‘championship’ round. He won. We were getting up from the floor when he poked me in the ribs, gloating that he had beat me. I jumped.
“Are you ticklish?” he asked.
“No,” I lied.
“Yes, you are,” he insisted.
“No, I’m not,” I lied again.
By then I was grabbing at his arms trying to stop him from poking me. I was beginning to laugh and it was obvious that I was very ticklish. This made him all the more determined to get me. I tripped and fell back onto the floor. He was immediately on top of me, sitting on my thighs, tickling me under my shirt. I was still trying to fight him off. In a very short time, I was laughing hysterically.
“Get off (ooh, ahh) of me, you big lug (aah, aaaahh),” I gasped.
“You lied,” he answered. “You deserve to be punished.”
He continued tickling me.
“OK (guffaw), OK (gasp, guffaw). I give up. Stop! You’re making me pee my pants.”
“What pants?” he answered. “You’re wearing diapers.”
“My mom just changed me (gasp, gasp). I don’t want to wet my diaper so soon. Please, stop!” I begged.
Suddenly, Carl was kneeling next to me tickling me, too. Timmy picked him up and sat him on my stomach. Timmy then grabbed my arms and told Carl to tickle me. I was laughing so hard I was beginning to gasp for breath. Worse yet, I couldn’t hold back any more. I began soaking my diaper. Timmy laughed and teased me even worse.
“Can’t hold your pee, can you?” he taunted. “It’s a good thing that you’re not wearing pants or they’d be soaked!”
“OK, OK,” I pleaded again. “You got what you wanted. Stop, please!”
I couldn’t believe how much I was wetting my diaper—it felt like it was never going to stop. My sides hurt from laughing and I was exhausted. Timmy had gotten off of me and he tried to pick Carl up off my stomach only he didn’t want to leave. He dug his knees into my sides.
“It’s OK,” I said, “leave him. I’m not leaking on your floor, am I?”
“Not yet,” he smirked.
Carl and I stared at each other for a few seconds. He seemed to be waiting for something. I reached up and tickled him under his arms. He let out a delightful childish squeal but didn’t move. I tickled him again, longer. He giggled loudly and squirmed but stayed sitting on my stomach. I continued tickling him until he was laughing uncontrollably. I was afraid of going too far and scaring him, so I eased up a little and then stopped all together. I had raised my knees up when Timmy got off of me and Carl now leaned back as he began to calm down. I don’t know how long Mrs. Perals had been watching us but she had an indescribable look on her face.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Perals, I didn’t mean to get Carl all excited…” I began to apologize.
“Oh, honey, don’t apologize. I’ve never heard Carl laugh so loudly… and for so long. It was beautiful.”
As I walked back home I realized that I felt really good about myself. To hell with Fred and my other so-called friends— I was doing something important and I didn’t care what they thought about my diapers.
Except for a couple of the boys who dared to say hello to us, we were permanently shunned in school. At home, though, Timmy and I felt wonderful. Carl was becoming more and more social, more and more communicative. He sometimes waited for us to come home and eagerly joined us in whatever games we chose to play. He even started going outside to play in the front and back yards. Mrs. Perals was delighted that he was vocalizing more. He wasn’t actually saying words, but he did make sounds to express things other than frustration or anger. Timmy and I didn’t actually understand what it all meant but we knew that it was something big and important—and that we were contributing to it.
Our afternoons with Carl were fun. We did a lot of playing in his room and outside. Playing in the yard was a novelty for him. He had always been afraid of going outside but it seemed that Timmy and I had reassured him that it was safe. He loved to have us chase him around the yard and catch him. He giggled in delight when we scooped him up and spun him around. Mrs. Perals was amazed that he let us touch him as often as we did. Even more incredibly in her eyes, he initiated some of the touching himself. For example, if we were inside his room playing with his toy village, he might snuggle up to one of us and lean on us. Sometimes he would even sit on our laps and let us rock him back and forth.
Even though he was making a lot of progress there were still times when Carl wanted to be left alone. On those days, Mrs. Perals asked us to follow the same routine; that is, to play in the yard, watch TV, and act as normal as possible. She hoped that these activities would entice Carl to join us. Timmy and I eventually concluded that this didn’t work. If Carl didn’t come out of his room to greet us when we got home, he wouldn’t come out later.
Whichever way it went, Timmy and I always managed to have fun. In fact, it was on those days that Carl didn’t join us that we got to know each other. Sometimes we would sit quietly and talk. We eventually exchanged a lot of secrets, starting with our desire to stay in diapers for as long as possible. From that point onward there was practically nothing that we wouldn’t share with each other.
