A week passed and it was finally the day when Jake was going to meet his new teacher. His teacher had mentioned it every day last week so they would remember and get used to the idea but Jake had only decided to understand what it really meant on the day of.
He was currently in the living room in only his underwear and he was refusing to move. Having prepared for this, Beca had gotten early to make sure they wouldn’t be late and got ready on her own while he cried loudly in his room. After a while, he understood that she wasn’t going to come to him so he sat down on the floor and continued his tantrum. Her ears were about to burst and she briefly wondered if this was the day she would finally get kicked out of the apartment but she continued moving around the kitchen, pretending this wasn’t affecting her.
When his lunchbox was ready and she had brushed her teeth, gotten dressed and put Jake’s plate in the dishwasher, she finally stood in front of him.
“Okay, we’re leaving in 10 minutes, little dude. Time to get dressed.”
He just stared at her and started crying even harder. She sighed, taking pity on him and sat down on the floor in front of him and opened her arms. He instantly scrambled on top of her, his knees kicking her in the stomach with force. She winced in pain and started stroking his back, feeling his wet cheeks on her neck.
“Baby, it’ll be okay.”
“I don’t wanna,” he whined, wiping his snot on his mother much to her dismay.
“You’ll have fun, I promise.”
“What if she’s mean?”
“She’s not going to be mean, Jakey. She’s gonna love you.”
She took him by the head so they could look at each other and wiped his damp cheeks. He looked so sad and she felt her heart break. She briefly considered for a second keeping him here just so he could feel better but she knew that wasn’t a good idea. He needed to get through challenges, that’s how he could grow.
“You’re going to be her favorite little man,” Beca reassured him with a smile. “You can just talk to her about superheroes, she’s going to be so impressed by how cool you are!”
“I’m sure. I bet she’ll even be jealous that you’re so cool and she doesn’t know that much about superheroes.”
He smiled and Beca felt her heartbeat go back to normal. She knew she needed him to focus on getting dressed now and his favorite Spider-Man shirt was dirty so she needed to focus his mind on something else.
“Now you can either wear your Hulk t-shirt or your Ant-Man t-shirt. Which one do you want?”
“I want Hulk!” he said, getting to his feet and she groaned when he stepped on her thigh. When did he get big enough to hurt her? She pushed that thought out of her head before it made her emotional and she followed him to his room.
She didn’t know how but she finally managed to get him to school and he looked nervous but much better than before. He was chewing on the hem of his green shirt as she walked him to the entrance of the courtyard where kids were playing. She was especially glad they were on time today. If parents got medals, she definitely deserved one for this morning, right?
She bent down to be at his level and ruffled his hair, making him scrunch his nose. “Today’s gonna be a good day, kid.”
“How do you know?”
“Because you’re so strong and you can get through anything, right? You’re as strong as Hulk.”
He giggled and shook his head. “I’m not as strong as Hulk, Mommy.”
“Yes, you are! Look at those strong muscles,” she said, touching his biceps and he laughed some more. She smiled at him and hugged him because even though she wasn’t the biggest fan of public displays of affection usually, she wanted to take all she could get before he got old enough to complain about the love she had for him. “I love you, okay?”
“I love you too.”
She kissed the top of his head and watched him walk into the crowd of people with his hands holding the handles of his backpack, never stopping to talk to anyone. She chewed on her bottom lip, hoping Jake was adjusting to school well and he was making friends. After all, it had only been a month, he still had time to make plenty of friends, right?
And it’s not like Beca had a big group of friends growing up either and she was fine with it. Jake was going to be okay. With that thought, she turned around to get to her work. They were meeting with a potential client and Beca was excited about it so quickly, her anxiety about Jake dissipated and she started preparing herself to make a good impression.
She probably should have been a lot more worried and held off on the praise she gave herself the first day because as soon as Jake came back from his first day with his new teacher, everything turned to hell.
For some reason, Jake hated Miss Beale.
He didn’t even want to talk to his mother when he got back from school from how mad he was and he finally blew up at the dinner table, explaining that Miss Beale was weird and she had a completely different style of teaching so he didn’t like going to school anymore.
He was especially mad that Miss Beale wouldn’t let him draw whenever he wanted and forced him to participate in the activities she had planned. That was how Beca understood why Jake had liked Miss Sophie that much; she would let him draw in peace and not force him to bond with the other kids.
A part of Beca was heartbroken over the fact that her kid seemed so distressed about school now but another part of her was also glad maybe he’d finally be forced to make friends. She figured he would start playing with the other kids and understand that he didn’t have to be so shy and everything would go back to normal. Maybe things would get even better because Jake could have a friend.
Obviously that wasn’t what happened.
She entered the school on Friday, awkwardly pushing all the parents crowding the hallway so she could get to her kid’s homeroom because for some reason, he hadn’t been waiting for her at the school entrance. She quickly spotted him at his desk, playing with his Spider-Man action figure that he insisted on bringing to school and she walked to his desk, getting around the other parents in the room.
