This chapter sets the stage for where we go from here.
Hope you like it,
He snuggled her close. Charles had no idea how he was going to fix it, but somehow, he was going to get her to see that while he had meant well, he had taken it too far. It was his fault, not hers.
Abby snuggled close to Daddy and nursed her binky contentedly. She didn’t understand why he hadn’t come to play with her if she hadn’t been bad, but was happy that he had promised to play every day. She loved Nanny dearly, but really missed Daddy. It wasn’t long before the toys got her attention again, and she told him “Pway wif me Daddy.”
“Well, I can’t right now Baby.” Charles told her, smiling at how cute she sounded. He felt bad when she looked sad. “I need to go call some people so you can have a swing to swing on tomorrow. You want to swing don’t you?”
Abby smiled a big smile when she heard that. Hugging Daddy tightly, she said “Yeth!” bouncing up and down.
“Do you remember how much fun it was when we went to the park?” Charles asked. When he saw her look very confused, and then get anxious, he didn’t understand.
Karen had turned on the audio in the observation room when Charles left. When she heard Charles ask about the park, she quickly ran around the corner, entered the playroom going straight to Abby’s bottle, picked it up and offered it to her saying “Ba-ba Abby girl.”
Abby heard Daddy ask about the park and became anxious. She didn’t remember being at the park, but somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew she should. This cause her to feel disoriented. When Miss Karen held her ba-ba out to her, she forgot about the question, took her ba-ba, and snuggled close to Daddy, nursing. The ba-ba made her feel so warm and snuggly and her dipey felt really good on her bottom, especially as Daddy patted it.
Karen shook her head when Charles looked at her questioningly. Speaking to Abby, she asked “Can you go snuggle with Nanny for a while Baby Girl? I need to talk with Daddy for a little bit.”
Abby hugged Daddy real tight and then toddled over to Nanny. When Nanny picked her up and cuddled her close, she sighed contentedly and closed her eyes, nursing her ba-ba.
Charles stood and followed Karen out of the room. When they went back into the observation room, Karen turned to him and said “I’m sorry, with all of the difficulty, I didn’t have time to tell you.”
“Tell me what?” Charles asked perplexed.
“I’ve given her some suggestions that make it easier on her for right now. A good example of that is the phrase I spoke, ‘ba-ba Abby girl’. While she won’t remember I said those words, the phrase immediately induces a desire for her bottle. When she starts nursing it, she will feel secure, loved and very content.” Karen explained. “Remember that phrase Charles, if something happens that frightens her or makes her very upset, it’s a safeguard.” she added.
“OK, what happened? Why did she get upset?” he asked.
“I’ve made it very difficult for her to remember the details of the past, including you’re day at the park. I needed to provide a framework to work within.” Karen told him.
“She doesn’t remember the day at the park?” Charles asked fearfully.
“It’s OK Charles, it’s only temporary, but no she doesn’t. As far as Abby knows, she is your baby girl, and you have always been her Daddy. She has no real idea how old she is, but knows with a certainty, that she’s a toddler. Her bottle, her binky, her diapers and all of the other baby things that she has, or will have are perfectly normal from her point of view. She has no concept of using the toilet, drinking from a cup, or feeding herself, except with her fingers.” she explained.
“OK, I’m lost. I thought she was behaving this way because I told her at the office she had to.” Charles told her.
“She was a couple of days ago, but since, I changed her perception from a feeling of having to, to wanting to because she’s a toddler. Abby’s not pretending, she is a toddler for all practical purposes. I saw it would be beneficial for several reasons. First, it provides a foundation to build upon when I start trying to fix what went wrong years ago. Second, it prevents a lot of problems, like her wondering if you would still want her if she wasn’t behaving like a child.” Karen told him.
Charles looked startled. “Would she think that?” he asked incredulously.
“Put yourself in her place for a moment, wouldn’t you wonder? First you spend time with her at the park as a nine year old, next she had to behave as a six year old. Then you told her she had to be a toddler. How would you see it?” she asked him.
Charles considered this a moment and knew that Karen was right. “I never even considered how it looked.” he said guiltily.
“I didn’t think so, but relax, she hasn’t said anything that gave me that impression, but I figured I would head it off at the pass. When you consider everything that’s happened in the last week or so, it’s no wonder you didn’t think about it. From what you’ve told me, you’ve only had a whole day together.” she explained.
With a sigh, Charles said “You’re right.”
“I need you to understand what I’m going to try to do. That way, you can avoid interfering with the process. But I think it would be better if Adela was in on this conversation as well so I don’t have to repeat myself.” she told him.
“Alright, how do we swing that?” he asked, not wanting to leave Abby alone right now.
“We can take her to your office, there’s room to sit and talk there.”
“But I didn’t think you’d want her to hear this conversation.” he said perplexed.
“Don’t worry, she won’t. I’ll make her very sleepy. As long as you hold her and pat her bottom, she’ll stay asleep.” Karen explained.
“Alright, let’s get her and go to the office.” Charles said as he started for the door. A moment or two later, Abby was laying comfortably in his lap, still nursing her bottle.
Karen approached the two of them and said “Sleepy time Abby girl.”
