The text message arrives in the middle of a tense scene in the movie, the vibration causing me to almost jump out of my skin. I check who it’s from and with my heart in my throat flip open the phone to read the message from my babysitter.
“She won’t sleep. She’s with me in the living room.”
I quickly write back, typing as quietly as possible so I won’t get shushed by my fellow moviegoers. “‘Who, C or Little L?” A lot rides on the answer. If it’s C I don’t have to worry, she’s just being a punk. If it’s Little L the stakes are a little higher; she might be cute, but she sure knows how to make a babysitter’s life hell.
“Little L” comes the quick answer.
Oh, crap. I think before replying: “Is she crying?”
“On and off.” Shoot. What does that mean?
“Little L is crying on and off.” I whisper to M.
“Go call the babysitter.” He whispers back. I contemplate just texting her, but he’s right, this warrants a phone call. I squeeze my way to the end of the row and dart down the dark hall, almost knocking down a poor girl in my haste. The babysitter answers on the first ring.
“Hey. How bad is it?” I ask, before hearing the wailing in the background. Little L is really going to town. “Have you tried sitting with her facing the TV with the lovey on your chest and a pacifier in her mouth?”
“Yeah, that’s the only thing that works, but she only settles down for a few minutes before crying again.”
Think Jessica, think. What can she possibly do?
“OK. In front of you under the coffee table is a plastic bin. Inside you’ll find some Mylecon drops and some Motrin.” I give her the dosage instructions and tell her to text me again in five minutes if the
monster baby doesn’t calm down. If it’s her teeth then the Motrin will help, if it’s gas then the Mylecon should take care of it. If it’s neither then we’ll need to go home.
I make my way back to my seat and try to get back into the movie. The phone I’m clutching in my hand doesn’t vibrate and after five long minutes I text the sitter. “How is she?” but get no reply. I’m growing increasingly jittery and annoyed that we might not see the end of what is turning out to be a pretty good movie. (21, seriously, not half bad. Go see it.) Finally, at long last a reply comes through. “She’s fine now.” I heave a sigh of relief and lean back in my chair. Crisis averted for now.
When we get home forty minutes or so later we find Little L sprawled on the sitter, fast asleep. Both of them are sitting in the dark, lit just by the light of the flickering TV screen.
“She fell asleep as soon as I gave her both medicines. But I didn’t dare move her,” the sitter explains. I hand over a ton of cash and take the peaceful child from her. We chat for a minute about school and midterms and I send her on her way.
As she heads to her car and I close the door I realize that this is the first time she hasn’t promised to call next time she’s home from school. I grossly overpaid her, but I’m still not sure that guaranteed us a return visit. I’m starting to feel like Calvin’s mom; pretty soon I’m going to have to prepay my sitters to ensure that they’ll come back.