Breaking in

Summer 1997

This summer is going to be great. I will start babysitting two little boys. They are the sons of one of the associate pastor’s and his wife. I love little kids, and my favorite book series is The Babysitter’s Club. I cannot wait to try out some of the fun things that I have been reading about for years. I am excited to start earning some money.

Our family has moved out of the house and into a trailer on our property. Two of the associate pastors and their wives have moved into our house. I am not really sure why this is happening, but I know it has something to do with money, and that we can’t afford the house anymore. Our family is back to eating top ramen almost every day (I have become creative with noodle dishes). On Sundays we get to treat ourselves with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. I don’t feel like we are poor or starving, I remember feeling like this was a cozy time, and a chance to be creative. Sister and I share a bedroom with two bunks, brother sleeps in the living room on the couch that turns into a bed, and Mom and Dad sleep in the bedroom on the opposite side of the trailer from us. When I babysit the little boys, it is in our trailer. I don’t really understand why I cannot watch them in the house. I assume it is because they don’t trust me to be alone in the house. I am glad they trust me to watch the babies, no matter the location.

It is shortly after I begin babysitting that the associate pastor and his wife begin having problems. They split up and he left. Nobody knows where he went, but we all know that he wants his wife and kids to come with him. It is a bit of a scary time for me. The wife has told me that her husband might come for the kids while she is at work and I am babysitting. She tells me that if this happens I am to hide with the kids and not to let him have them. I am afraid to play with the babies outside, so I spend most of the days inside constantly checking the windows.

Six weeks after he has left, we came home from church to our trailer door wide open and everything was tossed about, as if someone had broken in, looking for something. Drawers were opened and dumped, closets had all their contents pulled out, but it appeared as if nothing valuable had been stolen. The one thing they took was my babysitting schedule. It was then we knew who had broken in, and why. It was then we knew that he would be back, and it would be when I was babysitting.

Mom started staying home with me when I was babysitting. One day it happened: a strange car came up the driveway. Mom told me to go hide with the kids, she climbed out the window to get to him quicker. I took the two boys into the back of the trailer and shut the door. I did everything I could to keep them quiet. I told them that no matter what happened, I would always love them. I don’t remember if it was him who had the baseball bat or my mom, but I remember a bat being involved and I was really scared of someone getting hurt. He did not enter the trailer, but I could hear him yelling that he would be back for his kids. After what seemed like an eternity, Mom told me it was safe to come out. I was scared and shaking; we called the babies’ mom to come get them.

I continued to watch the babies, but the location would vary now. Sometimes I would be at home and sometimes it would be in the basement at the church. About a month after the house incident, the associate pastor showed up at the church, this time with backup of about four other people. I was not alone, my brother and sister and a few other adults were present. The associate pastor knocked on the door, loudly, yelling for us to let him in. He wants his kids. I run into a side room and shut the door. There is no closet or anywhere for me to hide. My brother and sister sit on a bed. I hear the adults telling him that they will call the cops. He says he doesn’t care. I hear a loud smashing noise and know that he has broken in. I tell the boys that I love them and no matter what happens, I will always love them. My brother leans against the door, trying to block the associate pastor. He busts open the door and my brother hits the wall. I’m standing there holding his boys as he approaches. He goes to grab the boys but I won’t let go. He looks me right in the eye and says “Give me my boys.” So I do. Then I black out. I don’t remember how I got from that room to just outside the doors, looking for which way he went. Brother says that I was crawling and crying.

I learn later that the associate pastor took his kids and dropped them off at the police station. His wife left to be with her family. I sat before a mediator, with the associate pastor across the table from me, and had to tell this story. I don’t know what happened after that, but I never saw them again.

For a long time, I did not feel trustworthy because of this incident. I carried on and continued babysitting. But I was traumatized. It has taken me a long time, but I am through the trauma of the incident. I am still afraid of someone breaking in, but I feel that is a normal fear. I am prepared as best as I can be for my family.

I am finally at a place where I can enjoy working with children. I volunteer in my children’s classrooms, and I don’t feel that sick feeling in my stomach. Children are our precious gift, and I feel so lucky to have my boys in my life.

~E

 

 

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