Monday, 21 May 2012

Bunnykins. How one boy becomes aunty's baby bunny

Aunty cradled Philip in her arms as easily as she would a small child. ‘You’re my little Bunnykins aren’t you? Yes you are.’
Philip was used to her question-and-answer style of talking to him and was pleased when she finally grew tired of her game, standing him down on the small rug in front of the cheval mirror.
Philip stared at his reflection, his birthday was a matter of weeks away; instead of a young man of sixteen he saw a smooth skinned little boy wearing only the clean nappies that Aunty had freshly changed him into. She bent down behind him, resting her hands on his shoulders, ‘Aunty has laid out your pretty clothes Bunnykins, do you think you can put them on all by yourself? Yes of course you can.’ Talking directly to the mirror she kissed his cheek affectionately. ‘Come straight down when you’re ready Bunnykins, its nearly time for your nap, and don’t forget your handkerchief!’
Philip couldn’t believe he was having so much trouble getting dressed; he fumbled with the ribbon that tied the neck of his short-sleeved blouse, struggling to get the bow just how Aunty would want it. The extra large buttons that held the crossover straps of his corduroy bibbed shorts were awkward to fasten, and he tried unsuccessfully to manoeuvre his thick towelling nappies into a more comfortable position as the elasticised legs of the baby pants cut into his thighs. After pulling on the frilled white ankle socks he waggled his toes into his bunny slippers, at least they protected his feet from the cold floorboards that obtained throughout the house.
Miss Golightly, a local social worker, had arranged for Philip to live with this woman, who had no children, but had promised to take good care of him. His parents, in their overseas aid work, had had to move to another country, one that was very poor and unstable. They thought it safer that Philip stay in England, especially since he was rather small and very timid for his age. So it had all been arranged.
Miss Golightly had taken him to his new auntie’s house, a little over three weeks ago. It was after seven by the time they approached the large house that stood three miles from the village. Philip noted the high wall that surrounded the grounds to the rear, and wondered what kind of person lived here. Miss Golightly had told him that he should call her ‘Aunty’, she would like that, and that she should be nice to live with, because she had always wanted a baby of her own.
When he had met her, he was intimidated by her size. She was over six feet tall (and Miss Golightly had always thought that this might explain why she had never been able to marry). His new aunty stooped down to greet him, immediately talking to him as if he was a young child. ‘Hello my darling little one…I’m sure you are going to be very happy and well cared for here. I hope you don’t mind if I call you Bunnykins; I want you to be my sweet little baby bunny. And you are to think of your name as Bunnykins too, not Philip. Bunnykins is so much sweeter.’
Miss Golightly grinned and said, ‘Better do as Aunty says, Bunnykins.’
‘Aunty wants Bunnykins to take all his big boy’s clothes off and have a nice warm bath.’
‘My name is Philip and I don’t take baths,’ he retorted. If her greying hair and schoolmarm appearance had fooled him, or if it was just the inability of youth to estimate ages, he quickly discovered his mistake. He found himself across her lap, his pants around his knees, and given a good nursery spanking. He wriggled but could not escape her firm grip. Miss Golightly did not interfere; in fact she seemed to approve.
‘What a naughty Bunnykins,’ she said, administering a final smack on his bare bottom, ‘little babies like you don’t talk to grown ups like that, do they?’ Shocked by how easily she had put him across her knee, he was helpless as she held up his arms and removed his sweater. His expensive shoes were quickly discarded, and despite his attempt to resist she carried him upstairs, tucking him under her arm as if she was carrying a rolled up rug.
‘Aunty is going to scrub you nice and clean Bunnykins, and then it’s straight to beddy-byes for you.’
‘Stop treating me like a baby, I don’t want to go to bed,’ he said, confused.
Aunty smiled, ‘Why, it’s way past your bedtime Bunnykins,’ she said lowering him into the bath, ‘early bedtime for you from now on, little man.’
Miss Golightly spoke, ‘I just need you to sign these papers saying that you agree to look after his welfare, and that you will educate him from home, then I can leave you to deal with Bunnykins.’ Philip gave her a hard stare but somehow did not feel so tough sitting in the bath being lathered in suds by this strong woman.
‘Just a moment dear, I will sign your forms once I’ve put Bunnykins down for the night. Oops-a-daisy, Bunnykins.’
Aunty lifted him out of the bath, carrying him up another flight of stairs balanced on her hip. Her left hand supported his bottom, the other pressed firmly into the small of his back. Occasionally she would remove this hand to grasp the banister. Philip did not struggle; the rickety banister moved each time she grasped it, creaking alarmingly. Over her shoulder he could see down the steep flight of twisting stairs; he had no head for heights. Instinctively he put his arms around her and rested his head on her shoulder, clinging nervously on. ‘There’s a good Bunnykins,’ she cooed, ‘nearly there.’
