I babysat several children several times when I was a pre-teen. Nobody ever died.
And aside from the completely false story of me burning some kid’s pizza, and the time when the kids locked all of us outside the house somehow (not my fault), I was a pretty good babysitter.
Except for this one time. The kid was cute, with her four-year-old southern accent and her freckles and her straight black bob hairdo. Super cute. I had never met her before, though, so her mom was, understandably, a little nervous. I assured her I was a competent individual that would not kill either her daughter or her cat, and she left.
It started out okay. But she didn’t want to color, or watch TV, or anything easy…she wanted to run all over the backyard and roll around in the mud and scream Disney songs over and over and drag the cat around by the tail while it clawed at her legs.
We played “The Puppy and the Princess” for probably a good two hours. This was a really great game, for her. She got to be the princess, and I, of course, was the dog. I tromped around in the dirt on all fours while she got really, really bossy. And when I said, “Hey, why don’t we do something else?” she replied with, “No, because you’re the puppy, and I’m the princess. Now bark some more! Get that stick I threw!”
We stopped because it was dark outside, and I figured I better feed her at some point, or she would tell on me. And so I opened up the freezer. Ah, TV dinners: Does that sound good, kid? Yes? Great, because those are easy. This, I could do. I can microwave the crap out of Salisbury steak.
“My mom doesn’t do it like that.”
“She doesn’t microwave it.”
“Well, what does she do, then?” I was already jabbing slits in the plastic.
“Puts it in the oven.”
“She puts it in the oven.”
Sigh. “Well, why don’t we microwave it for tonight? It tastes the same, you know.”
“No, it does not. In the oven tastes better.”
My eye started twitching and I think a few things popped in my brain. “Fine, go color,” I said. So I pre-heated the oven, stared daggers into the back of her head, pulled out a tray, and threw it in there. Then I microwaved mine, like a normal person.
And then, from behind me: “Can I have that one?”
“This one? It was in the microwave. Yuck, remember?”
“I’m really, really hungry. It’s even dark outside.” That was true. It was dark outside.
“Yours is in the oven. Remember how you made me put it in the oven?”
“Yeah. Take it out.”
“It’s not done yet. It’s got another half an hour.”
And then she started to pout and screw up her face, and I rolled my eyes and gave her mine, because she’s the kid, and I’m not that mean, and since it was like, eight o’clock at night.
The timer went off. She was already done eating, sitting on the floor, watching Barney or something, and my (her) dinner was finally ready, after an hour. An hour for a TV dinner.
I peeked in the oven, and I gasped.
“Something smells bad,” the kid yelled over her shoulder.
Yeah, no kidding. That tray I had put in the oven? Plastic. It had melted all over the bars and was dripping goopy black drops all over the oven floor. My TV dinner was just fine, by the way. Just sitting there, in the middle of everything, and it was all, “God, you’re stupid.”
The rest of my night was spent trying to distract the kid with things in the living room while I sprayed cold water into the inside of the oven, pulled out the cooled plastic mass, scraped the bottom of the oven with a big fork, and broke the plastic off of the baking rack piece by piece into the sink while spraying sharp shards of plastic all over the kitchen.
“Don’t tell your mom, okay? I’ll tell her. Let me tell her. Don’t say anything when she gets back.”
“Okay. You’re a bad babysitter.”
Three hours later, she was not in bed because she didn’t want to go, and if I made her, I knew she would tell on me.
Which she did anyway.
Because as soon as her mother walked in, it was — “Mommy, Lisa melted your dishes,” and “She put water in the oven and wouldn’t give me dinner,” and “No, we didn’t have fun at all.”
Of course her poor mother asked me how I could have possibly thought that putting a plastic tray in the oven was a good idea, and why was the back door wide open, and where was the cat, anyway?
To which I replied that it was dark outside, so I couldn’t see that the tray was plastic (?) and “Wait, the back door is open?”
That kid was pretty cute. Of course, I never saw her ever again. And who knows what happened to the cat.