CHAPTER 8: WHERE IS YOUR CHILD?

Who Should You Trust?

Many of us use babysitters from time to time, and some use them more than others. Some people claim they will never use the local teenager to babysit because he or she is inexperienced and has “other” things on their mind.

So what about adults, are they always experienced, and do they always just have “your” child’s best interest in mind? These are tough questions and there are no easy answers.

Over the Christmas holidays friends and family visited for dinner. During the course of dinner I observed one of my friends, a great-grandmother, paying very, very close attention to my youngest daughter’s every move as she was placed into her high chair.

I was grateful but surprised, as I had never seen her act that way. I assured her that my daughter was going to be fine and that she was now accustomed to eating in her high chair. She was adamant though about watching her. She went on to tell her story.

“The reason I am observing your daughter so closely,” she said, “is because my son fell at a very young age and never recovered.” I was shocked. I had known her son all of those years and did not know it was a fall injury that had caused his permanent disability. I assumed it was a congenital disability. He had trouble walking, his coordination was not always the best, and his speech was slurred.

When her son was just a baby she often left him with a female neighbor who appeared reliable and honest. The woman, who was in her forties, had offered to babysit. Happy not to have to hire a teenage sitter, she accepted the offer of help.

“One day I came home and he was not the same,” she said. “I remember the day like it was yesterday. He was not eating, and he was not smiling. He was always a smiling, happy baby. I could not figure it out. I asked the babysitter if anything had happened and she said everything was fine. I never believed her and I stopped leaving my son with her.

“Two months went by and he got worse, he was not responding to my face, my voice or even eating. I took him to the doctor and after many tests; the doctor said he had some swelling and bleeding around his brain. He asked me if I had dropped the baby or anything like that and I told him no. His condition worsened and I had to eventually place him in a home at the age of five because I could not provide him with the proper care. He has been there ever since,” she said.

“Twenty years later the babysitter, while sick in her home, asked to see me. At her bedside she finally told me the truth about my son. She was walking my son without having strapped him into the carriage and he climbed up and fell out onto the concrete directly on his head! He cried for a while but then he stopped and I thought he was ok,’” she told me. Then she apologized.