Tuesday, November 15, 2011
We had a small catastrophe last night. This is a tough week for me because it’s the week after Christmas and everything is closed. The kids are off from school and my job is on a two week hiatus. In which case, my usual routine is squashed. However, I’ve been doing a pretty good job filling up our empty time slots. I’ve been on the floor playing games like a good mommy and I set up a play date for Max to see his girlfriend Christie, which was a big hit since they were like two wild monkeys (well more like my son was a wild monkey chasing after her the whole time) but they both ran around and burned off all his pent up energy.
On Monday we had a huge snow storm. A state of emergency demanded my husband to stay home from work. We fully took advantage of that rarity and went sleigh riding and enjoyed hot cocoa afterwards. Other than that, it’s been a lot of car rides, toy story movies and free play.
All this play time was making me feel cooped up, which I figured was going to happen this week, so I took it upon myself to call our new babysitter, Joyce. She usually watches the kids at our gym daycare and she’s really great with them. She’s only 18, but looks 21 and is very mature. She agreed to come that night and I informed Jake of my plans, which he bitched about. He hates when I get a sitter. He rather sit at home than go out on date night. It’s a combination of hating to leave the boys and hating to spend money on going out. Like I said, my husband isn’t cheap but he is the typical lazy husband after work, who just wants to come home and collapse on his couch in front of ESPN. But mommy’s demands always win out and so we left Joyce with the kids.
Max was happy to see her since she held the title of “favorite babysitter”. I gave her my usual brief instructions for bottles and bed time and me and Jake were out the door. We didn’t have any big plans on such short notice so we stuck to our usual routine of hitting the gym and then had the added bonus of going out for a quiet dinner. We were only gone for 2 hours and when I walked through the door Joyce looked as though she had seen a ghost. I immediately asked her how the boys were. She said Max wouldn’t go to sleep (something about his ice cream was keeping him up? Hmmm…what ice cream?) And then she informed me Jay had a little fall “over there by the stairs” but apparently it was a little miss step and no biggy. I blew off this small informality since two year olds fall (especially Jay since he is just now learning to walk).
“He must have given you some scream!” I said to comfort her. “Jay can scream like no other. People stop and stare when he lets loose.” I partially joked to calm her nerves some more.
She then looked relieved that I understood and just before she was out the door, I asked, “He didn’t hit his head or anything? Did he?”
“No! No! No!” she insisted.
She actually demonstrated the little fall on his knees and explained how he proceeded to scream bloody murder right after. Her initiative to demonstrate assured me that Jay was fine. I paid her and she was on her way. I went straight upstairs to check on the boys. I could hear Jay snoring in his crib so my attention was toward Max who was wide awake. The day had been so busy for him and since he didn’t nap at all I was curious to why he was still awake. I sat down and told him one of my long made up fairy tales that includes our usual character named Michael (who is really Max with a very comprehensive moral at the end of the story). But Max stopped me mid-story and said, “Are you done yet?” This was a real shocker since he usually begs me to continue all night long. “Ok, I’m done….why?” I inquire.
“I want to see daddy.”
I let him go and he was relieved I let him out of bed. As soon as he got downstairs and in front of his audience (us) his own story just spills out of him. He then proceeded to tell us that Jay had fallen all the way down the stairs, all by himself, with no one in sight to help. Our mouths dropped to the floor. The interrogation began.
He took his stuffed monkey and reenacted the fall from the top of the landing. Thank god it’s a split stair case with carpeting, so if Max was in deed telling us the truth that Jay had rolled and tumbled all the way down the six steps, by himself no less, then it wouldn’t have been that horrifying, but why are we hearing about this from our four year old? I started to shake and I can feel my throat clench, so I asked Jake to call Joyce immediately.
Joyce insists that she was holding his hand on the steps and he missed a stair and fell forward on his knees. And that he did not fall all the way down the stairs and if anything like that had happened she would have called us right away. Jake was ok with her explanation but he didn’t look too convinced to me. Plus, Max kept going on and on about what an enormous spill it was and how Jay cried all night long. Jake still seemed to be nervous and that made me very nervous. I had to call Joyce back and hear her story with my own ears. She didn’t answer my call, so I left a nice calm message that I just needed to know that Max’s whopper was false. Minutes later she called back and said she missed my call because she was in the shower. (“Yeah right! At 10pm?!”) She gave me her side of the story again and I could hear sincere concern in her voice. I expressed my belief in her and I let her escape another interrogation.
Jake and I checked on Jay about ten times that night. , , , etc. We practically slept walked into his room all night. He slept like a baby that night while we had nightmares. The next day our heads were clearer and we understood that minor accidents will happen. We came to the conclusion that we really do like Joyce and she is trust worthy but we will no longer have any babysitter put the kids to bed. They can stay up until we get home. That way there is no reason for anyone to use the stairs and they are all stuck in one room until we return. I thought that was a fair compromise with Jake, considering I thought he was going to squash the whole babysitting idea, all together….I was about to! But then I remembered.
When I was 15 I babysat a two year old girl named Kathy. Her parents were friends of relatives so they trusted me. Not to say that I wasn’t trustworthy, but 15 is still slightly absentminded. Before they left for the day, they instructed me not to shut the second door of three, to their apartment or else it would lock and there was no key.
After a few hours of Barney, I got Kathy all dressed to go out and enjoy some fresh air (which was very bold of me because I could have just sat her in front of the boob tube all day, like I was told to do but I was an attentive babysitter who wanted to show her some fun).
In my excitement, I shut that stupid second door and didn’t even realize it until we came in from the exhaustion of sheer playtime delight. Meanwhile, little Kathy’s cat was hovering by our feet in the entrance way. The cat wanted out and we wanted in. As he scratched and begged to go out I asked the little two year old, “Kathy…does kitty go out?” She nodded her head up and down and gave me the approval to open the door. We all went out together and I responsibly looked for a phone to call my mother. Of course, my mother was annoyed, but she still made it there in 15 minutes. While Kathy screamed from being overtired we left a note on the door for her parents that she was fine and at our house. I got the dreaded call an hour later from her father, “Anaya?” his tone started out solemn. “Yes?” I hesitantly answered because I knew I was in for it.
“Where is my cat?” he yelled into the phone.
He didn’t even ask for his daughter. It was the strangest thing.
“Oh…I let her out.”
Wow! After that I was ripped to shreds. It turned out the cat was “in-door” only and the fact that their house was right next to the highway didn’t make his tone any nicer. I tried to defend my mistake by informing the crazed father, “Kathy told me the cat goes out.”
“W H A T!” “You asked a two year old if the cat could go out???”
Ok…so maybe that wasn't the brightest idea, but mind you, I am only 15 at the time.
“Let me speak to your mother!”
I handed her the phone and ran to hide.
There was a happy ending to this story. They eventually found their cat in one piece, their daughter was fine and well taken care of (even if it wasn’t at their house) and Kathy’s mother chewed out the dad for his lack of concern for their daughter opposed to the stupid cat. Expectantly, I did not get paid and was fully shamed for being naive.
I still can remember that day clearly. It was a simple little accident that became a somewhat traumatic incident for me. I didn’t want that to be the case for Joyce, so when she sent me a text the next day saying, “I just wanted to make sure Jay is okay. I’m so sorry I feel horrible but I promise I would tell you if something differently happened.” I was perfectly happy to give her the short story of what happened to me at 15 and to tell her Jay was fine, everything is good and to have a Happy New Year. She didn’t need to be shamed, but I’m sure she will never forget it.