T has his first real babysitting gig this summer. He’s watching our friend’s six year old and seven year old three mornings a week so that their mom can work. Yesterday he biked home, plopped down on the back deck and said, “that was worth WAY more than $30.” He proceeded to regale me with tales of fishing (“…and then the hook got caught in a frog and that was the end of fishing”), finding outdoor activities to entertain the kids (“she said the only thing to do outside was eat grass. That doesn’t even make sense”), feeding them (“…so I said, ‘what do you mean you don’t like it? You haven’t even tried it’ and I made them take another bite since they didn’t even give it a chance) and generally dealing with kids. I nearly bit my tongue off trying not to laugh.

He was still red-faced and sweaty – “I got over 10,000 steps and that doesn’t even count the bike ride there and back – and it’s not even 1:00!” – as I sent him inside for water and food. “I’m so hot I can barely eat,” he yelled through the still-open door. “Drink some water!” I yelled back, “and close the door!”

I grew up in South Carolina, so I made some remark about my wimpy Canadian kids (conveniently forgetting my response to winter) and casually ignored him. Wuss.

This morning, I took a long walk before it got too hot, then headed over to a friend’s house. My pre-teen slept in his attic room until moments before his buddy showed up at 11. His dad roused him & sent him off, tousled and unfed, to the local park. T didn’t have time to complain about how hot his room had been last night before they were out the door. The boys scooted around for over an hour, then took their pocket money and headed to Subway for lunch. Each of them put on a mask before heading inside.

And then: disaster. Apparently T knew that he was feeling nauseated and a little dizzy, apparently they tried to tell the guy behind the counter that T felt sick, but they’re 12 and wearing masks and… he didn’t hear them or didn’t listen until my Canadian boy sat down and threw up.

Horrified, the boys shoved their subs and sodas into a backpack and left. Then the reality set in: what if it’s covid? T’s buddy was stoic. He accompanied him home, mask on, two metres apart, making sure T was ok. When they got to our house, he came up the driveway and found me on the back deck (just getting ready to write, in fact), and blurted out what had happened. Meanwhile, T came through the house, briefly spoke with his dad, and arrived on the back deck similarly upset. “What if I have covid? I have to get tested!

The boys were doing an elaborate dance to maintain their distance, and T’s friend still had his mask on. Both of them were sweating. T was upset that he might have gotten people sick. “I have the symptoms!” he moaned, “I’m really tired!” I was trying to get T to sit down. His friend was trying to call his parents but his cell phone only works on wifi and he didn’t have our password. After a chaotic minute or two passed, I managed to get my hand onto my child’s forehead. As I suspected: cool & clammy. “Heat exhaustion,” I proclaimed, and both boys looked at me doubtfully. Still, I held my ground, and moments later one boy was outside with a telephone and the other inside with a glass of water.

Parents came to pick up T’s buddy, arrangements were made for the left-behind bike, mid-day movies were approved, and everyone was fine. Within the hour, T declared heat exhaustion a pretty good deal: he got to stay in during the day, be on a screen, drink lemonade and eat ice cream. He even dangled the idea that maybe he shouldn’t babysit tomorrow because it’s still going to be really hot, and he might get overheated again. “The problem is,” he said, “I’m so hot that sometimes I just have to play it cool.” I groaned and told him that he’s still babysitting.

As I sat down to write again, I found myself reflecting: T’s friend thought this was the moment that he had been exposed to the very disease we’ve upended society to avoid, but he didn’t leave and he didn’t panic. He brought T home and made sure he was ok. He kept himself as safe as he could and took care of his friend. He even made sure T had his lunch before heading home with his dad.

That is a friend indeed. We’ll keep that kid around.

15 thoughts on “Overheated

  1. Part of me laughed at T’s reactions to his babysitting gig, and part of me empathized as I recalled a nightmare summer of babysitting Satan’s spawn. That kid ran me ragged asking questions about feminine hygiene products every time he saw a television commercial, and getting into crap constantly. He’d hide from me for hours, and I’d exhaust myself searching for him. Like T I had to ride my bike to and from the gig. And like you, everything about my physical reactions has me worried about the virus. I fear I may be becoming a hypochondriac. Glad everything worked out for T and for you.


    1. We know these kids and, while we love them, they are definitely not easy. One of them recently recovered from cancer, so she is very used to being the center of attention. She cracks me up, but babysitting her is a challenge. I bet he can handle it. And this was our first real “it might be covid” moment, so I’m feeling especially grateful for our good health!


  2. That IS a friend indeed. So valuable and important to be a person who sticks around. I am glad T is better now. His babysitting stories were so funny. I am sure throwing up in Subway was something he will never forget. It is a scary time and I am sorry all that happened. Hoping you are all staying cool and so glad T has a loyal friend.


  3. I’m sorry, but your kids would never survive down here where the heat index reaches 101 degrees F. I stood outside at our food pantry for an hour (some of it in the rain) and I was exhausted when I got home. Heat can do that to you. How hot is it? We had a Covid scare with our youngest daughter who had diarrhea and low grade fever. But her test was negative. Just a typical stomach upset. We are all so scared. I really enjoyed your post.


    1. I probably shouldn’t have mocked my poor kiddo. Turns out yesterday’s heat index when he got sick was over 100 – and we were up to 104 an hour later!!! No wonder the poor Canadian kids were collapsing. Well, that and their decision to scooter in full sun without drinking water. Sigh. This crazy (for Ottawa) heat wave is continuing today: 11am and the humidex is already at 37C which is 98.6F. This is what I get for not being able to convert in my head! I think if I’d known how truly hot it was, I might have been more on top of things. (Our true temps, by the way, is only 91. Go figure.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Every single ache and pain brings on the “I THINK I HAVE COVID-19!” panic at our house. It’s hard being worried about getting sick all the time. Your son has a really good friend.

    Sounds like T has a great job for the summer. My niece had a job like this for a few years. It extended to getting off the bus at the neighbours house to spend 2 hour with the children, help them with homework and pack their lunch for the next day. Easy money for a few years!


    1. This is our first round of “it might be COVID” around here because it’s our first round of anyone feeling sick. How great is that? As for the babysitting… we’ll see how long he lasts. Fingers crossed that he comes to understand what a great job it really is!


  5. Your post had me running the gamut of emotions. I laughed at your son’s babysitting commentary and worried through the throwing up and then teared up at your reflection about T’s friend. He is indeed one to keep around! Again and again throughout this situation I’ve seen young people rise to the occasion and show more compassion and flexibility than many of the adults around them. Thanks for a great post!


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