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You know what I hate the most about summer? Aside from my child stinking like he belongs at the edge of a creek, swigging moonshine with the Appalachians? Children. Specifically: other people’s children. My block is usually pretty quiet, but suddenly there has been some eerie influx of other people’s children milling about and I’m not happy about this.
Generally, Chooch will play with Hot Naybor Chris’s two grandchildren. The boy (whom Alisha lovingly refers to as Bobby Hill, a comparison I can’t deny) is two weeks older than Chooch, so they sort of play well together. Kind of. Lately, they’ve been butting heads, which I suppose is normal for four-year-olds. Bobby’s older cousin, Madison (which is apropos because this child is always mad), attaches herself to me every single time she spots me. I’m an old lady! I just want to sit on the porch and sort of supervise, but not really. But as soon as Madison sees me, she screams, “The big girl is out now!”
And then it goes like this every time:
“Will you play volleyball with me?”
“OK thanks!” and suddenly I’m on the receiving end of a whaling, giant Spongebob ball.
Luckily, she only manages to make it through life three minutes at a time before winding up in the next Time Out round.
Meanwhile, Chooch is yelling at Bobby for speaking indecipherably.
The one day, I was sitting with the kids on the driveway when Toya came out to show Ruth some pictures. She started to retreat back inside her house, before doing a double take and saying, “Oh I’m sorry, Erin! I thought you were just one of the kids.”
FUCK. When do I get to graduate from the kids table? It was like this 10 years ago when I first moved into this neighborhood. Every child would congregate on my front porch like goddamn stray cats while all the adults got to sit around, drinking beer, and pretending they weren’t parents. (Not a big stretch.) It’s like kids can smell my disdain and that makes it more fun for them. “Let’s go bother the broad who doesn’t like kids!” Yes. Let’s indeed. They must feed off my sarcasm.
Lately, though, there have been new children. Two doors down, there lives an adorable little four-year-old girl with afropuffs named Naomi (the girl, not the afropuffs. Two afropuffs wouldn’t have one name. Don’t be stupid.). Every day starting last week, her two cousins have been visiting. Dwayne is probably around ten, and Little Ronnie looks like he is also around Chooch and Naomi’s age. Now, I’d have no problem with Chooch playing with them if it was just the little ones, but Dwayne is suddenly the Kingpin of Pioneer Ave, so when he’s out there, Robin’s son Brandon emerges and so does some little bratty Mexican kid who lives with a foster family down the street. And these boys are pretty much the best everything ever, the quintessential “I Meant To Do That”s.
Now, Dwayne is full of pleasantries and respect for me. He calls me Miss Erin and says things to Chooch like, “Riley! Your mama is talking to you! Go to your mama, Riley!” and you can just tell that Chooch is bursting at the seams to curse at him, but instead he just laughs and looks at me like, “Who, her?! She ain’t gon’ do SHIT, boy.”
Dwayne wasn’t too bad at first. The first day they all played with water guns, which was great until somehow I found myself kneeling on Naomi’s sidewalk, filling up squirt guns from two buckets of water per Dwayne’s orders, while Blake smoked a cigarette on my front porch and laughed at me.
Then Dwayne, catching wind that Chooch has a soccer ball, organized a little game of soccer and included all the kids in it. But then it turned into a showboating session, with Dwayne hollering, “Miss Erin! Watch this!” and apparently he thinks bending it like Beckham means to literally scissor-kick the air, missing the ball altogether while face-plowing the yard. And of course the ball would roll into the very busy street we live on, and guess whose job ball retrieval was? So much for sitting on the porch, pretending to watch my child. Now I’m IN IT. ALL UP IN IT.
Because who cares if the thirty-year-old dumb ass gets hit by a semi.
Unfailingly, it quickly goes from innocent ball-fetching to straight-up, “Miss Erin, be the goalie!”
Oh my god, it’s because I’m fat, isn’t it?
Yesterday, Chooch brought his ball out and Dwayne swooped in and confiscated it so he and the Mexican foster jackass could pretend to be the most amazing ball-kickers ever to walk the planet (when we all know that’s me). The Mexican asshole kept kicking the ball into the street and I was about to chop his ass until his foster dad called him home because he had to go to Target with his mommy. I was like, “Ooh, look at the tough guy, going to Target with his mommy. Go bring me back some juice boxes, asshole.”
So now Dwayne was alone, one big kid against three small kids. He saw that I was softly pitching a Nerf ball to Little Ronnie, who wasn’t really doing too well, but he looked cute trying. Dwayne decided he needed in on this action. He wrenched the bat from Little Ronnie and I immediately began to protest. However, Little Ronnie looked like he was used to this and wasn’t do much in the way of throwing a fit, so I was like, “Fine, one pitch, then it’s Ronnie’s turn again.”
“Ball!” Dwayne shouted. “That was a ball, so it don’t count. Pitch it again, Miss Erin.”
“No, this isn’t goddamn regulation baseball. It’s Little Ronnie’s turn.” And I stamped my foot, completely negating any chance I had of finally getting that Kid Table graduation party.
Dwayne dropped the bat to the ground, all dejectedly. Bitch, please. I guarantee the kid was getting more attention at that very moment than he does at home in an entire week.
Chooch grabbed the extra bat and asked if he could have a turn, too. I was about to toss the ball to him when Dwayne shouted, “Riley, did you ASK if you could use Naomi’s bat?” Meanwhile, Naomi was two sidewalks down, playing with a broken jump rope. I was inclined to think she didn’t really give a shit.
Dwayne ripped it out of Chooch’s hand.
Chooch looked alarmed, and also confused because I’m sure he didn’t understand what he had done wrong.
“Oh, just like how you asked to use his soccer ball?!” I yelled. “Let him use the damn bat.” But Chooch had marched inside the house. I thought there was going to be a meltdown, that I might have to start reading all those perfect mommy blogs out there to find out how to handle this. But instead, he came bounding out of the house with his Jason mask on.
That was great that Chooch bounced back, but you know what? I hadn’t bounced back. In fact, I was pretty much fucking over it. I grabbed the soccer ball and announced that we were going back inside.
And when I say ‘announced’, I really mean I yelled, “SCREW THIS, YOU’RE SO MEAN, GIVE ME BACK THE FUCKING BALL, GOODBYE.”
“Wait Miss Erin! Watch how great I am at jumping rope!” Dwayne begged, desperate to retain his forced audience. I paused long enough to see that he really fucking sucked. Like, worse than sucked. A paraplegic could do it with more grace.
I sarcastically applauded and shut the door.
Would you believe later on, he and that Mexican mother fucker had the audacity to stand outside my front window and ask to borrow Chooch’s soccer ball? And you know what I said? GET YOUR OWN GODDAMN BALL.
Big kids were not meant to play with little kids. Without being overtly violent toward the young ones, Dwayne does everything in his power to let it be known who’s in charge.
No, Dwayne – I’mma tell you who’s in charge around here, OK? Me. Miss Erin, that’s who. And if that’s a problem, I’ll kindly take back my child’s ball and be seeing you hopefully never.
I’m about to seriously start a gang. I hope Henry will let me borrow his bandannas.