You ever get the feeling that it’s going to be a long childhood, even though you’re not the one growing up?
“I can’t believe I agreed to this,” Betty muttered to herself. She was holding Aztek in her arms, even though he was close to two years old.
“You can’t believe it? Imagine my surprise then,” Shego remarked.
The best friends were standing in the living room of Shego and Kim’s house. They could not believe that Betty had agreed to let Mayah go trick-or-treating with Kim and Ron acting as chaperons. It was hard to believe that they were responsible adults when they were dressed in Halloween costumes and Ron was hollering about how much candy he was going to collect.
It was Mayah’s first time going out for Halloween, as it was for her friends too. She was four while the others were three. They were all dressed and ready for the event too, especially hyped as they had been told there was going to be candy involved. Aztek was not going because they did not think that he was old enough yet, but they figured that if all went right, he could join the group next year.
“What the hell is Mayah supposed to be anyway?” Shego asked curiously, even though she could guess.
“Her hero,” Betty answered with a smile.
Shego rolled her eyes; Mayah was clearly dressed up as her mother. The eye-patch sort of gave it away. She had a mini-version of the blue jumpsuit that Betty often wore to work, just in case she had to go out on a call, which happened more often than people would think because she liked to make sure everyone was doing things with some regard to regulations. Since Mayah lacked the short haircut that her mother sported, she had the front of her hair brushed to the side like her mother’s and then pulled into a ponytail. Her eye-patch was covering her brown eye, so she was showing her onyx-colored eye. She really did just look like a short, tan Betty.
“What the hell is Jade? A booger?” Betty inquired quite seriously.
“Don’t call my goblin a booger. Her brother’s the booger,” Shego remarked with a little smile. “She’s a Care Bear.”
Betty had to force herself not to laugh at that. A brat like Jayden had the nerve to be dressed up like a Care Bear? It was actually obvious that she was a Care Bear, a light green one to be precise with a four-leaf clover on her belly; the outfit that she was in pretty much a bear suit that she was zipped into. Jayden had a love for Care Bears, but only certain color ones. They had to be a light green, a pink, or a light purple; the purple sneaked in thanks to her uncle. Her parents were not sure what her thing was with Care Bears, but they just fed into the obsession, much like Shego did back when Kim had a thing for Cuddle Buddies.
“I’m guessing kids don’t just wear Spiderman outfits anymore. What is Bo supposed to be?” Monique asked curiously, speaking to Yori. Once that question was answered, her next was going to be what hell was Ron supposed to be?
“Oi, I’m Naruto, dattebayo!” Bokuden declared proudly. He was dressed in an orange jumpsuit with headband that had the symbol of Konoha. He even had his blonde hair spiked like the character.
“Dattebayo?” Monique echoed in a puzzled voice. She was used to Bokuden saying “oi,” which was just “hey” in Japanese. It seemed to be his favorite word and he used it constantly, to the point of annoyance sometimes.
“The character Naruto says it almost every time he speaks,” Yori explained as to why her son had added that “dattebayo” bit in. “As far as I know, it doesn’t really have a meaning to it,” she added.
“So, who’s Ron dressed as?” Monique asked.
“One of the leaders from the show,” Yori answered. She did not pay the show much mind; it was more something that Bokuden and Ron were into. Ron made it a point to at least experience everything his son liked and found out why the boy liked it just to make sure he was not wasting his time on complete junk; partial junk was all right, though.
“I’m the Yondiame,” Ron answered in a bit of a huff, as if he was insulted that they did not know that. He was dressed as the fourth Hokage from the show Naruto.
“Really? You look like an older version of whoever Bo is with your hair spiked like that,” Monique remarked.
“Whatever happened to just being ninjas or something?” Dahntay wondered out loud while looking at the children.
“Naruto is a ninja,” Bokuden informed the former thief.
“Dressed like that? They’d see him coming a mile away. He could signal planes in that outfit,” Shego commented. In fact, it looked like it was his job to signal planes in that outfit, she thought.
“Yeah,” Bokuden agreed with a bit of a nod. He did think it was a rather bright outfit for a ninja and he had pointed that out to his father, who could not explain why the character would be in such colorful gear for ninja missions. Yori was not much help either because she could not figure out why a ninja would chose such a bright color for missions.
