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 Chapter 45: Premature

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Kell
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Join date : 2008-10-05

PostSubject: Chapter 45: Premature   Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:32 am

"I'm so glad you guys are back together," Collin squealed like a little girl at lunch.

"Why do I get the feeling that sometimes you seem to care more about us as a couple, than we do ourselves?" Jade asked him.

"Because now that the custody battle is over, I can hang out with you guys & not have it be awkward," he said, stuffing his face with a sandwich. I guess he had a point.

"In other words, mooch off us & not feel bad."

Collin shrugged.

"Actually Collin, you might not need to mooch from them for much longer," Alex said. "My parents finally decided to get me my own car."

"What do you mean 'finally decided', you just asked them for it yesterday?" Dane said.

"I guess they must really love me then."

"You're the youngest of four kids, your parents would feed you a cookie full of arsenic if you asked them to," Collin said.

"You could ask YOUR parents for a cookie & they'd think it was full of arsenic."

"So they're a bit overprotective. It just means they love me, too," Collin shot back.

"And yet you remain a pedestrian," Alex took a drink of his beverage.

Collin was just about to say god knows what when Jeff put his hand out. "All right, all right. Can we please get back to the car? JUST the car?"

Alex & Collin were glaring at each other. They looked like they were about to kill each other. And yet, I found myself smiling at the silliness of it all.

"How many people can fit in it?" Jeff asked.

"Seven."

"That will fit all of us," Jade said.

"Like hell!" Collin exclaimed. "I'm not getting in that car if you're behind the wheel," he said to Alex.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Here we go..." Randy sighed. Dane dropped his head to the table.

"Every time I'm with you when you drive, I become 90% more Catholic."

"My driving is just fine."

"Take the oldest driver ever, the most Asian driver ever & the most womanly driver ever, & stuff them into the heart of Massachusetts. What do you get? You."

"Well let's talk about your dri— ohhhhhhhh wait..." Alex said with a pitiful look.

"Perhaps we should figure out who's gonna become our official group driver," Randy said as he put his hands on Collin's shoulders.

"It'd have to be someone who's not so..." Jeff looked sorrowfully at Alex, "erratic on the road. And Jade's car won't fit all of us."

"What about Noah?" Dane suggested.

Everyone's eyes seemed to light up as they all hummed in agreement & looked at me.

"What? Why me?" I asked.

"Why NOT you?" Collin said. "You're probably the best driver out of all of us," he said, glancing over at Alex.

"But Noah, unlike some others doesn't even have a car," Alex replied right past Collin's eyes.

"He's right you know," I said to Dane.

"Yeah but you've driven us with your dad's car."

"Yeah so why can't I just keep doing that?"

"Because it's just different," Collin said incredulously, as if my logic were as outdated as believing the planet was flat.

"If you had your own car, your dad would probably let you use it more freely and whenever you want," Dane said.

"He already lets me do that with his car now. Nothing would change."

"So then GET your own car so we can all hang out more often!" Collin said.

"Collin, I don't have the money for a car," I tried again.

Just then, Jade pulled my arm back so that we were twisted backwards in our own seats, facing the other way so as to not let the rest of them hear whatever it was he had to tell me.

"I thought you told me about that account your dad had saved up for you..." he mumbled quietly.

"That's for the future when I get a car that's not the same junky one that I would've had in my 'youth'."

We turned back to the rest of them. "Guys, look. I'm not asking my dad to get me a car. End of story."

"Then get another job so you can afford one yourself," Collin shrugged.

"I'm not picking up a second job," I leaned forward.

"It doesn't have to be one with a definite schedule. Do something like, babysit or wash cars."

"Even if I started babysitting, I wouldn't be making nearly enough to get a car anytime soon."

"When you're getting relatively close, we can all chip in," Alex suggested.

I had to admit, even though their adolescent perspective was just that, the thought of me having my own car was growing on me. Jade had had a car for some time now & even though he drove me around whenever I needed, I felt that not only was it becoming a burden, which he'd deny to his last breath, but that my friends also made a good point about all of us being able to hang out in a more full capacity. I had my doubts about them chipping in, though. Randy & Jade worked at Dade's too. But once their own little expenses were paid for, I doubt they'd want to save up the rest to buy something for me. Not that it would help much anyway. Alex, Jeff & Collin at most would have pocket change at most anyway.

And yet, between my job, Jade's job, Randy's job, whatever scraps the rest of them could offer, my dad & a potential second job...maybe it wouldn't be so hard after all. I was starting to come around to their ideas.

