I sat five-year old Emily on the hood of the car to tie her shoe, certain that my other three blonde heads and one brunette had exited the vehicle. As the car began to move, my eyes flew to the steering wheel to see the giant round blue eyes of my four year old, Ben — yes, holding the steering wheel and drifting away from me. Grab the kid on the hood! I deposited Emily quickly to the ground, “Watch her!” I shouted, not sure to whom. I looked both ways to assess what sort of catastrophe we were in for as I ran for the kid in the driver’s seat. I watched in horror as the car came to a halt after backing into the fence across the street with a “Crunch!” I could already see that Ben was ok, satisfied with his clever self. I looked around to see if anyone was watching. Thank heavens video-ready cell phones and YouTube were not a thing twenty years ago. I quickly moved (tossed) Ben over to the passenger seat as I shoved key into ignition and drove forward returning the car to our driveway, hoping no one had seen.
The fence was property of the city. Not my problem, I thought. Yes, I thought that. I’m not proud. We were too broke to deal with that, AND I had more pressing business at hand. “What the hell were you doing?!” “Idno what happened,” he lied. “Mom’s cussing!” I heard the voice of Ben’s twin brother, Max, gleefully announcing to the world. “Knock it off!” I yelled, feeling more humiliated than relieved at this point. “Everyone into the house, now.” “You did SOMETHING,” I looked at the proud little boy as I took his hand (armpit) ushering him out of the vehicle. “I just moved the stick thing” Mmm hmm, the stick thing. Still angry but mildly amused, I kept my game face, “You broke the damn fence across the street! You’re lucky no one was hurt!” “You’re swearing,” he deflected. “Yeah? Well, your a little shit. How’s that for swearing? What do you think your dad is going to say?” Now he became serious. “Exactly,” I reached for the phone. Lyle was going to need time to “process” this information before he faced this naughty little boy.
I calmed myself as the phone rang. I knew Lyle would answer because he was dispatch and mechanic for the trucking company he worked at. “Hullo.” “Your son backed the car across the street and broke the fence in the soccer complex.” Silence. “He what? Which one? Is everyone ok?” “You heard me. Yes everyone is fine. So is the car, and which kid do you suppose?” “Bennie, my boy.” Is he proud? WOW! I was incredulous, “Yeah, you guessed right. His number one fan is walking around here gloating for him.” “I’ll talk to them when I get home.” It seemed that if one of the twins was in trouble, they shared the blame, primary focus on the doer, but still knowing that they usually cooked up their schemes together. No, it doesn’t seem fair. I’m still not sure we were wrong in that, though.
Ben was a precocious little kiddo. Oh, Maxie was right there with him enjoying from the sideline. One thing they didn’t share was Ben’s imaginary friend, Googie. I don’t know how “Googie,” got his name. If I asked Ben, he just responded, “That’s his name, Mom.” It got to the point where Googie joined us for supper. I’d finally had enough. “You know that Googie isn’t real, Ben.”Yes he is, he lives in heaven with his little sister.” All of the hairs on my body stood on end, “What’s his sister’s name?” “I dunno. She’s a baby.” I braced myself, “Why do they live in heaven?” Ben was quick and matter of fact, “His mom didn’t want them.” The myriad of thoughts that ran through my head all spoke pure horror at this. That’s how he feels about me. He’s projecting his fears about me in this creepy imaginary friend! He thinks I don’t want him. I’m a terrible mother. What the heck is going on? My kid is demented. There are NO such things as ghosts! “Ben, do you think I don’t want you?” He seemed exasperated at how silly I was, “No, Mom, Googie’s mom doesn’t want him. You’re not HIS mom.” I was royally freaking out. “Ok, well, Googie and his baby sister need to live in heaven with Jesus and eat supper there. I’m sure the food is better in heaven anyway…” I was grasping, and had nothing left in my arsenal of four-year-old reasoning/bargaining tools… “No more Googie. Say goodbye. Go play with Max and be glad you have a brother and a mom who wants you both. No more Googie. I love you very much.” “OK, MOM. I love you, too,” he stomped off completely annoyed with me.
I stared out the window. Supper was ready, but I needed a moment. Googie lives in heaven with his little sister? Because their mom didn’t want them? I can’t handle this! I looked at the broken fence across the street. It had remained broken for months now, not a priority for the city, OR a well needed reminder to never take my eyes or ears off of my little ones, to hold them close, to make eye contact, to keep telling them always that I loved them so.