Lifeguard

Lifeguard

When I was 14, I started to babysit at my aunt’s place. My cousins were 4 and 5 years old back then. So when I went to babysit for the first time to a completely unknown family I already had some experience. But kids are full of surprises, right?

At first the mom, Mary, and I exchanged a few text messages and she got me and her 5-year-old son, Thobias. Mary was saying how energetic and talented in sports Toby was but that overall he was a good kid. We got along pretty well right away, and Mary liked me too, so we set up the babysitting for the following week.

Before Mary and her husband took off for the restaurant, they gave me their phone numbers and said that if I needed to ask about something, I was supposed to call them. “And no more diving, Toby!” his dad Eric told him before leaving the house. Toby just shrug his shoulders, pulled out a super sweet smile and wanted to go play with his toy cars. While he was showing me one toy after another, I completely forgot about that “bathing thing” his dad mentioned before. After a while Toby wanted to go the living room to watch Spongebob, so I thought I could take advantage of these few minutes of relatively free time to prepare what Mary has left for dinner.

When I came to the living room with elaborately made sandwiches, Toby wasn’t there. My heart started pounding super fast and I began calling his name. Nothing. I felt that unstopable wave of horror racing through my body. I ran through all the rooms on the first floor, then checked the bedrooms on the upper floor… This kid was nowhere to be found.

I got back to the living room, tears in my eyes, ready to call the parents, and then I saw the slightly open door to the backyard. I suddenly recalled they had a pool out there. I ran out the door thinking only “OMG, OMG, OMG!” His shirt, pants, shoes and one toy car next to the pool, Toby under water. I jumped in, dressed as I was, to save him but like two seconds after I did that his head peaked out of the water and started laughing.

What a huge shock and an even bigger relief! I couldn’t find words but still somehow managed to ask him why he got into the water.  And this sweet little angel face says to me “I was watching Spongebob, you know, and Spongebob lives under water. And I wanted to show my Spongebob the under water too!” And he pulls out a soaking wet yellow kitchen sponge. Before I was able to produce any kind of a reaction, he swam to the side of the pool and says in the most serious tone ever: “Do you always swim with your clothes on? I always take them off before I go explore the under water.” When I asked him how come he could swim, he said that his dad was a diver and taught him swimming as well as holding his breath.

Toby: Want me to show you? I can hold my breath for almost a minute!

Me: No, Toby, I trust you.

Toby: You won’t tell daddy, right? I’m not allowed to go to the pool again today.

That’s when I finally understood what his dad meant by “no more diving”.

Me: Alright, you diver, let’s get out of the water.

Toby ran into the house and got me and himself a towel — alright, he did almost give me a heart attact but otherwise he was a super sweet kid — I put on my sweaty gym clothes and ate our sandwiches.

His parents told me later that Toby really loves water and goes to the pool whenever he wants but other than that he is a good boy. At least now I always remember to ask about children’s hobbies.

Zoe, 17, Florida

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