Jason and I don’t have a lot of “in real life” friends. I don’t mean this in a whiny way, I just mean we don’t go to dinner with other couples or have people over to our house just to hang out. We have a lot of strong, healthy relationships, but most of our connections are made through Facebook, text messages, or my blog.
But Ben and Hope are friends in real life. They transferred here when Southwest Airlines opened a station in Charleston. I liked them both instantly. They have little boy, Finn, who is four months younger than Ty so we are in a similar place in our lives with young children and young marriages and trying to make ends meet.
They are pretty new to Charleston, but they have made it their home. (They probably don’t consider themselves “new to town”, but this is Charleston. If you haven’t been here for six generation, you’re new here.) After Finn was born, they needed childcare. Because they both worked for an airline, their childcare schedule is crazy. After working with an online agency, securing background checks and interviewing candidates, they hired two sitters.
For five months they juggled it all. Hope even pumped at work to provide breast milk for Finn because she knew it was the best choice for him. (This is supermom stuff. What a selfless choice.)
Then their dog, Killian, started to act out toward the babysitter. But only one babysitter. His odd behavior didn’t sit well with Hope and her maternal alarm bells went off. She knew something wasn’t right and came up with a crazy idea. They decided to leave an iPhone under the couch to record what was going on in their home while they were at work.
I remember when Jason told me about their plan. I remember thinking it sounded kind of crazy. But then we got a text from Ben. Finn was being admitted to the hospital. That audio recording had captured a day of crying, cussing, yelling and slapping. And scariest of all: baby shaking. Jason and I were heartbroken for this sweet family. I felt helpless and silly as I threw together a bag of granola bars, instant coffee and crackers before we headed to the hospital. I won’t forget the pain on Ben’s face as he told us how unfair it was for Finn to be poked and prodded as the tests were run. Tests that were required because of the choices of his caregiver.
Today, Finn is a healthy, happy toddler. He and Killian are still best friends. His babysitter plead guilty in criminal court and was sentenced to 1-3 years in prison. This story has gotten national attention. You can watch a clip here:
Ben and Hope are healing, too. They’ve been forced to make some changes in their family that are bittersweet. Hope is now a stay at home mom, which is incredible, but has really put their family in a bind financially. To help take up some of the slack, Hope has an Etsy shop. Please check it out. Her scarves are so pretty.
Ben is still working full time and he has opened his own business. Harper Tours is a walking tour company based here in Charleston. Ben is funny, smart and engaging.