Monday, December 27, 2010

Babysitter's Chronicles: Flailings of a Fourteener

Yesterday I had a To-Do list. But I ended up playing Sims 3 all day. Yes... all day. Needless to say, nothing on my list got done. However, just a few minutes ago I saw my list sitting on my desk. Funnily enough, I had managed to do everything on it, despite the fact that I woke up and played another 3 hours of Sims. Everything but ONE task, that is...*

The summer before my freshman year of high school, I managed to get a part time job babysitting for a family that lived about four blocks from my house. There were two little boys, one who was getting ready to start kindergarten, and one who was about 3 years old.

The first few times I babysat for them, everything was just peachy. We played legos and board games, watched kid's television (which is bearable if you have a book and the ability to tune out shrill noises), and we even ventured outside a few times to kick a ball or play tag.

One day when I came over, their mom asked if I wanted to take them to the library. I wanted to look at her as if she were an idiot: "I don't know if this came up, but I am 14 years old. I can't drive to the library. And I don't care HOW much you think your kids like books, there is no way in hell they are going to be entertained the whole time you are at work." But of course I did not look at her as if she were an idiot, nor did I say that to her.

She ended up dropping us off at the library with their stroller, so that I could just stroll them back home when we were done. Oh, that is, AFTER we got something to eat. Their mom proceeded to hand me her credit card before she belatedly drove off. The card was for me to pay for lunch. Dear mother had promised her two little boys that they could go to a local burger joint for lunch. A burger joint that was a mere two blocks from the library.** But those two blocks were across a crazy intersection where cars come from six different directions and there are sometimes no sidewalks.

So I made an executive decision. There would be no going to the cheap burger joint. No. Way.

After exhausting the library's intrigue within a record 30 minutes, we begun our trek in the direction of their house. Of course, I couldn't just NOT take them out to eat. They were already upset about not getting burgers. So we stopped at a restaurant on a nice street with 2-way traffic and sidewalks.

This is when I started to panic. I had her freaking credit card. At this point in my life, I'd never even used my mom's credit card. I didn't know if I would have to put in a password, forge her signature, or finish a line of poetry that the waitress began to verify that I was allowed to use it. This was all in addition to having two grumpy children who really didn't want to be there, but didn't want to go home, either.

I like to think that I managed to get those two little boys through lunch without being a huge annoyance to the waitress, the other customers, and the diners next door. But I sincerely doubt it. I was stressed about too  many things to keep control over any one of them; would somebody take the stroller that we'd left by the door? Would I get in trouble for using a credit card that wasn't mine? Would this 3 year old menace stab me with a fork?***

In fact, I was so worked up, that I didn't leave a tip. Not that I would have known how to anyway. It took me long enough to figure it out when I got my OWN card. But because I didn't leave a tip, I am still afraid (to this day, 4 years later) to go to that restaurant.

I realise all these many years down the road that I should have done one of two things that terrible day:

1. I should have called my mom with a desperate cry for help, so that she could tell me to...

2. Screw the eating establishment, screw the kid's wishes, and screw their mom. Go back to their house. NOW.

Seriously, what was their mom thinking sending a 14 year old on such a stupid expedition with her very young children? What made her think that I was equipped to deal with entertaining her children in a [quiet] public environment, to send me across a dangerous pedestrian intersection, to give me her freaking credit card? Who does that to-- essentially-- another child?

With bitterness,

*Hint: my last task was to blog.

**Two blocks FARTHER AWAY from their house, which was already a 20 minute walk away.

***That was a legitimate concern at one point.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Babysitter's Chronicles: Trials of a Twelve Year Old

As I lay in my bed falling asleep last night, I pondered my many mishaps and misfortunes as a babysitting adolescent. Several very distinct instances came to mind while I gratefully recalled that these parts of my life were past. This lead me to an idea-- Why not start a mini-series on my blog? I'll call it The Babysitter's Chronicles! Yes, that is catchy...

When I was 12 years old, I took a class at the hospital to become a Certified Babysitter. The class was terrifying; it alerted me to the plethora of dangers that the children I would soon be caring for would get into, such as drinking toxic cleaning supplies, falling down the stairs, tying me to furniture, and needing to be taken to the hospital.

But that was not all, oh no. Not only did I have to make sure that they didn't light things on fire while I blinked, I had to make food for them (having never even fed myself), play all manner of inventive games with them (else they resort to aforementioned violence), and change the Dreaded Diaper.

Needless to say, I was not at all confident that the children I watched wouldn't spontaneously combust, and that the parents wouldn't sue me and have me sent to Guantanamo Bay. Yet babysit I did, and I soon started to grow almost comfortable with my role as substitute-caretaker.

