I started babysitting when I was 11 years old. Apparently the neighborhood parents found me trustworthy. And, really, I WAS trustworthy. I didn’t snoop through their stuff or invite my friends over or anything like that. I was a good babysitter, too. The kids loved me because I would play lots of games, let them braid stuff into my hair, and eat as much ice cream as they wanted. You know, typical babysitter stuff.
This isn’t to say I was the perfect babysitter. I would often trick the kids so that I could get a little peace and quiet to do my homework or watch TV.
One time I was sitting for two little boys who were so incredibly rambunctious that they tired me out after the first two hours. I didn’t know HOW I would make it through another four until their parents came home. Luckily, a solution popped into my mind. Immediately after dinner I got the boys ready for bed and herded them into their bedroom. It was 6:45 pm.
“Bedtime!” I chirped.
“But, it’s still light out!” said the four year old.
“Oh, that’s because it’s daylight savings!” I told the four year old.
“What’s daylight savings?” asked the six year old.
“That’s when the time changes and you go to bed when the sun is still up. You’ll learn about it in school this year!”
The rest of the night I watched HBO and ate Doritos. It was glorious.
Another time I was watching a young girl who went to sleep at seven pm. Once I got her down I was desperate for something sweet, but there wasn’t any ice cream, candy, or soda in the house. I opened up the pantry, hoping to find some chocolate chips or something, but I didn’t discover any – not even baking chocolate which I would have gorged on at that point. I DID, however, find some Lucky Charms cereal. I grabbed the box and proceeded to eat every last marshmallow out of it. I hope the parents enjoyed their frosted cereal sans lucky charms.
My biggest challenge though was sitting for this one family of four kids – three boys and a girl. To say they were hellions would give hellions everywhere a bad name. They were the type of siblings who were always trying to one-up each other. If they were eating, it was a competition to finish first, and if they were playing in the backyard… well, everything was a constant contest – and the SHEER VOLUME at which they did all this made my ears bleed.
One night I went over to their house with a borderline migraine and was petrified that it would turn into a full-fledged vomit-inducing headache. As you could imagine, the children were in typical form, so as soon as the parents left I suggested a new game.
“What’s the game?!” the middle boy asked excitedly.
“It’s a contest where the four of you lay down, close your eyes, and have to be completely still and silent. It’s called, ‘Coma.'”
“How do you WIIIIIIIIIIIN?!” whined the girl.
“Well, whoever is quiet and still the longest is the winner. I’ll be the judge, but you’ll all hear if one of you talks or makes a noise.”
“What do we win?” asked the oldest boy.
“The winner….gets the BIGGEST piece of PIZZA!”
The kids were sold. They all laid on the various couches and cushions in the family room.
“Feel free to grab blankets and stuff. Get REALLY comfortable. Coma is a VERY hard game. I don’t know if you four are old enough to be really good at it.”
Well, they all took my challenge as a personal affront. They assumed their positions with renewed vigor, and after I encouraged them to close their eyes…they all fell asleep. It was a trick I pulled out repeatedly, always with success.
Now that I’m a mom, I think the stuff I did as a babysitter is hilarious. When Annie gets older I know I’ll pull the Daylight Savings trick – I’m pretty sure my dad used that on me! And my nephews are going to be EXCELLENT at Coma by the end of the summer.