The Doctor's Fake NannyBy: Tiana Cole
When she was all cried out she turned her face up to look at me. It was such a sweet face, so ready for consolation, and I kissed her on the forehead again so that she would know that I loved her. I very much hoped that she would believe me, that she would be able to see through my earnest eyes and know that it was true. I wanted to tell her that what she had said wasn’t right, that of course her dad wanted her, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to lie to her and I wasn’t sure that I wouldn’t be. I would have to be enough, at least for now.
“We’re a team, right?”
I said the words softly, watching her face intently as I spoke. It lit up immediately and she let out another little crow of success. That was all it took for her, one person telling her that she wanted her as a teammate.
“Good, I need a teammate. Now, I have a very, very important question for you.”
“What is it?” Eyes wide, mouth in a perfect little “o,” her body practically vibrating with anticipation.”
“Want to play a game?”
She collapsed into a fit of giggles on the floor and nodded her beautiful blonde head. Good. Who cared if her father acted like a complete jackass? We had each other for the day and I was going to make damned sure that it was enough.
“So how was the day? Did everything go alright for you two? Are you getting along?”
“Oh sure, sure we are. She really such a fun little girl. I think we’re getting along really well.”
“That’s good. I was hoping you would.”
“I did have one question for you though.”
He looked up quickly with one eyebrow raised and a somber look on his face. That was one intimidating look and I had to take a deep breath to steady myself and calm my nerves. I was going to ask him this, whether he liked it or not.
“Sure. Ask me anything. What seems to be the problem?”
That was an interesting question, and one I wasn’t sure how to answer. I wasn’t exactly sure what the problem was, that was part of the issue. It was true, Sophie and I had managed to have a good day with each other, but it hadn’t been easy and it had shown me some things about her that had me concerned. To begin with, she was wild. Every child her age is wild at least part of the time, but she was wild on an elevated level. She had an energy I couldn’t hope to match and I spent a good part of my day just trying to keep up with her.
She had been so amped up by my suggestion of playing a game, and to my delight that excitement did not seem to diminish when I told her that the game I wanted to play was school. Children Sophie’s age were good that way. They could enjoy almost anything, as long as you packaged it the right way. She was completely up for the challenge and I was excited to see what she knew. Once a teacher always a teacher, I suppose.
The problem was, excitement was pretty much all she had. She seemed to be missing almost all of the essential skills a child her age should possess. When I tried to go over her colors with her she could not remember the names. When we read together she was more than happy to look at the pictures but she could not identify or write any of her letters. She could not read one single word. It was like she had been raised with wolves or something. It was like nobody had ever attempted to teach her a single solitary thing in her whole entire life.
I didn’t understand it, not even a little bit. How did that happen with the child of a doctor? The school I had so recently taken a leave of absence from had not been in a nice area. The children I taught faced the very real possibility that they would not receive a proper dinner at night, that they would not be fed on the weekends at all. They were lucky if their parents took an interest in them, let alone if they were able to help them to learn. But that wasn’t the case here. David was a well-respected doctor. He had everything to give Sophie and yet she knew less than the children in my class. What was the point of all of that advantage if he chose to use it only for himself? Thinking about it now, I had to be careful not to let myself get too worked up. I needed to talk to David about it and flying off the handle and screaming at him probably wouldn’t promote a productive conversation.
“It’s about Sophie.”
“I assumed it was. What about her?”
“Well, you know I was a kindergarten teacher. I mentioned it in the interview, right?”
“You did. It was one of the reasons I hired you on the spot, as a matter of fact.”
“The thing is, after you left today, Sophie was upset so I suggested that we play a game. I suggested that we play school. I like to try and get them to play things that will be beneficial for them and at this age they haven’t decided that school can’t be fun yet.”