“While we’re questioning everyone’s costumes, what the hell is Razi?” Shego inquired while looking at the aforementioned child. Something told the pale woman that she really did not want to know what Raziya was, but her curiosity was getting the better of her at the moment.
“I’m Jason,” Raziya answered as if it was obvious and the scary thing was that it was obvious. She had on the hockey mask and grey jumpsuit along with a plastic machete that had been smeared with fake blood.
“You tell ‘em, baby,” Felix said proudly.
“You’re a sick bastard, Felix, you know that?” Shego commented, knowing that he was the one that put Raziya in that costume. After all, he was the one that watched slasher movies with the kids. She was blaming him if one of the kids turned into a deranged serial killer.
“Sick bastard,” Jayden repeated while pointing at Felix. He laughed a bit, used to her mouth by now. She was probably the most foul-mouthed three-year-old on the planet, he thought.
“Jade,” Kim admonished the toddler. Jayden had developed a habit of repeating after Shego, but only when swear words involved, which was why she was foul-mouthed.
“Leave her alone, Princess,” Shego replied. She did not care about what came out of Jayden’s mouth, as long as the curse words were not directed toward her or Kim in some negative manner.
“I don’t want her talking like you do,” Kim argued.
“Too damn bad,” Shego replied with a smug smile and Jayden chimed right on time.
“Too damn bad,” the three-year-old echoed.
Kim sighed and just gave up for the moment. As usual, Kim was wearing a costume that paired with Todd, who was keeping with his love of Robin-themed Halloweens. He was dressed as Nightwing while Kim was dressed as the first Batgirl; he was starting to stretch things, he thought. He did want Kim to go as the Oracle, but Felix would not loan them his wheelchair for the night. Todd had actually been on the verge of calling Felix stingy for not sharing his chair, but he decided against that because it was not that important.
“Okay, everyone got their bags?” Kim asked the kids.
“Yes,” they all confirmed.
“Then, let’s go!” Ron cheered and motioned for them all to go out the door. The kids followed Ron while Kim brought up the rear.
“Do you get the feeling more of us should’ve gone?” Monique wondered loud as the door closed.
“They’ll be fine,” Yori replied. “…Right?” She looked around the room for some kind of confirmation.
“Wanna bet?” Shego remarked with a smile that said she was dead serious. Kim and Ron be fine with their insane progeny? She highly doubted it.
“Twenty says a house freaks the kids out so badly they all have to come back,” Dahntay said while going in his pocket.
“What? Twenty on them coming back after almost losing someone,” Shego said. She knew for a fact that they better not lose her damn child.
“That one sounds more likely, but I say they come back just from the kids getting tired,” Felix offered. He knew that the toddlers would only be able to go so far before they were just sick of walking, even if candy was involved.
The kids were all behaving pretty well, doing as they usually did when they were all out. Mayah was holding Todd’s hand because they were all taught to practice the buddy-system and when Todd was around, she liked him to be her buddy. Jayden never huffed about wanting to hold her brother’s hand, having a good time with Bokuden and Raziya; all three of them held hands as buddies. They liked to bug out, swinging their hands or pulling each other to one side, but they knew better than to do anything that might endanger one of them falling into the street. Kim and Ron walked behind the group to keep an eye on them.
When they came to the first house, they all gave out a hearty “trick-or-treat!” to the Dracula that answered the door; Todd had taught them the phrase and told them to always say it loudly when someone answered the door. They did not jump because of the monster, not even thinking about being scared. Monsters had yet to scare that lot, having watched tons of monster movies with Felix.
“Such cute little goblins,” the Dracula commented and then placed candy in the children’s bags, which got a surprised reaction.
All of the little children gasped in horror and quickly turned their bags upside down to dump the candy out. Ron and Kim were confused by the kids’ actions, as was the kind man that was giving them the candy. The little ones all breathed sighs of relief once the candy was safely on the ground.
“We never take candy from strangers!” Mayah informed the Dracula, pointing an authoritative finger at the confused man. It was almost like she was accusing him of some heinous crime.
