Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Babies In Baskets

I’m not much of a student. I like school alright – I get to see my friends and often the teachers are friends of the family. Honestly, I learn just fine – when it’s a topic I care to learn. Why do I have to learn how to sound out vowels & consonants when I can read the words perfectly as they sit on the page? I’m frustrated by the little squiggles and slash marks over the vowels and can’t really wrap my head around this. I can’t wait to get home. Eula Dean will be there.
Eula Dean is our “housekeeper” and occasional nanny, though we don’t call her that. We just call her Dean, even though most people call her Eula or Puddin’. When I see her car parked in front of the house, I haul ass to wherever she’s at (often scrubbing a tub or wiping the wooden handrails with lemon Pledge.) She’s part of our family, part of who we are and despite living on the other side of town from us, we are particularly lost without her. She is firm and insists on good behavior – she has no qualms about swatting my butt when I’ve stepped out of line, but there’s no doubt in my mind that she loves us. She tells me often I’m her favorite little white girl and I tell her she looks just like the woman on the Aunt Jemima Butter Lite Syrup bottle. She croons a belly laugh and while she’s wiping the tears from her eyes, she tells me “All you white people look alike too.” The best way to describe how she loves us is the way that she will come find me after a bad day at school. Dean innocently enters my bedroom to “lemon Pledge” something else and finds me sprawled on my tummy across my bed, hiding my tear stained cheeks in the crook of my elbow. Dean refuses to cautiously wait for an invitation. Her method is to scoop me up in her arms (even though I’m growing too big to be ‘scooped’ in anyone’s arms) and sit on the bed rocking me until the muffled sobs have turned into breathy attempts at composure. And I’ll be okay because of her.
            When Mom and Dad go out of town on business, Dean becomes our surrogate. Our meals are no longer eaten in restaurants - they morph into fried chicken or ham, spinach or green beans, cornbread and huge glasses of milk. We usually end up on the other side of town to join her at church – which I love! She lets me sing in church choir with her, swaying back and forth with the other altos and surprised by the sudden “Oh, yes sir!” or  “Amen!” that will be belted out during a good harmony or heartfelt lesson. She likes to “gussie me up” and braid my hair into multiple ponytails coming out of every side of my head as she watches her soap operas and puffs on a Marlboro. I am well taken care of – as are my brothers. Dean is ours and we are hers. To us, a comforting smell is that of stale cigarettes and Lemon Oil.
My bike is sparkly pink with a big white basket that I fully intend to carry a bunny rabbit in (as soon as I find and catch one.) I’m no stranger to animal capture. Not but a few weeks ago, I snuck a kitten up to my bedroom. I planned to feed it milk through a bottle and be so good to it that it’d never leave. That was short lived. I hadn’t planned on dealing with kitten bathroom issues. It must’ve been sick because within just a few minutes, it had leaked diarrhea all over my white shorts. Mom often wanted to know exactly what composed of the stains on our clothing so she could get them out. I can’t imagine surviving that conversation when I revealed it was “kitty cat diarrhea” so I changed my clothes and discarded the shorts in the alley dumpster. I returned the kitten where I’d found it and went on with my day.
Mom is pregnant and I will soon have a baby brother or sister. I figure it’d be best if I laid the animal-in-the-bike-basket plans to rest and just plan on driving the new baby around in that plasticbike basket. I announce my plans to Mom and she quickly suggests that I can certainly transport diapers in the basket, but not the baby. Somehow, that doesn’t sound near as fun. 

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