By Denene Millner
Sweet baby Jesus, it just gets worse: turns out the tiny load seen in a video surveillance tape spinning in an active washing machine was put in the Laundromat tub not by his parents but the baby sitter and her boyfriend. And… wait for it… the toddler’s mother didn’t know her child was the one in the washing machine until she saw her kid tumbling in the YouTube video viewed by millions.
Camden prosecutors say that during questioning, the pair in the video told them that the boyfriend was playing peek-a-boo when he got the bright idea to put the baby in the washing machine as a prank. He apparently did not know the machine would lock and wash when the door closed, and the babysitter apparently didn’t know she was dating a guy dumb enough to even attempt such a thing, let alone “play” like that. So prosecutors have written it off as a stupid but charge-less offense, instead referring the case to child welfare services.
Sakia says the baby sitter gave her the baby back with bruises and cuts, talmbout he fell down two stairs and, after a quick visit to the hospital, checked out okay. She says she took the baby sitter’s word for it—until she saw the video. “That’s my baby,” Sakia recalls saying when she watched. The babysitter denied it when Sakia confronted her, but when police showed up to Sakia’s door, she knew for sure that it was little Saimeir tumbling in the machine.
Sakia says she plans to file charges against the two. ”I left my child in in her custody. She sat there and watched him put my baby in the washer. So it’s both of their fault,” she told Today’s Ann Curry, adding that she wants them “punished and sentenced.”
Here’s my thing: if I put my child in your care, at the very top of my list of expectations is that you a) take good care of my kid and b) you don’t have my kid around a bunch of random people. Boyfriend or no, that man had no business around Sakia’s child while his mother wasn’t around. Period. And that man had no right to put his hands on that child. Period.
This whole mess of an incident reminds me of when we hired our first babysitter ever, just before I went back to work after having my first daughter, Mari. The lady seemed nice—came with great recommendations, had experience, yadda, yadda, yadda. I was comforted knowing that she would be watching my kid at my house and Nick, who was working from home at the time, would be just a room away. But alarms, low and steady, started ringing when the woman started telling me all her personal business—her ex was a married man, the wife worked at a bank just down the street, they didn’t get along (obviously), she still loved the ex. I didn’t really want to hear all of that coming in from work; what I wanted to hear was that my baby, who’d been breastfeeding exclusively for six months, was off her bottle strike and actually ate while I was gone, and that after she stopped crying for me that she played and was taken for a walk in the park and was read to and rocked while she listened to her favorite music and that she napped without interruption.
The day the babysitter sat me down, girlfriend-to-girlfriend style and told me she took my kid for a walk down to the bank to confront her ex’s wife (!!!) was the last day she worked for me. I was too much of a punk to fire her myself; Nick did it. But it got done. And Nick had to care for our daughter alone, while trying to get his freelance and book writing career off the ground, until I found someone else to watch our child. Thank God he was there. Otherwise, I would have had to leave my kid in that woman’s hands until I tracked down another babysitter—not an easy feat in a town where everyone, whether they worked or not, had nannies.
That’s all to say that I get it: when you are a young mother and desperate for help with your baby while you go to work, you have to hire a baby sitter and, every time, you have to put your faith and trust not only in the person who’s charged with watching your kid, but your instincts as a mother. Sometimes, the need trumps the instincts, and you have to work with what you got. Who knew that in addition to feeding schedules, play instructions and emergency contact information, young mothers now have to hand over explicit instructions to new babysitters telling them to make sure their boyfriends don’t put the baby in the washing machine? Thank God, the toddler is okay. But every time I watch that YouTube video of that baby spinning in that Laundromat machine, I see only the horror—and feel that mother’s pain.