“I’m glad you could come with me. Josh would have y’all eating off paper plates,” I said to Madi as I pushed a cart through the Walmart. The kids needed plates, silverware, glasses and kitchen utensils for the guest house. I could have picked stuff out myself, but I wanted Madi to feel like she was making the place her home.
“He’s a boy,” she shrugged. “I had to help my dad too when it was time to replace kitchen tools.”
“You got any idea what you want?” There was a decent selection of dishes in the aisle.
“Something plain. I’m not too fancy. Maybe something red? I think it would look nice in that kitchen.”
“Red would look nice,” I agreed. “You pick out whichever ones you like.”
The kitchen in the guest house wasn’t very big, but it would be okay for the two of them.
“I wish Gracie was here,” she sighed as she started to look through the plates.
“Gracie is your twin, right? You should have invited her.” I knew twins were closer than the average siblings, and it was obvious that Madi and her twin were the best of friends.
“She’s mad at me,” Madi told me. “She doesn’t like that I’m leaving her, or that I got pregnant.”
I frowned at that. Her twin’s disapproval had to be hard on her.
“You two haven’t been apart very much, have you?” I moved over to the kid friendly dishes, and picked up a set of little Disney themed plates to put in the cart.
“No. We shared a room up until last year. Even now I’ll go into her room sometimes at night,” she frowned.
“Maybe she’s afraid you’ll leave her behind,” I suggested.
“I don’t think it’s that. It’ll get better. We’ll get used to it.”
“Have you talked to her about it?”
“She’s not really talking to me right now. She’ll come around,” Madi assured me.
I hoped so, but I was willing to bet her twin was banking on Madi coming to her senses too. Like it or not, things between them were going to have to change. Gracie couldn’t be her sister’s number one anymore.
Madi found a set of square plates she liked that were red with white swirls around the rim. The set came with four dinner plates, four coffee mugs, four bowls and four side plates. It was a nice set that I thought Josh would be okay with. Then again, Josh didn’t care much about interior design. He was more concerned about where his Xbox was going to fit so the baby couldn’t get to it.
“We should probably get you some sheets while we’re here too,” I said once she found glasses and silverware.
“Okay. Daddy gave me some money for things,” she told me.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “I planned on buying this stuff anyway; I just wanted you to pick it. It’s your house now.”
“Thanks… Are you sure?”
“I’m positive. I want you and Josh to save your money for the baby.”
“Daddy gave me money specifically for house things,” she said.
“That was nice of him,” I replied. I appreciated that he did, but it wasn’t necessary.
“I think so,” she smiled. “He does a lot of nice things for us.”
“That’s good. That’s what parents should do for their kids.”
She nodded. “I hope I’m a good as a parent as you guys are.”
“Parents are a model for their kids, so if you act right, your kid will too,” I told her. “So… sheets?”
“Lead the way.”
We left the housewares, and I paused by the baby clothes to see what was there.
“Glory be, these are tiny clothes,” I said as I plucked a cute little sleeper hanging on a rack. It was mint green and had little arrows going different ways on it.
“I can’t believe I’m making a person that’s going to fit in those one day,” she told me. “I was pretty tiny, myself. I weighed less than six pounds when I was born. Gracie was barely five.”
“Twins are usually pretty small. Be glad your baby will fit in this. My cousin Hadley’s son was eleven pounds, seven ounces at birth.”
“That’s way too big. I hope like heck this little monster is normal,” she chuckled.
“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” I smiled. I dropped the sleeper in the cart. It was cute.
“A healthy baby is all I want. I know since I’m so young I’m a little more at risk.”
“Just eat good food, get plenty of rest, and you’ll be okay. You know Josh’ll make sure you’re well fed,” I chuckled.
“I try to do my best. Big Macs are addicting, though,” she laughed.
“You can sneak those in once in a while too. When I was pregnant with Josh that boy had me eating all kinds of things I never would have considered. I couldn’t look at peanut butter without getting sick, though.”
“That’s crazy. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches are the best. Elvis had something going there,” she chuckled.