The school year was winding down fast, but not fast enough for Timmy and me. We were the constant butt of jokes and other harassments, even after it became generally known why we were in diapers. That my former friends were the ringleaders was particularly distressing to me. But, there were many good things going on, too. Timmy and I had become the best of friends and Carl was developing an increasing number of social skills. However, certain things hadn’t changed. He still needed the security of very rigid routines, including Timmy and me having our diapers exposed all the time in front of him. (One afternoon, we made the mistake of trying to play with him with our pants on and he had a gigantic fit. It took two days for him to get completely over it.)
We were getting close to summer and the evenings were getting longer. We spent a lot of time outside, with or without Carl. We considered our neighborhood a safe shelter where we were completely accepted in our diapers. The neighbors even went so far as to praise us frequently for what we were doing. Neither Timmy nor I gave our diapers a second thought when we were at home. It had been weeks since either of us had worn pants when going back and forth to each other’s house. Compared to school, this was heaven and we made the most of our freedom.
Getting to run around all weekend in our diapers was especially fun. After our Saturday chores or Sunday morning church services, we were essentially free to play as we wanted, as so long as we made an attempt to include Carl. On the first real hot Saturday, we tried to introduce Carl to the fun of running through the sprinkler. Dressed in only our diapers and plastic pants Timmy and I had a ball. Carl was very timid and only occasionally came close enough to have water splash on his legs and plastic pants. Eventually, this game degenerated for Timmy and me and we started sticking the hose down each other’s diapers until they became so waterlogged they were ready to fall off. Mrs. Perals made us completely undress outside before she let would allow us into the house to get fresh diapers.
Since it was late in the afternoon, she insisted that we take a bath together before she re-diapered us. I felt a little funny about that but it was Mrs. Perals who told us to do it. Timmy ran off to the bathroom so I followed him. He filled the tub and we got in facing each other. Mrs. Perals gave us each a washcloth as said that she would check on us in a few minutes. Timmy took down some toy boats from a shelf above the tub.
“Carl and I play with these when I give him a bath,” he giggled, zigzagging the first of the boats towards me.
I took the boat from him and we did what boys do: we made it a competitive thing. We tried to outmaneuver and ram each other. Our rambunctious play drew Mrs. Peral’s attention.
“Honestly!” she said, gently scolding us. “I thought you could at least take a bath without being watched. You haven’t even started!”
She picked up a bottle of baby shampoo and told us to get our hair wet. We simultaneously ducked under the water and crashed together. A big wave ran up and down the length of the tub nearly spilling over to the floor.
“That’s enough of that,” she said in exasperation. “Now, sit still… both of you.”
She lathered up my hair and told me to sit quietly with my eyes closed while she tended to Timmy’s hair. He complained about her rough treatment, which caused her to tell him to stop acting like a baby. I snickered and he kicked me under the water.
“Stop laughing. You didn’t just practically get your eye poked out,” he complained.
Mrs. Perals snorted. I heard her turn on the water and then felt warm water from the shower hose rinsing off my hair. I really liked the feeling of the water and her fingers massaging my scalp. I opened my eyes and watched as she rinsed off Timmy.
“What did you do with the washcloths I gave you?” she asked.
We each found one. She told Timmy to wash his feet and legs. She took the washcloth I held and lathered it up and started on my face, ears, and neck. She then tended to my arms, hands, torso, and back. When she was finished she told me to take care of the rest of myself while she tended to Timmy’s upper body. He whined constantly about her rough treatment. I couldn’t see what he was complaining about. I thought she was being very gentle with us. When she was satisfied, she pulled the stopper and told us to stand up so that she could rinse us off. I was quite embarrassed by her request until I noticed that Timmy was also showing a good deal more excitement than usual. We dried off were to told to go Timmy’s room to be diapered by his dad.
I led the way to his bedroom and was surprised to see that Carl’s changing table had been moved. Carl let out an excited gasp.
“Is this really mine?” he asked.
“Yes, it is,” his dad smiled. “Mom and I wanted to surprise you. We were afraid that you would see the deliverymen but you were having too much fun playing in the sprinkler, I guess. Do you like it?”
“Yes!” he answered without hesitation. “Thank you.”
“Well, hop on and try it out!” his dad encouraged.
Timmy jumped onto the diaper that had already been laid out for him. I felt envious that he had a changing table and that I didn’t. Then, I blushed at the realization that I actually wanted one. This was so weird.
