When I was a teenager, I babysat a lot, and I used to think I was pretty good at it. I never put a child in harms way, and the kids generally liked me. Now that I’m an adult with a child of my own, however, I realize I would never hire my teenage self as a babysitter. I was much too lazy and paid little attention to parental rules. Now, to the parents of those children I used to babysit, there are a few things I’d like to get off my chest:
- I had no respect for your bedtimes. Remember when I told you your son went to bed a little after nine? It was actually 11:15. Back then, I didnt think it mattered, but now I know that kids who stay up late dont necessarily sleep in the next morning. They wake up as early as ever, just a whole lot crankier, and so do the parents who stayed out past 11:15. I’m sorry I did that to you.
- I ate most of the pizza. You probably already knew this one, especially when it was just me and the four-year-old. When it came to pizza, she was a light-weight, but I do feel a little bad about not saving you any. I now know how satisfying cold pizza can be for breakfast after a night out, especially when you’re also trying to feed a cranky kid who stayed up too late the night before.
- I let the kids watch bad TV. Look, most of the time, the children and I were all perfectly content watching a Mighty Ducks marathon, or even one of those Nickelodeon shows with terrible acting, but there was this one time … It started out innocently enough. Your boys wanted to watch Beavis and Butthead. Of course, I said no. I really did, but then that friend of theirs who was spending the night got hold of the remote. (A heads up about him would’ve been nice by the way.) Well, this kid changed the channel to something even worse than the MTV duo … much worse. Frankly, I was shocked you even got that channel. So I wrestled the remote away and we landed back on Beavis and Butthead instead of “naked ladies in the land of sex,” as one of the boys so eloquently put it. It’s only now that I realize I got played. Beavis and Butthead was what they had wanted to watch all along. So I’m sorry if there was an uptick in words like “sucks” and “bunghole” in your household that week.
- I let them listen to bad music… the kind that comes with a warning label. Like the bad TV, this was not a regular occurrence. It was a one-time thing that I immediately regretted. In my defense, I did not give your 11-year-old the Eminem tape. He told me he got it from a friend, and he was dying to listen to it, and he just happened to already know all the lyrics to Slim Shady. His eight-year-old sister, however… I’m pretty sure it was a first for her. I’m sorry, Mama. I never meant to hurt you.
- I didn’t play with your kids. They asked me to jump on the trampoline, to play kickball, to play hide and seek. I did none of those things. “You go ahead, and I’ll watch,” became my mantra (And rarely did I even watch.) But hey! That’s actually a good thing, right? I was teaching them to be free range! You wouldn’t want a helicopter babysitter, would you? On second thought, yeah, you probably would. That’s kind of the point of a babysitter, isn’t it?
At least I can say with certainty, it will never happen again.