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Don't Babysit the Beast
They were the first to own the house after Mr. and Mrs. Henson passed away. When I saw the moving vans in the driveway, I was curious. I was wishing for a girl my age or a good-looking boy; both of which we seemed to be undergoing shortages of in my neighborhood. However hard I wished, fate had different plans. This little family, the Roger’s, had four small children, two boys, two girls, and all of them under the age of nine: Ally, Tate, Beck, and Lucy Roger. Trying to look on the bright side of things I told myself this was a perfect chance to babysit and make some easy money. I was mistaken.
Haley, who lived across the street from the Henson’s-now-the-Roger’s-house, babysat the children about a month after. Her report was not inspiring. From the sound of things, those Roger kids were a baby sitter's nightmare, so I decided to give it up as a bad job. Soon there was not just one discouraging voice: others in the neighborhood came forward to exchange similar horror stories. Many of these involved particularly stressful confrontations with Beck, giving him the nickname “The Beast” and I began to fear the day the phone would ring to ask me over. A black cloud hung over my Friday afternoons as I dreaded the call.
I successfully flew under Mrs. Roger’s radar for a month or two. Eventually, she must have realized that I was one of the few who hadn’t babysat her children yet. The phone’s ring had a tone of cruelty as I read ‘Roger’ on the caller ID. Inwardly, I was groaning--but I answered with a sweet, “Hello?”
“Hi Aubrey! This is Mrs. Roger! I was wondering if you’re available tomorrow night to babysit? I haven’t been able to find anyone all day and we haven’t been to dinner in ages.”
I felt my heart rise upward to my throat and my stomach fall into my shoes as I replied in the best faux calm I could muster, “Oh. Oh, yeah! Uhhm.. When do you want me to come over?”
“Could you come around six? Our reservation is at seven.”
To my surprise a, “Sure,” popped out of my mouth! A nervous feeling filled my chest.
I spent the remainder of those twenty-four hours lamenting that my mother taught me my manners. Why did I said yes? I would have declined and told her all about some nonexistent appointment or party, but my conscience wouldn’t have allowed me to live with myself.
When it was almost six I walked around the corner to their house. It was a beautiful day, and felt like Mother Nature was mocking me. When I arrived, I looked at the door, took a deep breath, and knocked. The door echoed loudly. Once she ushered me inside, Mrs. Roger gave me a hurried run-through the rules: “No TV until after dinner, the dishes are done, and they’ve earned it by being nice. They can play outside while you make dinner, but don’t leave Lucy near Beck, or the dog for that matter. Well, we’d better get going! Thanks so much sweetie.” BANG.
The door slammed after her fleeing figure. Their haste to get out the door was ominous. I introduced myself to the kids and in turn received a enthusiastic responses of ages and names from the four round faces staring back at me. Ally, Tate, and Beck played outside while I made dinner: noodle soup. I played with Lucy as I prepared it, humming to myself. This is a piece of cake! I thought to myself, then hastily knocked on wood. I didn’t need a jinx today.
I called them inside and we ate without much ceremony. They were cute as they bounced around, telling me about school. We did dishes, and I went outside with Beck and Lucy, Ally and Tate opting to play inside. Beck, Lucy, and I took off our shoes before we jumped on their trampoline.
We were having fun when Beck suddenly jumped off the tramp and grabbed my tennis shoes, the brand new ones. I called out, confused, “Hey!” But it was too late, he had called his little beagle dog over, and promptly fed one him. I chased that dog all around their large backyard. The ground was soggy with patches of snow that had yet to melt in the early spring. Once I finally got my shoes back, I fully regretted claiming things were easy--I figured maybe I hadn’t knocked on wood soon enough. I’ll admit I raised my voice a little at Beck before asking him to go inside. Lucy and I followed him in; I made sure the dumb dog stayed out.
As we played with toys a bit later, when Beck walked over with a plastic toy truck in hand, whacked Lucy on the head, and said, grinning, “I hate babies!” Lucy wailed, he kept hitting her and screaming at me, and I got even more flustered as I tried to protect Lucy’s head and think of what to do. I tried to calm myself and thought of how I’d unfairly punished him earlier and overreacted such a typically boyish act. I tried to hold my steam in and informed him, as calmly as I could that, “he would not be joining the rest of us in watching the movie if he didn’t improve his behavior.” I have never seen a person change so completely, so quickly, causing his steaming head, and mine, to cool off. He was an absolute angel for the rest of the night and we watched the movie without incident. They went to bed as soon as I asked.
When the Rogers returned, they were surprised to find their kids fast asleep in their beds, and I have an impression that they gave me a bonus with my pay which was a larger amount than previous jobs. Since then, I’ve been back to babysit the Roger’s and we are polite to one another. It also probably helps that I know how to persuade “the Beast” to do things he should, but then, Beck isn’t really “the Beast” to me anymore--we’re more like friends.