Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Opinion: Babysitting gone bonkers: Never flush a toilet more than three times

Talia Boneh

Despite my four years of babysitting experience, working with new kids is always a nerve-racking endeavor. There are a million uncertainties and so many things that can go wrong. 

You might be thinking, “A cute little kid, how hard can it really be?” I’ll let you make that decision after I tell you a quick story. 

My first mistake that night was getting too comfortable too fast. The parents, who seemed nice, were going out for a date night. The kids I was babysitting were brothers, around seven and 10 years old. They lived in a neighborhood that I had babysat in before, with kids of similar ages, so I asked the boys if they knew them. The kids got all excited and started jumping up and down. “Yeah! Yeah! We play soccer with them!” 

Despite my four years of babysitting experience, working with new kids is always a nerve-racking endeavor.”

Familiarity gave me too much confidence proceeding into the night. I assumed the kids felt comfortable with me; after all, they were eating their vegetables. That was a HUGE mistake.

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I was not on my toes nor was I ready for what was about to happen. The rest of the night only built up my confidence. The kids talked about school while we ate and built Lego cars with me. 

“Ok boys, it’s time to get ready for bed,” I told them promptly at 7:30 p.m. 

Just when I was ready to read them a bedtime story and tuck them in for bed, the 7-year-old decided he needed to “do a poo-poo.” Per his request, I sat with him in the bathroom while his brother went to pick out a book. 

As he got up to wash his hands, I flushed the toilet for him, then walked him back to his room. But as I passed by the bathroom again,  I noticed his “poo-poo” had not gone down the potty.

I noticed his “poo-poo” had not gone down the potty.”

In other words, this seven-year-old had just clogged the toilet. I went back to try and flush it again unsuccessfully and decided it would be better handled after the boys had gone to bed. I read their bedtime books a few times and within ten minutes they settled down. Back to the bathroom I went.

“Third time’s the charm,” I told myself as I flushed the toilet again. This time some of the poop went down so I plunged a little hoping that would do the trick. I was convinced I was a competent, problem-solving babysitter. “I can fix this,” I told myself.

The fourth flush was my second mistake. After you flush a toilet, the water level usually rises, then stabilizes back down as some water drains. Turns out that when a seven-year-old’s “poo-poo” is blocking the drain, the water can’t drain quite as well. I watched as the water level rose higher and higher. Soon after, I could tell the water level was rising at a fast-enough rate that the toilet would overflow. The water just kept coming.

The fourth flush was my second mistake.”

Before I knew it, the whole bathroom floor was covered in at least two inches of toilet water and the bottoms of my white socks were drenched. The water started to seep slowly onto the carpeting outside the bathroom. 

Determined to make it stop, I started taking deep breaths and closing my eyes. I needed to calm myself down and think. Not think about the fact that I was standing in potty water, but think, what now? 

“Towels,” I thought first. “Let’s clean this up.” I used the towels to soak up most of the water from the ground as I waddled my way across the bathroom floor. I opened the toilet top to confirm what I already knew: I am no toilet expert. 

In a moment of panic, I called my dad. He is also no plumber, but he would definitely know more than me.

Demoralized, I could hear my younger sister’s laughter in the background as I explained the situation. After taking his turn to laugh at me, he helped me find the faucet that turns the water on and off for the toilet. I turned it off the second I found it, essentially cutting off all water flow to the toilet. Finally, the toilet bowl stopped overflowing, the sloshing sound of water swirling around in the toilet disappeared and all you could hear was the biggest sigh of relief that had ever come out of my mouth. 

Demoralized, I could hear my younger sister’s laughter in the background as I explained the situation.”

I tried to clean up as much as possible without throwing all of the parents’ clean towels on the bathroom floor. I texted the parents to explain what had happened so that they didn’t have to see it when they got home — also so that I didn’t have to see the look on their faces when they found out. I recently found the exact text messages.

“Hi (mom’s name), so sorry to say, but when (kid) was using the toilet he ended up clogging it and it overflowed into your bathroom,” I wrote. “I had to turn off the faucet to the toilet and the water stopped running, but there is still quite a bit of water on the bathroom floor. Everything is under control, I put some towels on the floor, just wanted to let you know.” 

“That is fine,” she responded. “Thanks for taking care of it.” 

After about an hour, the parents came home. The kids were happy, fed and asleep, but I was still shaking. I tried to explain the situation and give the parents my Venmo so I could get paid and get out of the house as quickly as possible. I needed the night to be over.

The parents never called me back to babysit again, and I’m not too mad about it, nor do I know exactly how the parents fixed the toilet.

I went home and decided I had learned a few things. First of all, I knew never to get too comfortable too fast with new kids. I also decided to learn a little bit more about toilets. I would never ever try to flush a toilet more than twice.   

Stay tuned for the next installment in the next issue.

Have you ever had a difficult experience babysitting?