Adventures in Babysitting

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Erin McKenna ’18

I often babysit for my cousins, ages 3, 6, and 10, who feel that rules don’t apply to them and that they don’t have to listen to me because we’re “family.”

When the oldest boy, Liam, was 7, he went through a rebellious phase. Anything you told him to do? He would do the opposite. One night, I was busy chasing down his younger brother, who was 3 at the time and constantly moving. I figured Liam was old enough to play by himself without my constant eye on him. I was wrong.

While I was out of the room, Liam ate a spoonful of peanut butter. That would have been fine, except for the fact that he is allergic to peanuts! I walked back into the kitchen to see Liam clawing at his throat, gasping for breath, with a spoon sticking out of an opened peanut butter jar on the counter. I screamed “Why would you do that?!” and he was struggling to breathe as he rasped out “I wanted to see what would happen.” At his response, I wanted to scream in frustration. His face was turning blue and blooming with hives. I knew I had to act fast. I stabbed the Epi pen into his thigh and called 911. Once I knew the paramedics were on their way, I called his parents, who agreed to meet the ambulance at the hospital. I said I would stay home and watch the youngest child.

It wasn’t until after Liam was picked up in the ambulance and rushed to the emergency room that reality set in. To be honest, my anger at his ignorance clouded over any other emotions. I realized at that point, sitting in their living room with his younger brother, Aedan, on my lap, that Liam could have died. I remember crying on the couch for about an hour. Aedan didn’t really know what was going on, and cried because I was crying.

I know for a fact that I will always remember this traumatic experience, and it’s in the back of my head whenever I babysit now. Liam was okay, and I was told that my quick injection of the Epi pen saved his life.

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