Sunday, June 12, 2011

Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dumb

I had quite a few unofficial jobs before actually getting real employment bagging groceries. I'd do yardwork, clean gutters, paint, whatever the old folks in my neighborhood needed and were willing to pay for.

Lots of people hate that stuff, but I found it relaxing. I could be out there alone with nobody bothering me and I didn't have to talk to anyone, two things I've looked for in jobs and relationships ever since. Plus, I'd have to do the same stuff at home anyway, but I was getting actual money for my work, as opposed to the free room and board and love or whatever my parents paid me with. I also noticed that working for other people had an actual stopping time, which I found a welcome change from my parent's managerial style.

At some point my neighbors across the street recruited me for a babysitting gig which I snatched right up. I wouldn't be sweating in the sun, I'd get to watch cable and eat junk food for a few hours, and as a bonus I knew that these neighbors had a stack of vintage Playboys in the garage.

I show up, having memorized the night's pay channel's lineup, paying special attention to the words "strong sexual content," "nudity," "violence" or the wild card, "adult situations."

I should mention that the kid I was going to babysit was sort of weird. He grew up to be a weird teenager. He's probably a weird man right now.

At some point we're playing a Sesame Street board game. I let the kid win.

"Yay! I win!"

"Yep, you won."

"Now we have to play until you win."

This round I make short work of the kid, since he's like 4 and I was in a gifted class. I'm actually fairly distracted, thinking of that pizza in the kitchen I heated up that the kid only ate like three bites of which is calling my name. Those Playboys in the garage are also calling to me. Vintage or not, they still had naked ladies in them, and I figured I could check those out as an appetizer before exploring the night's cable offerings.

As I navigate Oscar into Gumdrop Mountain, the kid realizes I won and starts bawling. Like, turning red and getting that hyperventilating thing when kids are really going off.

"Hey, look," I say. "I was supposed to lose a turn! Looks like you won after all!"

"Jesus," I'm thinking. "Did his parents never allow him to lose? This kid's gonna be all sorts of screwed up. I don't remember pissing my pants when my dad won at Monopoly."

"Uh uh uh uh O O O OK. N..N..Now we have to play until you win."

I beat the kid again and he starts crying. I discover another loophole in the rules which meant he actually won, then we have to play until I win. This goes on for a while, all while I'm thinking about cold pizza, Playboys and all the nudity on cable TV that is going on without me.

After about 14 hours of this, the kid finally gets sleepy and is ready for bed. Awesome! As I'm stuffing cold pizza in my mouth, he comes into the kitchen and picks out a mop from the closet.

"My mom said I could sleep with this."

I didn't really think that was true, but screw it, the kid wants to sleep with a mop, who was I to judge? I'd wait til he fell asleep and return it to the closet with nobody being the wiser. The important thing is that the kid is finally heading for bed, meaning I could check out some Playboys and prime '80s pay cable in the hour or so I had before the parents came back.

I'm sitting on the couch eating warmed up pizza watching a particularly exciting Cinemax offering (I had given up on going out to the Playboy garage) when the kid wanders in dragging his mop.

"I can't sleep. Are my parents home yet?"

"No, they're not back yet. Hey, let's go back to bed, huh? Wouldn't that be fun?"

This goes on for the rest of the night, throwing me off my Cinemax viewing, and impeding my mop return.

The parents finally show up, and although they thought the mop thing was pretty funny, I was never called to babysit again, which was fine by me. Mowing was much less stressful.

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