It’s long been the case that The Mom is as helpful a neighbour as possible. It’s just that until recently, few people have really taken her up on it. However, when I was home for a summer visit recently, it was as if she had started her own small business. She was the Odd Jobs Lady on our street, and when I was home visiting, I was tricked into joining her.
I say tricked, which is wrong. That would imply I had been asked in some way, refused, and The Mom had had to resort to more fiendish behaviour and methods. This was not the case. I simply, and in retrospect, rather foolishly, sat in the kitchen with nothing much to do. This is how I roll when I’m at home. The Mom is always imploring me to relax, to just sit there and do nothing for a while, or at least not work and not pretend to train for the Olympic tryouts in the pool. So that’s what I was doing.
And then the Across The Street neighbours let themselves in, which is fine and what they normally do which is also good because to do otherwise in The Mom’s house is just weird. I mean, only people who are a bit up themselves ring the door bell and expect to have the door opened for them. We are not here to wait on people hand and foot you know. You have two hands, open the door yourself. Anyhow, I digress, as ever.
There I was, trying to relax or at least look relaxed, when the neighbours let themselves in. They brought their wee girl with them, and announced that she would need something in adult accompaniment the next day.
“Oh,” I said. “Let me check The Mom’s calendar, she might be free.”
“No,” the neighbours said. “She wants you to do it.”
The wee girl looked at me and smiled and I immediately felt nervous.
“No, no, you want The Mom. She is in Charge Of Things.”
Eventually, after some discussion, they agreed that officially The Mom would be in charge, but that I would be on hand as well.
So the wee girl came round first thing the next morning when I was at early morning swim. When I returned from the pool, in desperate need of coffee and the internet, there they were: The Mom and the wee girl playing in the living room.
“Ah, you’re back. Get dressed quickly. I’ve got to go do my morning rounds,” The Mom said.
When I returned, she took what looked like the head jailor’s keys and ran out into the morning. The wee girl had arrived with two bags and a checklist, so we did our best to stick to the schedule. There were dance lessons, tennis lessons and swimming lessons, and she was not allowed to go on her own even though it was literally across the street. She had to bring a relevant adult with her.
Which is where the problem was, for me at least. I suppose, in comparison to the wee girl, I look like an adult. I can drive a car, I have a bank account, I could probably thwart a bit of danger if need be, but other than that, I don’t know. When The Mom and I go over to the wee girl’s parents’ for dinner, she and I play in her room together and come down for dinner when called. The Mom, essentially, brings her daughter to play with theirs. Never mind that The Mom’s daughter is nearly 40 years of age and has a PhD.
So I did my best to help The Mom with her many odd jobs whilst I was home. Everything got fed, watered, taken in, taken out, all the forms were signed and duplicates left in the appropriate and pre-arranged areas. The suburbs were under control. Though, what I found quite odd was that The Mom does not charge for these services. As they fall under some kind of pre-agreed Good Neighbour clause.
However, the day I helped with the babysitting, we made $40. I normally charge ten times that on a day rate, but then I don’t normally babysit. And, on my next to last night of vacation, The Mom and I took ourselveses to the pictures, using our babysitting money.