Seventeen-year-old Mark was playing a video game when suddenly his screen went black.
“What happened!” he exclaimed, throwing down his joystick and getting up from his chair.
“Time to do your homework,” he heard.
Mark turned to find the babysitter, Jane, standing behind him and holding his computer plug.
“Are you crazy, you can’t just unplug a computer!”.
“I told you fifteen minutes ago that I would pull the plug if you didn’t start your homework,” Jane pointed out, “You decided to ignore me.”
Mark looked at Jane in horror and disbelief.
“If you damaged Mark’s computer, you’ll have to buy him a new one,” Caroline, Mark’s eighteen-year-old sister, sneered. “And it costs a lot more than your little babysitting salary.”
“I may not have a lot of money, Caroline, but at least I have manners,” Jane replied, “Have you finished your homework?”
Caroline grimaced and folded her arms.
“In case you hadn’t noticed, Mark, Samuel and I are too old for a babysitter.”
The young girl walked into the room and stood in front of Jane.
“The only reason you still work here is that our parents feel sorry for you. They know you can’t find another job.”
Jane frowned and looked at her somberly.
“That’s not the reason I’m still working here, Caroline.”
“Whatever you say.” Caroline grimaced and walked away. “Samuel and I are going out for pizza. Would you like your favorite, Mark?”
“There’s a healthy dinner in the oven,” Jane exclaimed before Mark could respond.
“You eat it. We want pizza. And stop talking back all the time, Jane – have you forgotten that you’re just an employee?”
Caroline left the room. Jane remained silent and with a hint of sadness in her eyes. At that moment, Mark made her leave his room and closed the door. He then plugged his computer back in to continue playing.
Later that night, the teens’ mother called them to a meeting in the kitchen. They sat at the table as she watched them.
“Jane tells me you three are treating her horribly, what do you have to say about it?”.
“We don’t need a babysitter anymore, Mom,” Caroline replied.
“Especially one who treats us like we’re still little kids,” Mark added.
“Maybe Jane wouldn’t treat you like children if you didn’t act like children. She says it’s a constant fight to get you to study and do your homework.”
Their mother leaned across the table, giving the three siblings a stern look.
“You three need to treat Jane better. She’s an important part of our family, and the way you’ve been behaving lately is unacceptable.”
“Who cares?” cried Caroline, rising abruptly from her seat. “Jane is a servant and an embarrassment to us,” she said pointing to Mark and Samuel.
“We can’t even invite our friends over because she looks so bad in her tacky clothes and ugly hair.”
“That’s silly, Caroline. Jane is a good person who only wants what’s best for you,” her mother retorted.
“Jane is annoying and I wish she was out of our lives.” Caroline stormed out of the kitchen.
The next day, Caroline gathered her siblings in the kitchen to wait for Jane.
“This babysitting nonsense ends today,” she told them.
Mark nodded. He wasn’t as sassy as his sister, but he was also sick of Jane nagging and bossing him around like when he was five. The moment the babysitter entered the room, Caroline confronted her.
“You’re quitting today,” she told the nanny, pointing to the door. “Mark, Samuel, and I don’t need you, and we don’t want you here anymore.”
“Go away. We don’t want to see you again,” Mark sentenced.
Jane began to breathe heavily. She had tears in her eyes and Mark felt a little guilty. Then, the woman winced, clutched her chest and vanished; her purse fell to the ground moments before she did.
“Jane?” Samuel moved toward the fallen woman. He knelt down beside her.
“Is she all right?” Mark moved closer.
“I don’t think so.” Samuel turned around with a fearful look on his face. “Call the ambulance!”.
His mother’s face was red with anger as she called all three of her children into the home study later that day.
“I’ve tried to make all three of you understand what you should be nice to Jane, but I see that you don’t change your attitude. So, maybe it helps to know the truth.”
Their mother placed a sheet of paper in front of each sibling. Mark felt his heart racing as he read each word. He couldn’t believe what was written on it, even when Caroline said it out loud:
“Jane is our mother?!”.
“Yes, Caroline. Jane is my best friend from childhood. Fifteen years ago, she discovered she had a chronic heart condition. She couldn’t pay her medical bills or care for her children, so I adopted you.”
The woman sighed.
“When her health improved, we arranged for her to work here as your nanny. She didn’t want you to know she was your mother because she could die at any moment and she preferred to spare you that suffering. I now regret that decision.”
“I am ashamed of you,” she continued. “But I can only imagine how bad Jane feels knowing that her own children wanted her out of the house and out of their lives.”
“Can we see her?” Caroline looked up with tears in her eyes. “We owe her a big apology.”
The foster mother took them to the hospital a few days later. When they entered Jane’s room, the three of them slowly approached her bed.
“We’re so sorry,” Caroline sobbed. She held Jane’s hand, “Please forgive us for the horrible way we behaved. We never meant for anything bad to happen to you. If we could, we would change everything that happened.”
Jane smiled at them.
“Of course I forgive you. I know you are good children, maybe we just spoiled you too much.”
After Jane recovered, she returned to her job as a nanny, but the kids were never rude or nasty to her again. Upon graduation, Caroline invited her to the event. Family life began to be more harmonious when respect prevailed.