“I make peanut butter banana stuffed French toast,” I told her.
“I don’t know about that. This baby is anti-egg.”
“Ooooh, that’s rough.”
“Yeah, I normally love eggs in any form. Now it’s no bueno,” she said, shaking her head. “Just thinking about them makes me want to gag.”
“Then we’ll change the subject,” I said. “Have you thought about nursery themes at all?”
“If it’s a boy I think elephants and maybe dragonflies for a girl,” she answered. “I don’t know how Josh feels about those things. I figured we’d talk about it once we find out what we’re having.”
“You have plenty of time to decide.” I turned the cart to the aisle where the sheets were. “The bed in there is queen size.” I didn’t know if she knew that or not.
“I figured as much. When I saw the room the bed was a little bigger than mine at home, and I have a full.”
“Just want to make sure you get the right sheets,” I said.
“Thanks,” she smiled. “This is all so overwhelming. I’m not supposed to be picking things out for my own place for like a few more years.”
“It’s a big adjustment to make. I don’t know if I could have been on my own at your age. Being on my own at nineteen was hard enough.” It was so tempting to go wild, but then I had tiny baby that needed my full-time attention. Going wild wasn’t an option.
“I’m nervous I’m going to freak out and go back to my dad’s,” she admitted. “I’ll probably go stay the night with him and Gracie once or twice a week. It’s going to be strange being away from them.”
“You’ll get used to it. Then you’ll never want to move back home,” I warned.
“I don’t think you understand how close Gracie and I are,” she said.
“What I mean is, you won’t want to live under your dad’s rules after being on your own.”
“You’re probably right,” she sighed, reaching down to rub her bump.
I was pretty positive I was. No one I knew liked living with their parents after being on their own. It wasn’t always an option, unfortunately.
Madi picked out a bed in a bag, and a few pillows.
“You might want a body pillow. In a few months you’ll want to have a pillow between your knees to take some of the pressure off your hips and lower back,” I advised.
“Okay.” Madi moved down to the body pillows. “I may need this now,” she chuckled. “I already like to wrap around things in my sleep.”
“You and me both,” I said. I found a pillow case for it. The selection wasn’t very big. “Well, they’ve got white, black, shit brown and lime green cases for it.”
“The white will probably work.” She’d picked out a pretty gray-blue comforter set. It actually matched her eyes.
“White it is.” I grabbed two since it never hurt to have a spare, especially with how easy white stained or got dirty. “Should we look at shower curtains too?”
“Um… sure? I feel like we’ve gotten so much already.”
“We have, but I’m happy to do it, Madi. You’ve got your work cut out for you and way more worries than a kid your age should have. If I can make the road a little easier for you, I’m happy to do it.” I could never take the hard line my parents did when I was pregnant with Josh. The need for support was immense. They were still kids; I couldn’t just make them figure it all out on their own.
Plus I wanted my grandchild to have a safe place to live with parents who weren’t all stress all the time. If that meant I spent a couple hundred dollars on furnishings for their home, then it was a worthwhile investment to me.
“Okay. Don’t forget I have house money, so I can help pay for all this,” she said, waving her hand over the cart.
“You don’t need to, honey. I appreciate your pop giving you money, but I’ve got this,” I assured her.
She nodded, but still looked a little uneasy about having me pay for everything. We went over to the bathroom stuff. She picked out a curtain with gray and blue Chevron stripes on it. I grabbed a little trashcan and a couple of gray bath mats that matched the curtain. Before we checked out I went to the grocery section to get Josh a big box of fruit snacks and a box of frozen pizzas.
“Do you want anything?” I asked Madi.
“No thank you,” she answered politely.
“Anything else you can think of that you need for the house?”
“No, not really. You already thought of things I didn’t even think of.”
“Alright, then let’s get out of here,” I smiled. I’d get cleaning supplies, trash bags and whatnot later. Towels! They needed towels, too, but those could wait. Poor Madi was already having a hard time with me buying what I was.
We walked to the checkout together and she helped me load everything onto the conveyor belt. The total wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. Madi and I loaded up the truck, and then we climbed into the cab.
