My heart pounded in my chest and I could remember my body getting hot with fear.
Go away, go away, go away!
I slowly slid the covers down so that my little eyes could peek out.
A ghostly figure stood in my doorway. One arm stretched out leaning against the wall and the other hand remained in his pocket. He stood still, staring at me.
What does he want?
Where’s my mommy and daddy?
Twenty-nine years later and I can still remember this like it was yesterday.
My parents went out to a meeting that evening and had our neighbor, a sixteen year old girl, babysit us. She had watched us on occasion before and my parents were friends with her family.
They felt safe leaving us with her.
Shortly after my parents left, we heard a knock on the door.
Our babysitter answered the door and in walked a group of strangers. From what I remember there was at least ten teenage boys and girls carrying boxes, which now I know was filled with alcohol.
I can still remember the feeling of panic. Who are these people? What are they doing in my house?
As a child, I had never felt so scared and vulnerable than at that very moment.
My little brother clung to me and I knew that I needed to protect him and tell him that it was going to be ok.
They turned on the music and danced around as my brother and I sat in the corner watching.
Two men sat down next to us and opened my parent’s wood burning stove. “Watch this kids…you want to see the fire ROAR?”
Being only four at the time, I remember saying, “Please don’t do that…the house will catch on fire!”
The men smirked and giggled as they kept taunting the fire, making it crack and spark right in front of us.
Later that evening, we were put to bed and I could still hear my brother crying for me. He was scared and alone and all I wanted to do was be with him…but I wasn’t allowed.
As I peeked out, watching the man in my doorway, I wanted to disappear at that very moment.
Luckily, the man walked away and now I understand why he was standing there.
My mother left her purse on the hallway door, a few doors down from my room. Easy and convenient for strangers to rummage through to find her wallet.
The man in my doorway was making sure I didn’t see what they were doing. They stole money, and thankfully my brother and I were not touched or harmed.
It was teenagers just being teenagers.
I wonder if they could ever imagine that I would still remember pieces from that night.
That it has stuck with me all of these years and the main reason why I haven’t let anyone watch my children other than family or very close friends.
After that evening, my parents never trusted anyone again except for family. Now as a parent, I struggle with this very issue.
I am curious, what are some of your experiences with letting ‘non-family members’ watch your children? How do you make sure you are hiring the right babysitter?