“Excuse us,” Kim said with a nervous laugh to the man as she bent down to talk to the kids.
“Mom, you should beat him up for tryna give us candy like that,” Jayden suggested while pointing up at the bad man in her and her friends’ opinions. She knew that her mothers fought bad guys and she felt that he was a very bad guy for trying to get them to break the rules and take candy from a stranger.
“Okay, guys, I know we always tell you never take candy from strangers, but today is the exception to that rule,” Kim tried to explain.
“No, no, no, we not s’pposed to take candy,” Bokuden reiterated the idea of the little girls. They had been told plenty of times that they were never to take candy from strangers and they definitely were not going to do it in front of two of the people that had told them that rule.
“No, really, it’s all right this time,” Ron tried to assure his son and the other children.
“How’s it ‘kay now, but no other time?” Raziya asked, almost as if she had him cornered with logic.
“Because it’s Halloween,” Ron answered.
“So?” the four little kids inquired. They were not following. What did the day have to do with obeying rules?
Ron and Kim tried their best to explain to the children why it was all right to take candy that night. The children did not seem to be buying it, but they eventually agreed with the parents. Once that was settled, they moved on to the next house and the kids freaked out again when candy was placed in their bags. Ron and Kim looked at each other and sighed; it would seem that they had their work cut out for them.
The front door opened and four kids practically flew into the house, looking for parents for various reasons. Mayah ran to Betty and climbed into her lap, wrapping her arms around her mother for security reasons. It was a good thing that Dahntay was holding Aztek or Mayah would have just crushed her little brother if he was in their mother’s arms. Betty looked down at her daughter, curious as to what was wrong with the child and she was not the only parent wondering such things.
Jayden ran to Shego, tugging at her mother’s pants for her attention. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mom did a bad thing!” the child reported.
“What did Mom do now?” Shego inquired with a sigh. It was rare for Jayden to be telling on her mom, but usually when she did, it was for some crazy reason.
“She took candy from strangers!” Jayden answered.
“Dad did too, Ma!” Bokuden added in as he ran to Yori.
“And Auntie Kim and Uncle Ron tried to make us take it too!” Raziya finished the whole deal while leaping into her father’s lap.
“Wow, remind me never to rob a bank with these guys,” Kim remarked as she, Ron, and Todd entered the house. She shut the door behind them. She and Ron were holding two bags each; they had done the candy-begging for the little ones since they refused to take candy from the strangers.
Yori just laughed a bit while going to pick up a pile of money that was in the middle of the living room floor. Ron thought that was a curious move. He had to ask about that as he made his way into the living room; he dropped Raziya’s bag of candy in off with Monique along the way.
“Hey, babe, what’s with the money?” Ron asked curiously.
“Nothing,” Yori answered with a sly smile. She had tried to tell everyone that the thing that would bother the kids the most would be the fact that people that they did not know were trying to give them candy, but no one had listened to her.
“Of all the things that happened,” Shego muttered in disbelief. She lost twenty dollars, but at least her daughter was in one piece. She supposed that the brats were going to have to adjust to the idea of trick-or-treating.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Shego inquired, speaking to Betty. They were standing in Betty’s large backyard. It was them, their spouses, and all of Kim’s friends too. They all hung out a lot more now, trying to promote friendships between their children, which seemed to be working like a well-oiled machine.
“What’s the harm in it?” Betty countered.
“With this lot?” Shego said while motioning to their children, who were with Bokuden and Raziya as usual and standing a few yards away. Aztek was not with the group, having fallen asleep on his father, who was resting in a lounge chair behind Shego and Betty.
“What could it hurt, really?” Betty inquired curiously. Things should go fine, she thought.
“With this lot?” Shego repeated, still pointing to their children.
“Okay, really, how could they not like this?”
“Just wait and see. They haven’t let us down yet,” Shego remarked with an amused smirk.
The four children were standing around in a circle. They were staring at a curious item that Mayah was holding. They had never seen anything like it and they really did not understand how it got to be the way that it was. They did not even want to touch it, so they were awed by the fact that Mayah was holding it.
