It's no secret that in general I'm not big on kids. I'm not one of those women who thinks children are innocent and adorable and should be handled with infinite tolerance and good humor. It might be different if I had a surplus of tolerance and good humor, but I have barely enough to ration on the adults I am required to be nice to. Medication has helped. Things that caused me to dissociate in the past no longer phase me: a baby crying at Publix, a toddler throwing a tantrum at Target, a third-grader picking his nose at PTA...My nerves adequately lubricated with seratonin, I am able to abide these events with a sort of detached fascination.
In any event, those close to me will not be shocked that I'm about to rag on a neighborhood kid.
R has had the run of Hershey Woods since he was about three years old. He was riding his bike in traffic when he should have been napping in a playpen. One summer, Georgia's friend Anna babysat him during the weeks of break, and since George was watching Lo that summer, they got the two together to play. Georgia and Lo reported daily on R's antics--the whirling dervishness of him...his habit of disappearing, along with all the snacks in the house and change from the piggybanks.
When I met him myself for the first time, I was struck by how beautiful and charming he was. He seemed wiser than his years and as buttery as Eddie Haskell. I knew he was trouble. He'd come over to play when I was home, and I'd find him in my bedroom closet, taking inventory.
One morning, a little before 8:00, he came knocking at the front step. I tried to ignore him because I didn't feel like putting on pants, but after about half an hour of his relentless pounding and the dogs barking, I finally surrendered and got dressed. He showed me a collection of drawings he'd done--self-portraits it looked like he'd sketched with his foot and then slept on. He was peddling them door-to-door for 20 bucks each.
I told him I'd spent every cent I had restocking my pantry after his last visit. I offered to call his mother to pick him up at the other end of the street. He lives a good mile away, after all. No minor distance for a seven-year-old. And how he'd managed to evade the neighborhood mutts (I swear there's a doggie bounty on his head) was luck beyond my fathoming. Even I didn't want him to push it.
That happened a few years ago. Now he's in middle school, just finished sixth grade. He still rides his bike like a demon. He looks hopped up on steroids. He has the golden hair, fixed smile and plastic dazzle of a child model. He hasn't lost his talent for appearing out of thin air. I'll be getting the mail and suddenly he's right behind me. 'No one's home,' I tell him, and I was just leaving.'
So Jack told us this story during dinner tonight: Around 2:00 this afternoon, R came a'knockin.' Jack, who was home alone, figured it was one of Lo's friends and saw no need to answer the door. He continued to watch House or whatever marathon he'd gotten sucked into until, like me, he realized that stalkers cannot be deterred. Better my son learn this early, I guess. Jack answered the door:
R: Hey, do you still have your go-kart?
R: Can I see it?
Jack: Not right now. I was taking a nap. I'm going back to sleep.
R: Well, I think we have a new motor you can have for it.
Jack: That's ok. We're fine with the one we've got.
R: Can I just see it, anyway?
Jack: No, you need to go on home.
R: Gosh! I rode all the way up here--just to see the go-kart!
Jack: Oh my god, R, fine! You can look at it.
(R follows Jack down the driveway to the storage shed. R notices spider webs all over the doors.)
R: Can you get those spider webs off?
Jack: You want to see it; you get 'em off.
R: I'm not gonna touch them!
Jack: Stop being a little vagina and open the door.
(Jack finally opens the door. R beholds the go-kart.)
R: Can I have it?
Jack: NO, YOU CAN'T HAVE IT!!!
R: Why not?
Jack: For one thing, it's not mine to give away!
R: I thought it was yours.
Jack: It belongs to the family....Besides, who would even ask something like that?!!! GO HOME!
(R is royally PO'd and huffs his way back up the driveway.)
R: Can I at LEAST have something to drink?!
(My son, ever the humanitarian, actually goes inside and gets him a Coke Zero.)