Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Remember Babysitting?

My son is exactly 5 months old today. I can't get enough of this kid. Seriously. Just look at how cute he and his dad are.

And thank you, Tom, for photobombing this picture. It wouldn't have been the same without you.

Anyway, I've been thinking about babysitters. I love my mother-in-law, but I'm nervous to leave my son with her. I love my professional nanny friend Karen, but I'm nervous to leave my son with her. For goodness sake, I'm nervous to leave my son alone with my husband for too long. It's not that I don't trust any of these people, because I absolutely do. I think I just worry because I'm a mom, and that's what moms do.

I don't doubt their capabilities in caring for Graham when I'm away for a couple of hours at a time. I just worry about what might happen that's out of their control. Besides, I know my son really well and 90% of the time I can tell what he needs by the sound of his cry or how he's acting. Nobody else can do that.

Then I got to thinking about when I started babysitting for other people. When I was twelve, I babysat occasionally. I have a couple of traumatizing stories too. Actually, those are the only stories I can remember from babysitting at that young age. Perhaps it's because as I got older and more experienced I had less accidents or something. I don't know.

The first time I can remember babysitting was for a family from church. They had three kids--two young boys and a baby girl. Things were going great and I was playing board games with the boys. The girl was off playing with her own toys. At one point I remember getting a feeling to go and check on the girl. So I did. She had gotten into some board games with small pieces and had put several plastic marbles from one in her mouth. I remember her looking at me with tears in her eyes because she couldn't speak, breathe, or cough. I opened her mouth with my fingers, pulled out all the marbles I could see and then proceeded to pat her on the back really hard and then do the Heimlich on her. Out popped the marble that was blocking her airway. She cried and I held her for a while. I moved all the board games from the low cabinet they had been kept in to a high shelf and told the boys what had happened. When the parents got home I told them too. I wasn't ashamed because I hadn't done anything wrong.

The following day at church the mom pulled me aside in the hallway while holding her baby girl and said the rudest thing to me.

"Hey, I have a present for you."
"You do?" I responded. "What is it?"
"Yeah," she said, then snidely finished with, "It's a little blue marble. It popped out this morning in her diaper."
Before I could respond she had walked away.
I stood there stunned. Why was she upset with me? What did I do wrong? Hadn't I practically saved her baby girl's life? I wasn't the one who stored the games in the low cabinet. I went to the bathroom and cried.

I understand that she probably thought it was my fault. Of course her parenting skills and housekeeping skills couldn't be in question. I was the tiny, immature twelve-year-old who hadn't babysat very much and was bound to make mistakes--unforgivable mistakes, apparently.

Another time I was babysitting for a poor single mom. She lived behind her parents in a ghetto one-room guesthouse. She told me what she had in mind for dinner that night, the bedtime routine, and some fun games to play with her son and daughter. We had fun and they were really well-behaved kids. When it came bath time, I filled up this utility sink in one corner of the house for the kids since there wasn't a bathtub, just like their mom had told me to do. I helped them in and they had fun splashing and playing while getting clean.

They were funny too. At one point I laughed and bumped against a plywood wall that was separating the toilet and tiny shower from the rest of the guesthouse. What I didn't realize was that this little fluorescent light over the utility sink-tub was being held in place by the tension between said plywood wall and the wall next to the front door. When I bumped the plywood wall, the light fixture loosened and swung down, hitting me hard in the back of the head. The kids screamed. I immediately pulled them out of the tub and threw towels around them and drained the sink. Then I investigated the problem, and figured out why the light had fallen. As I was wedging it back in place, the little girl told me that my head was bleeding. I reached back and felt my hair caked with blood  that was starting to trickle down my neck. Inside I was freaking out, but I knew I had to keep my composure so the kids wouldn't be scared.

"You're right," I said. "But I'm okay." I really wasn't sure if I'd be okay, but I felt alright enough at the moment. So I helped them get in their pajamas and go to bed. After they were asleep I went and rinsed my hair in the sink/tub, taking care not to bump into that wall again. I started reflecting on what had happened. What if I wasn't standing right where I had been? What if the light had hit one of the kids? What if it had fallen into the water while the kids were still in it? My eyes filled with tears as I was suddenly so thankful that I had been the one to get hurt. I had a pretty deep gash in the back of my head from what my fingers could tell, but I couldn't see it.

I held a paper towel to my head until the mom came home. I told her what happened, because I'm an honest person like that. I was ready to get another rude response, just like the first woman I babysat for. Instead she felt terrible about it. She apologized to me and even paid me a little extra to make up for it. I think I even babysat those kids again because they really liked me and the mom knew she could trust me in an emergency like that.

