Right now my feet hurt so much, I could almost cry, but I shoulda known better than to wear new shoes on a double-shift. At least it’s over. And that extra pay won’t hurt one bit, so I guess my feet will survive.
I hope Jeremy had a good day at his new daycare. It’s kind of a long drive, but it’s worth it if he’s gonna be happy there. That other place wasn’t a real school anyhow, just a lady and her lazy teenage son. All they did was watch TV and sit around on their butts while them poor little kids tried to keep themselves occupied. No wonder Jeremy started biting other kids—he was bored!
Oh, there he is, my precious baby, goin’ down the slide backwards—that little daredevil!
Uh oh, that young blonde teacher is walkin’ over to him and she’s not smilin’. And the boss lady—darn, what’s her name? I know I’m supposed to know it—is comin’ towards me and she’s wearin’ one of those pursed lip smiles that means she’s got somethin’ to say that’s not so pleasant but she don’t want to scare me off.
“Just call me Shawna. My mom is Mrs. Dodd.”
The boss lady with the graying ponytail—Dang! I wish I could remember her name—is telling me Jer-Jer had a “difficult first day” and that she has to think of the other children and their safety. What’d he do—hold kids at gunpoint in the sandbox? She’s trying to get me to come with her to her office, but I say I still have to drive across town and fix dinner before I can rest my aching feet. She wants me to come to school with Jeremy and observe, which is the craziest thing I ever heard because why would I be paying her to watch my little boy if I could watch him myself? It doesn’t make sense. But she insists that he won’t be allowed back until I come with him, just for a morning. I’m lucky I just did a double-shift so I can afford to take time off.
Just then a shrill scream comes from the cubby area: “It’s gone! It was right here in the pocket of my backpack and now it’s gone!”
“Well, it sounds like you got your hands full.” I try to sound sympathetic as I whisk up little Jeremy and make a dash for the car. Once we’re out of the parking lot I say that boss lady sure has a stick up her butt!
Jeremy chuckles and starts makin’ up a song, “Up her butt, up her butt, Ms. Jordan has a stick up her butt!”
Ms. Jordan! That’s her name, why couldn’t I remember that?
“A big ol’ stick, a big ol’ stick, how did she get it . . .”
Jeremy is singing loud and makin’ up new verses. Oh, Lord, what have I done? I better distract him, like Ms. Sanchez does. What would she do if she was here?
I ask him about his day and he tells me how he played a hiding game with alphabet blocks and he was so good Justin never did find the last one. And he even helped the gardener out, pullin’ weeds. I asked him why would he want to pull weeds when there were toys and kids to play with and he said he felt sorry for the gardener workin’ so hard and besides it’s not like he did it for free—he got five dollars.
Somethin’ didn’t seem right. I don’t know how I feel about this. On one hand, they weren’t makin’ him do it—he wanted to help. On the other hand, he’s just a little boy, so he should be playing, not workin’. On the other hand, they did give him $5…
“I’m hungry! Can we stop at Sonic on the way home? Puleeeeez!”
“Didn’t you eat all your lunch?”
“Yes, but I’m still hungry.”
“Now you know if we stop for fries, you won’t eat your dinner. I was planning on fixin’ your favorite—mac & cheese.”
“I’m sick of mac & cheese. Can’t we just have dinner at Sonic?”
I point out that I don’t have money to eat out, but he says he’ll pay with his $5. It is so sweet of him to want to take his mama out for dinner. I don’t have the heart to tell him that $5 won’t cover burgers and fries. But hell, I worked a double-shift. I can cover the difference. Poor baby! He’s had a long day and he’s hungry. I forgot to bring a snack for him to eat in the car, and it’s a long ride home.
Pounding his fists on the sides of his car seat, he starts chanting, “So-nic! So-nic! So-nic!”
Fries and a shake—that does sound good . . .
* * *
I gave Jer-Jer his bath, got him to bed and was startin’ to unpack his backpack, when I notice the little red light blinking on the answering machine. There’s a message from Ms. Jordan who says she needs to talk to me right away about an urgent issue concerning some money stolen from Missy’s backpack. I declare, the first kid they wanna pin it on is the new kid. I bet little Missy lost that money and is just afraid to tell her mama. Well, I’ll call back in the mornin’. I’m sure Ms. Stick-up-her-butt has gone home by now.
I sigh and open the lid of his Jer-Jer’s Spiderman lunch box. There’s a half a peanut butter sandwich, an unopened yogurt container, a whole apple, and an alphabet block.