Babysitting Made Easy---On What Planet!!! Part I

Mar 24, 2008

A dear friend gave me the chance to take her visiting 4-year-old cousin to see “A Garfield Christmas” at the Black River Coliseum last winter. I, who have no children, jumped at the chance to play auntie to a great little guy.

I’ll call this young friend of mine, oh, “Spanky”, I suppose, for his pre-school street cred may require some discretion here, since he’s already made one risky public appearance with a dork who obviously knows nothing about his kind. I myself didn’t realize how little I knew about very little humans until the evening of the event—and by then of course, it was too late to secretly deposit him back on the family doorstep and flee without arousing suspicion.

Spanky’s cousin had packed a lunchbox full of snacks for us both, and after I’d strapped Little Spank into his safety seat, we waved from the car as she swiftly retreated into the house. Spanky took this moment to review our itinerary: “Where are we going?” he asked. “To see the Garfield Christmas show!” I gushed like a camp counselor. “I don’t like Garfield,” came the matter-of-fact reply. He gazed silently out the window as if surveying the remnants of his vast mountain kingdom across the waters—the one nobody’d told me about. On our side of the pond, it appeared he’d been reduced to a sad dependency on the ex-colonial help.

As the boy prince had been known to scream bloody murder when embarking on a first-time adventure without his cousin, I thought I might just pop back up to the house for further instruction.

“Oh, he says that now,” explained my friend, peering from behind the front door, no doubt itching to get back to her long-awaited quiet evening of needlework. “But he’ll come around when he gets there—he usually does. No problem. ‘Bye, now!” Right. And there went the door. So we’re off, then, I guessed. I hopped back into the car and pointed us in the direction of the Coliseum, cheerleading with passion for the big orange cat until Spanky suddenly remembered he did indeed like Garfield. Go figure.

Now, convinced I would not be pulled over at some stoplight and charged with torturing a shrieking innocent, I began to relax. But not for long.

While the evening was memorable for more than one blood-pressure-raising moment, I shall relate only a single incident, in my humble but heartfelt salute to all parents who daily negotiate the challenges of stewarding, shaping, and empowering future generations.

Journey with us now to the parking lot across the street from the Black River Coliseum, as I outline the particulars of this little episode—a “teaching moment” for babysitting greenhorns, you might say.

All bundled up against the winter wind and a light rain, our young Spanky positioned himself for a horsie-back ride to the Coliseum some distance away. I was happy to oblige, not only because this was one of our favorite things to do, but because it would give me total control over his movements until we entered the building safely. Total control!

Or so I thought.

Childcare Lessons 1 through 7,245: Never get comfy with the idea of “total control” in these matters. Such a notion is best filed away with those favoring the existence of Big Foot; legislative transparency; and a cup of coffee—and I mean, any cup of coffee—that’s actually worth $5.


Click here for the (literally) spine-tingling conclusion of “Babysitting Made Easy—On What Planet!!!”