“But, you can’t go back!” Tina said, following me back downstairs to the nursery. “Who will take care of you?”
I had just told Raye I had decided I needed to go back to Alabama for a few days in order to decide what to do about college. I had been with them all summer, and now it was time for me to decide whether to go back to Alabama and continue my education, or transfer to the school there in Tennessee that really didn’t have all the classes I needed. We had been bringing up possibilities for several weeks, but apparently Tina had convinced herself that no one would really let me go, and this was coming as a real shock to her.
“Tina…” I knelt down so I was eye level with her. “I’m not a REAL baby, you know. I can take care of myself.”
“No you can’t,” Tina asserted. “Britney said you need her to take care of you.”
“I did okay before I moved here this summer,” I told her.
She looked me up and down, especially at the bulge the diaper made in my pants. “Yes - I can see that,” she countered.
“You know, you are going to have to tell Britney sooner or later if you decide to go back there,” Pam said from behind me. I stood and walked into the nursery, opening a dresser drawer and starting to pull out some diapers to pack for my trip. The girls followed me. “She’s gonna take it pretty hard if you leave,” Pam continued.
“Yeah - I know,” I said after a minute. Actually, maybe that was a reason to stay. Or maybe it was a reason to leave. Should a twelve year old be that attached to me? Although it wasn’t like we dated or anything; she just loved taking care of me. I was sure it was all completely natural … well - pretty sure, anyway.
“Look, I haven’t decided yet,” I said. “That’s why I have to go down there. I need to see both places and consider this. I need to get away from here so I can decide if it is really where I need to be right now.”
“You promised Daddy,” Tina brought up. “He asked you to help out while he was in Iraq. He’s not back yet, so if you leave you are breaking a promise.”
“We said I would stay here for the Summer,” I answered. “We never discussed anything beyond that. I’m sure he knows I was planning on going back, just like he knew I would not come until my classes were over last May.” In reality, it would have been much easier for me if he HAD asked me to stay, but his statements were the same as Rayona’s - he was sure if I stayed I would be a big help, but it was totally up to me and I shouldn’t feel pressured either way. They didn’t realize that not being told what to do is actually more pressure than being told what to do.
Tina had accepted that she was out of arguments to keep me from going, and instead resorted to following me around and watching me with Bambi eyes. “At least take us with you,” she said, referring to Pam and herself.
Well, this was simple enough. I wouldn’t have to look like the bad guy on this one - their mother would never let them go, and…
“That sounds like a good idea,” Raye said.
I blinked. “What?”
“They can go with you. It will give you some quality time - especially should you decide to go ahead and move back there,” she expounded.
“Umm - but I won’t be around all the time,” I said. “I’ll have to be on Campus and stuff.”
“So? Pam is 14, she and Tina will be fine by themselves for a few hours,” Rayona told me.
I paused. This was an interesting dilemma. I had promised to help out - it was the whole reason I came, and Rayona was telling me that getting the girls out of there for a few days would really be helping her a lot. All three females looked at me expectantly. A few years ago Pam and Tina and learned, while they were selling girl-scout cookies, that I was completely unable to resist Bambi eyes, and Tina was using them full force now. They had gotten their way on many things by using them.
I sighed. Tina took this as a sign of her victory. “I knew he’d say yes,” she said confidently.
I looked at her. “There are conditions,” I cautioned.
Her look turned suspicious. “What kind of conditions?” she asked.
“First of all, no public mentions, teasing, or trying to baby me,” I started.
“Public?” Pam stressed. She caught that pretty quickly.
“Yes - public,” I said. “I know too many people around there, so no bibs and bottles at restaurants, or mentioning my diapers while we are out, or any of that.”
“While we are out…” Pam repeated.
“Is there an echo in here?” I gave her a look and got only a thoughtful smile in return.
“And second…” I thought this could definitely come in handy… “While in my house, you have to live by my rules - just like I live by yours while I am staying here.”
Tina snorted. “YOU have rules?” she giggled.
“Yeah - one of them is that little girls who are sarcastic get their bottoms smacked,” I said, taking a light swing at her backside. She let out a little meep and dodged it; then she stuck her tongue out at me.
I turned back and began to pack other things in the suitcase. “How long are you planning on staying down there?” Pam asked.
“About a week, I would say,” I answered.
“Well then, you really DO need us. You really think 15 diapers are going to last you all week long?”
I blushed as I looked at the already half filled suitcase. “Diapers take up an awful lot of room. I’ll just take an extra pack of them in the trunk. That’ll make about 37, which should be plenty. Happy now?” Pam did not look happy until she also added a baby bottle and my pacifier and teddy bear from Britney to the packing. I rolled my eyes, but was secretly relieved that someone had insisted on me taking them. I had become attached to sleeping with both, and wasn’t sure I could now sleep without either one of them, let alone both.
“We’ll leave in the morning,” I said, finishing packing and closing the suitcase - after taking the pacifier and bear out. “I’ll put them back in the morning,” I promised Pam.
“After your diaper change and morning bottle,” Tina added, giggling. I just smiled - she may have thought she had the upper hand, but I had a few plans up my sleeve for my two adopted little sisters.