A few weeks ago, a friend of mine said she needed help. She needed someone to pick up her two-year-old son from daycare by 4:00 PM. I LOVE this kid, been around him tons of times…and he is awesome. I said I would be happy to help under one condition: she had to guarantee that he would not poop for the hour I needed to watch him. My assistance has its limits, after all. These limits clearly include not touching, smelling, or interacting with feces unless (a) it's mine (b) it's my dogs' or (c) it's been placed on a doorstep and lit on fire.
She promised he would be as empty Philip Seymour Hoffman's (alleged) heroine needle (too soon?) or as backed up as the line to get into the men's room at a Justin Bieber concert.
She loves similes apparently.
Admittedly, poopy diaper or not, I was still a little apprehensive about picking up her son. I guess I get "a little neurotic" when "the health" and "well being" of "another person's child" is in my "hands." But I figured as long as I could keep air quoting AND didn't have to change a poopy diaper, nothing could go too wrong. Nope. Nothing.
I left early and diligently followed the directions to the address she gave me. In my mind, I was expecting some large facility with a gate and a fence and a receptionist. Why? Who knows.
So, when I instead found myself in the middle of a neighborhood, my neuroses instantly took over:
- I'm lost
- I just stranded a two-year-old.
- He is definitely out wandering the streets RIGHT NOW!
Even though I was certain I was lost, I figured I would at least give the address his mother gave me a try. Why not, right?
When I went to the door and rang the doorbell, the worst thing possible for someone like me happened.
No one answered.
I rang again.
At this point, I really worked myself up into a tizzy. I got out my phone to call my friend to apologize for leading her son into a life of crime within a Mexican drug cartel. But then I heard it. Another car pull up behind me.
My heart soared as I noticed this vehicle had a car seat in the back. And I did some quick deduction in my mind: Car seat = child or baby monkey.
I assumed it would NOT be a baby monkey. This time.
Consequently, I figured these people must know things about daycare centers and children and picking said children up properly. They also probably knew how to keep two-year-olds out of prison.
They got out of their car, and started walking towards me. I was so completely frazzled that all I could muster was, Am I in the right place?
Now, keep in mind, I had never met these people before in my life. They have no idea who I am or what I am doing there. I could have been asking about a daycare center…but for all they knew, I might have been asking about a crack den. So, they responded, Well, that depends. What are looking for?
And, I shit you not, the following came out of my mouth, in retort: I want to pick up children.
As those words hung in the air, a sour look came over their faces…and I wished I could have lassoed them back into my mouth. But I couldn't. They just hung there. And I stammered to self-correct, Um. I mean. Child. A child. My child. I mean. My friend's son.
These two women both laughed out loud at me…and pointed about five inches to the left. One of the women, through a giggle, said, You just walk in right there. Through the gate. The one with the daycare sign on it.
When I walked through the gate, I noticed two children playing in a sandbox, and I figured one of them must be my friend's son. But I didn't see him. So, I stared at these two children. And they stared at me. We just stared at each other.
Not creepy. Not creepy at all.
Through the back door of the house, I notice a woman walk out holding another child in her arms. She sees me staring at the two children in the sandbox and politely queries, Can I help you?
Now, I am still recovering from the crap that happened out front…and realize how awkward I must look at this moment. So, I try to rectify this situation in a calm, cool, and collected fashion: Mark. My name. Pick up. Friend said. Here. Her son. Here. Me. Mark.
I only wish I were joking.
Anyway, she just laughed and laughed. I now realize she is holding my friend's son in her arms. Ohhhhhh…Hi, Mark! Yes, J-- told me you were coming. She also mentioned you don't like poopy diapers. So…let me change him before you go.
I feel my face getting bright red…I didn't figure my friend would mention my poop-free desires…which flusters me even more. I'm about to apologize when one of the kids in the sandbox, a little three-to-four-year-old girl, yells at me, ARE YOU HER DAD?
