"Guess how old I am. This many."
Spectators are flocking to a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Omaha, Nebraska, to catch a glimpse of Timmy Jefferson — a young boy who actually behaves and listens to his mother while shopping.
“I have never seen such a thing in my life,” remarked Amy Roberts as her seven-year-old son, Billy, picked up a box of cereal and threw it at an elderly woman walking by.
“She must have that boy in a trance or something.”
“No, clearly that boy isn’t from this planet,” interrupted Jake Oliver, a father of two rambunctious elementary students.
“Did you see how he didn’t run away when he saw his mom turn her head for a split second? No way that boy is human. No way.”
Timmy and his mother, Helena, first began receiving attention when Wal-Mart employees noticed the five-year-old did not scream and beg for candy when the two were at the checkout aisle.
“The way I heard it,” said store employee LaQuisha Jones, “is the kid looked up at his mom and asked if he could ‘please’ have a candy bar. She patted him on the head and said ‘not today, sweetie.’
“And then the boy did the unthinkable: He DIDN’T whine and pitch a fit. He actually behaved! Can you believe that?”
From that moment forward, Timmy and Helena have had a cult following. Initially, only a small handful of employees and customers would follow them around as they shopped. But as word spread, the numbers grew into the dozens. Then the hundreds. Then the thousands.
Everyone wants to see “the boy who doesn’t make a spectacle of himself” and his wise, mythical mother. Some, like Denise Hopkins of Louisville, want to ask questions and learn.
“I want to ask her what her secret is,” revealed the mother of four. “I’ve tried everything with my kids. I’ve tried reasoning with them. I’ve tried pleading with them. I’ve tried being their friend. I’ve tried ignoring them. I’ve even tried being the bad guy. Once I hid the remote from them so they couldn’t watch TV before doing their homework, but they just got up and turned it on manually.
“I need to know her secret. I’m out of ideas.”
And some, like devoted follower Maggie Yates of Utah, want something more.
“I just want,” exclaimed Yates, “to touch (Helena). Just for a second. If I can touch her, maybe I will absorb some of the magic she possesses. And maybe if my son, Damien, can touch Timmy, maybe he’ll stop crawling on the floor and looking up people’s dresses.”
Helena and Timmy both seem surprised by all the attention.
“I really don’t get why this is such a big deal,” noted Helena. “Timmy behaves because he knows what will happen if he doesn’t. (My husband) and I set firm ground rules, make sure Timmy knows what is expected of him and what will not be tolerated, and we punish him when he misbehaves. We’re consistent, loving and firm.”
Added Timmy, while smiling: “One time I didn’t listen to mommy at church and she spanked me and didn’t let me watch cartoons. I listen to mommy now. Do you like SpongeBob SquarePants? I do. Guess how old I am. This many.”
In an ironic twist, the previously-adoring crowd turned into an angry mob upon hearing the “spanking” revelation. Boos and shouts of “she beats that poor boy” and “she should be locked up” began to be heard from the crowd of thousands.
The crowd then cheered when one of their own, who just happened to be a child services employee, had Helena arrested and proclaimed, “Timmy will be better off in foster care.”
“I’ll take him,” shouted Maggie Yates.
“I could use a second set of eyes to help me watch Damien. Where did he go anyway? Damien? Damien?”