“OK, your turn,” Timmy said to me.
I lied down on the diaper and Mr. Perals began powdering me. Timmy knelt right next to the table, examining its shelves and drawers.
“This is so neat!” he exclaimed, barely able to rein in his excitement.
“Yes,” his dad answered, “now you have plenty of room for your diapers and plastic pants. I expect to see your room more organized in the future.”
“Aw, dad” Timmy objected, “it wasn’t that bad!”
“Well,” Mr. Perals answered, “I guess it wasn’t all your fault. Anyways, now you have plenty of storage space.”
I got off the table and examined it more closely. I should have immediately noticed that this wasn’t Carl changing table. Carl’s was white and this one matched Timmy’s pine furniture. Also, it was bigger and had more shelves and drawer space. I guess I hadn’t realized how many diapers Timmy (and, presumably, I) had. There were at least three dozen diapers on the shelves and the same number of plastic pants visible behind the glass doors of the side cabinets.
“Your daytime plastic pants are in the cabinet on the left, and your nighttime ones on the right. Powder, pins, diaper rash cream, and other supplies are in the drawers along the top,” Mr. Perals explained.
Timmy giggled and thanked his dad for the surprise. For my part, I was still amazed at how jealous I felt that I didn’t have a nice changing table like this in my bedroom.
“Finish getting dressed,” Mrs. Perals added. “We’re going out to eat.”
“Where are we going?” Timmy asked.
“Nothing special. Just to Hayward’s and then maybe we’ll stop for ice cream on the way home. Get a clean shirt and some socks for Billy. Hurry and get dressed—mom is almost finished giving Carl his bath.”
“Umm …, I’ll have to call my mom,” I pointed out.
“All taken care of,” Mr. Perals answered. “Mrs. Perals talked to your mom this afternoon.”
My mind was racing. Were we going to wear pants? Probably not, I thought. The only other time Timmy and I had gone around publicly (outside of our neighborhood) in just our diapers and plastic pants had been at the Chicken Farm, a restaurant nearly fifty miles away. Hayward’s was a drive-in restaurant only a couple of miles from our neighborhood. Would we be eating in the car? Probably not, I again thought. Carl was a very messy eater so we would have to eat at one of the outside picnic tables. Would we run into kids that we knew? Almost certainly, I groaned inwardly. I was very getting nervous about this outing.
“Can we wear my new summer shirts?” Timmy asked.
“OK,” his dad agreed, “but don’t take all day picking them out.”
Mr. Perals left and we put on our white socks and high-top sneakers.
“Do you think your parents will let us wear our pants?” I asked.
“Only if they’re in the mood to listen to Carl screaming the whole time. Why do you ask?”
“We’re going to Hayward’s. Don’t you care that other kids will probably see our diapers?” I whined.
Before Timmy could answer, his dad came back into the room.
“OK, guys, enough talking. Mom is almost finished dressing Carl. Get a move on.”
“See,” Timmy continued. “We don’t have a choice anyways. So, why worry? “Here,” he said opening one of the dresser drawers, “pick a shirt you like.”
There was a collection of a half-dozen brand new striped t-shirts for me to choose from. I selected a multi-colored blue and green one; he chose a red and yellow one. I put it on and immediately noticed that it felt funny. I looked over to Timmy and saw that his shirt barely reached the top of his plastic pants… the same as mine!
“Aren’t these neat?” he asked. “I hate wearing shirts in the summer but my mom makes me because she says I’ll get too much sun. So. I convinced her to cut them short like she does for Carl. Great idea, huh?”
He sounded so enthusiastic that I didn’t want to contradict him. But, I did make a mental note to keep plenty of my shirts handy all summer long. They would cover up at least half of my plastic pants.
I was dismayed to see how crowded Hayward’s was. There was bound to be someone there from school who would know us. My knees began shaking. Timmy startled me when he leaned over and touched my leg. “It’s OK,” he whispered, “my parents won’t let anything bad happen.” I didn’t get the chance to explain that I wasn’t worried about what would happen in the next few minutes—I was worried about what would happen in school the following week. I cautiously got out of the car and looked around. People were staring at us but I didn’t notice anyone I knew. Mrs. Perals held Carl by the hand and led him to a nearby picnic table. The rest of us followed.
“OK,” Mr. Perals asked, “who wants a hot dog and who wants a hamburger?”
Mrs. Perals asked for a hamburger.
“I want a hot dog,” Timmy said.
“Me, too,” I added.
“Tot dod,” a crisp little voice said.
