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The Writing on the Wall

August 24, 2013

My son, Brenden, was about four years old.  It was summertime and we were trying out a new babysitter…the sixteen year old daughter of a friend.

The first few days had gone okay.  Then, one night, at supper, Brenden let the cat out of the bag…he said that Gina had a friend visit her that day.

‘Oh?  What was her name?’  I asked conversationally.

‘It wasn’t a girl, Mom.  It was a boy.’

Alarm bells began to go off in my head as I resisted the urge to fire her on the spot.  I recalled my conversation with Gina before I hired her…and I distinctly remembered telling her that she was not to have any friends over while I was at work.

‘What did they do?’I asked.

‘Oh, they just watched TV and stuff.’

‘What kind of stuff?’

‘Sat on the couch really close together…they held hands.’

‘Where were you when her friend was here?’ I braced myself for the worst…

‘I was in here for a while…’

I could feel my anger rise. ‘Then where did you go?’ I asked as he shoveled in his favorite meal…macaroni and cheese.

‘Gina told me to go play outside for awhile.’

‘What?!’ I screamed silently.

I asked my son to get ready for his bath. ‘Is it Wednesday?’ He inquired.

‘No, it’s only Tuesday, but you’ve been playing outside a lot, haven’t you, so you need a bath, don’t you think?’

‘Yeah, I suppose…’ He grumbled as he trudged up the stairs in search of clean pajamas.

I began to fill the tub. It was always a battle to get Brenden to take a bath, but once he was in the water he didn’t want to get out again until it was cold.

I would use that time to make a phone call.

Soon, I heard a battle raging between a plastic motorboat and a T-Rex. The blue and white boat was quick, but it sounded like the dinosaur was winning. As always, I would need to mop the bathroom floor after he was done.

I called Gina while the boy was playing happily.

At first she denied having a visitor, then, after a pregnant pause and a long suffering sigh, she admitted that her boyfriend showed up…uninvited, of course.

Once again, I reviewed the rules with her: NO FRIENDS were to come into my house. For anyone. I explained that I would give her another chance, but if she broke that rule, she was done. She promised to follow my rules.

Brenden and I were leaving town after I got home from work the following day. Everything looked okay when I got walked in; the dishes were done and the toys had been picked up. Both Gina and Brenden said they’d had a good day.

Gina hopped on her bike and cruised down the street.

Then, I went up to Brenden’s room to pack his bag. We were going to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s cabin for the weekend.

The first sign of touble greeted me at the top of the stairs…a rainbow of brightly colored Playdough was ground in to the rough texture of the antique white walls! And jungle animals had been stamped in blue ink in the areas between the Playdough. Brenden was hanging back…well behind me.

I shot him my most serious look of authority and wordlessly instructed him to stand before me.

He s-l-o-w-l-y complied, his head hung low.

‘How did the Playdough and the jungle stamps get on the walls?’ I asked in a tone that meant business.

‘Tommy did it.’ The miscreant softly answered.

‘Tommy?’

He nodded.

‘Did you help him?’

Again he nodded.

‘I thought I told you that you couldn’t have friends over when I’m at work…’

Uh-huh…’

‘Then why was Tommy here today?’

‘Gina said I could.’

My blood pressure was on the rise. Rising like the space shuttle blasting off from Cape Canaveral. ‘Did Gina have a friend here too?’ I struggled to keep my voice calm.

‘She told me not to tell.’

‘Who was it?’

Brenden reluctantly told me that the boyfriend had been back again today. My pressure was going into orbit.

The kid art on the walls was dry. There was a big family picnic at the lake tonight, so I decided it would have to wait until we returned to be cleaned up. The blue ink was supposed to be washable…we would soon put that claim to the test. And, I thought that the Playdough might be easier to chip off the walls if it was dry. It was already dry to the touch.

I set my boy to the task of picking up the toys in his room and went down to mine to gather what I’d need for the weekend.

Upon entering my bedroom, I noticed that pillows weren’t exactly how I’d left them this morning…and one was missing. I walked around to the far side of the bed, and there it was…on the floor next to the wall, right next to a John Deer baseball cap.

Hmmm…Brenden asked for just such a cap only yesterday. Now I knew where he got the idea!

While he was still upstairs, I called Gina. And, as was the case yesterday, she tried to deny the facts…until I mentioned the brand spanking new baseball cap I’d found.

After that, I phoned a friend and enrolled Brenden in her daycare, effective immediately.

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