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?
*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.