Linda was clearly frustrated as she helped to move the tiny one’s hand across the sheet of waxy paper. They were finger painting, again. She couldn’t see what good it did to sit here several times a week and coach Asa in his lessons. This child is more suited to manual labor, Linda thought. She didn’t say it though, because that kind of negative talk was unacceptable, and one never knew who was listening to what one said. They hadn’t figured out yet a way to crawl inside her skull and extricate her thoughts, but she was sure that little bit of trickery was only a short way down the road. For now, she could think what she liked, but what she said had to be censored.
The door to their tiny apartment opened and in walked Jed and little Bud. Their son’s real name was Maynard, but everybody called him Bud. He just looked like a Bud, and he acted like one too. Unlike Asa, he was an easy child to love.
“What’s for dinner?” Jed asked.
“Same ole, same ole,” she replied. “It’s Tuesday, so that means pasta and garlic bread. It’s in the freezer. Can you pop it in the micro to warm it up? I have to finish up this project with the monster, the assessors want it done by tomorrow. She said the word “monster” with a cheery little up-tick in her voice so that anyone listening would think she was being jovial and fun, and not dead serious.
“Can’t we have something fresh tonight?” Jed asked. “I’ve had warmed-up pasta three times in the last three weeks and it’s getting old.”
“Yeah? Well guess what,” said Linda, “working with this kid is getting old too. Everything he does takes ten times as long to accomplish as it ever did with Bud!” She hoped that hadn’t come off too brutal-sounding. There was a price to pay if she didn’t comply with orders to condescend and she was hesitant to pay it. Quite hesitant.
“Hey, buddy, where’s your coat?” Linda inquired of Bud.
“Oh no, I think I left it back at school.”
Technically speaking, that was a lie. Bud didn’t go to school. Bud went to a state sponsored asylum they called a school, and he was the brightest “student” enrolled there, Linda thought.
“Oh, that’s okay buddy, we’ll get it tomorrow,” his mum said.
“Asa, will you please stop smearing paint everywhere!?” Another exasperated message had left her lips, this time without her even noticing how exasperated it sounded.
“Lin…” Jed whispered, motioning with his hand in a way that told Linda that she needed to tweak her tone and quit complaining.
“I don’t care, Jed,” she replied. “You stay home with this little jerk every day and see how you feel at the end of the week.” With that Linda batted Asa on the back of the head with the tips of her fingers and huffed off to the bedroom to get away from the insanity that had become her daily routine.
How in the world can anyone expect me to teach that “thing” anything; he’s devoid of any sense, she thought to herself, but she didn’t utter a word.