(12/1991 – Recorded 1/1/2019)
Alyssa was born while I was attending Michigan State University. After she was born, we never hired a teenager to babysit, but instead much preferred to swap babysitting with other adult couples. Michelle was very nervous about leaving Aly with a teenage babysitter. There were about 7 families in our church that all had babies within about a 6 month period, so there were plenty of people to swap with.
Just after Aly turned one year old, we wanted to go out as a couple on a Friday night. I believe it might have been to a church party, so all the other couples were busy on that night as well, meaning that there were no adult babysitters available to babysit. Michelle and I had always said that we would not use a babysitter younger than 12 years old. However, earlier in that year Michelle and I had done housesitting + babysitting for a family in our church for about a week while the parents went out of town. They had a 12 year-old boy and 11 year-old girl and the girl just loved Aly. She played with Aly and loved to take care of her. When we needed a babysitter, we talked about it and decided that even though the girl was only 11 years old, we had seen her with Aly and she was really good with her and responsible. So, we decided to bend our rule a little bit and ask her to babysit. She excitedly said Yes.
On that night we went out and left Aly with her first babysitter. When we got home and walked in to the apartment, the TV was on with the volume turned way up, blaring our Raiders of the Lost Ark videotape. We asked how everything went and she said, “Great”. I took the babysitter home while Michelle turned off the TV and went into the bedroom to check on Aly.
When I got home, Michelle was in the family room holding Aly and was very upset. Aly had blood all over her! Michelle said that she went into Aly’s bedroom to check on her, but she wasn’t in the crib. She looked around the room and found her sleeping on the floor in the corner. She thought that was strange. She picked her up and saw that there was blood all over her face, hands, and clothes. Then she looked around the room and noticed that there were bloody handprints all around on the walls at about Aly-height, with a concentration of them on the back of the door. She inspected Aly and determined that the blood was coming from her nose and she had a big bump on the bridge of her nose. What was even more worrying was that Michelle couldn’t get Aly to wake up!
We decided to take her immediately to the hospital emergency room. We were able to wake her up by the time we got there. The doctor there cleaned her off and examined her. He determined that she was indeed bleeding from the nose, and it looked like she had been whacked on the bridge of the nose. We were confused about what happened. We didn’t think that the babysitter would hit Aly, but you never know for sure.
After waiting there for a while, we were told that the police wanted to talk to us! It didn’t take long to realize that they were interviewing us because the injury was consistent with child abuse. The bruise on her nose had circles on it that looked like they may have been caused by a Lego or Duplo block and they were suspicious that someone had hit her with one. We told them the whole story and they quickly believed us. Whew! They said they would have to talk to the babysitter. We told them we would talk to the family and let them know that the detectives would be talking to them, but they immediately said that we shouldn’t talk to the family about it at all until after the detectives had a chance to talk to them. We asked them when they would talk to them and they said, “Well, it is Friday night now, so they’ll be talking to them on Monday”. This was very awkward because we would see them at church on Sunday and we had to pretend like nothing was wrong.
On Monday, the mother of the babysitter called us up and apologized profusely. She said that she talked to her daughter, but she claimed to not have heard anything and not know anything about it. However, the mom wasn’t convinced. She told us a story about her son who was one year older. He had recently gone on his first babysitting job. Before they left, the parents showed him the popcorn popper and said that he could make popcorn for the kids while they were gone. Apparently, he made the popcorn but forgot to put the top on the popper, so the popcorn flew all over the kitchen. Instead of cleaning it up, he just left it, pretended it never happened, and never mentioned it to the parents.
We still don’t know for sure what happened, but here is our best guess: The babysitter put Aly down to sleep in her crib. However, this was a crib that had a side that went up and down that made it easier to get the baby in and out of the crib. The side on the crib was in the ‘down’ position when we got home. We think that she forgot to put the side of the crib up after putting Aly in it. After she left the room, Aly fell out of the crib, landing face first on a Duplo block that had been left on the floor. She surely started crying at that point. When the babysitter opened the door and found that Aly was out of her crib, crying, and bleeding, she probably just closed the door and pretended that it didn’t happen. To block out the crying, she put in Raiders of the Lost Ark and turned the volume way up. When we got home she said that everything was “great.”
This version fits all the facts that we know and would mean that the babysitter didn’t purposely hurt Aly, which makes us feel slightly better. However, our hearts break when we think about poor Aly, hurt and bleeding in her room, banging on the door crying for someone to help her, but nobody came. Luckily, there didn’t appear to be any permanent damage to Aly, either physically or emotionally.
Needless to say, it was a VERY long time before we ever had a babysitter again.