Back when I first moved to L.A. after I worked a demeaning waitressing job at a fancy shmancy country club, I started working for a right-wing, Jesus-freak (in the bad way), racist chiropractor making $11 an hour. I liked the job at first because he was a grandfatherly man and then within 24 hours he referenced his Ann Coulter book and made fun of a Mexican.
My boyfriend at the time was growing tired of my poverty, as was I and so I quit to make a whopping $3 more an hour as an assistant to an alcoholic guy who sometimes worked as a sound mixer and mostly as someone who rented audio equipment, pretended he owned it and re-rented it out to studios.
So I started to work as “John’s” assistant out of his nice house. Fun. Casual. No Ann Coulter books. On my interview I met John’s girlfriend, Kathy. She had an 8 year old son, Andy. I said in my interview, “I don’t have to look after Andy as part of the job, right?” Kathy said, “No. I’m a stay at home mom.”
Within a week I noticed coming into work that there would always be an empty bottle of wine on my desk, on the living room table and in the kitchen. My boss would wake up around noon and he had serious wine lip. His stay-at-home-mom-girlfriend would be doing Yoga in Brentwood (a considerable 20 miles from where they lived) hoping to run into some celebrities who could save her life, or revitalize her catalog modeling career she’d once had in the mid-west. John was an alcoholic and she was an idiot and they were not in love. Her son was from another man and John wanted nothing to do with the kid as he was still recovering from his own father issues. (I learned that one day as he sang the lyrics out loud in my car to Father and Son….)
Slowly but surely things would happen. It’s 2:30pm and John was out “sound mixing.” 3pm would roll around and he’d call, “Did you pick up Andy from school?” “Uh….no. That’s not my job. Where’s Kathy?” “She’s interviewing today. She’s getting a job. I forgot to tell you. Go pick up Andy.”
So I would go to Andy’s school and find him. I pull up out front and beep the horn. He has been standing there for 30 minutes and he’s cranky. He wants to see his mom, not some broke-ass assistant in her Hyundia hatchback. He throws a fit. I’m coaxing him in the car. The school principal just loved that one. She made me go to the office and I was not the emergency person on his contact list, his mother’s cell phone was off and John was sound mixing. So Andy and I sat in the office until 5pm. Until his mother could pick us both up, in case I was a child molester.
So, since John and Kathy’s relationship took a turn for the worse since she was spending all his money, she had to look for work. This meant, I had to pick up her son, discipline him while I tried to work at a desk and make him lunch, snacks, help him with homework, etc.
Why didn’t I leave? I was clueless. I thought this was the only flexible job I could ever find. I had no clue.
I had to drive this kid around when I did delivery equipment pick-ups. I prayed, “Please God, don’t let something hit me and my Hyundai on the 5 freeway…never mind what it will do to me, I have a KID back here!”
Andy soon took to me. Too much. He cried when I left work everyday and wanted to go to my house.
But I noticed that Andy was getting worse and worse. His behavior was out of control. He didn’t respect his parents and was starting to only listen to me. His mom would come home and he’d ignore her and tell her, “Jen is my mommy now. You go away.” She was so insane, she actually thought that I put him up to it.
Andy even asked me if his problems would go away at school if he started to drink wine like his “dad”. Oy. Vey. I came up with a system that I’d give him a green sticker when he got home if he had good news to tell me, like he’d behaved at school and didn’t get into any fights. After days and days of green stickers, I felt proud, until the teacher called to tell me that Andy was about to get suspended for his behavior. I went through his backpack and found many, many notices from the principal. I confronted him with it and we sat at the kitchen table over milk and talked. I told him that I was not going to tell his mom about it, but that HE was. He wouldn’t listen until I told him about the time I said a swear word on the school bus and I blamed a very nice girl with no friends for it and she got in trouble and I had to tell the truth to straighten it out. I explained to him how good it felt to lie but how bad it felt afterwards. And I let him in on the secret that parents love us no matter what, they’ll be mad at us and punish us, but they will always let us live there and feed us. He did not know this already. sigh.
Next day, I get a call. Andy shit his pants at school. I had no idea what to do. I got clean clothes, drove to his school and saw him there. A woman in spanish was screaming at me. I guess Andy had punched her son a few weeks back. She thought I was his mother. She screamed at me for not being his mother.
I told Andy that I’d go in the bathroom and help him clean up. He said, “Jen I’m humiliated enough already. I’m not gonna let you see my bum.”
Right. I never know the boundaries.
He cleaned up, I put his soiled clothes in a big-ass Ziplock and carried it. He was crying and saying he can’t go back to school, not ever. He didn’t know what to say about how the kids were gonna make fun of him the next day. I didn’t know what to do so I said, “Well, you got to leave school early today right? So…maybe the other kids should poop in their pants more often, they could leave school before 2pm.” He laughed so hard and then he hugged me and said, “Jen, I don’t just laugh at anything. That was funny. I can’t wait to say it at school!”
Then he said, “Do you have children?” I wanted to yell, ‘How the hell would I have children and you would NOT know about it? You dumbass!’ But I just said, “No.” He said, “I don’t know why you don’t have children and my mommy does. She stinks!”
I quit that week and went to work for the job I held for the last 3 years. I never kept in touch and I never told Andy that I wasn’t coming back. I feel terrible but not really. He was a holy terror and I had a kid who was the victim of an idiot and an alcoholic who had true behavorial problems. It was not good for me to be in his life. I treated him like an adult and then got frustrated when he acted like one.
I have no idea what happened to those three. But I think I’ll investigate and get back to you.
(All names were changed.)