Back in high school, I tried babysitting in an effort to turn that youthful affinity into cold hard cash.
It didn't go well.
A couple of family friends needed a sitter one day, so I agreed to take care of their daughter while they were gone for the day. I arrived at their house just after lunch, and they gave me a brief rundown of the rules they'd laid out for their daughter and listed the phone numbers to call in case of emergency.
"She just had lunch, and we gave her a popsicle for dessert. She will ask you for more popsicles. Do not give her more popsicles." And with that, they left me alone with their offspring.
So I gave her a popsicle. Who cares? She wasn't my kid. I fished a purple popsicle out of the freezer and watched as she tore around the living room in delight.
After two more popsicles, she told me she wanted to watch a movie, which thrilled me. It meant the TV could babysit her for a couple hours, and I could zone out on whatever My Little Princess videotape she decided to pop into the VCR. I followed her into the living room, and watched as she fished an unlabeled VHS tape out from the cabinet. Its label had been almost entirely scratched off so I couldn't see what it was, but I didn't think much of it. She crammed it into the VCR, hopped on the couch, and continued slobbering on her frozen sugar stick as the movie began.
We barely got past the credits before she lost interest in the movie completely. I should have known that a child on a sugar high wouldn't be able to sit still for long. I figured if I was ever going to calm her down, I should take her outside and let her wear herself out.
"You want to go play outside or something?" I asked.
"YES! LET'S GO SWIMMING!" She shrieked. She scrambled into her room and came back decked out in a swim suit and full-on snorkel gear. I expected a swimming pool in the backyard, but as she led me out back, gripping my pant leg in her tiny vice grip, all I saw was a vast expanse of yellow grass and a tiny inflatable kiddy pool sitting on a lawn. She grabbed a hose and filled the little pool up with ice cold water, and for the next 30 minutes I stood there as she splashed around screaming her head off.
Sometime later, we were sitting in the den playing Pretty Pretty Princess (and I was kicking her ass at it). I got up to use the rest room, and as I was washing my hands (yes, ladies, I wash my hands) I heard a crash from the kitchen. I rushed out to find her in a dire situation.
I helped her down, and promised to give her another popsicle if she promised to go to bed early (It was maybe 4 PM at this point). She agreed, and hopped into bed, sunlight still streaming in from the window. She demanded I tell her a bedtime story.
"Um, alright..." I began.
Unfortunately, I quickly forgot my target audience, and my bedtime story veered off the tracks a bit.
I don't think she slept after that.
Being the transitional 20-something guy I am, I periodically wonder if I want kids of my own someday. I lean toward yes, even though whenever somebody puts a baby in my arms, I freeze up like I'm holding a raw turkey stuffed full of dynamite.
Mostly I fear that if I ever attempt to start a family, I'll end up cursed with octuplets or something, and I'm barely equipped to take care of myself. I think I could handle one or two quiet, well-behaved, self-sufficient kids, but with my luck, I'd wind up living some kind of TLC reality show nightmare.
I suppose nobody is really ever prepared for parenthood, and I doubt I'd be an exception if and when the time comes to start my own little brood of demon spawn. I wonder if I'll be a good father. I have a sneaking suspicion I would be, despite my total lack of childcare skills. For starters, I don't know how to talk to kids. I literally can't imagine changing a diaper without vomiting all over the baby. At any rate, I hope I'll be a good dad. I suppose I'll find out when it happens, and hopefully my parental neglect won't lead my child to perish in some sort of drug-fueled Trainspotting-style disaster. Because fuck if I'm going to hallucinate dead babies crawling across my ceiling. No way, no how.