I consider myself a helpful person, and I love my job working with children and families. I also have bills to pay, and when I saw a family hiring for a sitter after school two evenings per week, I jumped on that and contacted the family. She had heard of me through word of mouth, and we met for an interview. We decided to do a trial run for two weeks to see if everything worked out.
And something told me it wasn't the right situation for me. But I ignored my instinct and greed took over. I just had to be their sitter. I had to do it. I had to. I had to. I had to do it.
But it was a mistake. And what happened sounds gross, but it taught me a lesson.
While babysitting for this family one evening, their son wanted to play with the neighbor kid. Being the person that I am, I won't let a child I am caring for play with a child without meeting the parents first. Call me crazy or paranoid, but that's me. So I went over and introduced myself to the family. The mother wasn't really friendly, and the father was surprised that I took the time to meet with him. As I was talking with the parent, I picked up and played with their puppy who was rolling around in the grass. About a week or so later, I started noticing black dander in my cat's fur (I have four cats) that was similar to coffee grounds. Thinking nothing of it, I kept brushing her to see if things changed. I dismissed it as something different, until last week when I found something I didn't want to see.
My cat had a flea on her. A live flea. I was so grossed out that I almost threw up twice in Walmart when I went to get flea spray and garbage bags. I had a case of anxiety so bad that I had a horrible stomachache, called into to work the next day and thought I was going to throw up. How could I let this happen? The last time I dealt with this issue was back in 1994, when I was a young adult and got a cat that had fleas. Here we are twenty-two years and cats later. Never gave my cats flea preventive. Yeah, I know, bad cat mom. I never let my cats outside and never came into contact with anyone with fleas. When I found out about this, I bagged every single stuffed animal, every pillow on my bed, and threw out clothing that was on my floor, along with old clothing and items that the cats (I have four, but only three would be in my room sleeping, etc) came into contact with. Everything was washed, including curtains, big blankets, etc. per the vet. and all four cats, including my sick 12 year old with a tumor in her eye got flea treatment. I had watched my girls itch and groom themselves, which indicated I had a problem.
Not sure how I got them, but the vet did say fleas can travel with people. The only animals I have been around recently are the new kitten (I checked her before she came home and didn't find anything) my cousin's dogs who go to the dog park several times per week, her cats which are outside cats.
And this family's neighbors.
I broke down into tears in front of my boss, and told her why I called in. She was very understanding about the anxiety thing and stomachache. As I sprayed furniture and curtains, and combed through the cats fur to check for flea dirt, eggs and fleas, I began to realize something.
I honestly believe had I not babysat for this family, I wouldn't have had contact with the neighbors. No contact with neighbors, no contact with dog.
As a result of this issue with fleas, I am panicking that there are more fleas in this house, and we haven't gotten rid of them yet, despite cleaning. I do not allow the cats in my room or to cuddle with me. They just exist-I feed them and acknowledge them. but that's it. It's like I have OCD and anxiety. As if anything on the carpet or floor will come into contact with fleas. When the cats itch, I panic. Sitting on the couch or chair (the cats sleep here. as it's a cat thing) will bring more fleas that have yet to go through the cycle, even though I sprayed.
I feel dirty. Gross. Contaminated. I also feel like a bad person, because I had to babysit for this family. I felt like it wasn't right for me, and but being the person I am, I wanted to help them because I love what I do. Had I not babysat for this family, I wouldn't have gotten fleas.
Through this experience, I've learned it's ok to be helpful, but you can't help everyone. If something feels like the wrong fit, it's fine. The wrong fit for me is the right fit for someone else.