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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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« There’s too many cars round here | Main | Whining finally gets the respect it deserves. »
Wednesday
Jun212006

And here I thought the suburbs were boring.

So! Henry’s babysitter hit him yesterday.

She. Hit. Henry. My son. Hit him! With her hand!

Before we place our hands on top of our heads and run around shrieking—and in doing so also perform an uncanny impersonation of my behavior yesterday—let me get this out, now that I’m calm enough to sit. While I’m telling you, try not to divine her identity using the power of your mind and then teleport yourself to her home and berate her for her wildly inappropriate behavior! Because I know that’s what you were planning!

Yesterday Henry arrived home with Trixie (my new name for her. Because she’s tricksy!) and announced. “Trixie hit me. She pushed me down and I scraped my knee.”

My heart stopped and I died. The end.

Then I came back to life and said, “Flalalalahhh?”

Trixie came in behind him, beaming. “We had an incident!” she declared, a huge smile on her face. “But we’re okay now!”

Here is her version of the events that occurred. She was talking to another babysitter when Henry demanded that they leave the park forthwith. She told him no, and continued talking to her friend. She was kneeling down next to Henry, and suddenly, BLAMMO! He walloped her in the cheek with his small (yet admittedly solid) Buzz Lightyear flashlight. And without thinking (“it was like a natural instinct,” she said many more times than I could stand without throttling her. It was my natural instinct!) she hit him right back.

“I couldn’t believe how hard he hit me,” she said. “I can already see the swelling. Look at that swelling!”

I could not see any swelling. I stared at her.

“I have only,” she said proudly, “hit another child like that in 30 years of watching children.”

Well! Only one other time! Bravo, madam!

Friends, she hit him such that he fell on his knee and scraped it. Now, will you please explain to me how, if he was facing her, and she struck back just as Buzz clattered to the ground, his knee was scraped? Shouldn’t he have fallen on his butt?

(And also? Last week he was running toward me, went flying, landed on both knees, and scraped them. And those scrapes were not as bad as this one.)

And if you’re struck in the face, would your first reaction be to hit the person who struck you? Wouldn’t it be to put your hands on your face? I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but for me, if something hits you that hard (“Look at that swelling!” Trixie is yelling from the sidelines) my first impulse would be to protect yourself. My second, when the pain kicks in, would be to respond in kind. Say, after the person has turned away.

I think he hit her and turned away. I think she was in pain, and had a big ol’ burst of rage, and she pushed him. This is what I think. I think she covered her ass as much as she could, given my son’s tendency to blab. Not that it matters, because either way, she’s not watching my son ever again.  But this is how I like to torture myself.

(Dear people who might get uppity about my kid hitting someone else and why do I condone that: I absolutely do not. Never,  ever, ever.  But do you get that it’s different when an adult hits a kid? Are we clear?)

When she was telling me about the incident, she kept saying, “I don’t blame you if you fire me right now! Don't blame you at all!” and yet I couldn’t bring myself to do it. All I wanted was for her to be out of my house. Around fifteen minutes after she left I called her, and told her not to come back. “I absolutely agree,” she said. “I mean, I could get hit like that again!” She said this several times. “My husband says I should go to the doctor. He could have taken out my eye!” Then she wanted to know when she getting paid.

(Don’t get me started on the payment thing. Wait, too late! She would only agree to be paid in cash, and she kept insisting she was going to come to my home and get her money, and then after I told her I would let her know when and how she would get her money and hung up she called me every five minutes, screaming that I hung up on her and she is not a bad person and she only ever hit one other child ever! Apparently this “only one other kid” thing is an impressive track record! Finally my husband met her at a designated location and gave her her three days’ back pay. She was wearing a bandage on her face.)

The part that is causing me both guilt and also some degree of satisfaction is: I knew there was something off about her. She came highly recommended; she had an impressive background; she was full of ideas and enthusiasm and all that crap that we look for in a sitter. And yet, there was something about her that gave me the creeps. Usually this feeling took over when she wasn’t around, and I would think, I should tell her never to come back. I’ll call her right now. Wait, where’s her number? And then the next morning would roll around, and there she’d be, all smiles and chatter, and Henry would be excited, and I would think,  Crazy Alice! She’s like Mary Poppins, only without the funny hat! And then they’d be off and I’d immediately begin my fretting and worrying and suspicion-having.

