Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting

My sister was always the resident babysitter of the family. She has always loved kids, and they have always loved her back, so it was just inevitable that she would become one of those highly-sought-after, beloved babysitters that kids remember and love for the rest of their lives.

It's not that I didn't like kids, it's just that they didn't always enjoy it when I did things like give them nicknames such as Charles Thickwig or, say, point out that their initials could also stand for Human Papilloma Virus. In my defense, one, the kid needed a haircut, and, two, isn't it always better to hear bad news, such as your connection to a common STD, from someone who cares about you?

While I usually just babysat for my sister's clients when she was too busy or not around, I did have a couple babysitting gigs of my own. One of which being a little three-year-old boy named Nate. He could not have been more than three at the time I babysat him, yet he struck terror in me like no adult could. When I would arrive at the house, he would appear to be this sweet, quiet little boy, but as soon as his parents were out the door, I would be facing down a Gadhafi-like dictator. And, even though I had at least thirteen years on him, I would do whatever he said. (He scared me!) The few times I tried to speak up ("No, Nate, I don't think you should have four Hostess cakes before bed.") He would promptly throw out one of his two favorite threats:

"I'm MAD with you! I'm telling my mom!" or "I HATE you!"

Both of which were spoken with such fervor so as to strike fear in my heart, produce sweat in my armpits, and to give him what he clearly wanted most--the upper hand in our relationship. These episodes usually included a lot of dramatic arm crossing, stomping, and sitting on the stairs where I was not allowed to come near him and was reduced to much apologizing and groveling. At the time, I could not understand why his mom said he couldn't wait to have me come babysit (What? I thought he hated me!). But, I now understand that he had honed in on my weakness and enjoyed getting away with whatever he wanted while I was there.

Another babysitting job I had was to watch a precocious little red-headed four-year-old and his older sister one summer when I was in college. I was greatly relieved when after the first week neither of them had threatened me or given me a stress induced panic attack. In fact, the little boy even gave me an endearing nickname. Granted, Tasty Porridge isn't the most common of nicknames, but at least it wasn't Nasty Porridge (which I think all porridge is anyway) so I went with it. It did result in some awkward looks from strangers when I was called that in public. ("Taaaassssttttyyy...come watch me go off the dive!!")

In fact, this little boy was always looking out for me, trying to impart useful information that would help me in life, such as the fact that "moms get hair on their peeps" and that I should watch out as I would get it someday (Thanks, I think I went through puberty ten years ago, but good to know...) Or the exact spot in the movie Titanic where I could see "Rose's num nums" (And to think of all the time I wasted fast-forwarding...).If I wasn't so blinded by the cuteness of his adorable freckles and red hair, I would have found these conversations a lot more disturbing. But I would smile and nod and thank him for sharing such helpful knowledge.

For the record, I must say that both boys grew up to be lovely, polite, and well-adjusted young men...which had nothing at all to do with my tenure as their babysitter.




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