We were all stunned. Had Carl really meant to ask for a hot dog or was he just making random sounds?
“Do you want a hot dog, too?” Mrs. Perals asked Carl.
“Tot dod, tot dod, tot dod,” Carl repeated while simultaneously banging the table.
Mr. & Mrs. Perals looked at each other and smiled.
“Well, why not? Let’s try it,” Mr. Perals said. “Three hot dogs and two hamburgers it is. I need you guys to come and help me,” he added to Timmy and me.
Timmy looked as surprised and worried as me that we had to go to the ordering window. Mr. Perals sensed our discomfort and walked between us, draping one arm over each of us and holding us closely by his side. I didn’t care if it looked babyish; I felt protected. The only slight problem was that our plastic pants made loud swishing sounds as they rubbed up against Mr. Perals pants.
We had to wait about five minutes in the ordering line. Once again, I felt like we were the center of attention with people staring at us and whispering. We were next in line when Molly Hamston, a girl in our class, spotted us.
“Hi, Billy. Hi, Tim,” she greeted us. She was dressed in a bathing suit. “We’re coming back from a day at the lake. What did you guys do today?”
“Nothing special,” Timmy answered. “We played around the house with my brother.”
“That’s nice,” She paused for a couple of seconds. “I think that you ought to know that all the girls in the class think that you guys would be really nice brothers to have. I mean, the way you’re trying to be helpful. We don’t think any of our brothers would do nearly as much to help any of us.”
I was feeling shy but happy all at once. She didn’t make any teasing or humiliating references to our diapers and she had complimented us. Timmy and I beamed with pride.
“And,” Mr. Perals added, “we think that Carl spoke his first words just now… a few minutes ago.”
“Really!” Molly exclaimed.
“Yes,” Mr. Perals said wryly, “hot dog… or his version of the words.”
“Well, I guess that’s better than Timmy’s first word: no,” he said, gently tousling Timmy’s hair and chuckling.
Molly giggled again. Timmy turned red in the face and was on the point of objecting when it was our turn to order.
“See you Monday,” Molly called as she went back to her family’s table.
“She seems like a very nice girl,” Mr. Perals commented.
“Yeah,” we agreed wholeheartedly.
We brought the food back to the picnic table. Carl was already wearing his bib and still chanting tot dod. I wondered if Mrs. Perals was sick of hearing it, but she simply smiled at us as we approached.
“Let’s test this out,” Mr. Perals suggested.
Everyone looked at him quizzically. He took one of the hamburgers and placed it on the table in front of Carl. Carl became agitated and pushed it away. Mr. Perals replaced it with a hot dog. Carl giggled and picked it up. Tot dod, tot dod, he began chanting as he picked it up and showed everybody. This was astonishing. Carl had associated an object with words! Mr. & Mrs. Perals smiled at each other through their tears. Carl kept on chanting tot dod, tot dod even as he ate.
“This is an answer to a prayer,” Mrs. Perals said. “I can hardly believe it.”
“Yes, dear,” Mr. Perals said, “but let’s not jump to conclusions. We’ll have to see if Carl retains any of this.”
“I know,” she responded, “but in my heart I feel it. This is real. We’ll need to stop at the supermarket on the way home to pick up some hot dogs and buns. I want to test Carl at lunch tomorrow.”
Everyone was so excited that I wondered if they would forget that we were supposed to stop for ice cream on the way home. My fear was unfounded; Mr. Perals drove us directly to the drive in. Once again, Timmy and I piled out of the car and Mrs. Perals and Carl saved us a table. Timmy and I got double-scoop ice cream cones while Mrs. Perals bought ice cream in a cup for everyone else. Carl was still chanting tot dod but he gladly accepted the ice cream. I wondered if this meant that he had already forgotten what the words meant.
We finished our treat and headed back to the car. Timmy suddenly stopped. He was staring at something across the parking lot. I followed his gaze and gasped. Fred, who had gone from being my main friend to being our chief tormentor, was smiling at us. It wasn’t the least bit amiable; it sent a chill down my back. I sensed that Timmy felt the same way. We looked at each other and, had we been alone, probably would have said a dirty word to each other. Mr. Perals called to us, saying that everyone was waiting. We looked back toward Fred who was now laughing out loud as he stared at us. Timmy and I were quiet on the way home knowing that we were in for a lot of trouble on Monday. We consoled ourselves with the thought that next week was the last week of school and we would be rid of Fred at least for the summer.
As soon as we got back to Timmy’s I was anxious to go home and tell my parents about Carl’s first words.
