I've worked with five children for five months. The kids swing between demons and holiness. As a result, my brain and bladder have cracked and dipped into the nuthouse. Men have more control over boners than I do my bodily functions.
I mixed a cup of flour and twice as much sugar in a cookie dough bowl when a golden shower sprinkled into my underwear. No warning. As I struggled to the bathroom with a urine stream twirling out of my vagina, the phone rang.
I was in the bathroom for four rings before racing to answer the chiming reverberations ambushing my earlobes. Two months ago, I mentioned to the parents that I'll need a hearing aid before I'm twenty-seven. They turned up the phone's ring volume to maximum. Every time the phone rings, it sounds like a fire alarm in an assisted living facility.
The mom had been at her eldest son's rugby game. She'd driven herself to the hospital and was now on the phone with me sobbing about chest pain. I reassured her that I'd take care of everything, and to call if she needed me. When I picked the girls up from school with the two younger kids in the car, they asked where their mom was. I replied that she was at the doctor.
"Mummy's going to die, Mummy's going to die," the seven-year-old howled.
"Mummy's going to die? Mummy's going to die," the other three children squalled.
After reassurances over the tear monsoon in the back seat that she wasn't going to die, the five-year-old's manipulative instinct kicked in.
"Yay, nobody's going to yell at us," she said. "Can I have a lolly when we get home?"
The seven- and three-year-olds, and the eight-month-old continued screaming tears.
We painted pictures and did homework. The nine-year-old's math skills have surpassed my own, but I helped with English. The three-year-old tripped over an eraser on the floor and cried like he had fallen off monkey bars onto his skull.
I paused, considered holding him, and stalked out of the kitchen to put on a movie in the other room. Movies equate distraction. I don't know what parents did before movies rocked into this world. They must have known more jokes.
Turning on a movie in that house requires pressing more virtual buttons than launching a space shuttle. Everything is touch screen. There are plasma televisions, recorders with multi-drive playback, white HDMI cables, and phase-changing recording layers. There is not a DVD player with DVD's. As I cursed the voice-activated touch-screen remote control because I couldn't get the television to turn on, I heard screaming. The dad screaming. From what he yelled, the dad must have come home from work and walked in as the three-year-old pissed on the couch. I ran back into the room to the seven- and nine-year-olds skipping, pointing, and laughing at the three-year-old, who was staggering and screaming, tears galloping down his cheeks. He had urinated on the couch and when his dad entered and started yelling, he then reeled onto the floor and lurched across the room, splattering a trail of piss. The five-year-old shrieked that the urine was on cushions and pillows and the rug and floor. The dad yelled. The baby cried. I stripped off the three-year-old's underwear and pants. He sprinted to the bathroom where he sat bawling on the toilet for five minutes before I gave him a gummy bear.
Thirty-five minutes later, I moved around the table at a steady jog, spooning food on plates and throwing milk in glasses. As I loped by with a spoon for the five-year-old and a glass for the seven-year-old, the three-year-old grabbed my vagina.
"Kara, do you have a doodle?" he asked.
At this moment, the dad mumbled something about a wedding vow renewal and sixty years. I knew he was talking to me, because he looked at me. I smiled, nodded, said something like, "That sounds fantastic," and ran to the refrigerator for napkins. It wasn't until after I'd opened the fridge door that I realized napkins were not being chilled.
The dad left to go to a meeting, and as I extricated ice cream from my hair, the mom's very pregnant friend arrived to help bathe the kids and put them to bed. The friend gave birth the next morning.