I remember being SOOO angry at her every time I went down the stairs. If it wasn't for me being on the computer late at night, it was for the way I did the dishes or disciplined (or didn't discipline) my girls or borrowed hangers or cleaned the house or fed my then-6-month-old. I had HAD enough. Every. Single. Time. I did something, I heard about it.
She had missed the polo vaccine by a year. Her limping gait was painfully pulled to one side and she had the gall to wear shorts in April, which revealed gargantuan scars from multiple corrective surgeries. She waddled her way around everywhere she went, including a house she could barely maneuver in, and did her best to live the most normal life she could live and gaining everyone's sympathy doing it.
But she was the closest thing to the antichrist.
If she wasn't aimlessly waiting to find some weird, piddling chore for me to do or craft for her to make herself, she was rearranging her cupboards for the fifty-millionth time or eating Honeycomb cereal dry in a bowl. Think little old lady in the gingerbread house with OCD.
I am not making this up.
One night, she was so intensely into her rearranging that she fell off the stepstool she should have NEVER been on and laid passed out on the kitchen floor. I was thinking, good, she's dead, but her daughter's face was crumpled with fear at the sight of her mother, so we called an ambulance. Neither of us were about to lift her to the car ourselves. Especially when we would have had get my girls in the car along with a heavy, passed out woman.
In the hospital late that night, she cried to me with contrived quivering. She was "so" sorry and was I mad at her. Mad at her? MAD at her? For what? Falling off the stool? For using absolutely zero common sense to stay off it when she had problems balancing at the best of times? For making my life a living hell when my husband, HER nephew, was sick with cancer in the hospital? For making me drag my two little girls out of bed at that late hour? For scaring the bejeezus out of me when the last thing I wanted to do was give a shit? Hell yeah, I was!
But I just swallowed it. No, I said, I'm not mad and how could I be mad, it was just an accident.
But seriously. What was one more thing going to do? One more incident? Drama session? What MORE damage could possibly be done that hadn't been done by ONE more thing? What single thing could have caused any more discord, heartache, and resentment than there already was? I was beyond exhausted. Beyond seasoned. Beyond the flip out point. Beyond recognition of all things congnitive. I was fucked.
* * *
She was also the assistant director of an inner city-type daycare. The very same one that SHE suggested my girls went to during the day so that I could be at the hospital with Kyle. I really don't know how someone like her gets a job in that field. You can preach a love for kids all you want and then straddle a 6-month-old, whose poor neck can only take so much, on your decrepit hip. Or enforce spoon feeding. Or coloring. Or building with blocks. If the kid is disinterested, he's disinterested. You can't make him interested by continuing to shove that spoon, that toy, that crayon down their proverbial throats.
Somehow, I let this happen. I let myself believe that enrolling them there would at least provide them with some normalcy while I spent the day at the hospital. At least that's what I figure because it bothered me deeply to leave them there alone--"alone" as in, without me and yet, I did it anyway. It didn't feel right, but maybe that's because I just hated her. And I never hated anyone. I needed to know they would be well taken care of, I needed proof, and I just didn't trust her. The daycare worked, though. The girls got to spend the days surrounded by toys, activities, scheduled meals, naps, friends, and a staff that didn't necessarily always include her while I sat in a sterile hospital room with an alien husband watching re-runs of Three's Company, Northern Exposure, and MacGyver with him.
Plus she was allergic (allegedly allergic) to just about everything: nuts, milk, bananas, lotion, medical tape, sitting, standing, wool, cotton (I think; a few of those I just made up, but then so did she, so I guess we're even?), common sense. When she wasn't spending my $650/month rent payments on craft crap from Michael's, 32-inch television sets, new computers, bedroom sets for their daughter or more, she was "helping" me to the hospital, carrying my 6-month-old, head bobbing side-to-side to the erratic rhythm of her lopsided steps.
Everything about her dichotomous ways curdled my blood.