They entered an attic room and Philip was deposited into a baby’s cot that was situated beneath the staircase alcove that led to the roof. Miss Golightly noticed it had metal rails painted pink, such as one might find in a children’s hospital, Aunty quickly pulled up the side rail, ‘There now Bunnykins off you go to bye-byes.’ Philip was so small he could stand upright in the cot and grasped the rails as though he were in a prison cell, which in a way he was.
‘Let me out of here, I’m not a baby.’ he pleaded, gripping the bars tightly in frustration. Miss Golightly grinned mockingly at his predicament as he tried vainly to force his head through the gap where the alcove was highest.
‘Well you are certainly having a baby tantrum,’ Aunty said, ‘we will leave you to calm down, night-night Bunnykins.’ Realising he was totally naked he quickly sat down in the cot and watched in dismay from behind the rails as they left the room, hearing Miss Golightly laughing out loud as the door closed and mentioning something about little Bunnykins being very small indeed. Defiantly he shouted at the empty room then fell silent.
The room was becoming dark as the daylight rapidly disappeared, and Philip lay down in the cot searching for a blanket to cover him; he fumbled under the pillow, his hand closing around a baby’s dummy which he flung away in disgust before he grasped what he thought was a blanket. Too dark now to see exactly what he had found, he covered himself with the soft material, pulled his knees up to his chest and went to sleep...
* * * * * * *
‘Bunnykins where are you?’
Startled by the sound of her voice he made his way quickly down the bare staircase, remembering to tuck his handkerchief into the bib of his shorts he hurried past the schoolroom where Aunty made sure he read all his schoolbooks. She had promised him that once his reading reached a certain standard, he would no longer have to wear his nappies and other baby clothes, but Philip was not sure what that standard was.
Auntie’s size ten brogues were lined up beside the umbrella stand, three pairs – all in traditional regulation brown. Philip heard the fourth pair approach. ‘There you are Bunnykins; Aunty was just coming to look for you. Aren’t you clever dressing yourself like that? Here, let Aunty help you.’ She undid the ribbon around his neck and retied it, teasing out the bow into a neater, babyish flounce. She fastened the loose strap of his shorts then adjusted his baby pants till the elastic rested comfortably on his legs. Finally she patted the front of his bibbed shorts, checking for his handkerchief. ‘There now,’ she said, tilting his chin upward with her index finger, ‘not too difficult was it?’
She smiled down at him benignly; her hair that was neatly tied in a bun enhanced her round facial features. Her white blouse was patterned with a delicate floral design and the buttoned neck was adorned with a small cameo brooch. The cuffs of her blouse were folded back to just above her wrist exposing her functional ladies’ wristwatch.
The unmistakeable smell of her perfume wafted into his senses as she spoke. ‘Aunty is going to be very busy this afternoon so you are going to sit outside in your pushchair to take your nap, won’t that be nice?’ Without waiting for a reply she led him into the conservatory and sat him on ‘Bunnykins’ chair. His feet, adorned with his bunny slippers did not quite reach the floor, and his little legs dangled over the edge.
‘Lets get you all cosy for outside Bunnykins.’ She sat beside him and slid him up onto her lap. He half-heartedly struggled to free himself but he knew by experience he could not escape. She removed his slippers and slipped his feet into the woolly baby leggings. He sat glumly as she eased them on, ensuring his feet were settled perfectly before drawing the waist ties together to fasten the leggings around his waist. Humming contentedly she pushed his arms into the matching matinee jacket. Reaching down over his shoulders she fastened the small green buttons all the way up to his neck leaving the mittens dangling on tapes from the cuffs. The hat was made of the same pale green wool; a knitted chinstrap ensured the ear flaps fitted snugly. Aunty adjusted the peak of the cap and Bunnykins was all ready for his nap.
‘Bunnykins will be nice and warm in his pretty outdoor suit won’t he then?’ She spoke in a ‘coochie-coo’ baby talk manner, tickling his tummy as she picked him up and carried him through the conservatory outside into the rear garden.
Aunty produced his pink baby reins and strapped him into the baby carriage with its original grey paint and four large wheels it had served Aunty well down the years; the huge springs supporting the chassis creaked loudly as she wheeled him to a corner of the garden protected from the autumn chill. ‘Handy-Pandies into your mittens now, I want you to be all cosy.’
Philip felt himself blush at being addressed in such a babyish manner, ‘does Bunnykins want his dum-dum?’ she asked. Philip shook his head vehemently.
‘No Aunty I….’ ignoring him she popped the dummy into his protesting mouth and tied it loosely in place. ‘There! A dummykins for Bunnykins. And Bunnykins will soon learn to love his dum-dum,’ she said, tucking what Aunty called his sleepy-time blankie around his knees, a monstrous bright yellow blanket covered in night-shirted ‘Wee Willie Winkie’ characters. She planted a kiss on the side of his face and strode back inside, leaving baby Philip alone in his pushchair.
