The Babysitter

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.

17 Responses to The Babysitter

  1. Suldog says:

    Reading this made my stomach sink, much as watching some episode of “Leave It To Beaver”, when you know Beaver’s getting himself into trouble, and you want to shout at the TV, “Don’t do it, Beav!”, but he does it anyway. 🙂

  2. Sandra says:

    So, true Suldog. I do have to tell you that I just finished revising it, so it may read a little different than when you read it. But the results are the same — two disasters that could have made it difficult for this family to get ANYONE to babysit for their kids, if Judy had spread the word. 🙂

  3. Linda says:

    Funny stories, both of them. Judy must have done something right, though, considering that the couple asked her to babysit again. And, just maybe, she continued babysitting for them, even after the second trauma. She may have just whipped those two rapscallions into shape and turned them into pleasures to babysit. Yes, I like that ending better. 🙂

    I loved Suldog’s take on this.

  4. Mary Bowlin says:

    I only baby sat one time when I was younger. The baby cried the whole time the parents were gone. I checked everything and couldn’t figure it out. Come to find out the baby had an ear infection. Nevertheless, I NEVER baby sat again…. 🙂

  5. Sandra says:

    Linda — I like your take on it too — probably not realistic, but nice! 🙂

    Mary — I babysat a few times more than you, but I wasn’t very comfortable with it either. Amazing that we became moms then, isn’t it. 🙂

  6. C. Beth says:

    Wow…you’d think that would make me feel better about the time a baby I was sitting for rolled off the changing table, but it doesn’t. 🙂 (The parents told me it had happened to them too–so that did help….)

  7. Sandra says:

    Wow, Beth. That’s every babysitter’s nightmare, isn’t it. I’m glad you and the baby both came through it all right. That just confirms what a serious responsibility babysitting is. I guess it would have made me feel better to have the parents say they had have it happen to them too.

  8. Hilary says:

    Do we know if the dog ever returned home? Those are quite the babysitting nightmares. I’m glad I never encountered anything like that when I used to babysit.. or when I had babysitters for my kids.

  9. Sandra says:

    I’m not sure, Hilary. But Judy never mentioned the dog again, so I assume the parents may have had Yappy run away before and knew where or how to find him.

  10. carlahoag says:

    I started babysitting at age 11 (which seems awfully young to me now) but it was always nearby our house or a friend’s house where I could’ve gone if there’d been real trouble.

    1. I’ll just bet that Jake and Maggie’s parents knew what Judy was in for and were glad they could hire anyone at all if word had gotten out about their 2 “high-energy” children.

    2. Even though Judy got locked out of the house, it shows real responsibility that she called the parents when she got into trouble being locked out of the house. That must’ve been a really hard thing to do, because she didn’t try to hide her mistake. It shows clear thinking and a desire to do the right thing, even if she was going to get into trouble because of it.

    3. It shows that she was brave, because after that awful experience, she was willing to try it again with those two.

    The worst children I ever babysat for were the sons of an attorney and his really beautiful society wife. Actually just one of the boys was bad; it only seemed like it was more than one bad one. I was paid .50 an hour (no snacks) and he would pay it out exactly, for instance $1.35. And one time his dog bit me. Hard. Being a lawyer, he insisted that I get a tetanus shot.

    4. It sounds like Judy, Jake and Maggie all grew up to be fine people. Could the spanking that Jake and Maggie got (my conjecture) when their parents got home have anything to do with how well they turned out? That bit of spunk makes good soldiers and high school teachers.

    5. I do not miss babysitting.

  11. Sandra says:

    What a super comment, Carla. Your comments and my post would have combined to make for a great conversation if we were just chatting over a cup of coffee. 🙂

  12. Katharine says:

    These stories remind me of my own feeble attempts at watching other folks’ kids. What’s worse, they remind me of all my imagined worst-case scenarios when I considered hiring someone to watch my sons. Yikes! It’s a testimony to God’s grace (and human resilience) that everyone survived.

    If I have a nightmare tonight, I know what the subject will be!

  13. Sandra says:

    Sorry, Katharine. If I’d known this was a sensitive subject for you, I would have put a disclaimer at the beginning of the post, so that you would have known not to read it! 🙂

  14. Carla says:

    Thanks, Sandra. I like to think that my favorite blog authors and I are having a conversation. Even when I don’t post a comment, most of the time I’m still thinking about what they wrote and what it reminds me of, etc. Like the one I read the other day which said it was okay to end a sentence with a preposition, because it makes for really convoluted sentences; well…kind of.

    And of course, you are at the top of the list of my favorite blogs to read.

  15. Sandra says:

    Carla — Thanks so much, friend. You’re a list topper for me too! 🙂

  16. Sandra says:

    p.s. Carla — I’ve also recently heard about it being okay to end a sentence with a preposition. And I’m delighted because I do it anyway. ;p

  17. […] Adventures in Babysitting The post I did last week about The Babysitter brought to mind some other babysitting stories I thought I would […]

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