Stalker’s Essay Assignment 12, continued
Baby as a mother’s helper in the Greenwald Bungalow Colony near Woodridge, New York in the Catskills.
Some of my duties confused me. For example, I was responsible for keeping the four boys away from their mothers during the week. A challenge, to babysit two-, three-, four-year olds with mothers in plain sight. I tried to distract the boys when the Chana and Essie walked by, but often I failed. Another mystery — why didn’t they want to be with the children more?
I gave the boys my full attention to try to make up for this. I was relieved one time, when Chana turned and welcomed Schloymala as he ran after her breathless, his tiny legs peddling as fast as he could make them go, arms reaching out. “It’s okay. He can come along.”
Schloymala at two was active and athletic: climbing and hanging and running and smiling. But he didn’t talk yet, not a word, though we knew he was clever. He was everyone’s favorite darling, and even Chana confided in me that while her eldest Avrumie was a dear child, Schloymala with his blonde curls and charming smile was special. I hoped Avrumie didn’t notice, for as long as possible.
My heart filled; I loved Schloymala.
So when Rabbi Yitzchok pulled Schloymala atop his tall shoulders and said, “Let’s take him for a walk,” I went along. Far from the colony, we sat in a sunlit clearing scented with summer grass and pine. He picked a wildflower sporting a white bloom and threaded it through the third buttonhole on the front of my blouse. Schloymala climbed on top of his father. I inhaled the sweetness of the day.
I was confused. Surely this broke so many rules. But what is an employee to do? I sat still and did nothing. For now.
. . . to be continued