He had tear stains on his shirt that had The Flash ’s logo on it and she instantly got a bad feeling on her stomach. He didn’t even look up at her when she bent down next to him.
“Hey buddy, are you ready to go?”
“Excuse me, are you Jacob’s mom? Would you be able to talk for a minute?” a redhead asked sweetly, coming up to stand beside her.
Beca straightened up, suddenly nervous. Her eyes roamed around the room as she watched the other children filter out with their parents, little hands grasping paintings and macaroni art. Meanwhile Jake sat artwork free, bashing Spider-man’s plastic head against the desk.
She easily figured it was Miss Beale that was talking to her and she nodded, hoping Jake hadn’t done anything too bad. The teacher sat down on a desk near Jake’s and Beca mimicked her, her hand never leaving her son’s back.
She took a moment to finally observe the woman that was going to be with her kid most hours of the week until the end of the year. She had her red hair in a professional bun on top of her head and she was wearing a nice blue dress that made the blue of her eyes pop even more. She looked about Beca’s age and frankly, she was probably one of the most beautiful women Beca had ever met.
“I wanna start by saying it’s nice to meet you! We haven’t really had the opportunity to speak properly yet. I’m Chloe Beale and I’m substituting Jacob’s class whilst Miss Sophie is on maternity leave.”
She had a bright smile on her face and for a second, Beca thought nothing too bad was going to happen but that quickly disappeared when the teacher continued.
“I just wanted to have a word with you regarding Jacob’s behavior over the course of this week.”
Beca sighed, immediately thinking about how hostile Jake could be with new people. She should’ve known that if Jake had been so angry at home, he was showing it at school too.
“I’m not sure how he usually behaves but we’ve had some unacceptable behaviour since Monday, haven’t we Jacob?” She looked towards the boy and was met with a scowl, to which Beca grimaced.
“He’s been non compliant to join in with any activities we’ve planned, he’s not been sharing with the other children and he’s used some,” she paused, considering her phrasing. “unfortunate language towards me on more than one occasion.”
Beca felt her cheeks twinge pink as she looked at her son that was still too busy playing around with his action figure. She was pretty sure she had never been as embarrassed as she was now.
“I’m so sorry, dude. He gets like this whenever he’s around new people but I didn’t know it was this bad. What did he say to you?”
The teacher laughed. “I’d totes tell you, but I’m not sure it’s repeatable in a classroom environment.”
Beca kicked herself mentally. Chloe probably thought she was an awful mom now so that was great.
“Really? Shit. I mean, shoot! He can be such a little assh- uhh weirdo with new people but that’s because he’s so shy. He gets it from me unfortunately which means it’s my fault so that’s great, damn. Wait, no fuck-- Shoot! I’m so sorry.” The producer became increasingly flustered, stumbling over her words.
“It’s okay, Miss Mitchell,” Chloe cut her off, a smile on her face probably taking pity on the stuttering mess in front of her. “I just wanted to have a chat about it.”
“Call me Beca,” she corrected instantly. She was still way too young to be Miss Mitchell . She was 27 (28 in less than a week) but sometimes, she still didn’t feel like she was actually an adult. Some parts of her still belonged to the awkward angsty teenager that she was and not much had changed except she now had the job of taking care of another human being.
The redhead nodded and pointed to a little white board where all the names of the students were divided in three columns. It wasn’t hard to figure out why the name Jacob Mitchell could be found in the red column.
“When I got here, Jacob’s name was in the green column. That Monday morning was the last time he was there.”
Beca still felt like her cheeks were on fire as she glanced at her kid that was already looking at her. He quickly looked away when she looked down at him and he pretended to make Spider-Man fly in the air. He was a relatively chill kid for his age so she wondered what kind of shenanigans he did here to make his name be in the red column. That wasn’t how she raised him.
“Jake,” she said so he’d look at her again and he had tears in his eyes that made her heart tug. She rubbed his back soothly. “What’s going on, kid? Don’t you want your name in the green column like before?”
He just shrugged at her, his bottom lip trembling. She looked back at the teacher that was looking at them with a sad smile.
“What can we do to help make things better?”
“Well, I had a chance to think about and I thought perhaps a behavior journal? We keep it here during the day and you take it home each evening and we can both fill out whenever we see any positive or negative behavior from Jacob. So we can keep on top of his actions?” she explained.
Beca nodded, pretty impressed with the idea. “I mean-- sure, yeah that sounds good. Really good actually.”
Chloe seemed pleased with herself. “Look, I know change can be hard and I want to do whatever I can to help him. I’m afraid I’m gonna be here for the rest of the year and we can’t just switch him from my class.”
“It’s not you,” Beca quickly explained, somehow getting a sense of insecurity from the teacher. “He’s just really stressed around new people. I know he doesn’t talk to any of the other kids either.”
