Chapter 31: Jacob's First Outing

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"Rise and shine, sweetie," Angelique said, rubbing the sleeping toddler's tummy.

When his eyes finally blinked open, she moved him to the changing table and said, "Good morning, Jacob."

"Morning," he mumbled back, stretching his legs in the air.

She undid his diaper and checked its contents. Her expression shifted to reflect her displeasure with what she found.

"Has your tummy been hurting?" she asked, her voice laced with concern.

"No," Jacob replied, yawning.

"Hm," she mumbled, picking the naked boy up and taking him to the bathroom.

She sat him on the counter to quickly brush his teeth, allowing him to rinse only when she was finished. Drying his face, she carried him over to the toilet and sat him on the toddler seat she had just installed.

"Can you go?" she asked expectantly.

Sitting with his feet dangling towards the floor, Jacob was genuinely surprised he was being allowed to handle his business with dignity. He didn't want to waste the opportunity and got straight to the task.

"I don't think so," he said, giving up after a few attempts.

"That's alright," Angelique said, calmly helping Jacob down and leading him to the shower. She had been bathing him in silence for a short while before she announced, "After breakfast, we're taking a trip to the grocery store."

Jacob's eyes lit up in excitement. For days, he had been wondering how good candy would taste with his child palette, and he finally had a means of getting them to buy him some. Silently, he envisioned the pile of candy that he'd get. He imagined himself in a land with an ocean of orange soda in which the plants grew tiny fruit snacks. Child heaven was near, and he couldn't wait.

In a matter of minutes, Angelique had successfully styled his hair and dressed him in a pair of Jeans and a white, V-neck shirt. When they arrived downstairs, Simon was busy stirring a pot of oatmeal.

"You two are right on time," he commented, pouring the breakfast cereal into two large porcelain bowls and one small plastic one.

"It smells good in here," Angelique complimented, settling Jacob into his highchair and placing a bib on him.

"Why thank you," Simon replied, serving her bowl of oatmeal.

The older man approached Jacob with his small plastic bowl in hand. "I realize it's unreasonable to expect you to eat as slowly as I've asked. So, I'll be feeding you this morning," Simon said, keeping a hold of Jacob's spoon when he put the bowl on the tray.

"I can feed myself," Jacob argued, reaching for the spoon in Simon's hand.

"I'm not fighting with you over this, Jacob," he said, mixing the bowl of oatmeal.

Jacob crossed his arms, upset by the retraction of his prior privilege, but he was too hungry to go without eating. He offered no resistance when Simon placed a spoonful of oatmeal near his lips. Agonizingly slowly for the boy, Simon fed him his breakfast, and when he was finished eating, he was allowed to roam the living room while Simon ate his own breakfast.

"Jacob, it's time to put your shoes on," Simon hollered, sliding on his sneakers near the garage door.

The little boy obediently walked over and held his foot up for Angelique to slide into his sandals. Once his shoes were on, he followed his caregivers into the garage. Simon opened the door to the backseat, and Angelique buckled him into his car seat.

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