Philip sat watching the swing with dislike, the chains squeaked rhythmically as they moved in the breeze. Aunty had pushed him gently back and forward the other day but he had felt a type of vertigo attack overcome him and had begged her to stop. He looked at the wall he had attempted to climb over the first time he had been left alone in the garden. Aunty had plucked him down, ’Where does Bunnykins think he is going?’ She laughed, ’We must keep you safe.’ She had fastened him into baby reins with little bells attached, and secured the reins on a long line. She had also donated his ordinary boys’ clothes to Oxfam. ‘No more big boy’s clothes for you Bunnykins, you look so much sweeter in your baby outfits,’ she had told him.
Aunty smiled as she watched Philip doze off, he was coming along nicely, far quicker than she had anticipated, and that was why she had made that afternoon’s arrangements. ‘I must remember to write a thank you letter to Miss Golightly,’ she thought to herself.
She had just taken the cake out of the oven, and was busy draping his freshly ironed pyjamas over the back of the sofa, when she heard a commotion and went outside. Her friend Mrs Yates was talking to Philip with Melissa, Mrs Yates’ daughter, standing alongside her. ‘My, what a pretty outfit, I wish I was as snug as you look.’
Philip ineffectually attempted to spit out his dummy, shaking his head to loosen it while fumbling with mittened hands to undo the strap that securely held him; the hapless boy was on the verge of tears before Aunty soothed Philip as she carried him into the house. ‘There-there Bunnykins, Aunties got you all safe and sound.’ Ushering her guests inside she put him in his chair opposite Melissa and her mother, who sat on the sofa.
Philip was upset. The shock of waking up and finding a strange women and a young girl standing over him had given him quite a surprise. He squirmed fretfully as she removed his knitted leggings and woolly cardigan, ‘Goodness what a fidget you are Bunnykins, there will be no cake for you, naughty little babykins.”
Melissa was only ten years old, but she was already taller than Philip. She edged toward him, leaning against the arm of his chair, her face covered in cake crumbs, as she stuffed the last vestige of the slice into her mouth.
‘What’s your name?’ she asked, blurting fragments of cake into his face.
’Ph - Bunnykins,’ he replied, blushing furiously as he disdainfully wiped away her unwanted offering. She prodded the front of his shorts; Philip quickly tried to brush away the chocolate-encrusted finger, but was a fraction too slow.
'Urgh! You’re all wet just like a baby!’ she exclaimed, dashing off to tell her mother and Aunty. Philip had hoped to keep his accident a secret until Melissa had left but now Aunty would have to change him in front of everyone.
‘Come along Bunnykins let’s get you all nice and dry again shall we?’ Aunty stripped off his clothes before removing the wet garments. Her slow unflustered manner calmed Philips nervousness, his frantic attempts to avoid the humiliation of a nappy change in front of guests disappeared; instead he lay content as Aunty lifted his legs, powdering those important places that ensured he was ready to enjoy the feeling of soft fleecy nappies being pinned upon him. ‘What a good Bunnykins,’ she praised, as she slipped his legs into the yellow plastic pants that guaranteed Bunnykins a cosy dry cot that night, ‘shall we put our lovely warm jim-jams on now?’ Aunty continued with her rhetoric: ‘Yes we will won’t we, then you’ll be all ready for beddy-byes nice and early, won’t you sweetums.’
Used the same, singsong, cheery voice, she spoke to Melissa. ’Be a good girl and pass me Bunnykins’ pyjamas will you?’  Melissa eagerly sought his nightwear, grabbing the infantile pyjamas from behind her mother.
Philip was chastened, he never thought that Aunty would get him ready for bed in front of Melissa and her mother - he didn’t want his secret revealed.
He remembered the first time she dressed him in his special baby pyjamas, Aunty had given him a bedtime spanking for his naughtiness, not a hard one, just four smacks on his pyjama-clad bottom. Now he wanted to run away again as Aunty prepared to dress him in his babyish nightwear.
Philip stood facing Aunty as she slipped the pyjama top over his head, embarrassed at the presence of strangers to his bedtime ritual, his pyjama-clad arms waved in the air as his head refused to emerge from the pyjama neck.
‘Just a moment Bunnykins,’ Aunty said softly before releasing the buttons at the back of the top. ‘Boo! There now that’s better isn’t it?’ she asked as his flustered head popped out into the daylight. She turned him round by the shoulders to face Melissa and her mother while she re-fastened the buttons. Melissa stared at the subjugated boy wearing nappies and a pink pyjama top covered in nursery rhyme characters. Once again she approached Philip as Aunty stepped him into his pyjama bottoms and pulled them up high, almost to his armpits, before the elastic waist pinged against his chest.