“The hell’s it?” Jayden muttered while taking a brave poke at the thing, which happened to be an egg. It happened to be a very colorful egg since it was Easter.
The kids were supposed to be having an Easter egg-hunt, but they did not really understand the concept and they were too amazed by the thing in Mayah’s hand to care about hunting for anything at the moment. Betty had thought that it would be a fun little thing to do with the kids and the others sort of agreed. Betty, Monique, and Yori had come together to paint the eggs, but Dahntay had hidden them around the yard. Kim and Ron had gone out and gotten Easter baskets for the kids, but they had not given them those yet. Everyone was waiting to see them just make it through the egg-hunt.
“My mommy says it’s an egg,” Mayah answered.
“Wha laid a egg like this?” Bokuden wondered out loud.
“Well, my mommy says something about an Easter bunny,” Mayah recalled.
“So, a bunny laid this egg?” Raziya guessed. That did not sound right to her or her friends.
“But, bunnies don’t lay eggs, right?” Bokuden asked and Mayah and Raziya shrugged. They all looked at their resident animal expert, Jayden. “Bunnies don’t lay eggs, right?” he repeated.
“Nope. Bunnies are mammals and mammals don’t lay eggs. Birds lay eggs, reptiles lay eggs, and anphibadans lay eggs,” Jayden answered. She was trying to say “amphibians” on that last one. Kim had obviously already started getting to her about animals and she was showing signs of being into the same creatures as her mom.
“Well, this isn’t a bird egg,” Raziya pointed out.
“Not a snake egg either,” Jayden stated.
“So…maybe a bunny did lay it,” Bokuden offered. It was the best information that they had to go on at the moment.
“But…they don’t lay eggs,” Jayden insisted. She knew for a fact that bunnies did not lay eggs; her mom said so. Her mom did not lie. Hell, her mom did not even kid around; her mommy did that one.
“Well, then where did this thing come from?” Mayah inquired.
“Hell if I know,” Jayden replied honestly.
“Doesn’t make any sense,” Bokuden muttered and Raziya nodded in complete agreement. Where did the colorful egg come from?
“I know!” Mayah suddenly shouted out of the blue. Her friends looked at her, waiting for her big suggestion. “Let’s ask Smiley!” she declared with a bright smile. He was super-smart, after all.
“Yeah, he does know everything,” Jayden concurred.
“I’ll go get him!” Mayah volunteered.
No one objected to that plan and Mayah ran off with the weirdo egg. She returned quickly, pulling Todd along for the ride. She had not bothered to explain why they needed him, but she did say that they needed his help. They all turned their attention to the “all-knowing Smiley.”
“Bro, what kinda egg’s this?” Jayden asked while pointing to the egg that Mayah was still holding in her hands.
“It’s a chicken egg,” Todd answered easily and honestly. He was not the type that would lie to the kids and make up some wild story to get them to bug out even more than he already knew they were doing. He had spent enough time with them to know that they confused themselves enough without any help from anyone else.
“Musta been a rainbow chicken,” Raziya reasoned and her friends nodded in agreement. They typically saw white chickens in books and on television and those chickens laid white eyes, so logically a rainbow-colored chicken could lay an egg like the one Mayah was holding. Mystery solved as far as they were concerned, but then there was another question.
“Are there rainbow chickens?” Bokuden wondered out loud. He had never seen one, after all.
“No, there aren’t rainbow chickens. It’s a regular chicken egg that was painted. It’s probably hardboiled. Look,” Todd said while taking the egg from Mayah.
The little girl did not object and they watched as Todd peeled away the shell of the egg, revealing the white underneath. He then bit into the top of it.
“See, hardboiled,” the redhead said while showing them the egg.
“Ohhh!” they all marveled at that.
“There are more around the yard. Your mom hid them and you guys have to find them,” Todd explained. It was supposed to be an Easter egg hunt, but the kids had gotten caught up trying to figure out what kind of egg Mayah had been holding.
“Are they all hardboiled?” Bokuden asked curiously. His eyebrow was cocked high, showing his interest.
“Yeah,” Todd answered and that was enough to get the blonde four-year-old moving. His friends followed suit.