Abby was really enjoying the feel of the nipple in her mouth. She loved the taste of the milk as well. She saw Miss Karen approach her, and suddenly, she yawned a huge yawn, closed her eyes and was lost in the feeling of nursing and the sensation of Daddy’s hand gently patting her dipey.
Charles watched Abby drift off to sleep. He smiled at Karen and said “It scares me sometimes how good you are at that.”
Karen chuckled and told him “Be glad that I am, it was the only way to have her in the room and the three of us to sit and talk without her able to understand. I don’t think leaving her alone right now is a good idea.”
“I definitely agree she shouldn’t be left alone right now.” Adela offered. “She still gets anxious when she wakes up from her nap and she doesn’t see Daddy. She frightened he’ll leave her.” she added.
When Charles sighed, Karen told him “It will take time to get her to see that you’re not going anywhere. You’re going to have to spend more time with her though. If you love her, then be with her. Play with her, change her, feed her, these things will show her how much you love her and ease her fears. You know how to do these things, I’ve seen you with your nieces. I know it’s not pleasant changing a messy diaper on a person her age, but the potential gains are enormous.”
“Karen, I’ll changer messy bottom, I don’t care. I just don’t want to hurt her again.” Charles said defensively.
“Charles, please understand, her only experience with a man changing her involved things no child should have to go through. By doing this, you will give me the tools to show her that it wasn’t supposed to be that way. That’s half the battle, getting her to understand that the way she was treated wasn’t right, and wasn’t her fault.” Karen explained. Turning to Adela, she added “I don’t know if she could have found a better person to care for her than you Adela. You’ve shown her so much love and kindness in the short time you’ve cared for her. She has repeatedly told me that she loves her Nanny dearly.”
Charles saw Adela look upon Abby with love as tears formed in her eyes. “I love her Karen. It struck me when we were in hiding, that while she may have balked at being made to do things she didn’t like, or railed at not being able to do what she wanted, there is no malice in her. She never once was mean or hateful.” Adela told her. “The first time she said ‘I love you’ she stole my heart.”
Charles looked down at the sleeping little girl in his lap, feeling the soft diaper on her bottom as he continued to pat. He had to agree, there wasn’t a mean spirited bone in her whole body. He involuntarily found himself giving her a kiss on her forehead and smiling at her. She shifted slightly, and with a contented sigh, nursed comfortably on her binky.
Karen watched his reaction, and smiled. He really loved that little girl. “You really love her don’t you?” she asked him.
“Yes, I do.” he said without hesitation.
“You don’t love her the way you did me, do you?” Karen asked, not able to help herself.
Without the slightest hesitation, Charles answered. “No.” feeling a bit guilty.
“Well thank God for that.” she told him.
“Karen!” Charles exclaimed.
With an impish grin, Karen said “Charles, I’m a woman. You know? Hell hath no fury and all that? What did you expect?”
That made all three of them laugh. When Charles recovered, he said “I really want to thank you for helping her Karen, you have no idea what it means to me.”
Leaning out to place a gentle hand on Abby’s back, Karen told him “It’s alright, with what this poor girl has been through, I had no choice but to try to help her.”
Adela smiled at Karen and said “Thank you.”
“Alright,” Karen told them both, trying to bring the conversation away from her. “I’ve made some decisions for her, only because there was no time to consult you. From here on out, because it’s obvious that you two are the only ones that care abut her welfare, I’m going to leave it to you to decide how we proceed.” she explained. When she saw Charles show a clueless expression she added “Don’t worry, I’ll be telling you what I think will help her.”
Charles was never so glad in his life. While he had no problem figuring out what wasn’t good for Abby, he had no clear idea on how to help her at this point. The feelings of guilt for what he had pushed her to didn’t help either.
“There are several issues we need to discuss. First, I would strongly recommend that we keep her a toddler for a while, it will help provide both memories for her to cling to that don’t involve abuse, and it will give a strong, loving foundation to build upon.” Karen told them.
“That makes sense to me.” Charles said and looked directly to Adela.
Adela was somewhat surprised when she saw Charles looking to her to provide input. “I agree.” she told them.
“I’m going to need you to speak your mind on this Adela.” he told her. “Not that speaking your mind has ever been a problem before.” he added with a chuckle.
Adela blushed at that. “Charles, I only tell you what I do because I care about you.” she said defensively.
“I know.” he told her fondly. “And that’s exactly why I need you to tell me when you don’t agree, because you care about her.” he added with a smile. Charles knew if he hadn’t picked Abby up when she was screaming in the office, Adela would have. She couldn’t stand to see the poor girl terrified any more than he could.
“OK, then that’s settled, she’ll remain a baby for now. Charles, I don’t think I have to tell you that sexual contact at this point is not a good idea. In fact it would cause a great deal of harm.”
“No, you’re right, you don’t have to tell me.” Charles responded somewhat embarrassed.
“I think keeping her in her crib at night is a good idea. It would be too easy to respond inappropriately without realizing it. If she’s terrified or upset, then I want Adela to take her to her bed, but if you can, encourage her to sleep in her crib.”
