Martin turned four in January. His parents got him a cake, some books, some stuffed animals and some G.I Joe action figures. He was content with the attention he got from them. He knew when to make them laugh but he also knew that if he screamed just right, he could get away with a lot.
Everyday of the week his mom would drop him to school. She would park the car right next to the slightly rusted portal and would take Martin’s hand and lead him to his class. She would ruffle his already messy blond locks before kissing him softly on the forehead, asking him not to cause trouble at school.
Martin didn’t mind school. After all, this was the place where he could meet with his villains league. They were four: Jamie, David, Rishi and Martin. They did not figure out who was the captain of their evil league but they decided that the one that would come up with the funniest word to say to the teacher would have the be it. In their league, they were sworn in to behave as badly as possible during breaks: destroying sand castle, pulling braids and even maybe kissing Lily on the cheek. However, during class, they would behave as little angels so that the teacher would not discover their evil plans. That would be bad.
This morning Martin smiled at the idea that he would tell his league how he ate so much cake he got a little sick. Because of that he had the right to stay in bed with his mom and dad to watch telly. They watched Toy Story and Martin faked falling asleep so that his dad would have to carry him to bed. That was a fun night!
The little boy kissed his mother goodbye and ran to his friends as fast as he could. After all, they had to prepare their mischiefs for the day. Would they have to run in circles around the girls to annoy them? His babysitter Lana didn’t like when he kept running in circles. That was a shame because he like Lana. She had big frizzy red hair and a lot of freckles on her very white face. She made the best hot cocoa in the whole wide world and she told very good stories full of dragons and knights and witches and even princesses. He didn’t care so much about princesses, but they could be nice and Martin bet they smelled like his mom: flowers and cookies!
Lana was always waiting for him in front of the portal. She sticks out of all the moms who are talking about the latest gossips. The young woman could not care less about how those thirty something were going to spend their husbands’ money on bags and trips to the hair salon. She looked at her watch. She was early, she should have walked from the tube station. If only the weather were not so shitty those days. She rose her shoulders in hope to get more heat before turning her music up to blur the giggles of the other mothers. Martin’s class was never on time and she was lost in her thoughts when she saw the little guy running toward her. He did not look happy. Miss Clarke was also coming her way, she looked ill at ease. Here we go again… Lana braced herself. The teacher intended to smile before saying:
“Martin was a bit naughty today. He could not stop to jump on the playground.”
“Kids cannot jump?” Lana tried not to laugh at the poor woman.
“It’s just I was alone to keep an eye on the kids, you see…I cannot have kids running around and hurting themselves on one part of the playground and then…” her voice trailed off, not knowing how to explain herself.
“Say no more” interrupted the babysitter, trying to spare her. “Martin, darling, would you please apologize to Miss Clarke?”
The kid would not let go of her leg, nose facing the ground. Lana nudged him. He brought his teary eyes to the teacher and whispered an apology.
Lana sent a dazzling smile to the teacher:
“Is that enough? I’ve got to get a snack for that poor angel!”
Without waiting for an answer, she took Martin’s hand, waved goodbye and walked away with the confidence of a queen.
On the way home, Martin was quiet. That was a change from the ever running child that could not stop talking. She asked how his day was, how was his league of villains and even how Lily was. Nothing seemed to make his sadness go away.
At home, Lana presented the kid the best hot cocoa in the world topped with whipped cream and marshmallows, hoping to cheer him up. Martin’s mood improved a bit, but there was no smile yet.
“Should we go to your bedroom and find a story for me to read to you?”
“No. I want IPad.”
“So mister knows how to speak again?”
“I always knew how to speak you twat!”
“Did you just call me a twat?!” Lana hid her smile as well as she could. She was never having kids. They were way too cute when you could let them speak badly!
Martin saw right through that face and started running around the living room screaming twat. The monster was unleashed and Lana was half relieved about that.
“Should we finish the drawings we did yesterday?” she asked, hoping to calm him down.
“Can we paint it? Rishi told me he used a lot of paint on his drawings and that it looked like a Piscasso. He’s a really good painter. Rishi’s mom really like him.”
Lana refrained from smiling once again.
“Only if we do it on the table. And if I need to go to the bathroom, you will wait for me before starting again. Deal?”
Martin asked Lana to draw him a dinosaur so he could paint on it afterwards. She was not the best artist in the world but she gave it her best shot. She liked seeing that kid with a smile on his face. Her phone rang before she could finish her own dragon. She took a look at the caller’s ID and picked up. It was her mom. Martin was singing next to her. She got up and stood on the door frame to hear her mom better. She made the mistake of turning around.
Martin saw his babysitter’s attention fading away and moved away from the table to sit on the floor. He liked the fuzziness of the carpet. His dad got it changed a few weeks ago. It was very fluffy and he liked running bare foot on it. The colour could be better though. Beige is such a poor choice. It lacked fun. Maybe painting on it would be great. Maybe his mom would be so happy, she would say that he doesn’t have to go back to school to mean Miss Clarke. When he was done with the beautiful painting, he called out to Lana. She was still on the phone but she turned around and looked at him. She got very pale. Then, she got red. Eventually she whispered a word Martin had never heard before. The babysitter dropped her phone. Martin could see she was panicking. She was just staring at the carpet, not knowing what to do.
“Martin! What did you do?” her eyes were tearing up.
“You don’t like my painting?”
“Your parents are going to kill me.”
She started opening every cupboard she could find and took a sponge and multiple products. She sat down and read the description of each products before taking her phone. She had to call Mrs Henry. During the whole conversation, Lana felt her temperature rise. She should have kept an eye on that little monster. She was screwed. Mrs Henry told her not to touch anything and that she was trying to come home as soon as possible.
Martin knew he did a bad thing. He didn’t understand though. His painting was beautifully executed. No carpet was so colourful… Almost like a rainbow. He saw how Lana wasn’t looking at his work of art and his lips started trembling. How could she not like it? Was she really mad? Soon he broke out in tears. Big uncontrollable tears. Lana looked at him, she also seemed as she wanted to cry. She took him into her arms without a word. How could she resist such a face?
Mrs Henry came back home. She looked extremely mad as she lectured Martin on painting. She wasn’t pleased with Lana either and the girl’s ears started turning red. Martin’s mom paid Lana and told her to go home and come back to pick up her kid the next day. Before she left, the four years old ran toward his babysitter and hugged her as much as his little arms could. He promised her to be the “bestest, nicest little boy in the whole wide world” starting today. She smiled at him, sure that he would have changed his mind the next morning.
Closing the door of her bedroom, Lana fell down to the ground. She was exhausted. How could kids be so adorable and such monsters at the same time?!