|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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