- August 25, 2009
I keep thinking about things I want to do when I get back to planet Earth and I am reminded that it doesn’t always go the way you imagine it will. Take for instance what happened to me a short time after I got back from deployment last year:
There was a minister’s meeting at my pastor’s house scheduled for a Saturday night. All the ministers, music, Sunday school, youth ministry, etc, were going to be at the meeting. The babysitter who was going to watch the kids fell through for some reason and someone brilliant said, “Mike is good with kids, let’s ask him if he’ll watch them.”
As a single man, of course, I am good with the kids. My job is to spin them up and send them back home with their beleaguered parents. It’s kind of a deal we have. Let me also point out that the best thing about other people’s kids is that they go home.
Still, being the kind of guy I am I, of course agree; despite the fact that I really DO NOT want to watch other people’s children on a Saturday night. Sacrifice comes in many forms and if anything I am all about helping out the church.
Saturday night we all meet at the church in the upstairs room adjoining the office.The stink of burning rubber fills the air as eager parents peel out of the parking lot in an effort to maximize their night of “adult time.” Sigh. We, who are about to babysit, salute you.
It was 6:30 PM and America’s 1stSgt had 10 feral children running around him ranging in age from 2 to 14. Fortunately, the two older ones were helpful. Kids began doing kid things while Balto was playing on the TV, coloring was going on, and everyone just had to pee RIGHT NOW. Not all at once mind you. but only when my butt happened to touch down on a chair.
One little boy hit his sister. Gallantly, I grabbed him by the arm and bent over to explain how we don’t do that kind of thing to girls. He laughed and punched me right in the chin. ME! Grown men are afraid to put their hands on me, but this little… Suffice it to say he spent about an hour unhappily weeping and standing in a corner and didn’t get any popcorn. Take that punk.
Speaking of popcorn, everyone was also hungry. ALL THE TIME. Despite the fact that parents assured me everyone had eaten, it seemed this was a lie and all these poor malnourished children had never been fed in their entire lives. What snacks did I have for everyone? Whatever your mothers left for you kid. Oh, nothing? Go color and eat a crayon. I finally relented and sent one of the older ones to go get pop corn at the 7-11. Amazing how a couple of bags of pop corn can pacify those savages.
Throughout the night children had to be escorted to the restroom down stairs. We rented the space from another church that owned the property. They also had some people there including a Micronesian family who were staying there for the time being. Of course, what that meant to me was that there are now 5 extra kids hanging out with us and I was busy counting heads to make sure my 10 were all present and accounted for.
From time to time I had one of the older kids take the little ones down stairs to use the restroom. Nothing like managing the room right? Wrong. The one time I escort a kid down there grievous bodily harm happens. I had hardly set foot outside the door when, “Uncle Mike! One of the pillars fell down and hit Madison on the head!” The children’s response to this was as if they had all spontaneously combusted and burst into flames. Then Clark Kent calmly appeared to save the day. But I’m skipping over some of the drama.
Naturally, the chair I had been sitting in was the focus of effort for children to rally around any time I moved. When I got up to take one of the kids to the restroom the masses gathered to alternately sit, climb, run, or cartwheel or genuflect around my chair. In so doing, the toddler bumped into one of these plastic pillars used for events and about 6 1/2 feet tall and it fell over right on my chair where poor Madison was happily sitting in the seat of power. That will teach her to take my chair next time.
When I got on the scene there wasn’t hardly any blood at all so I was not too worried until I took a good look and saw a small open cut on her scalp. Great, this was going to take a few stitches. But like I said, thank you Jesus it wasn’t bleeding like a scalp wound usually does. What didn’t help was every kid in the joint looking over my shoulder and exclaiming, “OH MY GOD!”
My drill instructor voice came out and ordered all non participants to firmly plant themselves in front of Mary Poppins or pay the consequences. I called the minister’s meeting and let the parents know what has happened and secretly hoped it would get all the parents back a little early. In the mean time I tried to distract the poor girl with drinks, ice packs, television, and back rubbing. Fortunately, no photographic evidence of this exists.
The mother of poor decapitated Madison arrived and I braced myself for righteous destruction. Mom was surprisingly cool and agreed that the cut on her scalp would probably take about 5 stitches (groan). She didn’t blame me and said that things happen. Things like being run over by a family SUV in the church parking lot by an angry matron? Just wondering.
I still felt like a complete failure. Here I was imagining myself heroically fending off kidnappers and saving toddlers from vicious predators and alien invasion and the minute I turned my back they were braining themselves on the furniture.
So Madison was now safely in the care of her parents and I was told that the meeting was over and imagined concerned moms would be breaking down the door any moment to rescue their children from the careless knuckledragger who was no doubt selling their children into slavery.
Resigned to my fate, I distracted the kids by taking group photos with my phone camera and instructed them on various hideous kinds of faces to make for each picture. This went on for a while until boredom overwhelmed us all and tired children begin sprinting in circles in an attempt to stay awake.
Babe is placed in the VCR and all gathered ’round for the tale of the talking pig beast. Around this time it was discovered that the doors to the restroom had been locked and little girls had to go BAD. Sigh, “Have you ever gone outside before? Alexis, take her out around the back of the church.” On Sunday Kassidy would proudly boast to everyone that she went outside in the bushes. Greeeeeeeat.
Over an HOUR later parents arrived to take up their progeny and I was finally free of the weight of this responsibility. Their parents no doubt weighed the possible dangers to their children against the relief of an extra hour and a half of freedom. Time won out over peril, apparently and I didn’t get out of there until almost 11PM.
I had just returned from a combat deployment where mortars had landed all around me like pop flys; snipers had taken shots at us like it was a duck hunt; IEDs were all around me like a yard full of dog poo and somehow we brought everyone back in one piece. One night with a bunch of kids and I end up presiding over traumatic brain injuries.
I don’t get it, I hung out with these other kids after last deployment and their perfectly fine, though Hope did mention something about facial tics and fear of small spaces or some such thing.