He paid close attention to me while I talked and talked. Minutes must have passed because my hot chocolate began to cool down in my hands and I noticed he had finished drinking his coffee. Bystanders must have looked at us weirdly considering we stopped in the middle of the street to say goodbye but the more he listened to me, the more I wanted to tell him.
“So kind of like a nanny?” he asked me.
“Basically, yes” I concluded since I wanted to stop that subject there and then.
“That explains the accent then. You don’t have an America one” he asked curiously.
“I’m from England and before you make any Mary Poppins reference, I’m going to remind you that I have plans and I should be getting home now”, I finally said with a firm tone trying to establish authority as if I was scolding my host kids. Oh my babies! I bet they’re waiting for me by the front door, pushing their small noses up against the glass pane of the door. Or crying and screaming about something frivolous.
“Oh okay, but I would like to see you again. You seem..” he hesitated whilst trying to think of the right word and added, “You seem genuine.” He said this with a smile and it made me think twice. There was something so romantic about meeting an American guy during Winter and with Valentines Day right around the corner? This seemed too perfect but I was hooked by his green eyes, kind face, and to put in his exact words, ‘genuine’ personality.
“Okay sure,” I replied and revealed my phone from my jacket pocket. He took down my number and miscalled there and then so I was sure to receive his number. I walked away feeling proud of myself and happy and kind of, thrilled. This felt mysterious. I had never met a stranger and conversed with them to the point where I was excited to meet them again. Little did I know, I was about to have many encounters with him…
I pulled up into my host parent’s driveway. It was wide enough to fit all three cars; my host mom’s, dad’s, and mine. Well, not mine, it was my host parent’s assistant’s car but they let me drive it from time to time. I loved it for it was my only sense of freedom from my au pair life. I felt independent and confident. But I didn’t feel so confident driving on the right side of the road. For one thing, the roads in America are huge but so are the cars. The Hyundai Sonata I was driving felt so powerful but I never got used to using the automatic gear. My hand would automatically reach for the shift as I would slow down (or speed up). During the drive home I couldn’t help but think of him. I could still hear the kindness of his voice in my head and I couldn’t help but imagine him standing right next to me. It felt good.
“Lissy!!!!!!! Come on, Lissy! They’re here!!!” My host kids screamed at me as the back door flew open. They must have heard me open the garage door. Two bright young boys, not any taller than 2 feet, were jumping excitedly whilst giggling away as if I knew something they didn’t. Pfft! As if! I knew absolutely every little detail. I had been their au pair for almost a year and I knew all about their ups and downs. I knew what was wrong from the moment they started crying about their breakfast eggs touching the toast on the plate. I knew why little Adam would cry when he was forced to watch commercials during numerous repeat shows of Caiilou. I knew that older Matthew liked to sleep on the left side of the bed just because he’s left handed. I knew everything a mother should about their child. Except, I wasn’t their mother. I was someone temporary in their lives. Someone they would forget about soon…
As I attempted to take off my slippery boots, my host kids were dragging me into the living room. They both held onto my hands, gripped it tight and pulled me towards the living room to be face-to-face with the big surprise. It was George, one of their friends from Music class. I had already met George but of course I had to play dumb and act surprised at his presence.
“Okay, we’re gonna go now”, I heard my host mom say as she was walking down the stairs with my host dad. They had a last minute luncheon to attend so I had to babysit. I was always reliable in that way. After all, my host parents were good to me and I wanted to repay the favor.
“George’s mum will pick him up soon and we won’t be long. We’ll be back in a little while and then you can be free for the rest of the weekend, Melissa,” my host dad reassured me as they walked out the front door. Matthew and Adam didn’t even realize their parents had left. They were too preoccupied with George’s Lego tower collection. Urgh It was going to be non-stop stepping in Lego’s for the next 30 minutes. Whilst they were happily playing together I decided to start making some snacks. My host kids loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (with the crust cut off) and I loved making those simple treats for them. Lucky for me, George had no allergies.
I remember when I first made PB&J sandwiches. I thought it would be a good idea to pack it for the kids baby Spanish language class. Oh boy, was I wrong! The school immediately called my host mom questioning why on earth would anyone pack PB&J sandwiches for a child’s lunch even though it was previously addressed that absolutely NO-ONE should pack PB&J sandwiches because other kids may be deathly allergic. To me, it sounded a bit too dramatic. How many kids aged 1-2 even know they’re allergic to peanut butter? Who the hell is allergic to peanut butter anyway?!
My phone started to ring, I picked up my handbag from the kitchen counter and grabbed my phone from inside. I stared at it for a while. It was the guy from the coffee shop, I recognized his number instantly. I felt nervous so I let it go to voicemail. I dropped it back into my handbag and glanced toward the little boys in the living room. They grew tired of playing Lego’s and started chasing each other around the play house.
“Okay, guys! Come to the kitchen for snack time!” I bellowed at them.
“Lissy, can we eat here? Please?!” Matthew pleaded, trying to get his way as soon as his parents left.
“No way, kiddo! You know you can only eat food in the kitchen, daddy says so”, I confirmed.
I made sure I remained assertive with the boys even though I just wanted to give in every single time. But I didn’t want to spoil them. Looking after them was hard work and I didn’t want to give them a reason to have a tantrum.
Matthew walked to the kitchen with his head down as if in defeat and the other boys closely followed suit.
I sat and stared at all three boys whilst they ate their sandwiches on the dining table. I slouched into a chair next to Adam in case he needed assistance with his food. Crumbs fell everywhere even though I had plates and napkins for the boys. I went to the sink to get the kitchen paper towel and Lysol spray ready for any other messes.
My phone began to ring again. It was him. I reached over to grab my phone and put it on silent before the boys noticed.
“Is that mom calling?” Matthew asked.
“No. Finish eating your sandwich, George’s mom will be here soon” I said, trying to change the subject.
“Awwwwww!” All three boys moaned together.
“I know, but don’t worry, you’ll see George next week in Music class”, I reassured them.
I lingered by my phone and decided to send him a message.
Sent: “I’m with my host kids right now, talk later. Siddiqa”
Received: “Ok, sorry to distract you. Was just wondering if you wanted to make plans next Friday. Tyler”
Next Friday? Next Friday is Valentine’s Day! 50% of me was thinking that it was weird to have a first date on Valentine’s but the other half of me was jumping up and down with glee. How romantic to have a date on Valentine’s Day! I didn’t want to turn this opportunity down and I was secretly hoping I have next Friday evening off.
Sent: “Next Friday? On Valentine’s Day? Are you sure?”
Received: “Lol. Yes I’m sure. Well?”
Sent: “Sounds good to me. See you then”
Received: “8pm. It’s a date.”