Thanks, Mom

January 26, 2012
When people think of babysitters, they associate them with tiny infants and four-year-old princess-obsessed toddlers who behave perfectly without fail. What they don’t think of is those occasional jobs that leave the babysitter frantically running around on Bosseymer Road, the children galloping through the house like a herd of wild antelope, screaming like the devil himself is at their heels. The latter statement describes a story that I’m sure I will never forget.
It was early Saturday morning, the day of a mini-marathon. My neighbors were planning on running in the race, and they needed a babysitter for their three “wonderful” children. So, I sluggishly rolled out of bed at five A.M, grabbed a banana, and headed to their home, where I was greeted warmly by two very energetic parents, as they rushed out the door to their race.

The first part of the babysitting job went as well as could have been expected. The kids played with their toys, enthusiastically flipped through their Harry Potter sticker books enough times to make one’s head spin, and pretty much behaved like normal kids. The trouble began when I sat down to read the two youngest children a book. As I enthusiastically dove into the story of Peter Pan, Derek, who at nine, was the oldest, sauntered into the room and stared into my eyes with a pinched-up, angry face and hissed the three words “I Hate you.” He stood there and waited for a reaction from his three audience members, but I just smiled and said “Well, I’m sorry you don’t like me Derek.” He furrowed his eyebrows and sad down on the floor, too angry to speak. I continued on with the story, the two younger children, Amy and Chandler, fascinated by the book. I wasn’t worried about the two of them, but I kept a vigilant eye on Derek, who seemed so angry by now that I could almost see the steam erupting from his ears.

It happened without warning. Derek stared at the Peter Pan cover for a split second, and then jumped up and snatched it out of my hands, yelling, “That’s MY book! How DARE you steal it from me, you STUPID babysitter!” I pulled myself together quickly. Part of me wanted to pick him up by his straggling, blonde hair and shake the life out of him. I smiled grimly at him. “Derek,” I said coldly. “I picked this book up in the kitchen. I had no idea it was yours.” He made a face at me and started to march away, but Chandler leapt up and stopped him. “NO!” he cried. “She was reading that book to us!” He made a lunge for Peter Pan, and unfortunately ripped the cover. What happened next came as a complete shock to me. Derek pinned Chandler to the living room rug and started lashing at him with his grimy fist. “DEREK!” I yelled. “Stop that this instant!” But the sumo wrestler only continued his wild attack on his little brother. Chandler was screaming, and I could see a nasty purple bruise forming on his chin where his brother had struck him. I acted quickly, pulling Derek up off of Chandler. I gritted my teeth as he bit into my arm and hurled him into his bedroom and locked the door. “You. Stay. In. There. Until. Your. Parents. Come. Home,” I gasped, my heart pounding. I’d seen some wacky babysitting stunts in my time, but this beat everything. Derek began to scream bloody murder. I collapsed on the couch, Chandler and Amy sympathetically staring at me.
After catching my breath, I managed a thin smile and Chandler came over and sat next to me. “Does he always do this?” Amy grimly shook her head no. “He’s never done this for any babysitter before.“ Just then, we all realized that Derek’s screaming had ceased. I tiptoed to his bedroom door and gently put my ear to it. “Derek?” I whispered quietly. Amy came up behind me, a look of terror on her face. “Paul went out the window again,” She whimpered. “He… what?” I managed. Suddenly, I saw my whole life flash before my eyes. My heart started beating like a wild horse on the loose. I could feel it knocking recklessly my chest. My knees went weak, and my eyes started to swim with tears of frustration. Grabbing a knife from the kitchen, I pried open Derek’s locked door and thrust it open. Sure enough, the window was open, it’s curtains blowing freely in the fresh morning breeze.
“Stay here!” I ordered his siblings, who were probably just about as terrorized as I was. I snatched my phone up and sprinted out the front door and halted in the middle of the street, looking both ways. At the entrance to Bosseymer Road, I could barely make out the silhouette of a nine-year-old boy. Derek. I ran as fast as I could toward the fading figure of a boy whom I was sure I would never babysit for again. “Derek!” I yelled. “Get back here NOW!” The kid saw me coming and took off like a rocket towards the Gardiner Lane Shopping Center. I had lost him. I buried my head in my hands for a brief second; my mind was screaming in anger. Then I ran to the bus stop and stopped in front of a sketchy looking guy who probably had spent more time behind bars than he had in the real world. “Um..” I stammered, “Have you seen a little boy about nine years old run past here?” The man nodded and pointed down the street which I had just sprinted up. “Went in that house down yonder,” He drawled.
I turned and ran faster than I had ever run back to Derek’s house. As I stepped in the door, Chandler ran up to me. “Derek’s back,” He whispered. “In his room.” “Oh no.” I said firmly, “Derek is not permitted in his room.” I went into the little monster’s sleeping quarters and firmly grabbed him by the arm. “You are to remain in my sight until your parents come home,” I said curtly. “I hate you SO much,” he said resentfully. I didn’t respond. I sat him down on the living room couch and tidied up the room as best I could. It still looked like a warzone thanks to Derek’s little “fight” with Chandler.
I had no idea what I was going to tell the parents. I realized that when Derek had run away I didn’t even call them. I was certain that my first job for them was sure to be my last. They’d fire me the minute they got home. The opening of the back door and a cheerful “We’re Back!” soon interrupted my train of thought. Oh no. Mother and Father were home. A very cheerful mom came into the room with a smile which quickly disappeared as soon as she was confronted with Derek’s death stare and my frazzled, desperate appearance. “What happened?” she asked, concerned. “We had a very serious… ah…. disagreement while you were gone, ma’am,” I said carefully. I poured out the story from the start, about how Derek had attacked Chandler and run away, and how I had spent fifteen minutes which seemed like fifteen hours searching for him. The look of embarrassment on his mother’s face was enough to make me wish I hadn’t told the story so harshly.
“I am SO sorry,” she apologized profusely. “Derek gave you unacceptable behavior, and he will surely be punished.” Reaching into her purse, she pulled out a fifty dollar bill and handed it to me with a wan smile. “Ma’am….” I started, knowing that this amount was too much. “Take it, please.” She said. “It’s the least I can do after what you’ve been through.” I nodded, and quickly exited the room.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons in my life, but one of the most important ones I’ve ever discovered is that a mother can’t just be any random woman. She has to be strong, and above all, firm. I’d just played mommy for five long, miserable hours, and I came out dead. Learning this lesson made me come to a realization that made me regret all the temper tantrums I threw when I didn’t get my way: My poor blessed mother worked a lot harder than I thought!

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