“That’s marvelous!” my mom exclaimed. “You and Timmy should be very proud of everything you’ve done for Carl. I’m sure he’s going to learn a lot more from both of you.”
I wasn’t sure that that was true, but I felt good that she thought so.
“”I see that you’re wearing one of Timmy’s summer shirts. Do you like it?”
This caught me off guard.
“Yeah, I guess so,” I said without really thinking about it.
“Good. I’ve gotten some for you, too.”
Once again, I realized that I had trapped myself. But, I did like how much cooler it was wearing this shirt. I decided that it would be OK to wear this kind of shirt all summer. Everybody in the neighborhood had already seen me in diapers. What difference would it make if they saw three or four more inches?
“It’s getting late,” my dad said. “I think it’s time to get you into your night diaper.”
“Yes, you need a change anyway,” my mom added.
They both began walking with me to my room. I admit that I was beginning to enjoy the extra attention my diapers were getting me, but I thought it was odd that my mom and my dad were going to change me together. We walked into my room and I stopped in my tracks. It had been rearranged to accommodate a changing table just like Timmy’s. The happiness I felt was expressed in the smile I flashed to my parents. I thanked them enthusiastically and then got embarrassed. How could I be happy about such a thing? I was only wearing diapers because I was helping Timmy to learn. I shouldn’t get excited about seeing my diapers and plastic pants neatly arranged in a piece of furniture that belonged in a nursery. My parents sensed my conflicted feelings.
“It will really help us a lot if you agree to use it,” my dad said. “The height will make it much easier for us to change your diapers.”
“And, your room will be a lot easier to keep tidy,” my mom said encouragingly. “Now your diapers and plastic pants won’t have to be piled everywhere.”
I tried to look at least a little bit reluctant but I think they knew that I really liked it. I accepted the fact that I was becoming really weird.
The next afternoon, after we came back from church and lunch, my mom changed me, after which I prepared to leave for Timmy’s. I opened my dresser and saw a pile of new striped shirts similar to the ones Timmy had just gotten.
“Do you like them?” my mom asked. “Mrs. Perals told me what Timmy had asked for so I decided to get you some, too.”
“Yeah,” I said, “They’re nice.”
I picked one up and unfolded it. My mom had already shortened it. Just like my reaction to the changing table, I was kind of happy to have these new shirts but embarrassed by my feelings. Why was I so accepting of these babyish shirts when just yesterday afternoon I had been worried about wearing one out to the restaurant? My mom asked me to turn around so she could check the fit.
“It looks just right,” she gushed. “You’ll look so cute playing together.”
“Mom!” I complained.
I went over to Timmy’s and he noticed my shirt right away.
“Neat!” he exclaimed. “Did you get enough to wear every day?
Once again I was happy and embarrassed all at once. (His question also made think that I hadn’t seen any of my old shirts in the dresser and I suddenly wondered what had happened to them. The mystery was resolved a couple of days later when they reappeared—cut down to size like my new ones.)
Fred was as horrible to us on Monday as I had imagined he would be. By the time Timmy and I arrived, all the boys in our class knew about our wearing diapers to the ice cream stand. The taunting and mockery continued all that day and into the next. I wanted to get even with him but Timmy, who was much more patient and calm than me, got me to see that we couldn’t win.
“Everything that Fred said is true,” he pointed out.
The girls, with Molly in the lead, tried to come to our aid but we were at an age where getting help from girls was almost worse than getting no help at all. Nonetheless, Timmy and I appreciated the effort, although we didn’t acknowledge it at the time.
Timmy and I were ecstatically happy when Thursday, the last day of school, was over. Fred had been particularly mean to us. I would have retaliated somehow or other had it not been for my fear of the punishment I was sure my parents would mete out. Once we were back in our neighborhood, I felt safe and secure again. Within fifteen minutes of getting home, I had changed into my summer clothes—white socks, high-top Keds, striped t-shirt, diaper, and plastic pants.
Things had become very exciting since Carl spoke his first words. (They really were his first words since he remembered them!) Timmy and I were glad that school was over—and not just because of Fred’s tormenting. We anxiously looked forward to spending time with Carl. Ever since he learned to say tot dod, his mind seemed to be open to learning new words. Mrs. Perals was very strict with us, though. She didn’t want us running wild trying to teach him to say all kids of silly things. Rather, she wisely allowed Carl to tell us what he wanted to learn. At first, we spent a lot of time in his room with his toys. He particularly wanted to know about his toy village. We taught him the words for car, truck, road, and house. This is where we were when school ended.
