The next day I was awakened by a knocking at the front door. It was Steven and his mother. When I opened the door, Steven ran to me, jumped up and gave me a big hug. He then proceeded to tell me that his mom wanted me to babysit him. I looked at her, invited her in and we talked about this arrangement. She worked at three jobs and was gone by 9:00am and not back often until after 11:00 at night. I was not in the right frame of mind to ask her what these jobs were, but I did agree that Steven really needed a safe and caring place to stay while she worked. She said she would pay me at the end of each week. I said this was not necessary, but she insisted. In the end, it never materialized.
When she left, I looked at Steven and said, "So now what?" His response was not what I was expecting, but also not unusual.
"Can we have some breakfast? Maybe some of those pancakes with the blue things in them, some toast and a glass of milk and orange juice?" He looked at me with those questioning eyes honestly not knowing what I was going to say.
"You mean blueberries?"
"Yah, those ones, please."He drew out the word please like he was pleading with me.
We proceeded to the kitchen where I made breakfast. I was amazed at how fast it all disappeared but then I remembered he probably did not have breakfast on a regular basis. After we were done, I sent him to the bathroom to have a bath and get cleaned up. One thing I was noticing about Steven is his lack of personal hygiene. I would have to be the one to teach him all about this. I was about half way through the breakfast cleanup when I heard him call me to come and wash his hair.
I had to laugh when I went into the bathroom and found this small boy covered in soap suds from his neck down. I guess he found out that the shampoo really could make some huge bubbles. I helped him with his hair, told him about all the important parts to wash with soap, and then left him to finish up. It was about another 10 minutes before he came down from his bath. His hair was all over the place. I told him to bring the comb to me and I would help him with this hair. I made a mental note to get him a haircut since this also was something that he had not had in quite some time.
The next thing we had do was a wash. His clothes had not been cleaned for some time, and thankfully there were still some in the spare bedroom for him to wear while the others were in the washing machine.
Next it was off to the barber. Steven was a real trooper with the hairdresser, wanting to know everything she was going to do. It was like the haircut was secondary. Learning all about how she was going to do it was far more important to him. I sat in the customer chairs chuckling at the entire situation and banter. When he was done, he walked over to me with a big smile on his face. I told him he looked really handsome as I gave him the money to pay for his haircut and told him to tell the hairdresser to keep the change. She bent down and kissed his forehead. I thought I saw Steven turn a slight shade of red. Back in the car, on the way home, Steven said he liked her and wanted to come back again.
I decided to take him out for lunch. We ended up at Earl's family restaurant. Steven ordered some spaghetti and I had a chicken Caesar salad. The way he kept leaning over towards me I got the impression he wanted to taste what I had ordered. And this was after he had already finished his pasta and a side of garlic toast. I let him have a taste and that was all it took. He practically finished off the rest of my salad.
It was such a nice day we went to a local park for the afternoon. We stopped in at the sports store and bought a soccer ball and Frisbee to play around with at the park. Steven and I started kicking around the soccer ball and not long after, three other boys joined us and then about 15 minutes later, five more. There were now ten of us kicking the soccer ball like we were a heard of cockroaches following food. Every time I fell to the ground there was a huge pile of bodies on top of me. I was sure this was not how soccer was supposed to be played but it was all in fun and everyone including Steven was laughing and giggling. About an hour later the boys started to dwindle off having to check in with their parents and some having to go home. I was impressed with how gracious Steven was saying goodbye and hoping we could do it again.
There was an ice cream cart not too far away and Steven asked if he could have one. I gave him the money and he went and bought what looked like a super large, chocolate covered, ice cream sandwich. Not too worry, other than the mess all over his face, it did not last too long. I never even got a bite.
I started to teach him how to throw a Frisbee and after about an hour of this, we both decided it was time to head home. Tired and exhausted, we plopped down on the couch in the living room. Steven huddled up to me. It was about 30 minutes later when I awoke from this rest. Steven was still breathing heavily with his head on my chest. I did not want to wake him, so I slowly slipped away and covered him with a blanket as I went to get dinner ready.
When Steven walked into the kitchen, he was in kind of a groggy slumber. I greeted him as he sat at the kitchen table. I asked if he slept well and he said yes. Dinner was almost ready, so I sent him to the bathroom to wash up and get ready for dinner. It was about five minutes later when he came back into the kitchen ready to eat. I asked him to set the table which he did, with lots of instruction. I was hoping this would be a long-term part of his duties, so it was important to get it right from the start.
After dinner we snuggled together and watched a program on the animals in Africa. Steven seemed to like these kinds of shows the most and had lots of questions – most of which I could not answer. I told him that one day I hoped we could see them for real.
I sent him up to bathe and get ready for bed. I reminded him to use soap since we had done a lot of activity today and he needed to wash off the sweat. Once again, I had to comb his hair but now it was much easier since we had had it cut. After I tucked him in and kissed him on the forehead, I headed to the living room.
This was the way it was for most of the month of July with Steven and me. We were really bonding, and I was wondering what the future would really hold. I was about to find out in early August when a call came from Mac Redmann.