“See, they’re looking and everything,” Betty boasted when she noticed the kids now searching the backyard for eggs.
“I still say this isn’t going to work,” Shego replied. She did not care that they were looking now. She was sure that they were going to find a way to screw things up and make the egg-hunt way more difficult than it needed to be.
“I still say I’m probably going to Hell for this one,” Ron remarked. He was sitting in a lounge chair off to the side. He doubted that he would be the only going to Hell for what they were doing.
“Hey, if not for this, then for something else,” Monique commented with a laugh. She was also in a lounge chair and passing the time by doing crossword puzzles while she had the time to waste.
“Isn’t that always the way?” Felix joked. “How are they doing there anyway? They close to any eggs?”
“Well, Smiley got them motivated to look, but they don’t look like they finding anything,” Kim said while watching the kids carefully. The kids were just all over the backyard and coming up with nothing.
“Where’d you hide these eggs, Bet? In California?” Shego remarked.
“Dahntay hid them, not me,” Betty defended herself while motioning to her husband, who was rubbing Aztek’s back to make sure that he stayed asleep and not listening to anything coming from the rest of the group.
“Does he know they’re only four and three?” Monique asked because those kids were not finding anything.
“He might’ve neglected to take that into consideration,” Betty remarked with a laugh.
The toddlers were having no luck in locating any eggs. They all stopped and looked at each other, hoping someone had an idea. They all shrugged; they had nothing so far.
“Hey, dogs can sniff stuff out,” Jayden said.
“So, maybe your dogs can sniff out the eggs,” Raziya finished the thought, speaking to Mayah.
“Yeah,” Jayden agreed because that was going to be just what she suggested.
Mayah ran off to go get the dogs; all three of them. Between the dogs, she liked Leonardo the most, although she loved all of the canines. It was just that she could ride Leonardo like horse because he was so large. She was doing that in fact when she returned with the dogs.
“What are they doing now?” Shego wondered aloud as Mayah dragged the dogs into the situation.
“They’re not going to use those guys for what I think they are,” Kim muttered and then she noticed the kids directing the dogs. Apparently, they were using the canines to locate the eggs.
“Is that even going to work?” Ron asked.
“A dog can’t sniff out what it doesn’t know. Yelling ‘egg’ at them isn’t going to help,” Kim answered and she could see the kids were doing just that.
“They’re too smart for their own good,” Monique commented. After all, how many other toddlers would have thought to employ dogs to find Easter eggs, but in the end, not use the canines properly?
“That they are,” Yori agreed.
“Speaking of smart, I wanted to tell you guys that I found a fantastic private school that we could send the kids to. I set up an interview to get Mayah into the kindergarten this September. I think you two can do the same with Bokuden,” Betty informed Ron and Yori, although she was telling them all about the school.
“Isn’t Bo’s birthday too late?” Ron asked.
“No, they’ll take him as long as he’s going to be five this year, especially if he shows promise. And while Bo’s a little…um…special, he’s a pretty smart kid,” Betty answered. She was pretty sure that Bokuden could pass the requirements for the school, even though he was a little crazy.
“What do you say, babe?” Ron asked his wife.
“It would be great if he could get a head start in school instead of starting a grade behind,” Yori answered.
“It’s a really good school. I’ll get you all the information before you leave,” Betty said. “I mean all of you, because you guys do know you’re going to have send Razi and Jade there if Mayah and Bo get in,” she added in pointing to the other parents.
“If it’s a good school, I don’t have a problem with that,” Monique answered and Felix nodded in agreement.
“It better be a good school,” Shego stated as if that was a threat. She was willing to bet that it was a marvelous school though, if Betty was willing to send Mayah there, so she doubted that she would have any real problem with sending Jayden there when the time came.
Their conversation was cut short as they heard screams of triumph. They turned to see that all of the kids had found some eggs. The children then dashed over to their parents, wanting them to crack the eggs open, so that they could eat the insides. The parents were stunned by that; they thought that the kids would at least enjoy the colors. Once the eggs were opened, the kids sat in the dirt and started eating the tasty insides. And then they had questions.