“I wonder what Carl wants to do today,” Timmy said on the bus ride home. “You’re not sorry you got involved in this, are you?”
“No, I like it,” I answered enthusiastically, “and, now that school is over, we’ll be able to spend a lot of time with him.”
When we got back to the neighborhood, I checked in with my mom before going over to Timmy’s. After my mom changed my diaper (which I didn’t think needed changing) I was surprised that Timmy was at the kitchen door.
“Whatcha doing here?” I asked.
“Can I stay here for a while? Carl is having a really bad day.”
I was disappointed that we wouldn’t be teaching Carl.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“My mom says that Carl threw a fit while they were shopping and that he’s been sulking since they came home. I walked into his room to play with him and he started screaming at me, just like he used to do. My mom said that it would probably be better if I left.”
The same thing happened the next morning and then all weekend. On Sunday, I finally asked what was going on.
“I don’t know,” Timmy answered. “My mom says that she thinks she knows, but that she won’t tell me anything until tomorrow.”
I hoped that Mrs. Perals had the answer to Timmy’s problem but, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even imagine what the problem was. Had Carl tried to learn too much and his brain got overloaded? Had Timmy and I done something to upset him? If we had, I couldn’t imagine what that was, either. An even crazier thought bothered me. If we were indeed finished working with Carl, would Timmy and I stop wearing diapers? I didn’t dare ask what he thought about the possibility but I didn’t like it. For one thing, I was really feeling good about helping Carl—stopping at this point made me feel like a deserter. The other reason was just plain crazy. I had really gotten used to wearing diapers and plastic pants. They felt comfortable and I didn’t want to give them up… ever. (I told you it was crazy.)
Monday morning rolled around and Timmy didn’t show up at my house. I asked my mom if I could go over to Timmy’s or telephone him to find out what was happening.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea. Something important must be going on or Timmy would have come over. I think you’ll just have to be patient and wait for him to contact you.”
I got the feeling that my mom knew something about all this, but she wouldn’t answer my questions. I was really getting restless when Timmy finally showed up at 11:00. I let him in and pounced on him immediately.
“Well?” I asked anxiously.
“Look,” he answered, emptying the contents of a paper bag onto the table.
At first, I couldn’t tell what I was looking at until my eyes focused on what Timmy was wearing.
“Those are baby diapers!” I exclaimed.
“That’s what’s been bothering Carl,” he answered.
I looked at him blankly.
“My mom was working with Carl on Thursday morning. She figured out that he wanted to learn colors so she was teaching him simple things like blue, green, and red. Anyway, she needed to go shopping so she took Carl with her. They went into the pharmacy to buy baby powder and rash cream when Carl saw baby print diapers like these. He recognized the colors and he wanted them. Obviously, they were too small to fit him so my mom tried to get him focused on something else. She couldn’t do it and so she left the store with him kicking and screaming. That’s why he’s been so upset.”
“OK,” I answered, but I was still confused.
I didn’t know what to say next. Timmy read my confusion and took up the story again.
“My mom saw that Carl was probably going to stay upset for a long time so she went back to the store that night. The lady told her that it was possible to special-order baby print diapers in sizes for bigger kids. My mom decided to order some for Carl, for you, and for me.”
I guess I must have looked horrified by the thought of wearing these infantile baby diapers.
“I know that these look really weird,” he said, “but Carl has been really happy since my mom gave them to him. When he saw that I was wearing one, too, he even laughed.”
What could I do? Of course I was going to wear them. Like I said before, I would have felt like a traitor abandoning Carl at this point.
“Well, Billy, what are you going to do?” my mother asked.
I jumped at the sound of her voice; I didn’t know that she had been listening to us.
“I guess I’ll wear them,” I answered softly.
She selected one from the table and told me to follow her upstairs since I needed a diaper change. When she pulled my plastic pants over the new diaper I saw that really babyish looking trains, airplanes, and cars were visible through the semi-transparent white pants.
“I think you should put on a solid colored t-shirt,” my mom said.
I opened my dresser and took out a yellow one.
My mom smiled. “That’s nice. You picked out a color that matches your baby diaper and one that Carl knows.”
I was crushed that mom had called my diaper a baby diaper. Come to think of it so had Timmy.