Those were two completely opposite reactions from the moms to two dangerous situations. Why were the responses so different? I know the situations themselves were quite different. But didn't I do the right thing in each? Is there something different that I should have done in either of them?

I guess for me, I just need to find a babysitter that I know will react well in an emergency. I need someone who will be completely open and honest even if he/she does make a mistake. And if something is my own fault, I hope I can see that.

Have you ever had any babysitting disasters whether you were the babysitter or hired one for your own kids?


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  1. I have to say that I would NEVER trust a baby to a 12 year old. That Mom was certainly in the wrong for allowing you to watch her children, you were no where near old enough or responsible enough to watch two boys AND a baby.

    We're a military family, and I have two boys 3 and one, we just forgo nights out because we don't know anyone where we live, and I just could not trust a teenager with my guys, even if they are sleeping most of the time we're gone. And it's not me being a crazy Mom, I just know how teenagers think! lol I used to be one. ;)

    1. Chrissy,

      Thank you! Looking back I'm wondering how in the world a mom trusted a scrawny 12 year old girl to babysit! Even if I was pretty grown-up, responsible girl, I know I couldn't bring myself to do that with my own son! But that was the '90s and it seems like lots of girls started babysitting back then at that age, at least where I'm from. Still, I agree with you.

      As for date night with my husband, we've opted to going to the drive in with our son while he's a baby and can sleep through it in his car seat. For now, that's all we've got! I don't know what we'll do when he's older or we have more. Maybe have far fewer dates. ;)

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. oh my goodness, your son is SOOOO precious! I just want to hold him! (which would be so weird to you because you have no idea who I am! hahaha) that just goes to show how adorable he is! ha. and don't worry, it's hard the first time you leave him with someone, but it gets little girl is 1 and I was hesitant at first but the more you do it, the easier it is. she has stayed a couple times now and even stayed the night with my mother in law. my daughter did great and loved it! found ya from the link/mingle!! can't find your gfc to follow ya or I would but I'm going to your facebook! ha.

    1. oh nevermind, found it! following your blog and facebook! ha.

  3. Haha it gets easier :) the first time I left Peyton I cried.... and that's such a crazy story with the marbles! Some people....

    1. We finally did leave Graham with my mother-in-law so we could go to the temple one night last week. She played with him and fed him and then even put him to bed without him fussing. We didn't come back home for over 4 hours. Oh, I was nervous, but it all turned out okay. It was kind of a relief and now I know she can do a pretty good job babysitting. I still don't want to leave him with anyone other than myself, but at least I know I can if I need to.

  4. Once while I was baby sitting this girl, I was making grilled cheese for dinner. Their stove was low because it was in Asia and she came up behind me and popped a balloon. It scared me and when my body jerked, I pulled the skillet toward my body and it burned my stomach. It hurt really bad but I didn't want to scare her or make her feel bad. She had meant it as a joke and she was only about 7. So I carried on the rest of the night like nothing was wrong.
    It turned into a pretty big blister and weeks later when I was at the doctor's office for something completely unrelated, he asked if I had my appendix out because of the scar. My mom was like, "Wait? WHAT SCAR?!" And I finally told her the story. She wanted to know why I didn't tell her and it was because, I didn't think it would matter if I did tell her. There was nothing that she could have done.
    But other than that, I didn't have any scary baby sitting stories.
    I would agree with Chrissy....that lady was a little crazy to trust a 12 year old with 2 kids AND a baby. But it sounds like you did everything right and you saved her baby.

    1. Oh, Katrina, you poor thing! ;) Sometimes kids just want to play at the most inopportune moments. Glad you handled it well at least. You and your mom have such a good/funny relationship.

      Thanks for sharing. And thanks for your thoughts. :)

  5. I have both. My babysitting disasters, and my kids babysitting disasters. We had a set of babysitters that took the cake. We lived in an apartment complex with three buildings in a box shape, all facing in to a courtyard. Our babysitters thought in would be okay, since they thought the kids were asleep (without checking) to go back to their apartment across the courtyard from ours, and check our apartment through the window occasionally. Our kids were NOT asleep. So I got a call, 20 minutes into our movie, from the policeman who had found my 4-year old son wandering the parking lot. Our two year old was sitting in the living room, playing, with the door wide open. Babysitters still clueless. I went to get them at that point. Even then, with me on the verge of furious tears while the cop is threatening to call child protective services, no apology. They just kept saying, "well, I thought you said the kids were asleep!"

    1. April.
      Oh. My. Gosh. I would have had murder on my mind if that had happened to me! You poor thing! I'm so glad your kids were all okay at least. Bless your heart!