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Adventures in Babysitting

Posted by Kristen Geil on May 17, 2011 at 11:25 AM

(Great 80s movie, by the way)


Like many other teenage girls, babysitting was my first foray into the world of gettin' paid. I have firmly come to believe that, rather than actual birth control, babysitting is the best and most effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies.



For the past couple years, I've been babysitting one family regularly, and it has been during this time span that I have come to realize that Kids. Are. Bizarre. If you doubt that for one second, watch the following video that has made me LOL multiple times after viewing:


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Conspiracy theorists claim that this is actually Layson Griffin as a child.


While the kids I babysit haven't been playing with dead squirrels, persay, I have definitely witnessed them poking a dead mole with a stick (their cat had killed it, which I'll touch on later). As with any new people you meet, for the first few months I babysat these kids, they were nice, polite, well-behaved, and didn't let their freak flags fly. Gradually, however, they got a little too comfortable with me, and now I have seen their true selves. While they're definitely still sweet and obedient most of the time, I'd just like to share (vent?) a few of the geunine WTF moments that come with the job description.



As any babysitting veteran knows, the first osbtacle to overcome when the kids get home from school is snack time. Snack time for three kids is no joke, especially when the youngest is in her picky phase.



No, not just "peanut butter with the crusts cut off and sliced diagonally" picky. Like, square pretzels only, not the regular shaped kinds. Ritz Crackers over Wheat Thins. Two slices of bologna only (which is easy to set out, but as a vegetarian I cringe a little every time I have to get the slimy meat out of the package). If all else fails, a cup of shredded cheese. The middle girl isn't too bad. The only trouble we've had is when she started requesting bananas with peanut butter and requiring that I spread the peanut butter on the bananas myself, a "medium amount ONLY," not too much or too little. Fine, Goldilocks. I have learned. The oldest boy is my favorite at this time of the day because he gets the snacks out himself, leaving me only to assemble them. I do find it a little strange that his favorite food is frozen corn- yes, still frozen- but hey, makes it easy on me. With months of practice under my belt, I have fine tuned my chopping, spreading, and assembling time to less than 10 minutes total. That's impressive.


From there, it's break time, where they get to watch television until 4 pm. Usually during this time I catch up on Words With Friends, Newsweek, or way back in the day when I still had it- homework. If it's sunny, I sit outside. If all else fails, I watch "Martha Speaks" with them (an educational show about a dog that talks- vocabulary words out the wazoo) or take a cat nap on the couch.



When the opening theme song to Arthur comes on, it's time to turn the TV off. While the oldest two start their homework, I head upstairs with the youngest to change into play clothes, because she's scared to be upstairs by herself. This is when I start to appreciate the creativity of children. Getting dressed is a very deliberate process. She asks me whether or not something matches, and puts great consideration into her hair accessories. Some days, she throws it all to the wind- like the day two weeks ago when she donned a red long sleeved shirt with a Christmas tree on it only to layer on top of it a short sleeved purple ruffled shirt. Gaga, watch out.



It is during this time that Baby Gaga feels the chattiest. About once a week, she asks me to guess her favorite colors. By now, I know the exact order, but I still play the game. "Purple?" "No, that's fourth." "Green?" "No, that's... sixth." "Hmm... brown?" "YES!" Because it's the color of her shoes, obviously. Second favorite color is black. She's an original for sure, and I love it.


We head back downstairs and work on homework with the other two. For the most part, they can get it done on their own and I just have to check over it. On occassion, they have asked me how to do some math problems, and I have to admit I am absolutely baffled. I can get the end result, but teachers today seem to be teaching them the most complicated methods. Like long division- I'm decent at it. But Frozen Corn showed me his in-class worksheet which involved them using squares, dashes, and possibly hieroglyhpics to solve the problem. Directions, too, are usually open to different interpretations, and I just have to give them my best guess. Unnecessary, in my book.



Finally, after homework, it is PLAY TIME. In this sense, I am lucky. The kids don't usually want to play with me. I guess I'm not fun. In fact, today they pretended Middle Girl was the babysitter and the other two were the kids. One fun snippet I overheard: "I'm going to slobber on your laptop!" Great.

 

They pretty much entertain themselves, and I only intervene if I think someone is about to get impaled with an umbrella or something. Sometimes, however, they like to talk to me. Frozen Corn likes to ask me questions about college, living at school, etc- he's a little more serious than the girls.


Middle Girl has two lines of questioning. The first goes, "Who is your favorite singer?" To save time, I have learned to respond, "Taylor Swift." Immediately, her face lights up and she exclaims "ME TOOOOO!" and launches into a monologue about her Taylor Swift t-shirt, CD, and more. I just have to sit and nod and occassionaly give my opinion as to what her best song is ("Love Story," obviously).



The second line of questioning is a little trickier. It goes, "Do you have a boyfriend?" Let me tell you, I can't think of a more awkward discussion (short of the actual birds and bees talk). See, Middle Girl remembers the last boyfriend I had, and fires questions at me: "What's his name? What's he look like? Did you kiss him? Did you love him? Did he love you? Why'd you break up? Why don't you have a boyfriend now? Do you like anybody? Does anybody like you?" Way to make me feel like a spinster loser, Middle Girl.


I googled "Spinster" and this came up. Maybe I'm not in such bad company after all.


However random some of our conversations may be, I can always count on getting some unexpected compliments from the kids.


Middle Girl is starting to become interested in fashion trends, and will often compliment me on my shoes (she's a fan of the turqoise cowboy boots) or hair. She even noticed when I went to the dentist ("I wish my teeth were as shiny as yours!"). She likes my name, too- "Your name is so pretty. I wish my name was Miss Kristen." I haven't had the heart to tell her yet that Miss isn't my real first name (side note- remember how strange it was to realize that your teachers had first names and didn't live at school? Major shocker for me).


With kids, age is a big issue. There's a big difference between being six and being six and a HALF. Often times, I get asked, "How old are you?" If this ever happens to you, flip the question right back around and ask "How old do you THINK I am?" I have gotten responses from 12 to 32. Last week, Baby Gaga correctly guessed 21, and it was the proudest moment of my day.


As goofy and sometimes difficult as they are, I love the kids I babysit. I will genuinely miss them when I move this summer. I will not, however, miss their animals. Consider the following a mini-Confession.



They have two Cairn Terriers (think Toto from The Wizard of Oz), one of whom has a majorly gross underbite and both of whom pant in the most disgusting manner possible. The dogs are the most demanding creatures I have ever met in my life- and I consider myself a dog person. They have to go in and out every five seconds, they constantly try to jump on me, and they are geuninely the dumbest animals I have ever met. I feel like a horrible person saying that, but spend over five minutes in their company and you too will have the urge to punt them like a football.



Recently, they acquired a cat as well. As anyone who knows me knows, I HATE CATS. This one is semi-tolerable because she's allowed to be an outdoors cat, but she still has a nasty habit of leaping onto the kitchen table and staring at me, motionless, for minutes at a time. It's just creepy.



So, I guess the moral of that tangent is: You can pick the kids you sit for, but you can't pick their pets. Or something like that.


All in all, babysitting is one of the more entertaining parts of my week, usually an ego-booster, and a great tax-free way to earn some cash. They make me crazy sometimes, but I have to admit, I love those kids. *Babysitters Club 4 Lyfe*



Categories: Kristen's Blog Entries, Advice + Lexington's Best Kept Secrets, True Life/Late Night Confessions

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