“Yeah, I noticed that. During play time, Jacob just stays at his desk without playing with the other children.”
“It’s always just been him and I,” Beca said and she tugged on Jake’s ear playfully to make him squirm. “So it’s been hard for him to accommodate.”
Chloe looked at her for a while and unlike other people that would look at her with pity when they understood she was a single mom, all she got from the teacher was empathy.
“I understand,” she said and looked at Jake with a smile. “Well, I’ll get the journal ready for next Monday and we can just exchange it at pick up time. How does that sound?”
Beca was thankful for the gesture. “Sounds great. Thanks, dude-- I mean, Miss Beale.”
The teacher laughed and stood up and shook her hand warmly. “Thank you for staying for the chat.”
She walked to her desk while Beca signaled to her son that they were leaving and she helped him into his backpack before taking his small hand in hers. Just before they walked out the door, she looked behind her.
“He prefers Jake,” she said and then Jake groaned, tugging on her hand so she’d look at him.
“I don’t want her to call me Jake. Only my friends can call me Jake,” he said and she really wished her kid knew how to whisper properly because there was no way Miss Beale didn’t hear that.
She looked apologetically at the teacher who had her shoulders slumped a little. She clearly just wanted the best for the kids and Beca wondered why her son had so much trouble getting used to that. Christ, was she that bad when she was his age?
“Well, nevermind,” she said awkwardly and Chloe shook her head.
“It’s okay. Have a good weekend, Beca. Bye Jacob.”
“Have a good weekend,” she managed to answer politely before Jake dragged her out with force.
That night, Beca was sat with a bathed, teeth brushed, pyjama clad Jake somehow by 8 PM, a new record of theirs. The two were cuddled up in Jake’s tiny single bed, and Beca was reading one of the new comic books they had picked up at the mall out loud to the boy, who was curled into her side with his Marvel duvet pulled up to his chin.
He yawned for the thirteenth time and she closed the comic book. She almost let the whole thing go so he could sleep the day off but she knew they needed to talk about what happened today.
“Hey sleepy boy,” Beca whispered as she placed the comic book beside his Iron Man lamp and flipped the switch off as she laid beside him. “I didn’t talk about it during dinner but you know it’s time to talk about what Miss Beale told me today, right? You’re a smart boy.”
He sniffled and hid his face in her mother for comfort.
“I don’t like the fact that you used bad words. We don’t use them in this house, you know that.” And okay that was definitely a lie but she was his parent, she was allowed to do that.
“I said bad words because Miss Beale is bad! I want Miss Sophie back,” he began with a pout. “Amy said that when people are making me angry I can say words like motherfu-“
“Jacob,” Beca said sternly in her best mom voice, not wanting to hear the end of the word. “How many times have I told you you can’t repeat what Amy says? We can’t use words like that, especially not towards teachers. Miss Beale is there to take care of you while Miss Sophie has her baby.”
His hand stopped fidgeting with Beca’s flannel so he could sit up, a pout on his face. He pushed the flannel up her arm so he could see the beginning of her tattoos that covered her entire right arm and he started tracing all of them. Beca waited patiently until Jake answered her, not wanting to push him to talk because she knew how much that sucked.
“I need Miss Sophie. I always see her in the day time and I always come home and see you Mommy and I play with my toys and I read comics and I eat my dinner and I go to sleep,” he rambled, listing off his routine as if Beca didn’t know.
“Miss Beale coming to look after you is just a small change that you need to get used to,” Beca said, ruffling his hair. “Remember how Peter Parker got bitten by a spider and had to learn how to control his new powers?”
He looked up at her, his steel blues eyes suddenly really interested in what she had to say.
“Well, that was a big change for him, right? But he dealt with it and he became a super awesome superhero. So if you want to be just like Spider-Man, you need to prove that you’re a brave boy and be nice to Miss Beale.”
“I want to be like Spider-Man,” he mumbled to himself and Beca smiled. “I’m scared, Mommy,” he admitted and curled up into her. He looked so much tinier and fragile than usual and Beca almost teared up at it.
She stroked his back in a soothing way. “I know you are. It can be a scary thing to deal with change but I know how good and smart you are. You’ll be absolutely fine.”
He nodded sleepily and she figured she had done enough parenting for the night.
“Time for sleep, little dude. Even superheroes need rest.” She kissed him on the forehead and slipped out of his bed.
She watched as the boy shifted around to become comfortable, placing his thumb in his mouth and turning onto his side. Beca could remember how tiny he was when she had him, that little baby screaming for love whom she adored from the minute she laid eyes on him. Her eyes glistened with a hint of pride as she watched over her baby who seemed to be growing before her eyes, becoming more of a little person each day.
“Goodnight. I love you,” she whispered and waited until she heard a mumble back before closing the door behind her.
She sat down on the couch to work on a mix to relax herself before sleep. She groaned and pulled out a Spider-Man figurine from under her butt and looked at it a little. She just hoped things would get better with Jake soon.