Little girl: ARE YOU HER DAD?
Me: Who do you mean?
Little girl: ARE YOU HER DAD?
Me: I don't know who...
And she violently and abruptly points to the mid-twenty-something-year-old woman changing my friend's son's diaper, HER!
- I don't believe this little girl had figured out how to modulate her voice yet…because everything was full force and loud.
- F you, little girl. I don't have a 25 year old daughter.
The daycare lady now responds, No, he is not my father. My father's name is Mark…but this is a different Mark.
Then the little boy, also about three, pipes up, Are you her dad?
Me: Nope. Still not her dad.
Little boy: Do you have kids?
Me: I have dogs.
And then this little boy gets the most confused look you could possibly imagine. His eyes widen, and he hopefully asks, Your kids are dogs?
Me: Well, they are like my children.
Little girl: I USED TO HAVE A DOG BUT NOW I HAVE A CAT!!!!!!
My first thought was maybe her dog ran away because she was always YELLING at him…but before I could find out, the daycare lady said my friend's son is all ready to go…and was incapable of pooping. She then asked, Do you need help with the car seat?
*** Flashback ***
Earlier in the day, I picked up the car seat from my friend. She put it in my car and attached it to the seatbelt. I even asked how to use it to double check that (a) I could get him into the car seat and (b) I could get him back out of the car seat.
My friend gives me grief for asking how to use the car seat. I feel like an idiot.
*** Flash forward ***
Me: I would LOVE help with the car seat.
Her: No problem. Those car seats can be pretty tricky.
And I feel SO vindicated about the previous ribbing I took from my friend about how to use one! My concerns about how hard it is had been confirmed by someone who deals with children every day! Ha!
When we get to my car, I open the door, and my vindication quickly disappears.
Her: Oh. She says. That's all she says.
Her: The car seat is already attached to the car.
And it is then that I realize we were having two very different conversations. SHE thought I needed help latching the car seat to my car. To her, THIS act was "tricky."
I thought she was asking if I wanted help putting the baby into the car. To me, THIS was "tricky."
Me: *Trying to pretend that I don't know that she thinks I am a complete, helpless idiot,* Oh. Yeah. We (I actually said we) attached it earlier.
Me: So, maybe you can put him in the car seat?
|You asked Mark to pick up your son? Nooooooooooooo!|
The drive home is remarkably wonderful. After a few moments of crying when WE put him in the car seat, he calmed down. He recognized me. He read his book. I drove extra, extra carefully. I felt so proud. I successfully (?) picked someone's child up. I transported him across town. I pretended people didn't think I was a fool. This was a full day.
But then, we parked.
As I went to get him out of the car seat, I again panicked. I pressed the harness release and nothing happened. I pressed it again; nothing happened. I thought about how fun it was going to be to have a two-year-old locked in his car seat for an hour until his mother came home. I felt my palms getting sweaty…and my face flush. I tried one more time.
One side unbuckled.
"OK. OK. If I got one side to unbuckle….that means I can do two."
Honestly. I gave myself this exact pep talk.
I realized I probably just wasn't pressing hard enough on the harness release, so I pressed it again without worrying about crushing him. Because, of course, if you press a harness release too hard, the child will instantly explode.
BINGO. It released. He jumped into my arms…and we got inside without a hitch. I knew right where her place was, and all I needed to do was take the elevator up one flight up, and we would be home free.
When I got into the elevator, I pushed the wrong button. I pushed the same floor we were just on, so basically, the doors closed and then reopened. I started to get out to walk to her door, but even the two-year old realized this was not the right floor. He stared up at me, and I swear he gave me a look of, "Dude…you seriously are a fucking moron, aren't you."
We got back into the elevator…I pressed the right button…and we got to door. FINALLY.
I realize most of these issues came about because I was just worried about watching someone else's child. I get that. But in about a thirty-minute time period, I made a complete jackass out of myself, in front of other people, about five times.
So…who needs a babysitter?