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Hi, I’m Carina, and I did something that’s still hard for me to talk about. Have you ever tried to take the easy way out to get out of trouble? Well, in my case, I took it to the extreme and it blew up in my face!
I used to babysit for the family down the street. They had a four-month-old, Emma, and a toddler, Jase. I always felt a little nervous about babysitting, but the first couple of times went pretty well. Emma was a good baby and Jase…well, Jase was wild, but we got along okay. The parents had warned me that Jase was in a stage where he was hitting and throwing things at people and that I should tell them if he ever got out of hand.
One day, I left Emma on the changing table—just for a second, I swear, while I turned around to get baby powder. I heard the most awful thud, and when I turned around, Emma was on the floor. She’d rolled off the table!
I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. Emma wasn’t crying, just lying there. She moved her arm, so I could tell she was still conscious, but all I could think was that maybe I’d brain-damaged her, maybe she had an internal injury… I was terrified.
She did start to cry then. I picked her up as carefully as I could, and rocked her and whispered to her. I started to cry too, thinking she’d never stop. Finally, she quieted down, and I looked her over. At first, I was relieved—no visible injuries. Then I turned her over and saw a large bruise on her tiny head. I panicked again. How would I explain this to her parents? They’d kill me.
I thought about calling my mom. She’d know what to do. But what if she blamed me? What if I got in huge trouble? Could I get arrested for this?
Jase toddled in. He started babbling at me—he didn’t say a lot of actual words yet, just “da-da” and stuff—and trying to hit me with a foam sword from his toy box. I was already so stressed about Emma, I couldn’t handle Jase’s wildness. But then, I got an idea. When the parents came home, I was ready. I showed them Emma’s bruise and told them I was so, so sorry, but that while Emma was in her swing seat, Jase had hit her with one of his toy trucks.
The mom looked shocked. “Hard enough to bruise? Did he mean to?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “My back was only turned for a second, but…”
The dad started looking at Emma over.
“I think she’s okay,” I said. “She cried a little after he did it, then quieted down.”
“We’ll get the pediatrician to look at her tomorrow,” he said.
The mom glanced at her husband, then back at me. “We’ve been worried about this. We think Jase might have some issues with his development. We kept hoping he’d grow out of it. We’ve never known him to be violent toward his sister, though.”
I was scared they’d suspect I was making it up. So I went on. “He’s done it a few times,” I lied. “Sometimes he’ll come up to her and try to hit her for no reason. And sometimes he just stares at her…I can’t explain. But it’s creepy. And one time I asked him if he liked his sister, and he yelled ‘No!’” All of this was just pouring out of me. I didn’t know how to stop! My only thought was that I had to make sure they 100% believed Jase was guilty, not me.
“Why didn’t you say something before?” The dad sounded horrified.
“I didn’t know if it was normal for toddlers or not. I mean, you said he’s in a stage where he hits people.”
“But he’s always been so good with Emma!” the mother looked truly scared. “We’ll have to get him into therapy.”
“Thank you for telling us the truth, Carina,” the dad said.
I left the house shaking. I had lied to them. Now Jase was going to have to go to therapy, and he hadn’t even done anything.
They would have taken him anyway, I tried to tell myself. They were already worried about him.
But I couldn’t escape the guilt. It gnawed at me for days, I could barely eat or sleep. I don’t think I can explain how I felt. The next time they asked me to babysit, I pretended I was busy. The next time too.
My mom finally confronted me. “Why haven’t you been taking babysitting jobs?”