Journal entry: July 9, 1980 (age 11) – Babysitter
Up until this summer, my 12-year-old brother, Dan, and I have had pretty good luck with our parents’ choice of babysitters. When we were very young, a grandmotherly woman named Daisy Cochrane watched over several of my older brothers and me. She was the sweetest little old lady you can imagine, and I especially loved that she would make us grilled cheese sandwiches and cut them into funny shapes. A few years ago, my brother John was dating a girl named Kris Kenville, and she and her sister Karen took turns babysitting Dan and me. They were both really nice and really pretty. We liked them A LOT.
In January, my mother returned to the workforce after a 15-year absence. She had been an editor at IBM, and passed on a promotion to a managerial position in order to marry my father. For her, raising six sons made for an eventful 15 years of “not working.” Her new job is as a legal secretary. Once Dan and I finished school for the summer, our folks needed a full-time babysitter, despite assurances from Dan and me that “we don’t really need one.”
So a few weeks ago, we were introduced to another girl named Chris. Like the first Kris, she was cute. Unlike her, she wasn’t nice. She was overly nice until she was left alone with us. Then she mostly ignored us. This Chris was about 19 years old, and spent most of her time talking to her boyfriend on the phone. When she did speak to us, she was mean. Pretty quickly, Dan and I had it in for her, and we began to wage a campaign for her removal. One day last week, we hid from her. About an hour before Mom came home, we disappeared. I hid behind the laundry chute in the basement, and listened as she stomped around the house yelling our names. When Mom came home, we both reappeared and said, truthfully, that we had been here the whole time. Chris became meaner after that.
After an incident yesterday, our dismiss-Chris wish came true. Mom confronted her this afternoon. “The boys tell me that you went to Recreation Park yesterday.” With her for-the-parents smile still painted on, Chris replied, “Yes, my boyfriend had a tennis match.” Mom’s eyes narrowed. “But you were gone for hours when you were supposed to be watching the boys.” Still smiling obliviously, Chris said, “Well, I asked them if they wanted to go.”
Mom’s face flushed red, her eyes blazing for a moment. Then she put on her own sickly sweet smile. “Well, you can watch your boyfriend play tennis every day now, if you want, because you won’t be working here.”
Watching from the kitchen door, Dan and I silently high-fived each other as I whispered, “Ding, dong, the witch is dead!” Our joy at the demise of the devil we knew lasted exactly one hour. As Mom discussed alternate arrangements with Dad after dinner, I overheard her say, “I may ask for a few months off from work, but I also know a couple of nuns who might be willing to babysit.”