"I suppose it wouldn't hurt..." I said aloud.

"Could you manage two jobs & school?" Jade asked.

"I dunno," I replied. "But I guess that's why being a grownup sounds like such a pain."

"So???" Collin said, on the edge of his seat.

I looked at him for a brief moment & then nodded.

**********

Later that night, I made up posters & had Jade drive me around to hang them up on telephone poles, around the park & even at Tubby's Ice Cream. Perfect spots where I knew parents would take their kids. Parents who mostly likely could use a little break every now & then.

Several nights later, I was in my room studying when my dad came up & handed me the phone. A woman was on the other end who had seen one of my posters & was looking for a new babysitter after her previous one had apparently decided to move to Mexico. After she asked me some general question about contact info & my permission to do a criminal history check (which didn't surprise me, yet left me intrigued), she finally asked if I would like to take care of her six month old son that weekend. Of course I agreed. She told me she would run it by with her husband, Mr. Hanson, & get back to me. Sweet!

She called back the next night & told me that they wanted to have a little interview with me before they left for their plans on Saturday. I readily agreed & told them I would see them then.

**********

Saturday night came & after Jade dropped me off at their house around 6:30, I traveled up their walkway & rang the doorbell. It was your almost-overly stereotypical suburbia neighborhood right on a busy street. The tacky lawn gnome next to the door stared at me with unwelcome eyes as it wondered what this teenager, this stranger was doing on the steps of such a perfect family dwelling. Lewis Black's act about "gay banditos" came to mind.

A woman in her late thirties, clearly dressed to go out somewhere fancy answered the door. She had a sharp face & a slim figure. Something told me though that it was more for show rather then just to be healthy. A moment later, her husband appeared & shook my hand as well. He was in fine shape, his dark, subtly dyed hair cropped back & to the side. I swear I was a camera, some cheesy jokes & a laughing audience away from being on an episode of "Happy Days."

After our intros, they brought me into their picture perfect home, sat me down on the couch & interviewed for about half an hour, asking about what school I went to, other jobs, hobbies, future plans, etc. They seemed to like the sound of me wanting to become a pediatrician.

Soon after the interview, it seemed they finally felt comfort enough to let me stay with their kid for a while. They showed me around the house, noting that the door to the baby's room was closed. The baby, Kenny, was sleeping for now. After telling me their contact info & how to get in touch with them, they practically sprinted out the door, probably happy to get a night off.

For two hours, I sat on the floor at the living room table to work on my homework which I had brought with me to kill time. At first, the semi-constant sounds of cars driving by was distracting. Living on a dirt, deserted road at the end of a woodsy peninsula where it was quiet all the time hadn't quite prepared me to hear the woooosh of a car going by every few seconds or the occasional monstrous diesel engine pass. But soon enough, the main-street sounds died away in my head, leaving only my homework to concentrate on.

Once I had finished my homework, I decided to watch some tv. I found it a bit odd that they had so many channels blocked for parental settings. I get that kids shouldn't be shown certain things on tv, but that's usually when the kid reaches tv-watching age, isn't it? I was pretty sure me watching The Hangover, which I knew was on tonight, would have minimal effect on a sleeping infant from down the hall & through a door. Oh well.

After about an hour of watching SpongeBob, I figured I would check in on Kenny. I walked down to his room & opened the door. His room, although dark, was a light blue with cotton-soft clouds painted across the ceiling. His shades, spotted with friendly trains and airplanes were a dark blue. Along his wall were paintings of trains, airplanes, buses & cars, all animated with friendly looks on their faces. A night-light illuminated the room, characterized by a happy bumblebee. I walked over to his crib & peered over the side, when I saw two big brown eyes looking right back up at me.

"Hi," I said quietly, a smile instantly appearing on my face.

Kenny was sitting upright in his crib, his hands lying on the side of a small, fluffy brown stuffed bear. When he heard me say hi, his mouth opened to smile & he began to giggle.

"Hi there," I said again. "Are you Kenny? 'Cause I'm here to take care of a Kenny, but I haven't met him yet," I folded my arms on the top rail of the crib & rested my head, watching him play with his bear.

"Have you been awake the whole time I've been here? Hmm?" I asked. "I was out there doing boring homework & watching SpongeBob, you should've joined me."