Among my first handful of jobs was to babysit for my neighbors down the street. I had the charge of a six year old and a two year old.* The mother gave me all the important phone numbers, showed me where the juice boxes were kept, and assured me that I could watch whatever I wanted on television after the kids went to bed. One phone number was of particular interest, however...

"On rare occassions Suzie Lee** puts up a fight when you change her diaper. If you absolutely need to, call our next door neighbor and she can help you."

She vaguely gestured toward the paper with the other phone numbers, moved on to other businesses, and soon left.

The kids and I ate pizza, watched a movie, and then had story time. Before long, however, it became evident that Suzie Lee needed to have a diaper change. I put her on the changing table, held my breath, removed The Diaper, and quickly shoved it into the waste basket.

The moment I had looked away to rid of the diaper, however, Suzie Lee had streaked from the changing table and down the hallway. For the next twenty minutes I chased her and tried to coerce her back to the changing table. Even brute force didn't work. (Admittedly, I was a scrawny twelve year old).

Finally I remembered that their neighbor could help me. I rushed to the list and searched for the number next to "Godsent Savior from Heaven." But try as I might (I even turned the paper over) I could not find any number other than the parents' and the pizza place.

Out of desperation I did one of the stupidest things I could have done: I left the two kids in the house and ran next door to frantically ring the doorbell. As I stood on the porch I tried not to imagine all the terrible things that they could be getting up to right at that moment. Finally she answered the door and I explained myself, trying not to sound hysterical.

The situation after that was easily sorted. The next door neighbor was magically able to subdue Suzie Lee and successfully change her diaper. I thanked her profusely as she walked back out the door, then promptly put the kids to bed (it being past time, what with all the uproar).

When the parents got home, I received the standard question: How were the kids? I thought about asking whether or not their youngest was trained to run as soon as her diaper was removed, or whether they had hidden the number for their neighbor purposefully. But of course, being my quiet, small 12 year old self, I just smiled and said that they had been very good, although Suzie Lee had been the tiniest bit difficult when I tried to change her diaper, but it was no huge problem, really.

With agedness,

*These ages are only theorized. I don't actually know how old they were, but that should be about right.

**Child's name is made up for protective purposes moste sekretive.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Much Ado About...

... not nothing. This is not nothing. Trust me. This is a crapton of something.

Hello dear readers of my blog! It's been a while, has it not? I has, it has. But do not fret! I am back, and I have a story for you!

Just yesterday I went rollerskating. My friend (who I met at piano camp) invited The Wordsmith* and I to "Homeschoolers Night" at a skate park. Almost as soon as we got there, they called for song requests over the speakers.

Eagerly, I skate/stumbled** to the clipboard where requests were written. Very lovingly and carefully I wrote Queen under "artist" and Bohemian Rhapsody under "song." I gleefully noted that Uprising by Muse had been written just before. With much joy I skated off and jammed to Human by the Killers. (Homeschoolers clearly have good taste in music).

Every moment brought me closer to my favorite song. Every closing note I expected to hear Uprising, which would be followed by Queen's most perfect melody.

But it never came. Muse was blasted and I appreciatively sang along, but no Bohemian Rhapsody followed it. I was confused, I was hurt. Mostly I was confused.

After a while I became numb to the music and just enjoyed the company of my sister, my friend, and all her homeschooled minions. I laughed when someone fell, though my smirk was always wiped away when I lost my balance.***

All of a sudden my attention was caught by familiar lyrics.

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?

My heart did not skip for joy, however. Because it was THIS "Bohemian Rhapsody" (listen at your own peril).

First I was confused. Then I wanted to cry. This wasn't the song I asked for, this wasn't Queen. Who in their right mind would try to cover Bohemian Rhapsody in the first place??

My shoulders and neck started twitching; the song was a bug in my ear that I could not get out. It was raping my ears, and there was nothing I could do to block it or make it stop. This necessarily turned me from near-tears to a would-be-murderer. Someone had to pay for this grievous mistake, this irreconcilable error.

The song ended not nearly soon enough. There was blissful quiet afterward that immediately begun to improve my mood, and I skated for joy that the horrendous song was over.

Then... another announcement. "Ladies and gentlemen, let's line up for LIMBO!" No... Oh god, please no...
Every limbo boy and girl!
All around the limbo world!
Gonna do the limbo rock!
All around the limbo clock!

With much ear rape,

*Speaking of The Wordsmith, my baby sister just finished NaNo! I am so ridiculously proud of her.

**I was a cheapskate (see what I did there??) last night and didn't pay the extra monies for rollerblades. Therefore I had to learn how to use regular skates.

***To my credit, I did not fall once that night.