The sun shone through the crack between the drapes in the small bedroom and woke the young mother. Yawning, she noticed the dent in the pillow beside her and remembered the quiet “I’m off to work” spoken while the room was still dark. She glanced at the clock. “I better get up and get going,” she muttered to herself. I don’t have a lot of time before VBS starts.
Vroom sounds came from the small boy’s bedroom. She tip-toed down the hall to the bathroom. Back in her room, she eyed the clothes in her closet. What can I wear? She asked wanting to look good and comfortable. Choosing a pair of brown hot pants, she topped off the outfit with a pink-striped, short-sleeve knit shirt. Her long, brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, she applied a quick layer of mascara. A final look in the mirror, a nod of approval, and she went to attend to the children.
“Let’s go for a drive,” the small boy said. He stood beside the crib weaving a purple racecar in and out of the slats. “Here, you can use this one.” He handed the infant a red station wagon.
The infant, who sat next to a balled-up blue blanket, took it, and promptly put it in her mouth. “No, baby. Yuck,” he reached in and pulled her hand from her mouth. “Like this.” He helped her put the car on the mattress and moved her hand. “Vroom. See.” He looked up as the young mother entered the room.
“Oh, Mummy, you look pretty,” the small boy commented.
“Uh huh,” she pulled a pair of underwear and white socks from a drawer. “Here,” handing them to her five-year-old son, “Put these on.” She grabbed a pair of beige shorts and a blue t-shirt from the next drawer. “Then come to breakfast.” Leaving the small boy to dress himself, she picked the infant up and walked out of the room.
The small boy bounced into the tiny kitchen across from his bedroom and climbed up on a thick telephone book atop a yellow-gold plastic cushioned chair. Sesame Street played on the TV in the next room. He could watch over the half-wall that separated the rooms. The small boy poured his cereal, singing along with Oscar about how much he loved trash. He picked up stray cereal flakes from the table and gobbled them.
“I’ll get the milk,” his mother said. She sat on the opposite side of the white Formica table, eating toast, and feeding the infant.
The young mother gulped down the last swallow of her orange juice. She grabbed a wet cloth from the sink and wiped the infant’s face and hands. “Sit still,” she gave the infant a pointed look as the infant squirmed to pull her face away. She then lifted the eight-month-old from her highchair and turned to the small boy. “As soon as you finish your cereal, put your bowl in the sink, and go brush your teeth. I’m going to dress your sister.”
“Ok, Mummy,” the small boy said with a mouthful of Frosted Flakes. He intently listened to a conversation between Mr. Hooper and Big Bird. Finishing his cereal, he lifted his bowl to drink the sugary milk. A drop dribbled from the corner of his mouth onto his t-shirt. His blue-gray eyes followed it. He shrugged his shoulders and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Hopping out of his chair, he dropped his bowl and spoon in the sink.
Hearing the clang, the young mother called from the bedroom, “Brush your teeth and then meet me at the front door.” The small boy scurried down the hall to the bathroom.
Using the small boy’s bed as a table, the young mother went through the motions of changing the infant’s diaper. The infant spied her brother’s stuffed elephant and twisted to reach it. “Quit wiggling,” the young mother shook her head. The infant stilled and put her thumb in her mouth. “I cannot dress you with your thumb in your mouth.” The young mother pulled the little thumb out. She dressed the infant in a yellow, cotton dress with a ruffled, white eyelet collar. The warm yellow offset the infant’s wispy, wheat-coloured hair, so unlike her mother’s long, dark brown hair. She left the infant sitting on the bed. Moving about the room she gathered extra diapers, a pink romper, stuffed lamb, and a set of plastic keys for the diaper bag. The infant’s eyes followed her.
Slinging the bag over her shoulder, the young mother picked up the infant and walked to the front door. The small boy sat on the floor. His focus intense on how his fingers worked, he twirled his shoe laces around and around.
With an impatient snort he threw up his hands. “I tried to tie them myself, Mummy,” his voice dropped, “but it didn’t work.” He scrunched his face, looking down at his sneakers.
“I’ll do it.” The young mother balanced the infant on one knee as she squatted and tied the small boy’s shoes.
“There,” the young mother said. “Let’s get going. I have things to do before the program starts.” She opened the door and the small boy scurried out in front of her.
Using both hands and all his strength, the small boy opened the passenger door of the aqua-blue Chevelle parked in the gravel driveway. He scrambled up in the front seat.
The young mother dropped the diaper bag on the car floor. “I forgot the blanket.” She sighed and clicked her tongue. “Run get it for me,” she instructed the small boy. “It should be in the crib.”
He hopped out and the young mother leaned into the car to place the infant in the cloth car-seat that hung in the center of the bench seat.
“I’ll run like Roadrunner… beep, beep,” the small boy called behind him as he raced into the house. He returned quickly with the blue blanket. The silver thread that ran along the satin edge sparkled in the sun as he dashed back to the car. He climbed in. With a satisfied grin, he said, “See, as fast as Roadrunner.”
“Uh-huh.” The young mother closed the car door.
The Carpenters and Supremes accompanied them on the ten-minute drive to town. The small boy held the infant’s hand, conducting and singing along with You Can’t Hurry Love. The infant coo-ed and baa-ed her own words in duet. They bobbed about, dancing in rhythm to the music.
“Calm down,” the young mother corrected.
The small boy quieted his bouncing.
“Look, there’s Grammie’s house,” the small boy exclaimed. They passed the two-story white house adorned with phlox and marigold flowerbeds. “We’re almost there,” the small boy craned his neck looking out the window as they turned into a parking lot. “Oh, I’d like to go up there and ring the bell,” the small boy said, pointing to the steeple of the building.
“Mm-hmm,” his mother replied, focusing on where to park.
…to be continued…