Kenny reached his arms out to me, as if he wanted me to lift him. I hesitated at first. I had never held a baby before. I was afraid I'd drop him, or squeeze him too hard, or hold him in any way that was uncomfortable to him. But as Kenny squeezed at the air with his fingers, I carefully reached down into the crib to lift him up under the arms. He laughed with joy as I swooped him up into the air. Holding him out in front of me, I wondered how to hold him. Sure, seeing someone cradle a baby on tv looked easy but as I held his frame in my hands, I couldn't help but wonder if that was really all to it.

As I brought him to my chest though, I was surprised at how easy it became. Crooking my right arm under him, I held him like a bag of groceries, my other hand reaching around to hold him against me.

"Hiya," I whispered. "I hear you're six months old, huh? You're half a year old! Are you excited? Are you excited for your very first birthday?" I poked his tummy. He laughed.

"In fact," I said, taking him out to the living room, "the best part about being a kid is that you get to watch all the best movies & tv shows!" As I went through their stack of kids' videos, I noticed Kenny was reaching toward one in particular. When I picked it up, it was 'Barney'.

"You wanna watch 'Barney'? Ok, we can do that," I said as I walked over to the DVD player & popped it in. As it started up, I saw 'The Lion King' on top of the stack.

"We can watch 'The Lion King' right after!" I hugged him. Babysitting was the perfect excuse to definitely watch the best stuff.

*****

After both the 'Barney' episodes & 'The Lion King' were done, the latter of which I doubt Kenny was able to follow anyway, I picked up Kenny & placed on his butt on the carpet. I figured I'd find us a game to play so as he found entertainment in the carpet hairs, I looked for something to play. Fortunately, they had a whole cabinet fulls of baby things, including a game I recognized from when I was very little.

It was sort of like the game 'Sorry', only, when you pressed the plastic bubble, the entire inside of the bubble, with a pop, lit up red, yellow, green, blue or purple at random. There was a small, childish voice that also said aloud the name of the color.

As I turned around to bring the game back to the floor, I immediately noticed that Kenny wasn't there anymore.For the smallest zillionth of a second, I freaked out in my brain. I had only turned my back for not even 15 seconds!

Luckily, my eyes caught him in the same instant, halfway across the living room toward the kitchen. He was on his hands & knees, scampering to escape from the clutches of a big kid.

I placed the game on the floor & ran over to grab him before he got too far from me.

"Hey there," I said, swooping him up, inciting a series of contagious giggles. "You're one heck of a fast crawler there, kid."

I brought him back to the living room carpet & placed him opposite me from the toy. He looked at it for a second before finding something apparently tasty on his fingers.

"I used to love this game when I was little like you," I said, sprawling myself out. "See, all you do is hit this button here &...ah! See, you get blue! I love blue." I nudged the game toward him.

I guess I hadn't taken into consideration that I was playing with an infant, & not a toddler. Kenny didn't have the brain power to realize that pressing the button makes the magic happen. So I decided to take all his turns for me. Each pop noise cracked up Kenny as if he were hearing the funniest joke on earth, & every color that appeared gleamed like something he had never seen before in all his months of existence. I noticed he had a special infatuation with the blue light.

"You like blue? Me too, it's my favorite color," I smiled at him. "Have you ever seen the ocean? The ocean is BIG blue. And the sky? That's the biggest blue you can see in the world!" I stretched my hands out. "There's lots of blue things. Blueberries, bluebirds, Neptune, sapphires, Smurfs. Sometimes different things come in different colors like blue. Like people's eyes. See my eyes?" I pointed at my eyes. He was so interested he started drooling into his palms & rubbing it on his head. "They're blue. My pants are blue. There's a super duper kind of music that's called 'blues' which we should listen to someday. Butterflies can be blue. Do you like butterflies? They can fly!," I flapped my hands. Man, people with ADD must get along great with kids, going from one topic to the next like this.

Just then, I noticed that Kenny's facial expression darkened. He didn't have a happy face on. In fact, he looked like...oh no........

It started with a pout...

And then...he began to cry.

"Aww Kenny, nooo," I said, scrambling to get up. "What's the matter? Blue is a good thing, a good thing!" I tried to explain as I picked him up & held him in my arms.

"Shhhhh," I tried to comfort him. Bouncing. Doesn't bouncing them comfort them? I started to lightly bounce him in my arms. He shrieked, scaring me a bit, thinking I was hurting him. What could it be that was upsetting him? He loved blue, we watched some nice things, nothing fell on him, bit him, pricked him, stung him, slapped him, pinched him, pushed him...

I carried him to his room, hoping there would be something in there to help calm him down. I saw a music cassette & popped it in. But even the soothing sounds of harps & triangles weren't enough to quell his noise.

