Taehyung as a single parent. He was looking for a babysitter to help him raise his kid and then he met you.
The next morning, you appeared at Taehyung’s house again. You expected him to give you some instructions on what you should be doing everyday, some ground rules, some touring around the house to let you know where things were and how things should be done, but all he said was, “do you think I should wake Tae oh up?”
The rest of the morning was spent watching Taehyung heat up the food, dig for more snacks and throwing random remarks or questions at you such as, “do you think it’s better to eat apples in the morning or banana?”
When sounds of Tae oh’s cries came from the room, Taehyung dropped what he was doing and said, “oh he’s up!” He wiped his hands with the kitchen towel roughly and carried his child out from the room. The sleepy baby that was in Taehyung’s arms stared at you briefly with his puffy eyes and messy bed hair. Taehyung took Tae oh’s small hands, lifted it up for a wave and said in a baby voice, “Annyeong noona, good morning!” Taehyung placed the baby on the baby chair at the dining table and went behind the counter to continue preparing breakfast. He would occasionally look up from what he was doing and smile at his child. Taehyung’s actions made you smile too. He was a tall figure hovering around the kitchen counter, picking and placing things down with his large hands that seemed too clumsy and unfamiliar with kitchen work. The way he bent over the sink to wash the cutlery and fruits was swift and thoughtless, different from the way he looked closely at the packet of paste for the instructions of how much to add with a slight pout of his lips. Some moments he looked frustrated and annoyed with the chores, some moments he looked hesitant and confused. But your favourite was moments when he looked up and interacted with Tae oh. You could see the drastic change in his expression, he was so full of love and his smiles had a tinge of childlike purity and genuine happiness.
For the next few days, you helped Taehyung around. Taehyung was not good in the kitchen and in fact, not good at housework. You would usually take over what he was doing and tell him to go keep an eye on Tae oh instead. So for the first few days at work, you were scrambling around Taehyung, looking for things to do and setting up a kind of routine for yourself since Taehyung was not clear in what exactly he needed you to do. Then you will go home at 6pm after dinner was prepared.
Your babysitting job slowly became a housekeeping job as you saw that Taehyung did not seem to have any intentions of cleaning the house as long as it still looked clean. He seemed to have no clue about maintaining a home that had a small kid. He only cleaned the areas that were dirtied such as the dining table and picking up the food crumbs that fell when Tae oh snacked on his baby biscuits in the living room. Perhaps he had never thought about how important it was to clean the house everyday even though it looked clean.
Although your main job was centred around taking care of Tae oh, you felt that you needed to do something in order to create a better environment for Tae oh. So you began asking if you could help to vacuum the house and mop the floor. Taehyung was slightly surprised by your offer. He looked like a child who knew nothing about household duties. He also did not know where the cleaning tools were kept. You laughed it off and told him not to worry, you will look for them yourself and so cleaning up the house became part of your daily routine. Seeing that Taehyung really did not have much idea, you decided to step up a little and take charge. You explored the house on your own to see where things were and took note of what was necessary yet missing in the house. You made a list and went out to buy the necessary items and groceries over the next few days. Your daily routine now includes cleaning, washing and tidying things that were related to Tae oh such as his laundry, bedsheets, toys, water bottles, pacifiers, everything that he touched or played with everyday, and also ensuring that the child was washed, fed and sleeping well.
With Taehyung around, he took most of the responsibilities of playing and feeding the child, while you assisted with preparing the food and washing or changing the baby when Taehyung could not cope. There were days when Taehyung would receive calls from his company and couldn’t be home, and you would take Tae oh out with you to the convenient store or to the playground. You enjoyed the freedom of being able to take complete charge around Tae oh and the house, part of you also felt that Taehyung’s presence intimidated you, mainly because you still don’t know him and he was so perfect and too handsome to get close to. Soon, your routine slowly included maintaining the house including paying the bills, washing and ironing Taehyung’s clothes and preparing his food for him when he comes home.
Taehyung would usually try to be home before 6pm so that you could knock off on time, but nowadays he would be later, arriving home at around 8pm when you were feeding Tae oh his last milk before he goes to bed. Taehyung would always apologise for taking up your time and send you off almost immediately so that you won’t have to stay longer. But tonight, he was even later than usual.
When Taehyung returned, Tae oh was already asleep a long time ago and Taehyung looked solemn. He did not say much when he entered through the doors and he looked tired. In a soft and low voice, he said “is he asleep?”
“Yes, he is especially talkative today. It took awhile to get him to go to bed”, you answered, trying to sound a little more positive to cheer Taehyung up.
The man dragged his feet to the first bedroom and opened the door. He did not go in but he looked at his child for awhile and closed the door. He shuffled to where you were, on the floor in front of the television, and let out a deep sigh as he sat next to you.
You did not know what to say. In fact, you were slightly nervous as you could smell a whiff of him as he plopped himself down next to you. He smelled like cotton and cologne that had lingered on his skin for the whole day. He must have had a long day. You lifted your apple juice up and drank nervously. You wanted to say something to lighten up his mood but you did not know how.
“I am so sorry for making you stay this late, but I think you might need to stay later for the next few days. My company wants me back and I might not be able to come home for quite awhile….” His voice was low and it trailed off towards the end.
You paused and repeated what was said to you in your mind, “might not be able to come home.”
