Babysitting Blues

"Chloe, did you change Hayley's diaper like I asked you to?" Jayme asked her daughter.

Eleven-year-old Chloe continued polishing the dining room table and pretended not to hear her mother's question.

"Chloe!" Jayme raised her voice.

Chloe held her nose closed with her fingers. "Okay, Mom, I'll go do it right now."

"Someday when you have children of your own you'll be glad that I gave you this opportunity to learn."

"No way!" she mumbled as she slowly climbed the stairs. "I wish I had a clothespin."

Chloe lowered the side of the crib and picked up 1-year-old Hayley.

"You smell awful! I'll be so glad when you're potty trained."

Chloe grabbed a clean diaper, moist wipes, talcum powder, and a change of clothing for Hayley.

"Mom says that she's doing me a favor by letting me change your diapers. Do you agree, Hayley?"

Hayley laughed as Chloe changed her.

"You're laughing at me, aren't you? You think this is funny!"

After dressing Hayley, Chloe washed her hands and went downstairs.

"Mom, I've changed Hayley. Can I go down the street to visit Mrs. Bellavia?"

"Yes, but be home by four o'clock, so you can help me make dinner."

"Chloe grabbed a sweater, raced out of the house, and quickly walked past a few homes until she arrived at a beautiful rose garden in front of an old row house.

"Mrs. Bellavia," she called as she rang her neighbor's doorbell.

"Hello, Chloe," the elderly lady responded. "Come inside. It's so nice to see you. I baked almond cookies yesterday. Would you like some?"

"Yes, thank you." Chloe sat down at the kitchen table.

"What's on your mind?" the elderly lady asked as she put a small plate of cookies on the table and poured a glass of milk.

"I'm sick of changing diapers," Chloe replied. "My older brother gets to do interesting stuff with my dad, like checking the oil and tire pressure, and he has fun washing the car. He sprays me with the hose. But I get stuck babysitting Hayley. I'd rather change a tire than a diaper!"

"I see," Mrs. Bellavia responded. "Have you talked to your parents about how you feel?"

"I've tried . . . but my mother thinks she's doing me a favor. She tells me, 'I'm giving you valuable experience that you'll appreciate someday when you have your own children.' If I have kids--and I haven't decided that yet--I plan on hiring a live-in nanny."

"Taking care of a baby can be challenging, but it's also very important work."

"I don't know anyone who thinks babysitting is important," Chloe replied. "I plan to become a doctor or a lawyer. Those are important jobs. They also pay enough money so that I'll be able to hire someone to change my kids' diapers."

"Did you know that a babysitter was partly responsible for the Jewish people being set free from slavery in Egypt?"

"No way!" Chloe replied. "That's not in the Bible."

"Oh yes, it's true. I'll get my Bible."

Mrs. Bellavia picked up her Bible from the kitchen counter and placed it on the table in front of Chloe.

"Now, turn to the second chapter of Exodus," she instructed.

Chloe flipped through the pages until she found Exodus 2.

"Pharaoh wanted to kill every male baby born to the Jewish people," the elderly lady explained. "So, Moses' parents hid their son until the baby was how old?"

Chloe responded, "His mother hid him for three months."

"Keep reading," the elderly lady said.

"But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him."*

"In other words, his sister, Miriam, was watching over him, babysitting him. Then what happened?"

"Pharaoh's daughter saw the baby and felt sorry for him. Then Miriam asked Pharaoh's daughter, 'Shall I get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?'"

"And who do you suppose she got?"

"She got Moses' own mother to nurse him and take care of him," Chloe responded.

"What do you think would have happened if Miriam hadn't been watching over Moses? What if she had run off to play with her friends and had left Moses floating in the Nile?"

"He could have been eaten by a crocodile," Chloe replied. "Or one of Pharaoh's men might have killed him."

"Quite possibly, but even if those things didn't happened, Moses probably would never have learned that he was Jewish. Pharaoh's daughter would have gotten someone else to care for Moses, and no one would have told him that he was a Hebrew."

"Then the Israelites would have continued to be slaves in Egypt," Chloe added.

"Exactly," Mrs. Bellavia responded. "When you take care of a baby you never know who that child will grow up to be. The little one that you babysit today may become your boss in the future, Chloe."

"I never thought of that," she said thoughtfully.

"Jesus wants us to do everything to the best of our ability, just as if we were doing it for Him."

"So, when I'm changing Hayley's diapers, I should remind myself that I'm really doing it for Jesus, not for her or for my mom?"

"That's exactly right. Jesus said that if we give just a cup of cold water in His name, we will be rewarded."*

"So, I'll be rewarded for changing Hayley's diapers!" Chloe laughed. "I guess I'd better do my very best then."

Later, as Chloe was leaving, she thanked Mrs. Bellavia for the cookies. "Thanks for telling me about Moses and how important babysitting is to God. Would you by any chance have a clothespin?"

Mrs. Bellavia retrieved a clothespin from her laundry room and handed it to Chloe. "Are you helping your mother hang up her wash?"

"Oh, no," Chloe responded as she clipped the clothespin onto her nose. "I'll probably be changing another diaper when I get home." 

© by Nancy A. Stevens

* Exodus 2:3,4 (NIV)

2 Matthew 10:42

* Matthew 10:42