>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
August 8, 2004

I've noticed that a lot of women in college have summer jobs in retail, lifeguarding, bartending, and the most challenging of all, babysitting. Young college women have the patience and maternal instinct to deal with children in a sensitive nature. They provide entertainment and protection to the children in their care ensuring a strong bond of friendship and respect. These women are out of their mother fucking minds.

I haven't babysat since eighth grade. I have been unable to sit and watch a kid since the last child in my care took a nose dive off the trampoline that resulted in a bloody head-on collision with a nearby palm tree. Poor tree never saw it coming. Eight years later I thought I was home free from any possible babysitting position. All the regulars at the bar don't see my drinking on the job as quality babysitting potential, and all of my sorority sisters have way better credentials when these positions open up, so I merely went on my childfree way.

Then I started a job on campus this summer where I work with these super laidback fun women. These women have children. These women have babysitters. This one woman had a babysitter that went on vacation for a week. This is where my character was called to the set. She was in a bind. It was only for two and a half hours a day for one week. It was only one child. How hard could it be I thought? If Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie can do it then I, of an educated background, would certainly be able to accomplish it. Right? RIGHT?!?!

One ticket for the logic train please. Oh, I'm sorry ma'am you've missed it by eight years. So here's what I have learned.

Day One – Children are Deceitful

Upon meeting the child I am informed that he has ADHD, which I figured is just like ADD. Which I used to have when I was a child so that's great that the both of us have at least one thing in common—incredibly short attention spans with a dash of hyperactivity. So when Conner refused to look at me or even utter a simple hello I wasn't really offended. I just went back to playing an unparalleled game of Tetris on my cell phone.

I figured that making water balloons for a bomb war might pull the child out of his sugar-induced coma from the bag of candy he had been consuming for the past fifteen minutes. The bag had three hundred balloons in it, but because of his ADHD we were able to only fill up ten balloons at a time before he was unable to sit still any longer and proceeded to bomb me. Per my instructions prior to the water bomb war, I would receive only one balloon to defend myself with while he would receive nine. How very France of him.

After three rounds I for the most part was dry. Much like France, his aim needed some improvement—unsatisfied by the battles, the little Frenchmen claimed he would fill the balloons the next round and instructed me to stay right where I was and not move. This can't be good. As soon as I began picking up the dead balloons, I heard rather suspicious giggles coming from the general direction of the hose. Just enough to where I looked up right in time to feel the powerful jet spray enter my nostrils, blasting me back to the ground where I curled up defensively in the fetal position. The war was won.

Day Two – Taking the Child Into Public With You

Did anyone out there have parents who strapped you with wrist leashes when you were younger to prevent you from wandering off and getting kidnapped? I remember my wrist leash. I remember it very well indeed. My Canadian father believed the leash operated more like a dog choker leash and would constantly pull me back to the stroller causing my left arm to be noticeably longer than my right one. Thanks for the character building deformity dad, junior high was trouble-free and painless thanks to you.

The point is, they don't make these leashes anymore. Not that Conner would be seen in public wearing one anyway. So I made a deal with the mischievous little fiend. I said, if you don't run away from me, or lose me, I will buy you a Lego toy of your choice at the end of the week. He reluctantly agreed. One point for me. Today was spent at a Chucky Cheese-like resort. A couple of friends of mine work there and they gave me twenty dollars worth of tokens free of charge. From then on, the kid just plugged away at games trying to figure out which one gave him the most tickets. At first he kept our tickets separate—what he won was his and what I won was mine. But when it came time to claim the prizes (and let me tell you I now see what our parents bitched about—these toys were hardly worth more than the street value of the tickets themselves), my tickets suddenly became his tickets. Which was fine, I was still twenty tickets short of getting the plastic tea party set anyway.

Day Three – The Child Injures Itself

A babysitter's biggest fear, aside from losing the child and not feeling a great wave of sympathy as you later discover he has been sold to a band of wild gypsies for a bargain price, is having the child injured while in his or her care. It's a terrifying experience that I did not want to relive. But while children can have the energy and agility to run around playing cops and robbers for fourteen hours straight, they somehow lose the ability to move their fingers out of the line of injury while closing a car door.

So on today's outing to the mini-golf course Conner whapped his fingers shut on the car door. I almost wet my own pants from pure panic, and the shrieks coming from his mouth made me wonder if his hand was still trapped in the door and had detached itself from his arm. So I picked him up, consulted the medical experts around me (parents with three or more children), and learned that everything would be fine with some ice pressure. Luckily, the miniature golf course provided me with a baggie of ice and a few complimentary sympathetic smiles. So with ice on one side and an ice cream in his good hand the crying stopped almost instantly. Behold the power of dairy.

After the wave of terror had passed he made the request that we go to the local Burger King to grab a Slurpee and play in the play area there. Anything you want kid, but I am opening and closing all doors from here on in. The rest of the hour was played out at the play pen at Burger King, which smelled so much like a mixture of formaldehyde and paste that I found myself longing for my old school hood days of asbestos and lead in the water. There was a point where I had to climb into the play pen and retrieve the child, but I think I've embarrassed myself enough at this point to go on any further.

Day Four – The Supermarket is the Fifth Ring of Hell

As Wisconsin weather would have it, rain fell, and temperatures dropped- 47 degrees at night in the middle of July I'll have you know. Consequently the day was cooler so the pool plan was shut down and we went off to the super market to buy cupcakes. I've never noticed this before—probably because my alcohol addiction causes me to stay in only two aisles, the liquor and the magazine—but the supermarket doesn't only sell food. They have a whole half an aisle dedicated to cheap toys brought to you by the proud makers in Taiwan. Of course the bright neon colors attract the 6-year-old much the same way a neon Budweiser sign attracts a 20-year-old. So now he refuses to leave unless he gets a toy.

So I asked myself, “What did my mom do when I threw a tantrum?” Oh that's right, she left me there screaming, crying, and carrying on the floor until I ran around the supermarket desperately searching for her. Well you can't do that today. Some crazy perv will kidnap the kid and the next thing you know there's an orange alert across the state looking for a young child and a man with a large build allegedly driving a Maroon Buick. So he's too stubborn to just make the cupcakes, I'm too stubborn not to buy a toy, and consequently we sit there for forty minutes until he begins to tear up, punches me right in the kidney, and storms out to the checkout lanes. It was at this moment I decided that if any breeding was going to be done on my part it would be in canines and not humans.

Day Five – A Light At The End of the Tunnel

Today was spent quietly making water balloons again with a new ninety-nine cent sling shot he saw at Target. Great, now maybe he can take out small chipmunks instead of me. But there was a feeling of satisfaction that swept over me as a I left him with his mom. He asked if I could watch him again sometime. I said, “Maybe if your old sitter goes out of town again.” Like I said, out of your mother fucking minds.