Just the day before, I had addressed another issue with her: Henry had, over the weekend, been telling me all about various commercials they had watched at Trixie’s house. When, hmm, I hadn’t known anything about them going to her house, not to mention watching television at her house. They clearly did this with some frequency—I mean, he recited the various uses of the Bedazzler to me, and then asked when we could get one. But then I asked her about it, and she had such a detailed story about this one time when they had to go there for an emergency and she forgot to call me, and on and on, and I left that conversation all confused and, well, bedazzled! Like she had covered me in shiny paillettes and made a throw pillow out of me!

There were other things, but anyway, it’s all over now. I was worried that Henry would miss her. I told him I was going to ask her never to come back. I wanted him to know that this was my decision. I didn’t want him to feel like he made her go away; I was sure he would have conflicting feelings about it. And he looked right at me and said, “Call her and tell her that now. Right now. And give me the phone when you’re done.”

UPDATE!: I just received word that Trixie called another parent, someone whose child she occasionally watches, and left a strange message. She said she had gone to the ER and had a serious injury. She added that Henry hit her because "Henry is allowed to hit," and therefore she had no choice but to retaliate. No choice! I'm not sure what she's up to, but it's not nothing, I'll tell you what.

ANOTHER UPDATE!: My attorney hath spoke: there's nothing she can do. I mean, she can try to sue, but nothing will come of it. So I will file this away under "Lessons Learned," and next time I'll be listening to my gut. Right now it's telling me I require a bucket of cookies. And I must obey.

Reader Comments (179)

Oh. Wow. I'm so sorry you guys had to go through that. What a shitty thing. I'm glad Henry's okay, and that he knows it was wrong for her to do that.

Can I have a turn with the phone too, please?
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkelly
Holy shit. That is unreal. I am SO glad that Henry told you immediately, and I am so glad that he is OK and she is gone.... but like others have said, it seems like she might be up to something. So I would document the whole story and Henry's version of the events before his mind becomes clogged with Bedazzler commercials and Star Wars resin. And you may want to talk to a lawyer or law enforcement friend to see if there is anything else you should do to protect yourself.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterImperfect Mommy
How horrid and awful for you. But you told it in such an amusing way that I was laughing while I had tears in my eyes.

You think working at home is great becausze you can keep an eye on things, but then this shit happens the second you think it's OK.

I hope you find a better, non-combative sitter Henry likes just as well.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSprengBlingBling
Good Lord! My daughter is the same age as Henry and I can't imagine. Flabbergasted would be the word. If nothing else, you should contact the agency you got her name from so the next person has this information.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterliz
My husband and I talked about incidents like this before we got our son into any kind of daycare/babysitter situation, and one of our starting points was: will there be other people (adults) around to build some accountability into the care situation? Some churches or community centers offer a "parents day out" or a co-op type of care where there are always numerous adults around. It sounds like you are looking for part-time as opposed to 5 days/week of care, so it might be worth checking into. Good luck; sorry you had to go through this.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie
Whoa. That's jsut scary as heck. I never even had a babysitter when I was little (3 older siblings and a grandma at home) so the whole babysitter/nanny/daycare thing makes me CRAZY all the time. I have a 3 year old and a baby on hte way, and I'm jsut trying to figure out if I should quit, or get a nanny or what.... I don't think I can do it. I don't think I can trust anyone to watch my kids. Ugh. My son was in daycare for 2.5 years, and I hated it all the time. And I made sure it was a place where he'd never be one-on-one with anyone. It's just too scary. :(

I'm so sorry it happened to you and him. I'm sure it'll keep you up at night for a long time. Ugh! People suck!!!!
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersilvermine
I have nothing new to add, except my voice to the chorus: That dumb Trixie should know two things: 1) That it's never okay to hit a child and; 2) If, for some reason, you DO think it's okay to hit a child DON'T hit a child whose mother's blog is read by crazy, possibly violent e-aunts.

Poor you. Poor Henry.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkim
you are well shot of her! your gut was right - she seems to be one nasty piece of work. Stop torturing yourself, she's gone and never to return. I also am a firm believer of what goes around comes around, so don't worry, it will catch up with her one day.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersamantha
Basically de-lurking to say that the woman scares me. She does sound like she is up to something. I am sorry for the stress this is adding on top of everything else you are dealing with.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNancy
This is horrible and I'm so sorry you both had to go through it. Thankfully, Henry has escaped with a scraped knee and nothing worse. The whole 'taking him to her house' crreps me out as well. I also echo the sentiments of the other commenters. Find out if you can protect yourself legally from this woman. She sounds like a loose canon.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie
I'm seconding (or thirding?) the opinion to document everything. Write the story out, take photos of Henry's injuries (make sure they have a time stamp on them), the place he/she said the "incident" occurred, the phone conversation, how you paid her, everything she said, the phone message to the other mom, any future calls/messages she leaves you, etc.

