Children’s music gurgled from the TV while Handler and I practiced walking. I was finally getting the hang of motherhood now that Handler was older. Xander and I were absolutely amazed at how fast our son picked up his fundamental skills.Bright sunlight streamed into the nursery in the mornings, Handler’s favorite time to play. He was very dexterous. He mastered all his colorful toys no matter how complex they were. One afternoon, while I was listening expectantly, I heard Xander requesting time off from work. I had asked my husband to stay home and babysit while I took care of something important. I was on a mission, but not an evil one! Fortunately, it was a slow time for the Notorious Crew so Xander was able to keep an eye on our tot.I realized it seemed very unlikely, but it was time for me to try to be a better person. I went to Freya’s house first. Nervously, I sputtered out a detailed list of my illicit deeds. I was so relieved when I finished my troubling confession. Freya assured me we would continue to be friends.I tried to mend the difficult relationships I had with the spouses of the Notorious Crew. I met with Tori, Junior’s estranged wife. With some reluctance, I admitted that on many occasions, I had hacked accounts at City Hall where she worked. Tori has nearly been fired when all that money disappeared. But she was willing to forgive me.I was a little more hesitant to approach Ayesha. She was married to Grand and she was the architect of many successful heists, none of which she ever invited me to participate in. I knew she didn’t trust me and she knew I was jealous of her smarts.Baby: “Please forgive me. I trashed-talked you so many times and I am so sorry.”
Ayesha: “You don’t need to apologize. I haven’t exactly made an effort to include you in any jobs and I could see how that might offend you.”I even visited Jamie Jolina and let her know I would no longer be part of our Simmicare fraud. She said she would be able to continue without me and wished me the best of luck. She asked me if I had heard from Pater and my heart sank a little. Would he be disappointed in me for abandoning our shared villainy? I hoped that if he found out, he would understand I was just trying to be the best mother to my boy as I could be.
When I finally got home, I found Handler in his crib, fast asleep. He looked so sweet. I was proud of him and I wanted him to someday feel proud of me for being a decent person.Xander was relieved to see me. Something pressing had come up at work and he was the only person who could take care of it. We sat down to a late supper and though he needed to go, he lingered over his plate and then looked at me with great intensity.
Xander: ” I want to tell something before I leave. Handler has learned to talk! But I am a little concerned.”Xander: “We were playing together when Handler took his toy car out and started making zoom zoom noises. Then he threw the car against the wall and shrieked ‘Car wreck! All the people got smashed to pieces and they are all dead!’ He was laughing, Baby and it really disturbed me. Maybe we should be more careful about what he watches on TV.”I assured Xander that our son only watched Kidz Zone when we had TV time together. Then it occurred to me that when Handler was trying to fall asleep, he might have overheard some horrible story I was watching on the news. I told Xander not to worry too much and I reminded him that the exciting thing was that Handler was saying his first words. The next day, I heard him myself and it was not what I was expecting. I was feeding him and he looked up at me and opened his little rosebud mouth and said:
With a flourish and a grunt, my darling boy flung his dish on the ground. I was stunned. Handler didn’t talk babytalk, he sounded as clear and as adult as if he had been talking for years, not days. Who taught Handler to call me Mother? Why didn’t he call me Mama like other babies? I waited for Xander to get home from work and I excitedly told him about my day with our sudden child prodigy. But Xander shook his head with dismay and sighed.
Xander: Something’s not right, Baby.
Baby: I don’t know, I thought it was kind of cute!
Handler: “Daddy’s going out to do lots of stealing and robbing tonight. Maybe he will bring you home some jewels, Mother.”
Xander was so shocked he almost dropped his son. I couldn’t help myself but burst out laughing. I took Handler out of his father’s arms and set him down gently on the floor. Then I gave my husband I loving embrace.
Baby: “I swear I didn’t tell him to say that!”Night fell in the household and I was grateful it was time to put Handler to sleep in his crib. I entered the nursery and looked all around but there was no sign of him. I panicked and frantically called his name. Suddenly he popped out of the toybox.
Handler: “Oh, Mother. You are so gullible.”
Baby: “Handler! You are so…so…”Suddenly, I understood. Handler wasn’t just naughty…he was a Notorious! He was my wicked boy. I swept him into my arms and squeezed him tight. I was trying so hard to be good. But our little guy had turned out to be so bad!I knew Xander would have wanted me to reprimand Handler but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I understood genetics from my work with Freya at the Science Lab and I understood that my son’s behavior was beyond his control. I actually felt a burst of pride and love for the tiny devil. But what should I tell Xander? My husband was a criminal but he did not share my evil trait.My son did. It was my responsibility to be a role model for him. So much for being a better person! I put Handler in his crib and ran to my laptop. I had lost a lot of time with all my confessions and apologies, now it was time to get back to work. I started hacking on the computer like a woman gone mad.After a few days had passed, I arranged for Freya to look after Handler so Xander and I could have a quiet dinner alone. I tentatively started the conversation. Watching Xander’s face closely, I revealed the malevolent nature of the child that had brought him such joy.
Baby: “Handler is a Notorious. Which means he will be like me. You love me in spite of my fiendish ways. You also need to love your son.”Xander: “Baby, my beautiful sweetheart, of course I love my son. But under no circumstances will Handler end up working for the Notorious Crew. I don’t want him running from the law.”Xander: “You’ve been lucky, you’ve never been to jail. But I have, too many times. It is no place for our son.”
With some difficulty, I agreed that Handler would never be allowed to join Pater’s gang, even though there was nothing I wanted more in the world than to call Pater up and tell him the great news about my diabolical offspring.Xander visited Lorcus as soon as he had a chance.
Xander: “You are a Notorious. How did you escape becoming an evil man?”
Lorcus: “I discovered from an early age that I wanted to be a doctor. I had to take the Simmicratic Oath and promise never to do harm. Maybe Handler will have change of heart as well.”Lorcus gave Xander some books to read on child psychology. He read them all in hopes of finding some way to prevent his child from turning into a juvenile delinquent. Xander even considered giving up his own criminal activities but it was the only way he knew how to earn money.Handler and I were doing a lot of reading as well. His favorite bedtime stories were fairy tales but he absolutely hated happy endings. I had to change all the stories around so that the witches and trolls triumphed by the time the book was over. The princess and the prince invariably ended up boiling in oil or being eaten by rats. Handler clapped his little hands with delight.I put Handler to bed and started to put his toys away. My mind drifted and I found myself playing with his dappled horse. What kind of future did I want for our son? The best he could possibly have, of course. But could I keep my promise to Xander? It seemed destiny might lead our son to the inevitable…his rightful place in the Notorious Crew.