For the next 20 minutes, I wandered around the house with Kenny in my arms, humming & singing any pleasing sounds or songs I could think of. None of them were helping. His crying never let up either. He cried no differently than his first few outbursts, as if something was constantly hurting him. But what?

Then I remembered something my dad told me I had often when I was a baby. Colic. I took out my phone, trying to look up how to treat colic for babies. But there was no signal. I threw my head back in frustration.

"C'mon Kenny, everything is ok...why are you crying?" I asked with a desperate tone.

I picked up a nearby toy wand & put it in his hands, hoping something to hold on to might calm him down. He grabbed it & began wave it around wildly. But he continued to scream, spit & thrash. I sighed, not knowing what to do.

Suddenly, Kenny's thrashing caused a pointed end of the wand to jab me painfully in the side, in the exact spot where Shannon had stabbed me. The area was still, even after all this time, hypersensitive. Like an electric jolt, it caused me to cry out in pain the moment it made contact. I managed to keep Kenny in my arms, but I doubled over, my less important hand shooting to that spot to try to soothe it. The sudden jerking caused Kenny to start wailing even louder. As I sucked in sharp breathes, I groaned at the ear-shattering screams of the baby.

For another 10 minutes, I walked around with Kenny, shushing him soothingly & calmly as I could, which was not an easy task I might add. Is this what I put my mom & dad through? And it had only been a half hour. I couldn't IMAGINE what it was like to having a crying baby all night.

I started to rub Kenny's tummy, hoping that maybe rubbing it would help soothe the colic.

"It's all right. Does this help?" I said over the cries. It obviously didn't.

"I know it hurts. And I wish I could help but I don't know what to do!" I said to him. "Sometimes you just can't do anything about a tummy-ache..." I lifted him higher & put him against my chest, his head resting on my shoulder.

That's when it hit me.

"...and other times you can," I said as I used my other hand to pull back the back of his diaper. I didn't even have to look to...sense...what the problem had been the whole time.

"You didn't have colic, you just had to go poop, didn't you?" I almost laughed with relief. "It's ok! We can fix this! See? I knew you were ok!"

I brought him over to the changing table by his window & laid him on his back. As I started to undo his diaper however, I suddenly realized...I didn't know how to change a dirty diaper.

"Uhhh...." I said, looking around for something to help me.

A particularly loud shriek from the kid made me jump, making me realize I had to do something. I took off his diaper slowly, not wanting to get anything on my hands. And then...

...I saw it...& smelled it. But the worst part was that I felt some get on my fingers!

I gagged as I quickly took it off, threw it blindly into the trash can next to the table & ran while holding my breath into the hallway. Exhaling, I delicately, without looking, picked up a phone on a small table in the hall. I had no idea what to do, but most of all, I wanted someone to hear my last rites should I kill myself in the process.

I called my house, hoping my dad would pick up as I pressed the phone against my ear using the wall.

"Hello?" he said when he answered.

"Hey."

"Hey, how's the job going?"

"It's been mostly ok."

"Yeah? What's up?"

"I need your help with something."

"Sure, what's on your mind?"

"Well," I said, looking down at my fingers, "more like what's on my hands..."

**********

Later, when Jade came to pick me up, I practically fell into the passenger seat.

"Rough night?" he said as he got in.

"Nearly all of it was fine. But the crying & the changing diapers was blehh."

"Well hey, you managed. Besides, it's good practice."

"For what?" I said as I put my seat belt on.

"For when YOU have kids someday ya goof," he replied.

"Oh, right."

He tilted his head a bit. "You still want kids someday, right?"

I had to think about it for a second. Not by any means did I truly believe that this whole night would represent every night being a parent someday. But now that I knew both the ups & downs on a face-to-face basis, I felt more willing to start a family someday than ever before. I hoped it'd be worth it.

"Yeah," I replied. "Someday. What about you?" I turned to him.

He smiled warmly & nodded slightly. "Someday."

Somehow, that smile of his resonated deep with me. I wanted to have kids for sure. But what I wanted most was to have kids with him. And something about that smile of his made me think maybe I wasn't getting too carried away by the thought of it. These thoughts led me into happy places as I closed my eyes & let the drive home relax me. When we got home, Jade asked me if I wanted to spend the night with him. I agreed.

It was the first time in a very long time. And knowing that, I drifted to sleep easily.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NOTE: All right everyone, I hate to say it but from here on, there are only 5 chapters left of Noah & Jaden. It's been a good run but hey, it's not over yet. There's still some things brewing & getting ready to be told so don't break out the waterworks just yet!

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