Dawn and the Impossible Three

For Aunt Dot

The Baby-sitters Club. I didn't start it and I don't run it, but I am its newest member. I'm Dawn Schafer, baby-sitter number five. The other girls in the club have titles, like Mary Anne Spier, secretary, or Claudia Kishi, vice president. But I'm just me.

The club is the most important thing in my life. If it weren't for the club, I wouldn't be riding my bicycle off to another baby-sitting job at this very moment. And if it weren't for all the babysitting jobs I've gotten, I wouldn't know so many people here in Stoneybrook.

See, I've only lived in Connecticut a few months. Until this past January, I lived in California with my parents and my younger brother, Jeff. But last fall Mom and Dad split up, and Mom decided to move back to the place where she grew up. Her parents still live here. So right after Christmas, Jeff and I were uprooted
from hot, sunny California and transplanted to cold, sloppy Connecticut, where (so far) it's never been warm enough for me.

I hate cold weather. On the days when the temperature slips back a few degrees, I yell at the weatherman. On the days when it creeps up, I congratulate him and apologize for yelling. I'm still not sure what the big deal about New England winters is all about. Back in California, we had one season: summer. I thought it was wonderful. I loved the beach, I loved sunshine, I loved eighty-degree Christmases. Why, I wondered, would anyone want to interrupt all that warmth with three other seasons?

The family I was baby-sitting for that afternoon was the Pikes. There are eight Pike children — and three of them are triplets! However, I wasn't going to sit for all of them. The triplets, who are nine-year-old boys, would be at ice hockey practice (my brother Jeff was there, too), and eight-year-old Vanessa would be at her violin lesson. That left Nicky, who's seven; Margo (six); Claire (four); and Mallory, who's ten and usually a big help.

When I reached the Pikes', I parked my bicycle at the side of the driveway and rang the doorbell.

“I'll get it! I'll get it!” cried a voice from inside.

The door was flung open by Claire, the
youngest Pike. She loves answering the door and the phone.

“Hi, Claire!” I said brightly.

Claire suddenly turned shy. She put her finger in her mouth and looked at the floor. “Hi,” she replied.

“I'm Dawn. Remember me?”

Claire nodded.

“Can I come in?”

She nodded again.

As I was opening the door, Mrs. Pike ran down the stairs. “Oh, it's you, Dawn. Terrific! You're right on time. How are you?”

“Fine, thanks,” I answered.

I really like Mrs. Pike. She has lots of energy and she loves kids. (She'd have to, I guess.) She's patient and funny and hardly ever yells. She and Mr. Pike have been really nice to our family ever since we moved here.

“I'm just going to be at a meeting of the trustees of the public library. The library number is on the bulletin board by the phone. If you need to call me, ask for the Prescott Room and say that I'm in the board meeting, okay?”


(Mrs. Pike is always so organized. She's a baby-sitter's dream.)

“The emergency numbers are in their usual spot, and the kids can have a snack — a small one — if they're hungry. I'll be home a little after five. Is that all right?”

“Perfect. We have a Baby-sitters Club meeting at five-thirty.”

Our club is run very professionally. We meet three times a week to go over club business and take job calls. (We get tons of jobs.) The president is Kristy Thomas. She's the one who had the idea for the club.

The vice president is Claudia Kishi, who's really neat and sophisticated. She lives across the street from Kristy. We hold our meetings in Claudia's room because she has a phone. Claudia is Japanese and beautiful. She hates school, but loves art and mystery stories. She's a little bit hard to get to know.

The club treasurer is Stacey McGill. Stacey moved to Stoneybrook just a few months before I did, so we have something in common. She came from New York City, and I know she had trouble getting adjusted to small-town life. Sometimes we talk about that.

Then there's Mary Anne Spier. She's the one who introduced me to Kristy, Claudia, and Stacey. She's the secretary of the club and responsible
for the Baby-sitters Club Record Book, which is where she records our job appointments, as well as the phone numbers and addresses of our clients and stuff like that. (Also in that book is a record of the money we earn. Stacey's in charge of that section.)

We keep a Baby-sitters Club Notebook, too, which is like a diary. Kristy insists that we write up
job we take and that we all read the book every few days. That's so we know what's going on in the families the club sits for.

The most important thing about Mary Anne (to me, anyway) is that she's my new best friend. (My old best friend was Sunny Winslow in California.) Mary Anne lives next door to Kristy Thomas, and for the longest time Kristy was her only best friend. Now I'm Mary Anne's other best friend.

The wildest thing happened right after Mary Anne and I got to know each other. It turned out that her father and my mother went to high school together. Not only
, they dated — for a long time. They were really serious about each other. Mary Anne and I found all this romantic stuff they'd written to each other in their senior yearbooks.

Even more amazing is that they've started dating each other
! (Mary Anne's mother died
when Mary Anne was really little.) Mary Anne and I can hardly believe that our parents are going out. It's so exciting! Mr. Spier is this stern, lonely guy who needs some fun in his life (and something to think about besides Mary Anne, who's his only kid). And my mom has been so sad since the divorce. She needs some fun, too.

Mrs. Pike was putting on her coat and hat and tossing things in her purse. “Mallory's upstairs doing her homework,” she told me, “but she'll be down soon. She wants to see you. Margo's in the rec room, and Nicky's at the Barretts' playing with Buddy. Do you know the Barretts?”

I shook my head.

“They live a few doors down — toward your house. Our kids and their kids are back and forth all the time. Nicky'll probably bring Buddy over here at some point today. You won't need to call Mrs. Barrett. She's very relaxed, and she'll probably know he's here anyway.”

“Okay,” I said.

