It was a huge relief to cancel all those interviews with the potential babysitters who were interested in watching my son over the summer. Huge. It’s always a pain to interview people for a job to start with, but there is the whole "full disclosure" part of asking someone watch my son that I dread. Ideally, it’s best to have him along on these interviews, so he can play quietly and look angelic while I tell them about the behaviors that got him thrown out of daycare when he was 4 and that earned him a "special education" classification shortly after he started kindergarten this last year. You can’t just ask someone to watch a child and not warn them that he is capable of throwing screaming, kicking, throw-down tantrums that last for an hour and a half. Perhaps I could have skipped over the part about how the school quit having the kindergarteners hand the ladies in the lunchroom a wooden clothespin with their lunch account number on them after my son tried to stab another child in the eye with his clothespin after the kid bumped into him in the lunch line. We got a note asking us to please help him learn and remember his lunch number after that. Because he likes eating, he learned the number easy enough and the whole clothespin program was disbanded for all of the children.
Everyone wants their child to have an impact and be remembered. My son will be remembered as the reason wooden clothpins are now classified as potentially dangerous weapons that are no longer allowed on his elementary school campus.
There would have been no reason, of course, to mention that gap in his lower teeth where a baby tooth that was not ready to come out yet got knocked loose when he, in his own words, “bit a teacher too hard” one day on the playground.
“Must have been a PE teacher,” I told my husband. “He should bite music teachers. They tend to be squishier.”
Jeff laughed. His sense of humor about all this has gotten almost as dark as mine. Laughing and cracking twisted jokes about things that aren’t really funny keep you from losing your mind. They really do.
But he finally quit biting a couple of months ago, as if the biting switch in his brain was finally flipped to the off position (and only 3.5 years past when the developmental experts say it should have been). I wish whoever flipped that switch had not flipped on the punch-people switch at the same time, but beggars can’t be choosers and I will take my developmental milestones where I can find them, no matter how late they come. At least now his inappropriate behavior is age-appropriate inappropriate behavior. I call that progress.
His babysitter, Miss Kris, who watched him for a year and half after he got tossed from daycare finally got in contact with us and said she could watch him again. This is no small thing. He knows her. He likes her. In the year and a half that she watched him he did not have one violent incident while in her care. She has a daughter who is a year older than him who he thinks is unbearably bossy, but they play together nicely and when they don’t, he doesn’t hit the little girl but instead tells her mother on her. And sulks.
I would have made arrangements to see if Miss Kris were available weeks ago had Jeff and I both not lost her number last December. One evening we met up at a restaurant and came home very tired. We both left our phones in our cars that night, which we almost never do. We also both left our cars unlocked, which we also rarely do. Someone, probably bored teenagers, took the phones from our cars and did God-only-knows what with them. They didn’t use them (or any of the ones that they took from other cars in the neighborhood that night, according to the memo put out by the Homeowners Association). They probably ended up in the duck pond in the middle of the subdivision park. Because stealing stuff you can't use and throwing in a pond is big enterainment when you are 14. I don't know why this is, but I have not been 14 for a long while yet and my memories of such mischief making are fuzzy.
Hurrying to my son’s school to pick him up from the YMCA after school care one day, I took a detour through Miss Kris’s neighborhood and stuffed a note in her mailbox asking her to please contact me, before I rushed to pick up Sweet Pea in just the nick of time. It took her a few days to find it, but after I gave us and started making arrangements to interview new babysitters I finally got a text from her. She had already made arrangements to watch the 8-year-old and 3-year-old sons of a friend for the summer, but she could watch Sweet Pea as well if I didn’t mind the other two boys being there. I told her I didn’t.
It worries me a bit, though, having the other boys there. I didn't want to tell her this, but it does. They are an unknown element thrown into the mix. Sweet Pea does fine in small groups of up to 5 or 6 other children, so he should be okay depending on the temperaments of the other two boys. I hope they are sweet and patient and calm little boys (as rare as those are). Sweet Pea tends to reflect back what he is given in a funhouse crazy-mirror sort of way. Just in case, I am sending up prayers to whoever I think might listen. God, the Universe, and whoever the patron saint of little boys who bite teaches hard enough to knock their own teeth out may be. Please, please, please let all the kids get along and play nice. Please don't let my son punch a toddler in the stomach. Please? I will be good. I will burn insense and make offerings, if need be. Just let me know what is required. Amen.
Otherwise, I may be calling those other babysitters back and asking if they might still be interested. I’ll be brining my son along so they can meet him and see how precious and nice he looks while I explain to them how, just like the Transformers that adorn his shoes, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to my little boy.