Okay, true story: I once had to babysit upwards of 25 kids during a PTA meeting, and they tied me up and locked me in a closet. (I WASN’T JUST BAD AT MY JOB. If you spent as much time babysitting as I did back in my dumb, misguided adolescence, EVENTUALLY you were going to wind up bound and left for dead in a closet.) Back then, I had no idea why this was happening to me (as I struggled to cut myself free on a jagged broken Frisbee), but now I know. It was for this reason, so I could write this post, fresh from the front lines of babysitting warfare. PEOPLE, MY TIME HAS COME. Look, I don’t want to scare you, I just think you should be prepared. You need to know what’s out there. CONSTANT VIGILANCE.
10. The Mess Maker. This one is constantly covered in unidentifiable sticky substances, and everything he touches turns into a tidal wave of peanut butter and mud. If you’re even entertaining such notions as “I’m 99% sure I can clean this up before the parents get home,” you’ve already lost the war.
9. The Crybaby. Somebody call the WAMBULANCE. (Okay, you’re theoretically a responsible adult and they are a small child, so you probably shouldn’t be throwing phrases like this around. But you can THINK THEM. We won’t tell.) Babysitting a kid who’s always crying is a constant (LOUD) reminder that something’s gone wrong, and you don’t know what it is, and the parents won’t be home for six hours.
8. Actual Babies. BABIES ARE TERRIFYING. You can’t get on their good side by feeding them Kit Kat bars and you can’t wow them with your encyclopedic knowledge of Harry Potter. What are you supposed to do with them? What do they want from you? What’s their agenda?
7. The One That’s Always Putting Stuff in His Mouth. You can leave him to his own devices for five seconds, and you’ll come back to find that he’s mass-consuming crayons, Hot Wheels cars, and actual garbage.
6. The Middle School Kid Who’s Too Old for a Babysitter. Odds are the kid’s not responsible enough to stay home alone (even though he DOESN’T NEED A BABYSITTER, MOM, GOD), so his parents will leave him and all his prepubescent angst in your care. He’ll wear you down not physically, but emotionally. Middle school is when kids get their degree in Being Able to Make You Feel Like the Human Equivalent of Mashed Potatoes. He’ll point out your deepest insecurities and say things like “A LOSER SAYS WHAT?” and you’ll leave that night vowing revenge on the youth of America.
5. The One Who’s Constantly Getting Hurt. And he’ll get hurt in ways you can’t even fathom—like he’ll bump into a table and suddenly have a gushing head wound. HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS, YOUNG DANGER MAGNET? HOW?
4. The One Who’s Just Learning to Use the Potty. I have never met a kid who was like “YEP, ALL ABOARD THE GROWN-UP TRAIN TO GROWN-UP TOWN WHERE WE ALL USE TOILETS FOR THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE AND DON’T TRY TO FLUSH TOWELS.” Kids tend to get really combative about your refusal to let them just poop on the kitchen floor, but someone has to be the bad guy.
3. The Pantsless Wonder. Every child goes through that phase where they decide they could do without the luxuries of civilized society, and sometimes those luxuries include pants. Underwear, too. Before long he’ll be the kid running around the neighborhood buck naked, and you’ll be the hapless babysitter in pursuit who let this situation get away from her.
2. The One Who JUST WON’T GO TO BED, OH MY GOD. There are few things worse than when the parents get home and the kids still aren’t in bed. (Well, there are, but they include things being on fire.)
1. The Kid Who Just Wants to Watch the World Burn. He’ll convince his younger siblings to do bike jousting. He’ll con you into playing “piñata,” which as it turns out is where he gets to whack you with a wiffle bat over and over until his bloodlust is satisfied. He’ll get you on irrefutable technicalities like “opposite day” and “YOU DIDN’T SAY SIMON SAYS” and leave you grappling for a suitable comeback. This little nightmare spawn will start off sweet and innocent, but before long you will have lost all control and there will be anarchy at the gates of the kingdom as the children scream for your blood. Here’s a helpful tip: if you get two of these audacious little Satan people, simply sit back and accept death’s sweet embrace, because it’s over. It’s just over.
Have you ever had the misfortune of babysitting any of these WALKING, TALKING NIGHTMARES? Do tell!