Life at the Burke household had fallen into a familiar routine. Most mornings Neal woke first. He would bounce into the master bedroom and crawl into bed with Peter and El. They would all snuggle for a while and then the day would begin. El would start breakfast and Peter would get himself and Neal dressed then they would head downstairs to eat. Peter noticed that more times than not now, Neal would wake with a dry diaper. He and Elizabeth had discussed it and realized that she wasn't having to change him as often during the day now either. Neal had also been alerting El when he needed to be changed, now if they could just get him to tell them before he had to go potty they would have toilet training in the bag.

Neal loved music and he loved M & M's, two things that they could use to encourage and reward Neal with to use his new potty chair. They put it downstairs thinking that it would be convenient. At first he wanted nothing to do with it but once El explained to him that if he would potty in it, it would play a tune he started to like it more. Not that he had actually used it yet, but he would pour water or milk or juice into it regularly to hear the music. The Burke's were surely in unchartered waters here. Emily, El's sister, suggested that they put the potty chair in the bathroom close to the toilet and to let Neal observe Peter when Peter needed to go.

"Hon, I don't think I can do that, I'd be so uncomfortable," Peter stammered.

"Peter, Emily said that is the way John taught Charlie. She said it took hardly any time at all. Just don't make a big deal out of it and answer any questions he might have."

"Questions? Like what kind of questions?"

"I don't know Peter, but whatever he asks I'm sure you'll know the answer to. You have the same equipment you know."

"I know that….. it's, its just so strange, I mean, you know, strange,...that's Neal,… you know ?"

"I know Peter, but he's not your CI anymore, he's your little boy. Your very bright, sweet, loving little boy and he needs guidance. He has no memory of who he used to be. As far as he knows we are mommy and daddy and we're all he's got. We can do this. I know we had planned on no children but you know what they say,' If you want God to laugh, tell him your plans.'"

Elizabeth never ceased to amaze Peter. The fact that she took to mothering so well, so quickly, so easily, left him wondering why they had decided so early on not to have children of their own. It never mattered what they needed to learn or what Neal might need, she fell into it as if she had been doing it all her life. He was glad that she was so confident because he surely was not!

"Hey buddy, are you about ready for your bath?

Neal was in the floor of his room surrounded by stuffed animals. It looked as though he was having a meeting with them and by the furrow on his little brow he was letting them know just exactly who was in charge. Peter stood there for a moment leaning in the doorway with his arms folded in front of him.

"Is something the matter Neal?"

"Daddy, sumbuddy ate my cookie! Mommy gave it to me an it was mine an I put it ober dare" as Neal pointed to a low shelf on his bookshelf. "It's gone, I can't find it."

Peter knew who got the cookie and it wasn't one of the innocent animals that Neal had gathered round him. It was the yellow Labrador that was lying beside Neal's bed licking his chops.

"Well, how about we take a bath and afterwards we'll get you another cookie? Mommy is baking some more right now. We'll both have cookies and milk. Would you like that?"

"Yes daddy !", He jumped up from the floor and ran to Peter with his arms raised and Peter grabbed him and hoisted him over his shoulder and gave him a soft swat on the bottom.

Once in the bathroom Peter asked Neal if he needed to potty before taking a bath. He nodded his head "No".

"Are you sure, your diaper was dry and you haven't needed a new diaper in a while. Are you sure buddy?"

"I don't want to," Neal said with his chin on his chest.

"You don't want to what? Take a bath or go potty?"

"Don't want to potty Daddy, you don't potty."

"What? Yes I do Neal."

"Big peeples don't potty."

"Yes they do Neal, what do you think this is for?" Peter asked as he touched the toilet.

Neal just stood there looking at him. Peter tipped his head back and pinched the bridge of his nose. All matter of things were flowing through his mind. What should he do, what should he not do?

"Ok, here is what we are going to do Neal. We will both go potty, then you will take a bath and then we will have cookies," and I'll have a very,very very,stiff drink.

Peter took a deep breath and stepped over to the toilet. He unzipped his pants and took hold of himself and then started to pee. Neal was very interested, Peter could tell because his eyes were huge.

"Oh, that's big daddy an you have hair down dare. Why you have hair down dare?" Neal pointed.

"Well Neal, all big people get hair."


"They just do."


"Well, because you grow more hair when you get older. Just like you grow hair on your head. Look, daddy has hair on his legs and arms and under his arms, and you will too when you grow up. Come on now let's let you potty and then it's the tub for you mister."

Peter pushed Neal up to his potty chair. He didn't really know what to do. Should he let Neal stand and try and hit the target that was brightly imprinted in the bottom of the chair or should he get him to sit down? The decision was made for him when Neal started to tinkle. Thank heavens Peter had him pushed up far enough that he was going in the right spot. Soon, Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star began to play.

Neal was so happy and Peter was too. He couldn't believe he had gotten Neal to go on his very first try and he was beginning to feel very confident in his parenting skills. He did know the answers to the questions just like El had told him he would.

After Neal was bathed Peter had him standing on the bath mat while he was drying him with a towel. Neal was grinning, enjoying being rubbed. Peter turned around to get a diaper and when he turned back Neal had his hands on either side of his round tummy and was bending forward with his head down looking at himself.

"Daddy," he said still looking down," I no have no hair down dare."

"I told you buddy, you get that when you grow up."

"Oh….. does Mommy have hair down dare too?"

"Hey Neal ! What about those cookies, let's go gettem !"