“Are you hungry? I could go for something to eat,” I said.
“Hmm, maybe a little. I don’t eat as much as I thought I would.”
“I ate a lot of small meals. The kid starts squishing up your stomach. We’ll go wherever you want.”
“Doesn’t really matter to me. I just don’t want to go to a breakfast place.”
I laughed and said, “No breakfast. How about Chinese?”
“That’s fine,” she agreed.
“Then Chinese it is.” I started up the truck, and put it in reverse so I could back out of my spot.
I didn’t expect I’d be best friends with Madi overnight, but getting to know her was important to me. I trusted my son’s instincts, but I also wanted to see firsthand why he was in love with her. So far she seemed pretty timid. Maybe it took her a while to warm up to someone. I hoped that was the case, because the alternative was that she didn’t like me.
Like father like daughter.
“I think a 40” screen is big enough, Joshua,” I said as we looked at televisions. He was getting closer to the 55” inch screens. Where he thought that would fit I had no idea.
“But my games will look better on a bigger TV,” he argued.
“What wall is a TV that big going to fit on?” The guest house was a decent size, but there wasn’t a lot of wall space that would work for a TV. Plus, my son wasn’t going to have a lot of time for video games.
“It doesn’t have to go on a wall. I can set it up on a stand in front of the picture window.”
“And then it’ll block the window all the time.”
“So,” he shrugged. “We can go outside if we want to see it.”
I shook my head.
“You’re being ridiculous,” I told him.
“I don’t think so,” he pouted. “Fine, we’ll get the 40”.”
“It’s plenty big. Plus, you don’t want your baby pulling the TV down on their head,” I pointed out.
“I’ll keep all the wires put away,” he said, giving me that ‘duh’ tone.
“It’s not just the wires. Once they’re able to pull themselves up, they’ll pull or push on the TV itself if it’s on a stand, and they’re top heavy so they’ll fall,” I said. It was little things like that, that Josh was going to have to start thinking about.
“Fine, we’ll get a smaller one that we can mount on the wall.” He was actually pouting.
“Seriously? You’re pouting?”
“No.” He was.
“Thank God your girlfriend has manners. I thought I taught you better,” I said, turning to walk away from him.
“It’s just one splurge, Mom. I can find a place for a bigger TV.”
“It’s your kid’s head, Joshua. Do whatever you want,” I said as I walked away.
I could practically hear his eyes rolling. He better get his priorities right. If he wanted to waste money on a stupid big screen, that was his decision. I waited at the front of the store while he paid for the television. I wasn’t too surprised that it was a smart TV. I didn’t even want to know what that cost him.
“A fool and his money,” I muttered as we walked out of the store.
“It’s not going to be an issue, Mom,” he sighed.
I held my tongue. He’d find out pretty soon that his days of playing video games and hanging out in front of the TV all day were over. There was going to be plenty of stuff to do with a pregnant girlfriend in the house. He had a rude awakening coming once the mood swings coming his way.
Josh put the TV in the backseat of the truck while I got behind the wheel. I let the air conditioning run while he got the TV situated. It was hotter than Satan’s ball sac outside. What I wasn’t expecting was for Eric to knock on the window next to me. I almost jumped out of my skin.
“Didn’t mean to startle you,” he said when I rolled the window down.
“It’s okay,” I laughed, mostly at myself. “How’re you?” I hadn’t talked to him since I’d let him know about the Super Bee.
“I’m well,” he answered. “Hot as shit out here. I didn’t get to really thank you for the tip on the Super Bee.” His eyes darted back to Josh working the TV into the backseat.
“You’re welcome.” I figured that was a decent olive branch to extend. Tray was shocked I’d done it, but I had to figure out how to get along with him.
“That your TV or is it for the kids?” Eric asked.
“That’s for the kids.” I replied, and raised my voice so my son would hear me. “Josh thinks he’s going to play video games with a newborn in the house.”
Eric laughed hard at that. “Hey, Josh, I hope you know that TV isn’t going to get the use you expect it to.” He looked back at me. “I’ll be surprised if anything but Baby Einstein is on it.”
