One of the tasks Sue most dreaded was shampooing her son’s hair and she did put that chore off if she could. But that evening Sue knew she had to face the task.
“Gerald, you're making this worse.” Sue gritted her teeth as she lathered his head. The expected struggle commenced with head-tossing; soapsuds and water flew in all directions. A tickly cluster of bubbles landed on her nose. She sneezed; Gerald giggled. Her well-worn shirtwaist, saved from the rag bag for this purpose, draped her body in drenched, sagging heaviness. Her hair, pulled back into a tight bun, escaped most of the deluge. She felt mighty disgusted. This did not fit her view of fun even though her wildly splashing son found it hilarious. “Ger, stop it right now. You're behaving ridiculously!”
“Soap’s in my eyes,” screamed Gerald who’d been merrily racing two pieces of wood that substituted for boats across the tub before his mother tackled his shaggy curls. Although she kept his locks short to facilitate cleaning, he nevertheless objected vociferously. Hair-washing went beyond the inconveniences mothers dictate: he protested that it was hazardous for his eyes. He secretly hoped she’d yield if he set up enough obstacles. He was four, after all, and big enough for dirty hair if he fancied it.
He created a mammoth wave. Much to his surprise, he lost his balance and slid under. His feet and hands slipped on the soap-filmed porcelain: he couldn’t push himself off to reach the surface. A foot of water separated him from the air. This unexpected peril panicked him; he accidentally inhaled water and choked.
Next thing he knew he stood on the tile, dripping puddles, sputtering and coughing. He barely realized his mother had yanked him out. She snatched the towel; her vigorous strokes stung. Aware he'd been naughty, he meekly submitted to her roughness and figured she should swat him. How come she didn’t?
And, she didn’t even scold. Her ominous silence instilled more dread than a harsh lecture. He dared glance up from the floor and trembled when he saw her lips tightly pressed together. Although subdued, a new panic overwhelmed Gerald, Will she ever love me again?
After Sue pulled his crimson nightshirt over his head, she placed her palms firmly on his cheeks and turned his head to gaze directly into his eyes. He stared back, frightened, no longer the least bit defiant. “Sorry, Mamma,” he mumbled. What she said next forever changed his life.
“Ger, when are you going to desist with this wildness? Not even Jodi can protect you from that kind of nonsense in the tub.”
“M-Mamma, I w-won’t be so bad. Never again. I’m .…” He froze in mid-sentence: his mother’s words finally penetrated his guilt-clouded consciousness; he gaped up at her. His demeanor flipped from shame to curiosity. “Who's J-Jodi, Mamma?”
“Oh, she's your Guardian Angel,” his mother used the off-handed manner she might employ to tell him Aunt Jean was coming for dinner.
Gerald’s apprehension resurfaced. Was a Guardian Angel a monster that would eat him if he acted too naughty? Voice breaking, he murmured, “What's a Guardian Angel?”
“Someone who stays with you. Keeps you safe,” she rose from her crouched position and gently pushed him toward his bedroom. “Now it's time for prayers and sleep.” ...
Then, he climbed into bed and received his mother's goodnight kiss; but, while she tucked him under his quilt, questions bubbled out: “What’s Jodi look like? Is her hair brown like yours, Mamma? What’s the color of her eyes? And where is she? Can I see her?”
His mother’s only response, “Ask Jodi to chat with you, Ger.”
He commanded, “Jodi, talk to me!” Although Jodi did in fact speak, her voice blended in with the cacophony of his inner excitement. There was nothing his mother couldn’t do, he believed, so, sitting up straight and in his most grown-up, authoritative voice, he declared, “Mamma, Jodi won't say nothing to me. Make her, Mamma. Make her!”
Sue, near the threshold, gently whispered, “You need to listen carefully, Ger.”
Jodi definitely yearned for a reciprocal relationship with Gerald. Therefore she opted to manipulate his dreams since that method had worked so well during her introduction to Sue. The minute he fell soundly asleep, she flew into his dream and announced, “Hi, I'm Jodi.” The young woman with sandy hair, twinkling blue eyes, and dressed in a white gown sprinkled with gold stars, awed the child. She’d added a pair of wings and halo to resemble the angel in Gerald’s storybook. Initially in the dream, he was timid; however, when Jodi produced a bright red ball and tossed it to him, he played catch with her. That game, including his leap and perfect retrieval when the missile flew high overhead, established their friendship. ... From Jodi: Guardian Angel in Training, Part I Chapter 1.