Don't Worry. He's Just Sleeping.
There's nothing quite like a part-time college job to keep you focused on getting your degree.
Like numerically filing records at a medical facility for instance (kill me now). Or boxing up cds as an order picker, deep inside the distribution warehouse of a national music retailer. And, of course, there's always the standard babysitting gig.
With a little Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome thrown in for good measure.
Circa 1991, or junior year, I answered a classified in The Good 5¢ Cigar, the URI campus paper. An English visiting professorial family was in need of occasional child care for their three wee ones.
I was their Mary Poppins.
Or something like that.
If Mary got the boot after the first night.
For a while, an 'I Don't Wanna Brush My Teeth' incident, held the distinction as being the most drama of the evening. (Whatever kid. You're British; you should not take healthy choppers for granted.) But even with that mild outburst, I was still relatively in control of the situation.
Until someone decided to say goodnight to the hamsters.
Let's just say one of them wasn't able to return the greeting.
Okay, so how many times have the beloved pets of complete stranger's children, originally from a foreign land, died on your watch? Right. I don't think there's a manual for this one. Luckily, my instincts kicked in and headed straight to: Epic Lies Grown-Ups Tell Children.
"Don't worry. He's just sleeping."
Yup. A deep eternal never-ending sleep.
Here's the thing. Children don't believe these lies--even the polite ones with lilting English accents. I could have easily gone with: "Get used to it kid. Everyone dies." Or: "Why in bloody hell do you have so many hamsters in such a small space. This, what looks to me like a simple suffocation incident, could have been easily prevented."
Because the truth is, whatever came out of my mouth at that point, the outcome would have been the same: Hysterical crying, while they (and I) waited for their parents to return through the front door, followed by an exchange of cash, which was not NEARLY enough to cover my trauma.
And while I didn't receive a second invite to watch these lovelies again, big surprise, sometimes I wonder if they ever reminisce, maybe back across the pond, about their time spent living in Rhode Island. And that fateful night, long ago, when their dear hamster decided to pick the tiniest of three-hour windows, and off itself on that poor, poor babysitter.