“That sounds reasonable.” Charles agreed.
Adela said “Yes, I have no problem with her sleeping with me if necessary.”
“That brings up another difficult topic. Masturbation.” Karen said.
Charles felt uncomfortable talking about Abby sexually with someone he had had sexual relations with in the past. When he thought about it, he at least hoped she was talking about Abby.
“She’s physically a woman, and has physiological needs. Sex is not just a means to procreate, or no one would ever seek to pleasure themselves. This will happen, probably when she’s being changed. I strongly advise that if it does happen, just ignore it and find a discrete way to allow her some privacy to do what she needs.” Karen explained. Seeing both Charles and Adela looking uncomfortable with this topic, she added “I know this isn’t exactly casual conversation material, but it will come up.”
Charles, putting his embarrassment aside, said “I’m sorry, it’s just weird having this conversation with you about Abby and this topic. I understand, and will allow her to do what she needs.”
Adela just nodded her head. While it would be somewhat awkward for her to stand by if this happened, she had seen her kids and grandkids do the same thing at times. The only difference was, she had discouraged them, but they were actual babies. Abby wasn’t.
Karen was glad to see Charles put his embarrassment aside and face this topic. She wasn’t about to address his need though, and continued with a different topic. “You will need to feed her. I wanted to keep her dependent on you both for her most basic needs in order to provide caring, loving experiences that I can use to help her. You might find it easier to sit her in a high chair. I know from seeing the crib, that you can get one made for her. It will also reinforce her feelings of being a toddler and that will help right now.” she explained.
Charles offered “I’ll call as soon as we’re done and get one made.”
“It’ll be a lot easier to feed her that way. I’ve noticed she becomes distracted and will move from one thing to another rather easily. This has made feeding her a difficult task so far.” Adela told them.
“Yes, by limiting her to a toddler’s perspective, it’s made her attention span much shorter. This is a good thing. She won’t try to concentrate on a slip of the tongue if you make a mistake. Please don’t hesitate to use the safeguard I told you about though, it’s a simple way to eliminate her anxiety and will make her very happy.” she told them.
When Adela looked puzzled, Charles said “I’ll explain a bit later when she’s in her crib.”
Karen moved to the next topic and said “I don’t know if you’ve thought about this, but you’re going to need to see that anything that can hurt her is out of her reach. While I know it’s hard to remember that she’s just a toddler, she will probably put things in her mouth.”
“I’ve done that with the nursery and the play room, but I’ll instruct the rest of the staff to baby proof any area that she will likely spend time in.” Adela assured them.
“Good idea.” Charles agreed.
“During the next session I have with her, I’m going to increase her need for her bear. I want her to see it as her second most important comfort item, her pacifier being the first. This will make it easier when we start moving her forward at a later date.”
Charles thought about this for a second and said “Alright, then I’ll contact the vendor at the fair and see where I can get several more of them, just in case.”
“That’s an excellent idea. Once she becomes attached to it, I don’t think I’ll be able to undo that attachment easily. That brings up another question. Charles, you saw how she nursed her thumb in her sleep and later, when she’d wake up, she denied ever having done so.” Karen reminded him.
“Yes, it was startling actually.” he told her.
“She did the same on the plane when we left here.” Adela explained.
Karen explained “She’s been regressing in her sleep. It’s a defensive mechanism, and probably is the only reason she’s been able to function as long as she has. I want to encourage this. Even when we finally do start encouraging her to mature, I want to keep allowing her, actually, encouraging her to have a bottle at bedtime and take her pacifier at night.”
“I don’t have any problem with that.” Charles replied.
Adela, nodding said “Nor do I.”
“Good, because there is a possibility that she may never want to sleep without her pacifier and her bear.” Karen explained.
“Look, I don’t care if she nurses a bottle and wets a diaper every night if it helps her get where she needs to be.” Charles said clearly.
“I’m glad you brought that up. She may not want to give up the diapers when all is said and done. I have made them a source of security and comfort now. I am certain I can get her to do her bowel movements in the toilet at some point, but I don’t know about wetting. Time will have to tell where that is concerned.” Karen told them.
“As long as she doesn’t feel bad because of it, I’ll be fine with that. I don’t want her ashamed or embarrassed.” Charles responded.
“I agree.” Adela added.
“Well, then I guess that’s all I have for right now. Any questions?” Karen asked.
“How long will she need to stay a toddler?” Charles replied.
“I don’t know exactly, but I’m sure it will be months before it’s time to help her advance.” Karen said.
“Alright, then I need to get a playground installed by tomorrow.” Charles explained with a smile.
Adela smiled and said “She’s gonna love you dearly for that Charles. She loves to swing.”
“I know, she spent an afternoon begging me to push her on the swings.” Charles replied. “That reminds me. You pointed out her wanting to make physical contact with Adela while she was in the playroom earlier. She did the same thing the day we were at the park. She wouldn’t go more than a half hour without running over to give me a hug.” he added.
Karen smiled. This was good news. It told her she had made the correct assumptions.
“What?” Charles asked.
“It just means I chose corretly from the start.” she told him.
“I always hated it when you gloated.” he said laughing.