Things got back on track right away. Carl continued to learn a few words each day. He seemed to think it was especially funny to point at our baby diapers (yeah—I started calling them that, too) and identify a color or a shape. Colors and food interested him greatly. He had learned lots of words in those categories. He could point out and ask for milk, orange juice (which came out sounding like grange joos), bread, cookies, and hot dogs, of course. As for colors, he was constantly pointing to things and saying their color. This seemed to give him tremendous pleasure. And, I admit I was basking in the reflected glory of Carl’s success. As word spread around the neighborhood, Timmy and I were treated like genuine heroes. This was shaping up to be a great summer. Surprisingly, Timmy and I even started expressing preferences about which baby diapers we liked to wear most. I enjoyed one that featured rockets and airplanes over a blue background and he favored a yellow diaper covered with Loony Toon characters.
My dad’s vacation was due to come up during the second and third weeks of June. We usually went away on a trip during the first week and then spent the other week at home. I hadn’t heard my mom or dad talking about vacation plans yet so I asked during dinner one night.
“Are we going somewhere on vacation this year?” I asked.
The exchanged guilty-looking glances and my dad answered by asking me a question.
“Do you know that this year mom and I will be married exactly twenty-five years?”
I didn’t, but I said that I did.
“Well, your mom and I would like to go on a second honeymoon.”
“OK,” I said sensing where they were going with this. They obviously wanted to go on a second honeymoon alone. “What will I do?” I asked.
They smiled and asked me if I wanted to stay with Timmy while they were gone.
“Isn’t Julie coming home this summer?” I wondered.
I had actually been thinking about my sister a lot since I started wearing diapers again. I knew that my mom had told her about what I was doing and I wondered how she would treat me. She had written me one letter but she didn’t make any direct reference to my diaper wearing. Her only comment had been that she encouraged me to continue “thinking about the needs of other people.”
“No, honey,” my mom answered. “She’s gotten a job near the college. She and a friend are going to move into an apartment. She wants to save up as much money as possible so that she can start graduate school in the fall. She’ll be coming home for a few days around Labor Day.”
“Back to our question,” my dad said. “Do you want to stay with Timmy and his family while we’re gone?”
“Can I really?” I asked with growing excitement. “Have they said it was OK?”
“Yes, they’ve said it was OK,” my dad chuckled. “You know that they like you a lot. They think that it is solely because of you that Carl has progressed so much.”
I blushed and said that Carl was learning because everybody was helping out.
“That may be true,” my dad answered, “but it was your insight about the diapers that started everything off.”
“When are you going away?” I asked.
“In five days. I’m taking three weeks vacation this year. Mom and I will be gone for seventeen days.”
I was getting more and more excited about this plan… seventeen days with Timmy and Carl!
“Can I go back over to Timmy’s house to tell him.”
“I don’t think Mr. & Mrs. Perals have told Timmy about the plan yet,” my mom said. “I’ll call after dinner and tell them that you’ve said yes.”
I almost got into trouble for bugging my mom three times after dinner to remember to call Mrs. Perals. Not two minutes after she had done it, the phone rang. It was Timmy.
“My mom and dad just told me about your staying with us. This is so cool. Did your mom and dad tell you that my dad is taking two weeks of vacation at the same time?”
“No,” I answered in surprise.
“Yes!” he confirmed. “My mom and dad are even talking about taking short overnight trips to see how Carl will handle it.”
That sounded exciting, too. Things were getting better and better.
I guess my mom and dad had been planning their trip for a long time because my mom didn’t seem to be doing her usual mad dash to get things ready and packed. I didn’t need to do very much to get ready to go over to Timmy’s since my wardrobe was minimal, to say the least. Two days before I was to begin my stay, I brought over about half of my diaper supplies, along with socks and shirts. I asked if I should take my sleeping bag over, too, but my mom said that “other arrangements” had been made. The Perals were given a key to our house in case I needed anything else.
My parents had an early morning flight on Monday, so I said goodbye to them on Sunday night and went over to Timmy’s. It was still light outside so we played with Carl in the yard for about an hour. Just as it was beginning to get dark, his mom called us in. Timmy had been acting a little weird and I asked him what was wrong.
“Well, I guess you’ll find out soon enough. Since Carl and I have been getting along so much better, my parents rearranged the house so that Carl and I share a bedroom. We got a big bed yesterday. It’s big enough for all three of us.”
“OK,” I said, not understanding why Timmy was making such a big deal out of it. “Is Carl OK with this?’
“Yeah, I think so,” he answered. “We slept together last night and nothing happened. I think he even liked the idea of us sleeping in the same bed.”
“Then, it really is OK. I don’t mind sleeping in the same bed with you and Carl… unless you guys snore a lot,” I teased.
