My mother had this look. My brother and I called it The Look of Death. To be on the receiving end of it meant that the fury of nine Hells was about to be visited upon us. We didn’t always know what we’d done, but the look alone has been enough to prompt tears, without a word ever being spoken.
Yesterday, my babysitter bailed on me. Or rather, all three of my babysitters bailed on me yesterday.
What poor timing. I have a trainee sitting with me for the next 4 weeks, and another one in the hole for as soon as I’m done with this one. Because of the Labor Day holiday, and two days free to handle medical issues in the family, my schedule is super tight. Not a single opening until mid-September. I can’t afford to dump the whole day.
Working from home has its advantages though. Leave my door open, set up the paper and crayons. Cut each call short by 10 minutes to go out, attend to snack and lunch and the DVD player, we should be able to swing 4 hours. Quinn’s a great kid.
The first hour was a piece of cake. The second a bit rough, as he was leaning toward lunch and was getting fidgety and a bit whiny. But we pulled through. Hour 3 saw lunch and Spongebob – a can’t miss for 30 minutes of quiet.
Each time I went out the house was a bit messier. All the DVDs and CDs down the first time. Not too bad.
The second time was a bit worse. He was ‘knitting’ with my half-finished afghan, which is now a giant wad of tangled yearn in the bottom of the trash can. And he’d gotten into the freezer and taken out the bags of frozen strawberries and blueberries, leaving a squishy red and blue trail through the kitchen and into the living room. He’d drank some smoothies.
Ok, all of the smoothies. The full box of 10. Well, except for the 2 he spilled.
I got him his lunch, cleaned up the worst part of the mess, and went back to work. Right one cue, as I heard the theme music for Spongebob begin for episode 2, I heard his bowl hit the sink.
30 minutes to go.
He was in and out of my office a time or two, happy enough.
And suddenly he’s naked.
I heard a brief tussle with the dog, an unsuccessful bid for tug of war. I heard a crash and cringed, knowing a chair had tipped, but he yelled, as he always does, “I’m okay!”
Five minutes before wrap up, I hard another noise. Familiar, but not so easily defined. A few seconds later, I heard it again. And again. Finally I placed it. The screen door.
I assumed he was tormenting the cat by trying to coax the dog out onto the sunny porch. The cat is vicious when cornered by the dog, so this time I was a bit concerned about blood, but there is no egress there, so the cat was my only concern.
Except when I hung up and went out, he wasn’t there.
The last bang must have been an incoming trip. So I went into the kitchen and found the main door standing wide open. I rushed through to find my son, naked except for an inside-out T-shirt that is too small, hanging out on his picnic table.
“Hi Ma–” He stopped short when he turned to look at me.
And then he burst into tears, rushing by me and into the house to throw himself into a sobbing pile on the couch.
It seems that I, too, have the look of death.
And a better understanding of why I was on the receiving end of it so often.
I was in danger.