Overheard at Target – “You know so much about money, Jacob, for someone who has never had a job, right? Correct me if I am wrong, but you don’t work for a living do you? I rest my case.” The speaker is a dad and Jacob is one of the three boys – all under the age of 13 or so – trailing after him down an aisle. Clearly, Jacob doesn’t have a job. If he lived in a third world country he might but this observation by dad wasn’t about child labor laws. Maybe dad thought he was schooling Jacob in some fashion. More likely though, dad was just tired or angry and much to the amusement of his children he was really lame at that moment. I exchanged a raised eyebrow and smile with another passing parent. And, then I thought about an exchange I had had with T. two weeks before.
I was lying on the couch hoping to close my eyes for just a little catnap. The kind parents have when three old’s are in their care. You don’t sleep so much as hope to re-charge. I got to that dreamy, relaxed state when I felt a sharp slap across my face. No one wants to be taken out of dreamy land by being slapped in the face. OK, he’s three, it isn’t like Mike Tyson hit me with his best shot, but it wasn’t nice. I said, “Well, mister, you’re not getting off this couch for a long time!” He wanted off the couch about two seconds after he stopped laughing at slapping mommy in the face. After five minutes of not being able to roam he started making the sign for his one-on-one aide at pre-school, Mindy*, saying ever so quietly, “Mindy” in a really adorable lisping voice.
We all love Mindy. She is committed to him and will learn anything the therapists throw her way to maximize his potential. I know that if for some reason on a field trip to sing to old people at a nursing home, a grizzly bear broke in and tried to get to our son – “Well, I would pity the fool.” Mindy stands about 5’ and that bear would not know what hit him
So, what did I say as my sweet, little boy said her name over and over again? I said, “Well, you know what? Mindy gets paid an hourly wage to be nice to you. Did you know that?” Saying that doesn’t make me Joan Crawford but it doesn’t make me Saint Theresa either. It makes me tired, angry and jealous. Soon, he and I made nice and I apologized profusely and we watched Sponge Bob and all was right with the world again.
When I told my husband he said, “Geeze, Mindy really deserves a salaried rate.” And, then, “T. doesn’t even know what a hourly rate means.” I told a friend at work. She said “You should have said to him, “Would you slap Mindy in the face?”
But, he would never slap Mindy in the face because Mindy is perfect. She is never tired. Never impatient. Never has to clean or do laundry or walk the dogs when she is with him. She is completely devoted to him. She is his one-on-one. That’s her only job when she is with him. And, she has washboard abs, no body fat, and shiny, straight hair. Why is Mindy so evil?
The reality is T. loves Mindy and Mindy loves T. and it has nothing to do with her job. And, when she is not with him she is working a second job. And, when she is not working two jobs she is raising her own child and helping to raise her grandchild and in her spare time she taught herself sign language at home so she could help T. more.
I imagine her right now, out in the woods wrestling a bear just in case.
*Mindy is a pseudonym