I heard Josh huff in the back like he was frustrated with getting the TV in the truck.
“He’ll find out. So… how are you?” I’d never asked him that before. Ever.
He quickly hid his shock before he answered, “Truth? I’m a fuckin’ mess inside. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle it with Madi out of the house.” He seemed just as surprised by his own honesty.
“You know I won’t shoot you if you come to visit, right?”
“I appreciate that,” he smiled. “It’s going to be an adjustment for me, that’s all.”
“Of course. Madi told me that she and Gracie are having some troubles as well. I’m sure that’s difficult for her.”
“It is. It’s hard for me seeing them upset. Neither of the girls do well alone, so Grace is having a really tough time with it,” he explained. “They’ll get through this.”
“They will. It’s a good opportunity for growth for both of them.”
Josh finally got the TV situated, and climbed up into the passenger’s seat beside me.
“Hopefully. I’ll let you guys get going.” He took a step back. “I’m going to melt if I stay out here much longer.” Eric lifted the bottom of his shirt up a little, fanning it out to get air circulating. I didn’t realize he had a damn six pack under there.
I shook it off. I didn’t need to be thinkin’ about his pack, or anything else he might be packing.
“I’ll see you in a few days for the big move in,” I said as I put the truck in gear.
“See ya. Drive safe.” He stepped a little further back to give me room.
“See? No bloodshed,” I said to my son as I drove away.
“It’s ‘cause you’re crushin’ on each other,” he teased.
“Did you drop the TV on your head?” I snorted.
“Nope. And that wasn’t a denial.”
“I don’t have a crush on Eric.”
“Uh huh. Can we stop and get a burger?”
“Yeah, sure. Where at?”
“Five Guys is good.”
I nodded, and made a left out of the parking lot.
“Are you ready for the move?” I asked Josh as I drove. It wasn’t like he really had to pack up and take everything over to the guest house.
“Yeah. I just have to move my clothes,” he shrugged.
“You’re not taking your entire game collection?” I tried not to laugh at that.
“I will, but it’s not going to take much to move it all. I might invite the guys over once I have everything in.” That wasn’t going to go over well with a tired, pregnant girlfriend.
“That’s fine with me.” He’d find out the hard way that his life wasn’t just his anymore. It was easy to say all the right things. Following through with it wasn’t always that simple. I predicted there would be several nights where he felt a little trapped or like he was on a short leash. That was normal. How he handled it was what mattered. “Maybe I’ll get food catered from Felipe’s.”
“For the move? Are we having a party?”
“No, but it’s going to be a long, busy day and no one is going to want to cook when it’s all said and done.”
“Oh. I don’t think it’ll take that long to get Madi in. Felipe’s is good, though.”
“The house needs to be cleaned, dishes need to be washed and put away, the bed needs to be made, the TV has to be hung up…” That was the short list.
“Do you think Eric will help me hang up the TV? I know Madi wants us to do more things together.”
“I don’t see why he wouldn’t. If he won’t, I’m sure Uncle Jason will.”
“I’ll ask him. I know you think the TV is stupid, but I think it’s a good family TV to have. I’ll use it for more than games.”
“It’s your money, Josh. I just don’t want you to go into this with unrealistic expectations,” I said.
“I’m not. I know babies are expensive and I don’t plan on buying things like that all the time. I wanted something for us to enjoy for a while before the baby gets here and gets all of the attention.”
Getting all the attention was right. It was probably going to be harder on Madi than it was him. No matter how involved Josh was, it was still Madi’s body that did all the changing. Odds were she wasn’t going to snap back to the way she was before she got pregnant. Throw in the crazy hormone fluctuations and there was a recipe for quite an emotional clusterfuck.
But again, he’d find out.
There was only so much I could prepare him for. Reality would hit sooner or later. The idea was sinking in, but I knew it all wouldn’t truly hit either of them until the baby was born. That first night with a squirmy, crying baby when there were no nurses or parents to help them figure out what to was when they would finally get it. I really hoped they would be ready to handle it.