‘That’s Humpty Dumpty,’ Melissa cried, ‘and there’s Little Bo-Peep!’ Poor Philip could only stand there feeling very foolish as she excitedly identified all the characters on his babyish pyjamas. ’Come along Bunnykins, I want to play in the garden.’
Philip shook his head; he didn’t want to indulge in childish games. ‘Where’s Aunty?’ Philip asked, concern entering his voice.
‘Don’t worry Bunnykins, she will be back shortly,’ Melissa’s mother said, leading him by the hand into the garden. Philip, fearful of being separated from Aunty, felt the safety-bar snap down in front of him before realising Mrs Yates had secured him in the swing, instantly his fear took over as he tried, to no avail, to prise the bar open.
‘Now play nicely Melissa,’ Mrs Yates urged her daughter, ‘Bunnykins is off to bed shortly, it’s very nearly his bedtime so please don’t get him too excited.’
Philip watched Melissa’s mother disappear into the conservatory as he found himself beginning to swing back and forth in a gentle arc. As Melissa increased her effort his head began to swim with dizziness as nausea enveloped him. His mittened hands gripped the safety-bar as best he could as he soared ever higher, his cries, mistaken for squeals of excitement by Melissa, were ignored until mercifully the ordeal gradually slowed and then stopped, as Melissa grew tired and released him from the swing.
Philip staggered into the conservatory, his walk hampered by bulging nappies. Aunty was waiting as he fell sobbing into her outstretched arms as a sheepish looking Melissa followed behind.
‘Don’t worry Melissa, Bunnykins is easily frightened, aren’t you sweetums?’ Aunty cuddled him in close to her chest, as if she was comforting a distressed infant. ‘I’m afraid our Bunnykins is a bit of a sissy,’ she explained to Melissa with a smile. She patted the sleeve of his pyjamas as she rocked him ever so slightly. ‘Never mind Bunnykins, Auntie’s here now,’ she cooed.
Philip’s sobs lessened as his nausea faded. He felt what at first thought was his dummy being pushed between his lips and opened his eyes just as the initial rush of warm milk hit his throat. She smiled lovingly down at him - then tilted the baby bottle again until he had swallowed the contents fully. A surprised Philip had received his first bottle feed from Aunty. ‘Time to get you to beddy-byes Bunnykins, it’s far too late for you to stay up any longer.’
Melissa sidled up beside them as Aunty lifted an unresisting Philip into her arms. ‘Why do you call him Bunnykins?’ she asked, ‘it is such a funny name.’
Aunty laughed and spoke to Philip as he nestled in her arms. ‘Well Bunnykins shall we let Melissa into your secret?’ Philip shook his head violently. ‘No Aunty I don’t want Melissa to…’
Aunty ignored Philip. ‘Come along then Melissa follow us up, you can bring his book. Bunnykins, give Mrs Yates a night-night kiss and cuddle, then we’ll get you off to bed.’
Aunty carried Philip into his room, his cot stood dominantly in the centre of the room. No tears before bedtime now.
Aunty sat the pyjama-clad Philip on her knee, her arm encircling his waist as she reached under the pillow. She unfurled the garment, and slid his feet into the opening until the material began to taper at the bottom; his legs were eased together, leaving his feet nestling in one large padded foot. His arms were shuffled into sleeves that emerged to become enclosed in mittens that rendered fingers and thumbs helpless. Aunty zipped up the front of the garment to the neck, reaching behind she pulled up the hood that fitted snugly around his head, framing his face perfectly as two fluffy ears flopped comically over his eyes.
Melissa cried out joyfully, ‘It’s a bunny rabbit suit! That’s why he’s called Bunnykins.’ Her eyes sparkled with glee at his appearance. The soft, white winceyette bunny suit that encased Philip was patterned with hopping bunnies. Aunty patted the fluffy cottontail on the rear of his bunny suit, ‘now Bunnykins, show Melissa how you climb into beddy-byes.’ Aunty clapped her hands and started to sing very softly –
‘Hippity hop, Hippity hop into beddy-byes, Bunnykins must go to sleep and close his weary eyes.’
Melissa quickly joined in the babyish chant, clapping her hands and singing along with Aunty, whilst giggling uncontrollably at poor Philip’s antics as he hopped across the room stumbling into Auntie’s arms before she lifted him into his cot.
’There now, my little Bunnykins is all tired out after all that hopping, it’s almost time for sleepy-byes,’ Aunty tucked Philip in and opened his book. Now Melissa will read you some nice nursery rhymes, won’t you dear?’ Melissa nodded her head, enjoying the sight of poor Philip in his cuddly baby bunny suit.
After she had finished Melissa gave him a kiss on his forehead, and patted his tummy, and turned out the light as she left the room. Inside his cot Bunnykins searched under his pillow until his mittened hand felt a familiar shape. He pushed the dummy into his mouth and snuggled down to sleep.