We went up to what had been Carl’s room and I noticed that his crib was gone. In its place stood Timmy’s changing table, but Carl’s games and toys were still there. Mr. and Mrs. Perals had accompanied us upstairs. Mr. Perals set about changing me out of a very soiled diaper and Mrs. Perals took care of Carl. When the two of us were snug in our nighttime diapers, Mrs. Perals went downstairs and Mr. Perals began changing Timmy. Carl was in a good mood and he began tugging at my arm. I assumed that he wanted me to go somewhere so I started following him.
“Wait!” Timmy exclaimed from his changing table. “Let me get my diaper changed first, then we can all go together…. Dad! Stop them!” Timmy whined.
I was already out the door with Carl and I heard Mr. Perals tell Timmy to calm down and that everything would be alright. We went across the hall into what was now Timmy and Carl’s bedroom. I guessed that Carl wanted me to see their new bed. It was dark so I switched on the light. I think that I gasped out loud when I saw it. The ‘bed’ was an oversized crib, the same size as my parents’ big bed! Carl was very pleased with himself and he giggled for several seconds. Then he climbed into the crib, over the lowered rail. He made motions that seemed to say that he wanted me to follow him. He giggled some more once I had joined him and, then, he handed me one of his teddy bears. (He had at least four or five.) A few seconds later, Mr. Perals and a red-faced Timmy came into the room.
“Let me explain,” Timmy stammered.
“You don’t need to explain,” I answered. “You already told me that Carl can’t sleep in a regular bed. I don’t mind sleeping in a crib with you guys.”
“See, Timmy, I told you that Billy would understand. He’s a very generous and perceptive boy.”
I was now the one who became red-faced. Carl fell asleep about an hour later and Mr. Perals carried him off to the crib. An additional hour after that Mrs. Perals told us that it was our bedtime, too. We went upstairs and she steered us to the changing tables.
“I don’t think I need a change,” I said.
“No, honey, I didn’t think you did. You just need to finish getting ready for bed.” she explained.
Timmy was once again looking uncomfortable and embarrassed.
“Carl doesn’t do well with blankets, especially in the summer, so there aren’t any in the crib. He wears light cotton sleepers instead.”
“Oh, so you want us to wear pajamas, too?” I asked.
“That’s right,” she agreed. Turning to Timmy she said, “Get some fresh ones for Billy, please. Yours are hanging on the hook in the closet.”
Timmy opened a drawer and pulled out yellow pajamas, which he handed to his mom. In the meantime, I had removed my sneakers, socks, and t-shirt.
“Put those over there in the hamper,” she said referring to my socks and t-shirt.
I thought that it was odd that Timmy was taking so long to retrieve his pajamas from the closet. Anyway, I went back to Mrs. Perals who was still holding the pajamas. She unfolded them and that’s when I saw that they were baby sleepers, complete with enclosed feet.
“I have to wear those?” I exclaimed.
“Yes, honey,” she said gently, in an obvious attempt not to upset me. “It still gets cool at night.”
Timmy came out of the closet wearing an identical pair of sleepers.
“Here, step into these while I get Timmy buttoned up,” she said.
My eyes focused on Timmy. The buttons ran up the back of the sleeper, not the front. Mrs. Perals read the surprise in my eyes and explained.
“Carl used to rip the buttons off his sleepers and play with them. I was always afraid that he might swallow one and choke. I don’t know if he would still do it, but I’d rather not take the chance.”
“But couldn’t he pull one of our buttons off?” I asked.
“Yes, he could,” she admitted, “but that would wake you up and you’d stop him from hurting himself, wouldn’t you?”
Of course, I agreed. She finished buttoning Timmy’s and my sleeper. It was funny—for days we had been going around in just our diapers and plastic pants and I hadn’t thought anything of it. Now that our diapers and plastic pants were covered, I felt like a complete fool. I knew that Timmy and I looked exactly like overgrown toddlers.
“Brush your teeth and dad will come and help you into bed,” Mrs. Perals said.
As we were putting the toothpaste on our toothbrushes I asked Timmy why his dad had to help us into bed.
“The crib rail is already raised. If we lower it now, it might wake Carl up and he gets really cranky when that happens. My dad will lift us up over the rail and lay us down gently so that the crib doesn’t shake too much.”
This revelation really made me feel like a helpless toddler. Although, I admit that, in just a few days, I started looking forward to this treatment: it felt good to be picked up and laid down in the crib, especially since he also took the opportunity to ruffle my hair and tickle me under my arms.
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