Judy was in her early teens and just getting her feet wet in the world of babysitting. But, unfortunately, with one of her first jobs she had not just put her tootsies in the water but had apparently jumped in at the deep end!
A young couple were going out for the evening and had asked Judy to babysit for Maggie, six and Jake, eight. There was also a yappy little dog, which made Judy almost as nervous as the kids. She lived on a farm so even though her family had a dog, it was an outside dog. She had never had any experience with a dog that lived in the house.
She quickly found out that these were some really high energy kids. They were runners, jumpers and yellers and constantly asking her questions and wanting her to play a game with them or let them eat a snack. Judy had three little brothers so she was used to some chaos, but these two took chaos to a whole new level!
About mid-evening, even to Judy’s untrained ear and over the loudness of the kid’s antics, she could tell that Yappy was getting more and more excited and, if possible, even yappier. So Judy asked Jake and Maggie what they thought was wrong with Yappy. They said he probably needed to go outside to potty and that Mommy and Daddy always took him out the back door.
So Judy and the kids went to the back door to let Yappy out. But as soon as Judy barely opened the door, Yappy shot out the door like he had been shot out of a cannon. And then as Judy watched in shocked disbelief, Yappy didn’t stop in the yard (which she now realized wasn’t fenced) but disappeared into the night, still running at full speed when last seen.
Judy turned to Jake and Maggie and said, “I thought you said we should let him out the back door!” And Jake replied, “Yes but Mommy and Daddy always put a leash on him before they open the door.” Well the omission of that little piece of information was water under the bridge now.
Judy immediately stepped out on the back stoop, even though it was winter and even though she had taken her shoes off, and started calling Yappy’s name. But she didn’t realize that Jake and Maggie had also stepped out on the stoop, also in their stocking feet … until she heard the door slam shut. She immediately turned around and tried the door handle. It was locked.
Okay, none of her babysitting friends when describing what easy money it was to just watch people’s children for an evening, had ever told Judy how to handle problems like dogs that run away or what to do if you and the children get locked out of the house. So she did the only thing she could think to do — she herded her no-coats-or-shoes charges next door, where thankfully someone was home. Then she used the neighbor’s phone to make the call no babysitter ever wants to make. She called the parents and told them they might need to come home because the dog had run away and her and their children were locked out of the house.
I’ve heard this story many times over the years (since I’m related to Judy), but I’ve never heard about what happened when the parents got home. But in my adult life I did happen to get to know this couple and they are/were (he has passed away) a great, fun-loving couple, so I can’t believe they gave Judy too much flack about what happened.
And the reason I’m pretty sure the parents weren’t too upset is that I know Judy babysat for them at least one more time after that. And the reason I know that, is because there is an interesting story about that night too.
The other story I’ve heard about Judy babysitting for Maggie and Jake was that when she let them out of her sight for just a few minutes, they disappeared! She called and called for them and could N.O.T find them. So, she again did the only thing she knew to do. She called the parents and told them she had lost the kids.
Sometime between the time Judy called the parents and the time they arrived home, Jake and Maggie reappeared. They had been hiding on the shelf in a closet and thought it was hilarious that she hadn’t been able to find them and had had to call their parents again.
This may have been the last time Judy babysat for this particular family. And I can’t imagine that she would have been sad about that. I would think by this time she would be thinking, “No amount of money I make for this babysitting job is worth it.”
Judy grew up to be a wonderful mother, wife and RN and was eventually able to see the humor in her two Jake and Maggie stories.
Jake grew up to graduate from a military academy and have a very successful career in the military which culminated in being an instructor at his alma mater.
Maggie grew up to be a loving mother of three boys (I wonder if her boys ever gave her as much grief as she and her brother gave Judy.) and a well-respected high school teacher.
So, all’s well that ends well, I guess. But I never babysat very much and every time I’ve heard these stories, it’s made me very glad that I didn’t.