“I guess that's it.” Mrs. Pike stooped down to kiss Claire. “See you later, pumpkin,” she said. “Wear your jacket if you go outside. It's chilly today.” (Was it ever!) Then she called upstairs to Mallory and downstairs to Margo to let them know she was leaving — and she was gone.

I looked at Claire. “Let's go see what Margo's doing, okay?”

Claire nodded and I led her down to the rec room.

What Margo was doing was performing. She had put on a big floppy straw hat and a long filmy dress with some beads and scarves, and was dancing around to “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” which was playing at full volume. When she knew the words, she mouthed them.

Claire and I plopped ourselves down on the couch and pretended we were the audience. When the song ended, Margo made a sweeping bow and Claire and I clapped loudly.

“Bravo!” I shouted.

“Bravo!” Claire shouted.

Margo took another bow.

I heard a clatter of footsteps in the kitchen and Mallory called down, “Hi, Dawn. What's eight times seven?”

“Hi, Mal,” I called back. “You know that one.”

“Fifty-six?” she asked.

“Right!” I said.


She returned to her homework.

Margo put “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” on and began another performance. Claire joined in
on the animal sounds. They were just finishing when I heard Mallory in the kitchen again.

“Homework's done,” she announced. “Can I have a snack, Dawn?”

“Sure,” I replied. “Claire and Margo and I will have one, too.”

The four of us sat around the Pikes' kitchen, eating granola bars.

“So, Dawn,” said Mallory, “how's your new-old house?”

Claire and Margo giggled. Mallory had christened our house “new-old,” and the little girls think it's funny, but Mallory's right. I do live in a new-old house. It's new to Mom and Jeff and me, but it was built in 1795. I love it, even though it's dark inside, and the stairway is narrow, and the doorways are low because people were a lot shorter in 1795. I like to think that I live in a house that so many other people have lived in — people who saw the War of 1812 and the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation and the first airplane and the Depression and the first rocket ship. It's exciting.

I bet our house has a secret passageway somewhere. Maybe it was even part of the Underground Railroad. Mary Anne and I are going to explore it thoroughly one day. We'll tap on walls and press the wood paneling, hoping for something to spring
out or swing open. We plan to explore the attic, too. Maybe we'll find an old diary or something.

I smiled to myself, thinking that Mom would want to be in on a search of the house. She loves things like that. She thinks they're romantic, and Mom is a very romantic person. That's one reason Mr. Spier liked her so much when they were in high school. Guess what she did? She saved the rose tied with a white ribbon that he gave her the night of their senior prom. She pressed it between the pages of her yearbook. It's still there. Mary Anne and I found it.

“The new-old house is fine,” I replied.

Mallory grinned at me and raised her eyebrows. “And how's your
?” she asked meaningfully. Mallory knows about my mother and Mr. Spier, and loves to hear about them. She likes most of all to hear about when they were in love in high school and what had happened to drive them apart. I'd told her as much as I knew, which wasn't much. Several times I had asked Mom why she and Mary Anne's father ended their relationship. It had something to do with Mom's parents not approving of the Spiers because they didn't have much money (Mom's parents have
of money), but I didn't know the whole story.

“Honey,” she'd said, “it's not really very interesting.”

“I think it is. You two were in love, but you went off to college and never saw each other again. I think it's romantic … and sad.”

“Our paths just never crossed. Our vacations usually came at different times. During the summers, I stayed in California and worked. And at Christmastime, Granny and Pop-Pop would take me to the Bahamas.”

“Didn't you think about Mr. Spier, though?”

“Sometimes, yes. But we were young. We had new lives and new interests. We were both busy with school. And then I met your father, and Mr. Spier met Mary Anne's mother — and you know the rest of the story.”

I sure did. The rest of the story is that my mother and father got married, got unhappy, and got divorced. They just weren't right for each other. Dad is super-organized. And Mom is a crazy person — not nasty crazy, just an absentminded-professor type.

Jeff and I are actually
to finding the mixing bowls carefully put away in the linen closet, or finding her mending clothes we outgrew two years earlier. And although we've been living in our new-old house for several months, there
is still a gigantic pile of unpacked cartons in the dining room. Every now and then I start to go through one, and each time Mom runs in and says, “Dawn, you don't have to bother with that, honey. Let me do it.” And then she doesn't do it.

My mom is really terrific, but her habits are what drove her and Dad apart. I'm not saying the divorce was her fault. I'm just saying that she's disorganized and Dad couldn't live with that.

I didn't tell Mallory all that, though. What I said was, “Mom's okay. She's still going out with Mr. Spier.”

“Yay!” cried Mallory.

“And she's started looking for a job. She's always off on interviews —”

We were interrupted by a thump and a wail that seemed to come from the front porch. Mallory and I looked at each other. “What was that?” I asked.

We raced to the door. There was Nicky Pike with a boy about his age, and a round-faced, pig-tailed little girl who was crying.

“Suzi!” Mallory exclaimed. “It's Suzi Barrett,” she informed me. “And this is Buddy, her brother.”

“She fell coming up the steps,” Buddy said. “I think she skinned her knee.”

I braved the cold weather to dart outside and
roll up Suzi's pants legs. Sure enough, one knee was bleeding, but it didn't look bad. “I'm Dawn, Suzi,” I told her. “Why don't you come in and I'll wash your cut and find you a Band-Aid.”

“Thanks,” said Suzi tearfully.

“We have Band-Aids with dinosaurs on them,” Nicky said helpfully.

We found one and I put it carefully over Suzi's scrape. She liked it so much that she rolled up the leg of her pants and left it that way so everyone could see the Band-Aid.

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