My adventures in babysitting are two fold- as a teenager being a babysitter and as a parent searching for a sane babysitter. Each were challenging in their own right and led to some now amusing, slightly disturbing stories. This post will focus on one very strange incident that occurred when I was around 15 or 16.
My mother was a kindergarten teacher in a private school. Many of the kids I watched were her former students. I have no clue what they were like in the classroom, but they were often hellions when the adults were away. Some of this experience handling often aggressive behavior may have prepared me for my later work with children with behavioral & emotional disorders.
There was one family for whom I babysat, that had two children around 6 and 8. The dad was an Israeli businessman and the mom was a Swedish bikini model. There were pictures plastered all over the house of her wearing itty bitty bikinis. I don’t know if this was her occupation, but she surely rocked a bikini from the pictures I saw. Those are goals, I have yet to achieve!
At the beginning of my first time watching them, all seemed normal enough. We played board games, had snacks and watched television. All went to hell when they decided to show me their pet hamster. The younger child, a girl, took the hamster out of the cage and began petting it. No big deal, right? She then proceeded to open a large Tupperware container and put the hamster in. I thought this was kind of strange, but went with it. She then proceeded to put the lid on the Tupperware and shake it, while dancing around the house. Now, I was concerned. I somehow kept my composure as she possibly suffocated and caused brain damage to her poor, unassuming pet. I calmly asked her to stop. She screamed, “No!! We are having too much fun.” I replied to her, “Think about how he must feel in there. It must be hard for him to breath.” She screamed and continued to dance, “He likes it in here!” I assured her that he doesn’t. She walks over to the microwave and opens the door. At this point, I tackle the hamster filled Tupperware out of her hand and return him to his cage. I was so relieved that she didn’t kill the poor thing. How on earth would I explain that to their parents? I did not know at the time that cruelty to animals is often a sign of anti-social behavior and can be associated with a serious childhood disorder called Conduct Disorder. I just knew it was really messed up.
I eventually got them to bed and took a sigh of relief while I raided their snacks. My parents never bought junk food, so I always loved eating as much crap as I could get my hands on at other people’s houses. The parents returned from their date and the father, who was noticeably drunk, paid me. He handed me several bills and said he threw in some extra because I was “so beautiful.” He slurred his words as he said this. I found this comment strange given his Swedish bikini model wife was standing right next to me. She was tall, blonde, gorgeous, and well endowed. My physical characteristics are pretty much the opposite of hers.
So this potentially drunk father, proceeds to drive me the 15 minutes home. I didn’t realize at the time, the safety issues involved with having a drunk person drive me home on a rainy night. In the car, he continues to tell me how beautiful he felt I was and all the things wrong with his marriage. He puts his hand on my leg and I try to subtly push it away. At one point, he abruptly pulls over to the side of the highway. He opens his door and begins vomiting. What the?!!? Finally, he finishes up-chucking and drives me the rest of the way home.
My parents ask me the next morning, “how was babysitting?” I respond in a true teenage fashion, “it was fine” and leave it at that.
Other interesting babysitting incidents include-
1. The boy who tried to lock me in his closet, ran after me with nunchucks and wanted me to eat a concoction of dog food, mustard, and cereal.
2. The brother and sister who liked to wrestle naked.
3. The boy who ran after me with a baseball bat and pulled knife on me.
I will save sharing those adventures for another day…