• Steve Cote

“You’re Gonna Be a Babysitter, and You’re Gonna Like It!" USMC Col (ret) Steve Cote was the new guy

After serving a year as an AAV platoon commander, I was told to report to the battalion operations officer for duty as his S-3A. The “3” was a major with a reputation of being a real hard ass. I had no idea what working on a battalion staff would be like let alone working for this guy. I had a one week turnover with the LT I was replacing. He explained my primary and additional duties and then went on terminal leave.

A few weeks later, the S-3 (major) brought in his 4 year-old son, little Eric, around 0730 and asked me to watch him (read baby sit) until 0900 when his preschool started. This additional duty quickly became a 5 day a week job. You can imagine the grief my fellow LT’s gave me!

I figured that this is the boss’s kid, so I’ll make his time in the 3-shop enjoyable. I bought toy soldiers for him, crayons to draw with, etc., just to keep him happy before school. Sword fights using rulers was his favorite and of course in the end I always let him win.

My baby sitting antics didn’t always impress our Master Gunnery Sergeant, a two tour Vietnam Vet.

The ruler sword fights culminated in me accidentally whacking him on the hand causing a small cut / bruise and much crying. Upset, he low crawled under his dad’s big wooden desk and wouldn’t come out. The clearance was too low for an adult to get under and get him out. The major was at a meeting and I had only a short time to calm the kid down. Our sergeant (S-3 clerk) volunteered to get the kid out from under the desk. I didn’t realize the sergeant would use a yardstick to prod him out, which was less than effective. The sergeant ended up reaching under the desk and the boy bit the hell out of the sergeant's hand … drawing blood.

I had to figure out how to end this babysitting job, and quick!

I developed a plan: the young lad needed his dad's assistance to help him clean up after a bowel movement. The major had told me that it was okay to come get him any time if little Eric needed help, even if he was in a meeting. I knew the time would come when Eric would need help while his dad was in a meeting. I didn’t have to wait long.

As luck would have it, the young boy eventually had to go during the BN CO’s monthly meeting, attended by all staff officers as well as company commanders. The youngster asked me to get his dad to “wipe his rear end.” This was my chance! I knocked loudly on the conference room door, excused myself for interrupting and loudly said, “Major Bifflewit, your son is in the head and needs you to wipe his ass.”

Dead silence... and then the entire room burst out laughing, including the BN CO. I’m pretty sure the BN XO was not amused.

A couple of days later, the kid no longer showed up at work. The major never said a word to me and didn’t hold a grudge come evaluation time. I’m pretty sure the BN CO intervened on my behalf!


Oh, yeah. The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.


Steve served as a USMC Assault Amphibian Vehicle Officer and retired as a Colonel in 2005. From 2005 - 2014 he worked Joint Warfighting Center, Joint Support Team Contract, Suffolk, VA and the re-designated Joint Staff J7, Joint Support Team Contract. Steve still throws weights around, golfs, travels and is a slave to his three granddaughters... Printed with his permission.

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