I have a nasty habit of worrying. I keep telling myself it doesn’t do any good, that whatever worries me will work out one way or another, but that doesn’t always help. I started worrying when I was thirteen years old.
At the time, all my friends had baby-sitting jobs. So naturally, I wanted one. I didn’t need the money. I just liked the idea of caring for smaller children. My parents, who were active in community theater, finally decided I was old enough to be left home alone with my younger brother Andy.
I then discovered that baby-sitting wasn’t easy. Andy rarely respected my authority. He was supposed to go to bed at nine o’clock, but when the time came, getting him there was a feat comparable to climbing Mount Everest. I cajoled, threatened, begged. Finally, after about fifteen minutes of arguing, he gave in. He was six years old and could get himself ready and into bed. Once he was asleep, the house was oddly quiet, and the nightmare began.
I lay awake, waiting for the reassuring hum of my parents’ car pulling into the garage next to my bedroom. Most nights, they were home by ten thirty. But one night, they still hadn’t returned by eleven.
I lay there, wondering what to do. My stomach, after having been tied up in knots for the past hour and a half, finally revolted. I leaped out of bed and dashed for the nearest bathroom, which was off the master bedroom. Andy often slept in our parents’ bed until they came home. So naturally, my vomiting woke him up. For once, he was nice. He offered to call Joan, a family friend Mother said we could contact in an emergency. I thought that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Maybe she would even come over and stay with us until our folks came home.
When Andy reached her on the bedside phone and explained that I was sick and Mother and Dad weren’t home yet, she suggested I brush my teeth and get back into bed and she would try to find our folks. I did as she suggested. Andy let me snuggle with him in our parents’ bed, a rare treat since my baby brother was getting past the cuddly stage.
A few minutes later, Joan called back and said she hadn’t been able to find our parents. I burst into tears, proclaiming that they’d been killed in a car accident and we were now orphans. This possibility didn’t seem to bother Andy. He just lay there, saying nothing.
Joan was sympathetic and patient. She assured me that our parents were probably out drinking somewhere and they would be home soon. She stayed on the phone with me until I felt sleepy. When Mother and Dad finally came home around two in the morning, they found us both asleep in their bed.
Because I’d been sick the night before, I was allowed to stay home from school the next day. Mother told me that if the incident from the previous night happened again, she would hire a baby-sitter. I wanted to tell her she could do that. I was done with that career. But I was too proud.
Mother also berated me for scaring Andy with the notion that we were orphans. What would she have done in my situation? Dad told me I just needed to go to sleep, and they would get home when they got home. That was easier said than done.
From then on, play rehearsal nights and any time our parents went out without us became a source of dread. Most nights, they were home early, but other nights, they weren’t. I thought if I went to bed while Andy was still up, I could be asleep before our folks came home and wouldn’t be responsible if Andy decided not to go to bed at his appointed time. Although I fell asleep, I had weird dreams and woke frequently. I never rested easy until our parents’ car pulled into the garage.
When I got into high school, I finally stopped worrying about our parents when they were out late. But I’ve never stopped worrying about things beyond my control. I often think of “what if” scenarios. Because of my vivid imagination, that’s why I’m a writer.
If you’re not familiar with the song I’m featuring today, you’re probably wondering what three little birds have to do with all this. In the song, three little birds deliver a message that we shouldn’t worry, that every little thing will be all right. If I’d heard this song back in my first baby-sitting days, would it have changed my perspective? Who knows?
How about you? Are you a worrier? Have you ever worried unnecessarily?
Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books
When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.
Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.