By P. Berman, K. Hecht, & A. Hosack
That Claire is nothing but trouble. I am so tired. My back is killing me; I wish I could just leave that bitch and her bastard at the hospital. That brat better not cry all the way home in the car.
Bill had been furious to get the call to pick Claire up. He had just gotten back from the farm and his body ached all over from working a 12- hour shift. He thought about just letting Claire wait a few hours but realized that would interfere with the party he was throwing at the house tonight for his farm buddies. On the way to the hospital, he bought the beer for the party. Once Claire and Davy were in the car, Bill laid down the rules he and Gail had come up with. Claire was always to keep her brat in her room. Claire was not to expect any help from anyone in caring for him; she gave birth to him, he was her problem. Claire would take on extra chores at home since they had decided she was not going back to school. As Claire and Davy came into the house, everything was weirdly quiet; none of the other kids were around. This was a bad sign, they must be out in the woods hiding. Maybe she and Davy were about to get a beating.
Claire’s heart began to pound. Her mom came into the room. There was no sign of a strap. Her mom was just staring at her and pointing to her bedroom. Her dad followed her into the room. Slammed the door and reminded Claire of the rules. He gave her the stare she had come to know and fear. But, he just left the room and slammed the door again as he left. Claire held Davy close on to her chest. He made those mouth movements that she thought meant he was hungry. She breast fed him, changed him, and he feel asleep in the basket on the floor that had held her toys when she was a child. He looked so peaceful there. She didn’t feel peaceful. She was trying to calm herself down but she was terrified about what would happen if Davy started to cry and disturbed her parents.
Claire was like a prisoner in her bedroom. She was hungry but afraid to leave the room to get anything to eat. This was the time, Davy would sleep for an hour or so but …what if he didn’t and started to cry when she wasn’t in the room. What would her parents do to him? She finally found the strength to creep out into the kitchen. As she was pouring dry cereal into a bowl, her mom stormed in. Gail took one look at Claire and saw Davy wasn’t with her. She picked up the kitchen trash can and began pointing at it; this is where that brat goes if he disturbs our party. Claire took the cereal and rushed back to her bedroom; she sat down on the bed and started to cry into her pillow. Would her mom really throw Davy away or was it just a threat to let Claire know she must not let Davy ruin the party?
Davy looked like an angel when he slept but…he wasn’t an angel; he cried all the time and his cry was getting louder as he grew bigger. Claire understood what Nurse Karin had said about him crying just to help explain what he needed. But she had needs too and he couldn’t seem to get that. Claire would feed and change him as fast as possible; she wanted Davy to feel loved and cared for. Davey would be happy for a while, but not for long. He couldn’t tolerate not getting what he wanted even for a second. If he was hungry, he would cry, even though sometimes she was too tired not to fall asleep. She would wake up as quick as she could and help him but, fast was often not fast enough.
When he woke up from his first nap at home, Claire lovingly explained that life had to be different now. Their house was not like the hospital where everyone seemed to accept crying as okay. At the house, there was never to be noise if her parents were in the house or bad things happened. She tried to explain things very carefully to him over and over so he could understand her. She told him she would never leave him; she stroked his face as she said this and he seemed to nestle close to her. This made Claire smile- maybe he understood, maybe he loved her. She went on to explain that he didn’t have to be scared she would always feed him he just needed to be more patient. She needed sleep sometimes, so she could take good care of him. He needed to realize that if she was asleep, it would take her a moment to wake up.
As the day went into night, Claire realized that nothing she had said made any difference. Davy continued to cry if she didn’t jump and do what he needed immediately. Why was he so selfish and inpatient? Once, she dropped she accidentally knocked his head on the table when she was trying to change him; he began shrieking at the top of his lungs. Her dad stormed in with his belt and screamed back that Claire had better get the brat under control or he would give her the whipping of her life. As he left, he told her she was the worst mother in creation – just as he had expected. Claire took Davy into bed with her and put all the covers on top of them to muffle Davy’s cries. She stroked his face like Nurse Karin had taught her. She felt so desperate. She knew how hard she was trying – it must be Davy’s fault.
He was just like Larry. Everything had to be his way.
Is Claire doing anything right?
Is Davy selfish?