“I am trying to get my mother to come and take care of Tae oh so don’t worry you won’t have to be doing this 24/7, you can still have your own life. It’s just that in the meantime, please help me to stay with Tae oh. I will pay you extra.”
“Don’t worry too much about it. I will stay with him until you make the arrangements. Just let me know so that I can prepare my own things and bring them here”, you hoped to reassure Taehyung that you were not one of his reason to worry and more deeply, you wished to share the burdens and responsibilities that he had, and be someone who could help him with his plate that was too full.
“What are you working as? You seem to be really busy with work,” you tried to divert his attention to something lighter and also to get to know him slightly better.
“I’m…. errrr… I’m working in a bank..” the man sounded nervous all of a sudden and he took quite an unnaturally long time to answer a simple question.
The television played the chorus of Not Today, it was a commercial ad that was promoting the final stop of the WINGS concert in Seoul. The ad ended with a short video clip of the group calling out to their fans, “2! 3! Annyeonghaseyo Bangtan Sonyeondan imnida,” followed by more footages of their concert and a final screen with the concert date and location.
“Bang. Tan. So. Nyeon. Tan.” your eyes were still glued to the television screen and you took another sip of your apple juice while nodding continuously to yourself. You could hear Taehyung swallowing hard in embarrassment. You found this extremely amusing and instead of feeling angry that he lied to you, you found yourself wanting to laugh. Since he did not tell you the truth about his job, you did not want to confront him about it either. So you did not talk about his job whenever you were around him and treated him the same as before- as an ordinary person, except that you felt a lot more relaxed around him now, probably because you had seen him embarrassed himself. Because of this, Taehyung trusted you a bit more.
Taehyung would always try his best to rush home after his schedule but even then, he would usually be home around 10pm or later. His mother was busy with her shop in Daegu and could not make it here to take care of Tae oh for a prolonged period of time. His mother suggested many times to bring Tae oh back to Daegu with her so that it would be easier for everyone, but for some reason, Taehyung refused. He would rather rush around and stress himself out with making the best arrangements for his child care.
For some reason, you did not mind the prospect of having to take care of someone else’s kid 24/7. After all, you lived on your own and spent most of your free time surfing the net, online shopping and watching videos anyway. So on days when Taehyung could not make it back home, you would stay over and sleep with Tae oh. Tae oh was not the easiest child to manage but you quite enjoy the challenge of it. Most importantly, Taehyung was easy to work with. Even on days that he could not make it home, he would briefly give you a call or text you to apologise and inform you about it. He would briefly ask if there was anything wrong or if you had enough money for the house or Tae oh, and then he would leave you to take care of everything and did not question much. You felt trusted and to some extent, you wished that Taehyung could have one less thing to worry about and focus on his career which was what was truly worrying and taking too much of his time and energy. Taehyung was always worrying that he was not doing enough for Tae oh, and that made you want to raise Tae oh well so that Taehyung could stop feeling guilty and see how well Tae oh was growing up.
Whenever Taehyung was able to come home, he would first take a look at Tae oh who was sleeping and then take a shower while you heat up some food for him to eat. Taehyung disliked eating alone so he would usually make you sit down and eat with him. It then became a habit for you to wait for Taehyung to come home and have dinner with him in the small cozy dining area. You would usually tell him about the day and funny moments of Tae oh and he would laugh out loud, raising his eyebrows and saying, “jjinja? Wah, this rascal!” You would ask him about his day and he would usually talk about how busy his upcoming schedule was and how tired he was. He never gave out too much details about his work and you understood this was just how the entertainment industry worked. Taehyung would usually ask you to stay over since it was late and it gave you many butterflies in your stomach to hear him ask you to stay.
That night when Taehyung was back home, you were wearing a large cotton tee and sleeping shorts, sitting on the couch with your laptop. Taehyung was sitting on the other side of the couch in his sleeping clothes and his hair wet from his shower. You were staying over for the night. Taehyung was leaning against the arm rest and scrolling on his phone. You moved closer to him showed him what you have found on the internet. Taehyung leaned closer as you shared with him about the kinds of health check ups and vaccinations that were good and necessary for children around Tae oh’s age. He would nod and listen to you intently as you showed him the online articles and the clinics that you have researched. You could see how focused you were when the screen went black momentarily when the pages switched and you were surprised as you did not realise how close Taehyung’s face was next to yours. You became self-conscious as you realised that you could feel the warmth of Taehyung’s body next to yours and the touch of his skin against your arms and thighs. You tried to keep it in as Taehyung did not seem to be conscious about it and you did not want to appear to be blushing or overthinking like a teenager. But your heart was beating faster and you craved the slight brushes of his skin against yours.
“Mmm alright, go for it. I think they will be good for Tae oh,” Taehyung said in an assertive and manly tone that reaffirmed his position as the head of the house. Taehyung would sign on the parent’s consent form and pass you the original documentations that were necessary without further questions.
You called the clinic the next day to make an appointment for Tae oh and clarified with the staff on the research that you have done on the different vaccinations that he would be receiving. The staff was polite and answered your questions though not as satisfactory and you were still feeling anxious about Tae oh’s first vaccination.
You kept Tae oh’s health documents properly and felt good that you cared about Tae oh’s well-being and was excited to be the one taking Tae oh through this new milestone of his growth. You couldn’t wait to tell Taehyung how it went and hear him praise you for doing this for his child.
Little did you know that this turned out to be a stressful episode that left you crying with guilt and anxiety…