Babysitter, or Warden?

Yesterday afternoon, my next door neighbor called and asked if I could babysit. I babysit for them frequently (they’re kind of my favorite family) and I was just over there Tuesday. So I said of course I could babysit, and asked her when she needed me. She replied, “In ten minutes.” I’ve gotten a lot of last minute jobs, but this was crazily short notice. Over the phone I could hear kids’ protests, and the general sounds of pandemonium. Less than ten minutes later she pulled into her driveway and got out of the car. The oldest of her two boys followed her out, trying to conceal his obvious tears. His mom unlocked the front door for us, and pointedly told me, “Someone made some bad decisions and now he can’t go to the fair with us.”. I recognized her tone. I had heard it from my mom many times. To this day I still feel ashamed and a little scared every time I hear it. This kid was in big trouble. We went inside and she rattled off a long list of the things he was no longer allowed to do/have/touch/look at for the next two weeks. Before she left, she bent down and told him, “You know I love you right?”. That’s when I really wanted to ask what he did. When I was his age and my mom did this, it was usually code for, ‘I just exploded from anger and need to know I didn’t scare you so much that you think I no longer love you’. Like the time I was voted out of my family. But that’s a story for another day.

He spent the first couple of minutes I was there loudly sobbing in his room. I got a call from his mom after she had cooled down. She stayed on the line just long enough to make sure he was okay. His dad came home an hour later. He came through the door and said, “Your mother told me what you did.”

I never found out what he did. And I’m still curious. 


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