“Mom, what’s Easter?” Jayden asked Kim, looking up at the redhead. She was sitting down at Kim’s feet.
“It’s a holiday,” Kim answered simply, not thinking to go into the details.
“What kinda holiday?” Bokuden chimed in. He was sitting by his mother’s feet and thoroughly enjoying his egg. He hoped that there were more hidden around the yard because he planned to go look for more.
“A religious holiday pretty much,” Ron replied that time.
“What re-gious holiday?” Raziya asked.
“This is your fault,” Shego blamed Betty as everyone went into explaining Easter to the children, as best they could anyway. They all pretty much knew it was going to end badly, but they hated leaving the children curious about things.
The children hung on every word as their parents tried to explain Easter to them, but there were some complications. One of the complications happened to be that out of all of the parents half of them were not even Christians and ones that were happened to be less than versed in their religion. In the end, once the kids heard the story, they just had more questions.
“What’s a Jesus?” Jayden inquired while shoving the rest of her egg in her mouth. None of that story made sense to her or her friends actually.
“What’s a cross?” Bokuden added in.
“How come there was no bunnies in that story?” Mayah asked. She did not see why her mother had been talking about bunnies earlier when no bunnies appeared in the story at all. What did the bunnies have to do with anything if they were not in the explanation?
“Or eggs,” Raziya said. She did not understand what hunting eggs had to do with that story at all and her friends were with her on that.
“You just had to do Easter egg hunt, didn’t you?” Shego said to Betty in an annoyed tone. “You just had to do it?”
“Oh! Are we Christian?” Mayah inquired enthusiastically while pointing to herself and to her friends.
“Yeah, are we?” Bokuden asked while Jayden and Raziya just nodded to show that they were with their friends.
“You just had to do a damn Easter egg hunt, didn’t you?” Shego sighed and now the others were with her in being upset with Betty.
“Oh, yeah, just blame me. We were going to have to talk to them about this at some point in time,” Betty pointed out.
“Well, some of us would have liked to have had the conversation with each other first,” Monique replied.
“Yeah,” Yori concurred.
None of them really practiced any of the religions that they had been raised with, so they really were not planning to have religious conversations with their children. The plan had been to just let the kids formulate their own philosophical and religious beliefs as they went through life. But, now they were on the spot and the kids were so curious.
“Okay, Bo and Razi, you’re not Christian,” Felix answered, hoping that straight answers might appease them, but he knew better than that.
“We’re not?” the two kids asked.
“Are we?” Mayah inquired while pointing at herself and Jayden.
“Like hell,” Shego muttered.
“Is that a no?” Jayden asked. Usually when her mommy said “like hell” it was a no, but she did not understand why her Uncle Felix would not just say they all were not Christians if that was the case.
“Mayah is a Baptist,” Betty stated since they wanted to know. It only occurred to her after the words left her mouth that she was just opening the forum for new questions, which the kids were never short on.
“What’s that?” Mayah inquired.
“Look,” Shego said because she was about to put an end to everything. “None of you have religions yet. You’re not old enough,” she declared. Telling the kids they were not old enough was a surefire way to get them to get off of a subject.
“Okay. When’s old enough?” Jayden asked.
“Uh…Twenty years,” Shego just threw the number out there. “Now, go look for more eggs,” she instructed them and the kids listened, running off for more eggs since they had finished their other ones.
“Why would you tell them that?” Betty asked her friend.
“Because when was the last time anyone here went to a church, temple, mosque, or…Felix, what the hell would you to if you went anywhere?” Shego inquired.
“I don’t think there’s an agnostic church anywhere,” he commented with an amused look on his face.
“Right, but my point is none of us really practice anything, so why start trying to explain to them religions that they’re not even going to see in practice? There’s no point to it,” Shego explained.
No one argued that; most of them did not want to talk about it anyway. They pretty much all felt the same that they just wanted their kids to live good lives and if they happened to find religion on the way, that was fine. From the way the kids acted now, they figured that they had lucked out that they were all sane for the most part, healthy, and they at least listened. They assumed that it would be all right to let the kids find their own paths.
Next time: Kim gets into some serious trouble after taking Jayden with her on a mission.