Friday, May 15, 2009

Why you can blame it on the rain

I was at the baby-sitting job from hell the other evening, and I had just finished giving the little girl her bath. Standing up in the tub, she held her arms above her head, and I swooped in, wrapped her tightly in a towel and lifted her out as she giggled and squealed, as she always does when I do this. And, ok, there is something pretty cute about holding a clean and snugly bundled little muffin in your arms, so it turns out she does have her redeeming moments. I set her carefully down on the changing area, configured as per her mother's very precise instructions: the sink is covered with a board made specially for the purpose, the faucet swiveled back out of the way thus turning the sink into a changing table, with a cushioned pad placed on top, and the whole thing covered with a towel. From here I am able to get the little girl dried, moisturized, and dressed in pajamas with relative ease.

"Hmm, why is your sock wet?" I asked her, though I didn't particularly expect a response. In any case, her mother would be sure to notice, and I made a mental note to change it for a dry pair as soon as we got back to her bedroom. Then I noticed that part of the towel was sopping wet as well, and realized that a corner must have dipped into the tub while I was lifting the little girl out. My blood pressure rose a few points as I remembered one time a few months back, also post-bath, when the girl's mother stopped to inspect two drops of water on the wooden counter surrounding the sink. She tsk-ed and grabbed a towel, quickly whisking the drops away, saying, "No, no, no, you have to be more careful. This is wood, it cannot get wet." The question of why anyone would have a sink that can't get wet ranked right up there with why anyone would have bathroom doors that lock from the inside, with no key to open them from the outside with a mischievous pre-schooler in the house, but I chalked it up to yet another eccentricity of the well-to-do and called it a day. As I was assessing the moisture situation and hoping nothing else had gotten too damp, I was startled by a sudden and worrisome noise, almost like loud static, coming from inside the bathroom. I whirled around trying to determine where the noise was coming from, as it slowly dawned on me that to my horror, the sound was of rushing water. My mind seemed to be working in slow motion as I deduced that other than the tub, the only logical place for a rapid exodus of water could be...I spun back around to the sink in horror to see the little girl, fascinated, staring at the stream of water pouring out of the faucet (conveniently angled to the side of the sink) that was now gushing onto the wooden counter top and forming a rapidly growing lake on the bathroom floor. At the same time I heard a commotion coming from outside the door, as the girl's mother shouted frantically for her husband and the housekeeper, but I didn't have time to process the significance of this yet. Instead I focused on damage control, the first order of business being, of course, to turn off the water. Now it was my body that seemed to be moving in slow motion, as I grasped frantically for the hot water faucet, only to find it already off. Losing precious seconds, I next fumbled for the other faucet, turning off the cold water and finally ending the near inundation. With my heart in my throat, I assessed the damage. Forget a couple of drops of water; wooden counter tops, floors, towels, pajamas- everything was soaked. Holy head on a platter; I was done for. Why does it always have to be water?! I wanted to scream. This was getting a bit ridiculous; I was starting to feel cursed. I sighed and started to mop up with towels, but I soon realized there would be no hiding this. I would have to face the music. And so I took a deep breath, opened the door, and found the girl's mother on her hands and knees in front of a bucket on the floor, also with a stack of towels. Momentarily blind to the irony of the situation, I started nervously in on my explanation. "Um, Agn├Ęs?" I said. "We had a bit of a problem...You see, Louise bumped one of the faucets in the bathroom and so water went...well, everywhere. It's all over the counter and the floor."

"What?" she said distractedly. "Oh, that's ok. Just mop up the water with towels the best you can and put the towels with the dirty laundry."

"Um, ok," I said, not believing my luck.

"And you don't have to use that board anymore, in the bathroom," she said. "I didn't tell you? She's too big now. You can just dress her on a towel on my bed."

"Ok," I said. "I will."

Leading the girl to her room, we entered to find the housekeeper busy positioning another bucket under a leak, and cleaning up with yet more towels. Seeing this, the girl's eyes got wide, and she started talking very quickly. "You see, it wasn't my fault!" she said, partly to herself and partly to the housekeeper. "I didn't mean to get water everywhere! I may have bumped it a little with my arm but it wasn't really my fault. So maybe it was the fault of..." she paused, "...everyone!" I admired her determination to place blame, as well as her tactic of lightening her own share of the responsibility by doling it out equally among other possibly guilty parties. The housekeeper, who clearly had no idea of what had just occurred in the bathroom, laughed and said, "No, Louise. It's because of the rain."

"You see?" the little girl said to me triumphantly. "It was because of the rain!"

If only all of life's little mistakes could be explained away so easily. Meanwhile, give me earth, wind and fire, but please lord, no more water. My nerves just can't take anymore.


  1. I really enjoy your witing. And I almost certainly would NOT enjoy that babysitting job! Oh, and have you told your fella that you have booked your tickets home??

  2. The bratty girls name is Louise? Great.

    Oh and I second the question above. The suspense!

  3. I seriously *love* that the French "never accept blame" mantra starts at such a young age. Hilarious!

  4. i read all of these baby sitting episodes with a cringe on my face waiting for the ceiling to cave in. my nerves cant handle it! i cant wait until you never have to see this crazies again!

  5. Poor little hellion... sounds like she's living in fear of mommy's wrath. No wonder she's such a terror when she's gone.