Ever’s a little shit. He’s cocky as hell and while he makes all these grand gestures silently announcing his independence, he can’t stand to be alone for more than 30 seconds. He’s good looking and he knows it. And though he appears to be a fully functioning human being, he couldn’t put on his shoes without help.
Ever is 1 and a 1/2 and the boy I babysit. Zing!
Seriously though, he’s an ass hole. He learned how to walk not too long ago. His parents and I applauded him as though he had won an award. A huge award. “OH MY GOD!!! YOU ARE SO SPECIAL! YOU ARE SO DEAR!! I SWEAR TO CHRIST YOU ARE THE FIRST PERSON THAT HAS EVER WALKED!” He was cute. His little face so uncertain. His little chubby legs wobbling under his little Buddha belly. He made it three steps, then 4, then would walk across the room just to give you a hug. Adorable!
Then he started getting good at it. The accolades his parents and I heaped so readily on him stopped. To be replaced with “No Ever! NO! I SWEAR TO…!”
Once he started getting the walking down, he started tackling the art of picking up shit and throwing it. This is not so cute. This is annoying. And because I am not only his babysitter, but his housecleaner, I find it particularly vicious. He’ll walk over to his father’s stack of XBOX games…
“NO!” I shout to him across the room. “EVER! NO!”
He looks me directly in the face, reaches up, grabs the bottom case and sends all two dozen games crashing to the floor. Then, THEN, he has the balls to look surprised and sing out “UH-OH.” As if we were in this together. As if some demonic force momentarily took control of his hand and did this deed. And once he was returned to his body and saw what the demon had done, he felt remorse for our situation.
And does he help me clean it up? No. In fact, once I do clean up the stack and place it out of reach, he turns it into some sick little game of baby “The Amazing Race.” I turn my back for 15 seconds to, oh I don’t know…make him a warm bottle before bed. During this time, he builds an intricate and ingenius ladder out of throw pillows and stepping stools, climbs hastily to the top, reaches the stack of XBOX games on the shelf and topples them even farther to the ground. This time spilling the CD’s from the cases which I will spend the next half-hour sorting and cleaning.
But here’s the thing that really gets me, let’s say he were to fall from one of his structures-o-death that he has become so keen on building. Does he take responsibility for the injury and suck it up like a man? No. He cries and screams and acts like he has no idea how one thing could have lead to the other. Like Newton’s Laws of Physics had ceased to operate in his apartment. He looks up at me with his big, teary, brown eyes and asks me in baby talk “Why Margaret? Why did this happen to me?”
This is the part that I am not proud of. The same way an alcoholic is not proud of falling off the wagon. He gets me. He gets me every single freaking time! When I hold that little crying child, and his tears run down my chest and all he wants in the entire world is to be comforted and coddled, my heart breaks open with so much love and forgiveness that I actually start crying too.
“Oh sweet, sweet Ever. I love you so much and I’m sorry. I should never have put those XBOX games so far away from you. I have hurt you and I will never forgive myself!” I coo over him in such a way that you would think that I had left him in a room full of hungry crocodiles for an hour. But I love that kid. I fucking love that kid in that moment. And if jumping out the window would bring him any sort of comfort, I would readily do it.
He eventually calms, and we look at each other, two human beings sharing a timeless connection of love and gratitude. “Wait right here,” I say. “I’ll get your bottle and we’ll read stories.”
“Ba-Ba,” he replies.
“Yes! Your bottle! You are so smart and wise and perfect.”
This little dream world lasts another 12 seconds while I go to prepare his milk. From my place in the kitchen, I will hear a deafening crash of glass and wood which could only be one of the antique mirrors hanging near the door, followed by a sing-songy “UH-OH.”