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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

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

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. → 

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

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)

This post makes me sick to my stomach. I'm so glad you caught it in time before anything more hideous happened. You are right, Henry should have never hit her, but children have a hard time controlling their urges and it's the job of a caregiver to gently help them learn that skill. A skill that Trixie should have mastered by now. There is no excuse.

I'm trying to be more articulate... I'm just so horrified I'm speechless.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCartwheelsAtMidnight
Wow! I am so sorry that happened.

Henry is very insightful, I would like a turn on the phone after he's through with her.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBusy Mom
Wow. just wow. Well, first off, I'm shocked that I'm apparently the first commenter? Usually there's about a gazillion by the time I get here. And secondly, well, I haven't come up with much coherant thought on the sitter hitting Henry. Unbelieveable.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
Wow. And BRAVO for you. Amazing.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLulu
Oh you poor thing. And yes, poor Henry, but he seems like a resilient guy. This just sucks so badly because this is the nightmare we all worry about. You trust someone with your kid and you get betrayed and you feel like you've betrayed him. But he's tough. Damn, I feel so bad for you.

Make sure you praise that boy to high heaven for being so blabby. I would also know it's wrong, but would be so tempted to give him a cookie for clocking the bitch.

I'm thinking of flying to New Jersey and throttling any woman I see who is wearing a bandage.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLizRM
I am agast! I am sick! I am SO THANKFUL you handled it how you did. I am worried for you and her "injury" - document everything NOW before it gets fuzzy - just in case!I am so sorry this happened & know from reading that you were already worried about the whole sitter thing.You did the right thing. I am just feeling like I have been knocked down too.Henry shouldn't have hit her that is true - but he IS a child- Hellooooo! SHE is an ADULT! One would assume she would know better - Dr.Phil would rake her over the coals: "What the hell were you thinkin' Trixie!?!?"YOU showed Henry your protective Mamma bear and I doubt if he will miss her. Good riddance! ((hugs)) to you and Henry.I didn't like the news of her taking him to her house either....your instincts were so on girl! Embrace that! Mother is and was right!! What a posting this was! I need candy now...lots and lots of candy.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTeresaLynn
Ugh. This gives us nice people who watch kids a bad name! I wish you could call everyone she would work for in the future, but that is much more than you should have to do with her, ever again.

I think you are amazing for not turning and pushing HER down on the ground. And then stamping on her head a little.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEm
My first instinct if my own kid hit me, "You're grounded." My first instinct if someone else's kid hit me - thinking "you little son of a bitch" but saying "That was really a bad choice, and we are going to have to talk to your mom about it."

You did the right thing. And you gave Henry something to talk about in therapy one day besides his parents. It's a win-win.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLisa V
I feel so sick to my stomach. I'm sorry that happened to Henry (and you).
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMoMo
Aren't you glad that Henry is old enough to be able to to communicate his side of the story to you? You wouldn't have known if he couldn't talk. I think you both did a great job with the situation. I would've wanted to hit her myself. I hope she doesn't get another nanny gig.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkate
Oh geez, the Sitter Nightmare. I'm so sorry it happened to you and Henry. And I really, really wish she'd show up in my ER wearing that bandage, so I could stick her full of needles--"This might sting a bit!"--like a pincushion.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBihari
woah. That story made me feel sick. I guess we should always trust our instincts which you did by excising her tout de suite. I was a nanny for years and while I can be short on patience sometimes, I wouldn't hit a child even in reaction. Those stories that Henry told you about going to her house just scream something strange. I'm sorry this happened.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermotherbumper
Awful, awful, awful. I'm so sorry for poor Henry. Thank God he is old enough to say what happened and give her no option to lie even more.

I too had someone helping me who didn't feel quite right. I got rid of her. Mothers' instinct is usually right...
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterella
Terrible! One time my toddler bit me on the soft underside of my upper arm, and was holding on pretty tight. My first instinct was to slap her head away from my arm. But I did not do it. I did not. I told her to let go through clenched teeth. It isn't okay for Henry to hit the babysitter, but I sort of wish he'd hit her harder. Maybe leaving a Buzz Lightyear imprint on her cheek.

Cheers to Henry for telling you what happened.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRhonda
Please tell me that when your husband paid her, he took the Buzz Lightyear flashlight with him and whoopped her upside the head a few more times.

I'm going to go give my boys a big hug now.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercapello
I've been lurking around and really enjoying your blog. However, this post really got to me and I just had to post a comment. Kudos to you and Henry on handling this so well. It's been my experience that intuition is an extremely powerful tool. The situation with her bringing Henry to her home just smacks of "I'm-up-to-no-good-buddy" and really got my hackles up when I read it. It deeply saddens me that we even have to worry about these things. Anyway, good luck as you move towards a new sitter...
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKiernen
She's apparently NOT from NJ. Maybe Pennsylvania?

No seriously, that's just ridiculous. Who tries to rationalize that one. Um, it's natural instinct when a HUGE ADULT hits me in the head with a flashlight, but I'm thinking with a kid, not so much.

I hope when you fired her it smarted like a good smack in the face.

Oh wait. She already got one...

June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMotherhood Uncensored
Holy fuck. What an awful woman, and what a terrible ordeal for you all. Wow. I'm speechless.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrooklyn Mama
Wow! And to add this to how you already feel about living in New Jersey. Whoever recommended her, don't ever listen to them again. Um, as a former teacher, I think you might benefit from finding and asking a teacher who she used to babysit her child or what daycare.

June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn
Yowza. The only time I feel like hitting a child is if I see them hit mine, you know? Even still, I wouldn't (well, no more than ONCE OR TWICE since that appears to be the acceptable number). Bizzare.

I have to say this because I feel like its glaring at me. I don't think she's done with you. The fact that she bandaged the cheek(!) and said "My husband says I should go to the doctor. He could have taken out my eye!” To me, I feel like she is either trying to cover her ass in case you sue her or she is thinking of suing you, make sense? I don't know if I would maybe take Henry to the doctor, make a police report, whatever to get everything documented but I might. I mean, you know just how big a nutjob she is, I don't. It just seemed like something brewing in your story. Just what you need, something else to worry about, it just kinda crossed my mind (and stopped and jumped up and down).

Anyway, I hear the state penn has a lovely work release program for when you are looking for a replacement babysitter ;-)

June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEm
Oh. Oooooh. Oh, poor Alice. I'm so sorry, sweetie. I know it's probably small comfort that this is worse for you than him, but truly, it is. Thank goodness nothing worse happened. Thank goodness you stuck to your guns. (And also? sometimes guilt is a tricky thing... maybe you had doubts before and maybe you didn't, maybe you picked up on something or maybe now you just think you had. IT DOESN'T MATTER. You did your best, and he is okay. Do not beat yourself. I SEE YOU. STOP IT.)

All Henry will remember of this is that Mommy made the crazy lady go away.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMir
I'm so glad that Henry wasn't hurt any worse than a scraped knee! You absolutely did the right thing. I bet you'll trust your gut more next time...! Wow. How unfortunate.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLiberal Banana
I mean, I hit my own kids all the time, but I would never ask someone to pay me to hit their kids! That's just silly.

Just kidding, obviously. Glad you got rid of her in time. Your Mama Radar was right.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChristy
WTF? Well, I've never hit another adult before! Look at my track record! Scratch that biotch - You're my first! That'd would've been my reaction...

Never - ever hit a kid. Ever. EVER!
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBri
I just wanted to second what Em said. I too immdiately got the feeling that she's up to something.

And good on you for raising such a good and smart little boy.
June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJane

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