15 Feb Part 2 – Help Arrives
Lorraine and Jane sat opposite each other at the coffee shop.
“So tell me about Jared,” Jane said. “What worries you about him?”
Lorraine thought for a moment. “Well, he seems to be out of control a lot of the time. I never know what he’ll do next. No matter how I try to guide him in advance, he just does whatever he feels like. And usually the result is not good. He offends or annoys someone or creates danger. You saw him outside the library. That was after he was kicked out of story hour for being disruptive. And this morning my mother-in-law told me not to be gone long because she doesn’t feel comfortable being with him and Liza for long.” Lorraine realized that she was close to tears.
“I can see that he upsets you,” Jane offered sympathetically. “Let me ask you this – what happens when he misbehaves like that?”
“What happens?” Lorraine shrugged. “I remove him from the scene. I apologize for him. I talk to him about his behavior, but it makes no impression that I can see. We go back home.”
Jane leaned forward. “So, in other words, no consequences for Jared?”
“Consequences? He’s a little boy!” Lorraine felt her maternal instincts kick in.
‘Lorraine!” Jane replied firmly. “No wonder he doesn’t behave. And you make excuses for him. Now I know you don’t have much time, so listen.” The two women put their heads together.
The next day, Lorraine announced, “Mrs. Etheridge is reading Corduroy stories at the library this afternoon. Liza, you love Corduroy. Would you like to go?”
Liza smiled happily. “Yeth, Mommy.”
“I like Corduroy too,” Jared called. “I want to go.”
“Oh no, Jared,” his mother replied. “I couldn’t possibly take you back there after you were so rude to Mrs. Etheridge. I called Mrs. Finster to come and stay with you.”
“I don’t like Mrs. Finster!” Jared yelled. “She makes me play outside in the yard the whole time. No TV, no games, no stories. I want to go with you.”
“I am sorry, Jared,” his mother stated firmly. “You don’t behave at the library, so you stay home.” And that was that. Even when he whined, she ignored him. When Mrs. Finster showed up, Lorraine got Liza into her coat.
“You too, mister,” Mrs. Finster told Jared. “Get your jacket on. Outside!” Jared turned imploring eyes to his mother, but Lorraine just opened the door and left.
In a little while Mrs. Finster heard an awful series of sounds. Jared was pelting rocks at the garage. “What are you doing, Jared? Stop that this minute!”
Jared froze. “Okay, I’ll stop. I’m bored out here.”
“The fresh air will do you good,” Mrs. Finster stated firmly.
When Jared heard the sound of his mother’s car purring up the driveway, he felt relieved and happy to see her. Lorraine went inside to pay Mrs. Finster.
“Your son was his usual self. I kept him outside so he wouldn’t wreck the house.”
Jared came through the door as Mrs. Finster drove away. “Hi, Mommy. I missed you. How was the story hour?”
“It was very enjoyable, Jared. Liza really loved it. Mrs. Etheridge showed a Corduroy video at the end.”
“Can I go next time? I promise I’ll be good.”
“Well, that depends, Jared. You’d have to apologize to Mrs. Etheridge and ask her to let you try again. And you would have to listen quietly to the story. One false move and you’d be out for good.”
“I will, Mommy. I’ll be nice and I’ll listen.”
“And not just at the library,” Lorraine warned him. “If you want to go places with us, you have to behave here as well. I can always call Mrs. Finster again. ”
“Okay,” Jared said quietly. He went up to his room and took out his Legos.
“Could things be changing?” Lorraine wondered. Suddenly it seemed possible. She sent a silent message to her new friend. “Thank you, Jane.”
A collaboration between Anne Martine Cook and Marianne Riess