My father used to jokingly state, "No good deed goes unpunished." Unfortunately, I've come to realize that he is correct. I don't like to ask other people for help. People are busy with their own lives and have their own burdens to carry. So I bumble along, doing what I can and accepting that somethings need to be forgone because they are more than I can carry. It always amazes me when someone offers to help me. I feel guilt at needing help. Why can't I juggle everything on my schedule more successfully? On the other side, some people do need assistance and I'm happy to help when I can.
In June, a neighbor stopped by our house and introduced her grand-daughter to my children, then asked if she could speak to me. After we introduced ourselves to each other, the neighbor explained that her grand-daughter would be staying with her for the summer. The grandmother needed someone who could keep an eye on her grand-daughter for 4 hours each night. The neighbor further explained that her grand-daughter would probably be spending several evenings at various friends' houses and would just need to "check-in" with me periodically.
My yard is always full of neighborhood children and it was only four hours (from 4-8pm) each evening, so I agreed. The woman offered to pay me something, but I declined because I didn't want more demands placed on me and I wanted to help the woman.
The first few weeks were okay. Grandma had lied to me about the amount of time, which ended up being from 3:15-9:00pm. The grand-daughter never plays with anyone else in the neighborhood and usually requires lunch and dinner each day. Madelyn and the grand-daughter seemed to get along well, so I was willing to take the unexpected changes in the agreement.
During the third week, Madelyn became ill. She ran a high temperature, had a sore throat, and slept constantly. I stopped by the grandmother's home to let her know that Madelyn was suspected of having strep throat, so she wouldn't be able to play with the grand-daughter. I explained that the grand-daughter could still come by, but she would need to stay outside and play with the other children. Grandma complained that she would be in trouble if the grand-daughter came with her to work, but said that she would take the grand-daughter with her that evening.
On Saturday and Sunday, these neighbors drove very slowly by my home many times. They were staring in our windows and staring at the children outside playing in the yard. (It was a little creepy.) On Monday, the grandmother dropped by my house and stated that the grand-daughter was sure that she had seen Madelyn dancing around inside the house all weekend. The grandmother wanted to know if Madelyn didn't like the grand-daughter any more. Biting my tongue, I reiterated that Madelyn had been ill and that I didn't believe that the girls were having any problems.
The grand-daughter has had an unstable life and is constantly being dropped off at various relatives for several weeks at a time. I understand that the girl is insecure, but I resented that the woman was implying that I lied to her and the fact that she spied on my family.
The girl went to visit her mother for awhile, but the grandmother didn't know for how long. Last Monday, while I was involved in a sewing class for Madelyn and her friends, the grand-daughter arrived and asked if she could be watched that day. I agreed to watch the grand-daughter even with only 15 minutes notice. The sewing class finished up and Madelyn and her friends went outside to play. The grand-daughter was uncomfortable around the other children. Madelyn and the other children invited the grand-daughter to swim and bike ride with them. It was an awkward group of children, but no one excluded the grand-daughter.
The following day, the grandmother stopped by to complain that her grand-daughter felt excluded and thought that Madelyn no longer liked her. The grandmother went on to explain that after the other children left, her grand-daughter was more comfortable and enjoyed herself. She mentioned that she had told her grand-daughter to tell me if Madelyn was no paying enough attention to her. The grandmother thought that it would be a good idea, if I didn't have Madelyn's good friends over in the evenings. I was floored. I NEVER promised exclusive play time with Madelyn. The agreement was to keep an eye on her grand-daughter. Madelyn should be allowed to have friends over to play. The grand-daughter was invited to play with Madelyn and her other friends. I was outside with them the entire time.
The following day, other neighborhood children were over when the grand-daughter arrived. The kids were all hanging out on the front porch. I spent the evening in the dining room, listening to what was going on out on the porch. The grand-daughter spent the entire 6 hours, sitting in a lawn chair refusing to do anything. Madelyn and Joe asked her multiple times if she wanted to play a board game or tag, etc. She refused. If the grandmother comes by to complain, I'm going to tell her to find someone else. Why do I feel guilty? I really wanted to help this woman, but now I feel trapped in a bad situation.