Every day of my life could start with, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
But today, I'll limit my story to something that is safe if my kids find it online.
It's time for another long-awaited and much yearned for on my end, blog hop, hosted by the creative master storyteller, Nancy Davis Kho of Midlife Mixtape.
Our theme: “It Seemed like a Good Idea at the Time.”
Even when there's a few bills in my wallet, it's still never enough to cover all my needs. I like money.
My desire for money was solid by the time I was five years old. I think it was then that I began with my first thoughts of the day being how could I make some money today. I didn't want a pile of hundred dollar bills to swim through, I just wanted two dimes and a nickel: enough for a candy shopping spree at the corner grocery store.
I would think about money at breakfast, during school, at lunch, and again back home from school. At age 10-11-12, my chances of any money were slim.
But then I turned 13, and a woman who worked with my mother and had a baby asked if I. Could. Ever. Babysit.
Oh my precious jesus, YES. YES, I could ever babysit.
But my mother was wary:
Would there be other people home at the time?
Was a drifter uncle ever known to drop by?
Were there double locks on the doors?
How far away was the house from a police station?
While my mother was busy casing the joint, I was mentally spending the $1.25 per hour they'd be paying me.
At age 13, I had a young but quickly growing fashion addiction. This season, I needed sailor pants. A thin-rib sailor top would be next. Sandal platforms, of course, and with the dollars left over: a chiffon neck scarf. I needed this lady to like me and like me often.
The week I was set to babysit, my mother's friend called home to talk to me.
Lady: Have you watched children before?
Me: As the oldest of four, absolutely.
Lady: Are you able to change a diaper?
Me: In my sleep.
Lady: If our child cries, will you hold him until we get home?
Me: See these biceps? Only way to get these is holding children for the past decade.
Lady: Are you ok with the family dog?
Lady: Are you OK with a dog?
I couldn't answer. It's not that I don't like dogs - spoken in present tense - it's that they scare me out of my mind. They pick up some kind of scent from me that takes them back to a prehistoric state and it commands: terrorize, bark, jump, growl, crouch and growl, surprise attack and growl.
Lady: Hello? Are you OKAY with a dog?
I lied. I said yes I am Ok with dogs because dollar signs made it seem like a good idea at the time. I still cannot believe that for money I would say yes to being in an enclosure with a dog. The woman was astute enough to pick up on my chicken liver ESP and told me she'd put the dog outside before I got there.
He would be outside.
Ok, with this accommodation I would be able to honor my commitment, and on a Friday night at 6:30 PM, I was hired to watch her two year old. The woman came to pick me up after work and rushed me inside. She wrote down some things I had to do, along with a phone number, and then, she put her red-headed baby in a playpen and flew out the door to meet her husband.
She clicked the front door shut behind her and left. And it was me and her baby. He was definitely the easiest baby I had ever watched for money. Also the only baby. This was going to be so great.
Her son was in the playpen, content to stare at me and chew on his fingers. I was fine staring back at him from the sofa in front of him. She was supposed to be back home by 10, there were only 3.5 more hours left of something I did for free at home, staring at walls.
This could be all right.
By the end of five minutes, I heard the click click click of toenails across a kitchen floor and coming in my direction.
I jumped up and grabbed the baby and began to move to the front door, walking backwards. Five seconds into the toenail tapping, the family dog was not outside but standing four yards in front of me. He lifted his jaw and began to bark, shaking drool all around like a sprinkler. Then he started with heavy breathing and head twitches and ran toward me and the only thing I could do with the adrenaline that had worked up inside me was jump on top of the end table in the corner with a baby in my arms.
“Get outta here!” I yelled and screamed at the dog. “Get outta here! You're supposed to be outside!”
Because dogs can understand human words.
I'm getting nothing. Like nothing even remotely close to comprehension from this dog.
The thing about babysitting is it's a job where you're the only one doing it. There is no one to help out or jump in if things don't work out. When you babysit, it's just you, and someone less capable than you.
And even if they're less capable than you, it doesn't diminish how VERY IMPORTANT this less competent person is to the person paying you to watch them.
I had to do something else to save us from this damn dog.
I talked to the beast.
I threw a pack of cigarettes left on the table at him.
I focused all my mental energy on having that dog jump through the window and run away.
I stood and screamed like an audience from a madhouse.
I just got stupid.
And I stayed stupid for the next three hours.
At the end of the night, the Dad is the one to walk in first, let's call him “Dan.” The first thing Dan sees is me sitting, legs tucked up, leaning against a wall on the end table with a sleeping baby in my arms and a family dog barking at some moon that no one sees. Dan does nothing more than look at me.
He calls his dog, he grabs him by the collar, he puts him in the yard. His wife enters, just steps behind Dan, and takes her baby from my arms. Dan is back inside and drives me home.
My only thoughts driving home, I did a lousy job.
Dan's only thoughts driving home,
GD is there not a decent babysitter This unknown kid
babysitter seemed like a good idea at the time.
The couple never called me back for more care. I went through that sailor fashion season without sailor pants top shoes and kerchief. But this whole experience raised some very good questions about me and how much I was willing to do for money. It put my financial pursuits in perspective.
You know what seemed like a good idea at the time after that?
Goodwill. I decided that the Goodwill fashion scene was a good idea for me.
* * *For more tales of truth, on "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time," be sure to visit the funny funny people on this blog hop: