Babysitting Nicholas


By Linda Porter Carlyle

Joseph Anderson Donetti flung open the back door. “I saw you coming,” he said as Mac leaped onto the porch.

“I’ve got a job!” Mac exclaimed, a big grin splitting her face. “Well, I’ve got a job if you will help me. I mean, if G.M. will let you help me. I sure hope it’s OK with her!” Mac took a deep breath and looked around. “Where is G.M.?”

“I’m in here,” G.M. called from the living room.

Mac hurried down the short hall. Joseph trailed behind. “What’s up?” he asked. “What kind of a job? What do you want me to do?”

“Is it OK if Joseph helps me with my job?” Mac began before she even reached the living room. “My mom won’t let me do it alone, but I can do it if Joseph helps me. I hope you’ll let him help me. I need the money. And besides I always wanted to babysit somebody!”

G.M. leaned over and rinsed her paint brush in a jar of clean water. She looked up. “Maybe you could start at the beginning,” she suggested.

Mac giggled. “Mrs. Greenburg called my mom and asked if I could babysit Nicholas while she goes grocery shopping this afternoon. My mom thinks I’m too young to baby-sit all by myself. But she said I could try it if Joseph would go with me. Nicholas is five years old and not really a baby. And they only live three houses away. And my mom will be home all afternoon in case we have any trouble.” Mac stopped to take a breath.

“Hmm,” G.M. murmured. She looked at Joseph. “Would you like to help Mac out?” she asked.

“Sure!” Joseph exclaimed. Then he scrunched up his nose. “But do boys baby-sit?” he asked.

“I don’t know why they couldn’t,” G.M. answered. “If they were responsible boys,” she added with a smile.

“I’m responsible!” Joseph declared.

“Yes, you are.” G.M. nodded. “I do agree with Mac’s mom, however, that you are both too young to babysit on your own. But since there are two of you, and since both Mac’s mom and I will be home all afternoon, and since you will be only three houses away in case you need us, I’ll let you do it.”

“Yeah!” Mac exclaimed. She gave Joseph a high-five. “Let’s go to my house and get ready. We have to plan stuff to do with Nicholas.”

G.M. smiled to herself as the back door banged shut behind the children. She picked up her paintbrush.

Two hours later G.M. heard thuds on the back porch and the door burst open.

“I’m in here still,” she called, stretching and rubbing the small of her back. “How did the babysitting go?”

“It was horrible!” Mac exclaimed. She paused in the doorway and leaned against the wall.

Joseph pushed around her and collapsed on the carpet.

“It was horrible!” he agreed. “I don’t think I’ll ever babysit again!”

G.M. looked startled. “What happened?” she asked.

“Nicholas wouldn’t do anything we planned,” Mac began. “We were going to draw for awhile. But he just scribbled on one piece of paper and then threw the pencil across the room.”

“He threw his pencil across the room?” G.M. repeated, her eyebrows lifting.

“Yeah!” Joseph agreed. He sat up. “I told him that throwing pencils is dangerous and he’d better not do it again.”

“So I sharpened the pencil for him because it broke,” Mac put in, “and he did throw it at the wall again!”

“So then we tried to play Legos with him,” Joseph said. “His mom told us he likes to play Legos.”

“But he didn’t like playing Legos today!” Mac continued the story. “He started to throw Legos across the room. And he said he didn’t have to obey us because we weren’t his bosses!”

“Did you call your mom?” G.M. asked.

Mac shook her head. “We decided to feed him. Mrs. Greenburg said to heat up a bean burrito in the microwave if he got hungry, so I did. And then he stuck a great big bite of it in his mouth when I told him to take little bites, and he burned his tongue.” She sighed.

“What did you do then?” G.M. asked.

“I gave him a cup of cold water to drink. I gave him a plastic cup in case he decided to throw that at the wall,” Joseph explained. “And then we let him watch a cartoon video. His mom said she doesn’t like him to watch TV much, but we could let him watch a video for a little while if we wanted to.”

“And we wanted to!” Mac exclaimed.

“Wow!” G.M. said. “It sounds like you two had quite an afternoon.”

Mac stretched out on the rug next to Joseph. “It was horrible!” she stated flatly. She dug into her jeans pocket and pulled out a clump of dollar bills. She dropped the bills on Joseph chest. “Take half,” she said. “You earned it!”

“It sounds as if Nicholas’s mother is not paying attention to the handwriting on the wall,” G.M. said thoughtfully.

Mac sat up. “What handwriting?” she demanded. “We didn’t let Nicholas write on the walls!”

G.M. laughed. “It’s an expression,” she explained. “If you don’t pay attention to the handwriting on the wall, you are not paying attention to a sure warning of danger ahead. Nicholas’s mother needs to correct his behavior now and not wait until it’s too late.”

Joseph jumped up and grabbed his Bible and Primary Treasure from the bookcase. “That’s what our lesson is about this week!” he exclaimed. “God’s handwriting on the wall!”

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