Service of “I Wonder What Happened to…..”

March 24th, 2022

Categories: Children, Memory

I’ve rarely played this mind game. A recent conversation reminded me of a baby I once knew and I wondered what had become of him.

I babysat for him for a month in Boston the summer after my sophomore year. His parents lived in a beautiful home. I never saw his mother, a natural beauty, touch him. I’d arrive at my scheduled time–10:00 a.m.–and he’d be in his playpen wearing diapers from the night before. You can imagine the raw condition of his skin. Milk that had dribbled from his cup had begun to sour in the heat. She’d tell me to warm and feed him the same food for lunch day after day, usually leftover from a dinner party. He’d eat it, unless she came into the kitchen where his highchair was, and then he’d stop eating. She’d complain that he wouldn’t eat. He was an intelligent child but at two didn’t utter a word.

She’d reprimand me if I changed his damp clothes after his afternoon nap, before going to the park again. She didn’t like dealing with all that laundry even though I folded it while he slept. I’d bathe him before I left for the day unless his father came home early as he liked to give him his bath. The little one would run, joyfully, into his father’s arms when he opened the door.

She asked me to join them for a month where they were going to vacation. I used the excuse that I couldn’t leave the city. On my last day she told me she was pregnant.

I don’t remember their names or I’d look for him on Google.

Do you ever wonder what happened to someone?

 
Image by rafael1979 from Pixabay

16 Responses to “Service of “I Wonder What Happened to…..””

  1. David Reich Said:

    Yes, I sometimes wonder about people I knew in college who I’ve lost touch with, some old girlfriends and some former co-workers. With some, I didn’t mean to lose touch, but life gets in the way.

    Social media now makes it easier to keep track of people, even if not in a deeply personal way. I have some cousins who I may not have actually spoken with in years, but through Facebook I have some idea of what they’re up to and what their kids (and grandkids) look like. Better than nothing, I suppose.

  2. TC Said:

    Jeanne, what a curious experience. Child’s mom seems to be rejecting him which opens up more questions. Also toddlers usually have begun using speech. Doubt elective mutism but still worth examining.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    David,

    I am terrible at keeping up with people. Thank goodness for texting and emailing and friends who reach out to me and Christmas cards–yes, I know people who never were on email and they don’t text so we catch up in December!

    So many people I know are no longer or never were on Facebook though I do get a glimpse of some lives on that platform.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    Goodness knows what happened to this toddler after the second child came. At least he’d have an ally to survive the mother. However, if she doted on the second child, it would have been worse for him poor tyke.

  5. ASK Said:

    Curiously, your post reminded me of a recent book I read by a nanny (a this-is-how-it-really-is-on-the upper-east-side type of book) who describes a mother similar to your Boston employer. I scratch my head when I read stuff like that and wonder why some people really bring children into the world. But then I recall Diana Ross’s comment when she married that Norwegian shipping billionaire…To paraphrase, she said it was definitely important to have a child with a man like that; it gives a woman a real hold on him. Indeed. In the book, the mother also becomes pregnant again, but her banker or lawyer husband leaves her anyway for his midwestern sales manager.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    I wonder how long a man like the one in my memory, who clearly loved being with his child, could live with a cold, if beautiful, person such as his wife. Did I mention that the toddler was adorable?

    Curious comment by Diana Ross. Maybe I’m naive but I don’t think we have holds on others. Some think they do by bullying or threatening to close purse strings or in your example, refusing to let a parent see the child they share unless they get something in return. What a perfect example of winning by losing–especially for the child. I’ve known people who survive by cheating. Another example. Sad.

  7. Hank Goldman Said:

    I think the longer we are alive, the more we think about people places and things we used to know.

    I think back to a New York City junior high school teacher, Mr. Fireman. He saw some kind of talent in me back then, and told me I should try out for the high school of music and art. I took the test, and had the grades, and I made it in! It was one of the biggest changes in my life. I did manage to look him up a few years ago and he was an artist and said he hated teaching! Can you imagine.?

    Also managed to look up one of my best friends from the 1960s. One of the best graphic designers I knew. He had some mental issues over the years, and went from being a really far out kind of person, to much more normal of a life. Nice to see. – of course in the back of one’s mind people stay the same… The reality is, they don’t!

    I could go on but I won’t.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hank,

    What irony that a man who changed your life–and no doubt more than a few others’–hated doing something he clearly had a gift for. I knew a great public speaker who hated it so much he refused to do it again.

    You are far braver than I am. I don’t have the nerve or even desire to navigate much of the past. It pops into my mind according to the direction of a conversation but I think I always did that–much to the distress of my nearest and dearest.

  9. lucrezia Said:

    There are too many folks for me to wonder about, so I concentrate on those who are around. Should some old friend hop out of the woodwork, it would be a huge treat!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    It would be a nice surprise.

  11. Loretta Adams Said:

    Loretta on Facebook: So sad, …., for this little boy to never know his mother’s love, for mom—-who cheated herself of the greatest gift, for the Dad, who most lonely was torn between love for his child and love for his wife, ….. and for you who silently witnessed most likely with a breaking heart.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Loretta,

    I don’t recall feeling heartbreak. I lived in a world of students and this job was a brief diversion from my life, yet I was mystified why a woman with such a darling little boy treated him as she did and why she would want another child. She and her husband were model-stunning and they lived in a wonderful apartment and had a sweet, good looking little tyke. She made no sense to me.

  13. Eileen Dover Said:

    I sometimes wonder about people that have crossed my path and I think about, do they ever wonder about me! Am I ever remembered by those people that I think about. We all have stand outs in our lives that we recall but do others have stand out with me that they recall!? Wondering minds want to know!?

  14. Anonymous Said:

    Eileen,

    You’d be surprised. I attended an industry event I dreaded–as a past president I was urged to go. I thought it would be awkward as I was no longer active in the sponsoring organization celebrating an important anniversary. Towards the end a former client came up to me, said he had to leave early but wanted me to know that I was one of the favorite people he’d worked with. In addition to being a shock, it was worth the price of admission! When I hear from Baruch students I’d mentored years ago–two rather regularly–I feel honored. The first happened to see me at an event but the other two reach out. I doubt that anyone sits around going through his/her memory bank but if they hear a saying you always used or came across your picture in a group shot or won an award and your instruction is what got them there, or if you made them laugh and they met someone who also does, you bet they think of you!

  15. Martha T Takayama Said:

    I often remember myriad people from my early childhood forward. Sometimes I look them up in the computer, on social media. Sometimes I get a call as I did a few years ago from two sisters who were grade school neighbors and were reminded of my family and me when going through papers of an old piece of furniture. The other day I saw a friend I had last seen once in the early 1980’s who had liked or followed me on Instagram. I looked her up in the computer with a sense of nostalgia and immediately found her current phone number and that she was now at an address I remembered from high school. I called her, spoke with her husband who remembered me, and passed me onto her. We covered a brief history of relatives and family of about 55 years including passings. Then I got a call from you, Jeanne, and hung up to speak with you, my college friend, whom I had found again in the early ’90’s through my step-daughter’s Brearley alumni bulletin. Thinking about, but reconnecting with people can be very rewarding!

  16. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I am the worst. It’s a miracle that I have a friend. I admire your curiosity. Kudos. I don’t share your inspiration to seek out former friends and acquaintances but am grateful you found me!

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