For those who wonder how I occupy my time when I’m not condemning criminal defendants to eternal damnation, I will now clarify: babysitting. Yes, from newborns to tweens, I cater to them all. But like any parent, I have my favorites.
Aldie, a five year old going on thirty, is first on my list. Aside from his intelligence (remember the IVF conversation?), Aldie has an uncanny way of making a very gray Wednesday infinitely better. He is living proof that age ain’t nothing but a number.
This morning, for example, I awoke to the sound of my phone crashing to the ground. Strike one. Then, in a mad dash for an early morning subway, I was the victim of some very aggressive train doors, which left me black and blue. Strike two. And when I finally emerged from the train, somewhat scathed, I discovered my umbrella had gone to heaven or hell or wherever inanimate objects go when they cease to be of human use. Strike three. Simply stated, I was in my dark and twisty place by the time I rung Aldie’s door bell.
But then he answered and we departed for his school uptown. We had a good forty minutes on the A and B trains to discuss life, liberty, and my inability to achieve happiness. And being the wise beyond his years sort of boy that he is, Aldie succeeded in temporarily assuaging all my doubts.
To begin, he noticed I was chewing gum. Wondering why I felt compelled to chew at such an ungodly early hour of the day, he questioned me. I responded that my stomach was a bottomless pit, but that frankly– given my ever expanding hips– I simply could not afford to consume calories at all hours of the day. In other words, I was using gum as a calorie free food replacement because I’m, well, not the tiniest of individuals.
Without batting an eyelash, Aldie replied, “You’re not fat at all. In fact, you are beautiful. I like your shape.” He then proceeded to rub my belly, an odd but somewhat uplifting action. Aldie concluded this brief conversation by offering a piece of his chocolate croissant. What a mensch.
But Aldie, being the perceptive one that he is, realized I was still considerably upset. When he inquired as to why, I replied that I was feeling like a B student these days. He was confused and said he was certain I got straight As in school. I explained that it was a metaphor; that I felt I was not the success story I had hoped to be at 22. Instead of climbing mountains, I was just sitting at the foot of them– partially out of fear of the climb, but largely because I doubted my abilities to climb the aforementioned mountains.
His response: “Yaffa, you’re being crazy. You juggle being my babysitter, putting bad guys in prison, and writing your heart out. And on top of it all, you’re a genuinely nice person. I kind of want to me the boy version of you when I grow up.” Somewhat flabbergasted, I stared in disbelief. When had my source of strength become a five year old child?
While his language was simple, his sentiment was spot on. I needed to stop being my biggest critic and just live in the moment– enjoy the here and now– and most importantly stop comparing myself to my friends, who quite frankly were traversing entirely different mountains than I was. I needed to learn to love me for me, an idea Aldie informed me would be the only means to find “someone special.”
“How can you expect someone to like you if you don’t like yourself?” And that, in a nutshell, is why I want to adopt a five year old named Aldie.