You can definitely not be too careful. My guess is that a) she's not so subtly trying to scare you into thinking she'll file suit against you if you report her for assault or b) she's just planning on suing you for actions Henry took. Either way, you should see an attorney. A lot of them will give short, free consultations, so that at least you know what you may be up against.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertortoiseshelly
Wow. And now you know pretty much for sure that you can trust your instincts about people. So glad you and Henry are out of that situation now -- and I hope whatever she's up to is just silly and not what tortoiseshelly thinks she's up to.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandrialeigh
Hey Alice, I babysit. Seriously. I'm a grad student and am looking for part time work for the summer and through the coming academic year. This is weird, I guess, but I'm a nice, normal, married grad student and I've never hit a child. Feel free to drop me a line at my email address.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnne in New Jersey
oh my god. i commend you for your self control for not just going off on her as soon as she told you. i may even consider calling the authorities and filing a report because who knows if this is really the first time she has done this and may not be the last- no matter what she says.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkimblahg
Alice, I'd think about filing a police report.just a CYA, cause this bitch is nuts.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous
You might think about going to the park where she was with Henry once or twice this week and seeing if casual conversation stirs up any witnesses. Slap some big bandages on Henry's knees and you may luck into some concerned people who would be happy to back you up in case of any future action by good old Trixie.

Sounds to me like she's all het up herself and frantically trying to mitigate her own blame. I bet in 24 hours you either get an apology or a frantic stalkerish phone call insisiting that it wasn't her faaaaaauuuuuullllltttt. Either way, remind her that 3 year olds aren't liable for assault under the law but grown-ups are, so she needs to leave your family alone.

(Also, I had a great experience with part-time daycare for my kids. It was there when I needed it, it wasn't dependent on one caregiver getting sick or being psycho, and I always knew where they were.)
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterVelma
Eeek! oh my god that's so awful. As much as I like the idea of having a nanny-type child minder for littlies, this sort of thing gives me the shits, honestly. I really feel for you guys. And I agree with Kate - thank heavens Henry is old enough to tell you what's going on. Sometimes my own 'talkative' children drive me batty (i.e. most days, when they won't shut up for an instant) but then there are times, like what you've just been through, when it can be such a blessing!
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMiriam
Document everything. Then you may want to report her to Child Welfare, they may be able to help you figure out how to get her Child Care License revoked.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkb
I don't know that I'd file a police report - but does Henry know who the other babysitter was that she was talking to? And can you contact her and get her version before Trixie gets to her?
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
it is truly so hard to find good help. those crazy jersey chicks! doesn't camp start soon?
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterann
Wow. I'm speechless. And sorry for you and henry.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjess
I must admit I have been wacked in the face and also kicked in the groin by a ... well let's call him spirited, young fellow and I can honestly say that the instinct to hit back never flaired. And the little bastard gave me a black eye. I got a shock when he hit me in the face and immediatly held his arms really tight so he couldn't do it again and yelled a little bit louder than I should have (um, I yelled really loud and scared the shit out of him). He caught me off guard and quite scared me and THAT was what immediatly flaired in me. But then I felt really bad about it and dobbed myself in to his Mum asap. She was totally understadning. But you are right. If I had of hit him without a doubt that woman would have been p.i.s.s.e.d. Yeah that kid was wrong in hitting me, absolutely (he was 6) but .. um .. DUH he's a kid! Weeee let's punish them for doing something we don't like by doing it right back. She's sounds mucho creepy. Good for Henry for speaking up for himself. And bah to her for bad mouthing you. Intelligent parents will not be fooled. Just cos your kids strikes out doesn't mean you condone it. God, he's only what? 4?
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterClaire
well, you know, she's only hit a kid like that ONE other time. So, I guess, that should totally change how you feel about YOUR child being hit. Obviously.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMolly
What a bitch!!! I am so sorry for you and Henry. I agree with the previous poster who said she's not done with you. Calling the other parent talking about the hospital etc. I would document everything, get a statement from the other sitter and call the police. Doesn't matter that Henry hit her first- she's a grown up and he's a little kid. Unbelievable. She has no business taking care of children. Is this the woman you followed to the park to spy on recently?

I'd say you have pretty great intution!

Check out "Protecting the Gift" one of the best books I've read as a parent. The author makes the statement that we are the only animal that says "Well it looks like a nice lion" instead of "Lion! RUN!". He says intution is one of the best tools we have to keep our kids safe.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJ
Oh, freaking, dear. I do hope she doesn't try to pull anything nasty so that she can make this about you or Henry. I would have to Bedazzle her lips together!
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie

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