We've been fortunate to have, for the most part, babysitters who love our children, who make wise decisions while caring for them, who rarely lose them and who almost never give them overdoses of OTC drugs.
In fact, one of our sitters, my dear friend Roseanne, has this motto: "No bleeding and no choking on my watch!" So far, the kids have cooperated, even the one taking a blood-thinner. She's also really, really good at turning their tears and whining into giggles and tickle-fights. Every single time she walks into the house, the kids run to her--even the teenager--and give her a big hug.
But we have also had our share--some might say more than our share!--of babysitting stories that you will swear I made up. But I didn't.
One of our babysitters--let's call her K-Nut--was apparently raised by wolves. She's a book-bright woman who did normal everyday things--like make dinner, do laundry, or wash dishes--in such incomprehensible ways that she appeared to be totally unfamiliar with the strange ways of the people in this flat land of Chi-Kah-Goh. (And BTW, I didn't ask her to do those extra things--she just did them. Until I asked her to please stop.)
She'd wash dishes--God knows, there were always plenty in the sink, and she'd head straight there when she walked in the door, but I wasn't offended, because I will never object when someone wants to wash my dishes--wash them, and put them straight from the sink to the cabinet. Dripping wet. I am not even kidding. More than once I pulled a plate from the cabinet, plopped a slice of bread on it to make a sandwich--and did a double-take when I realized that the bread was all-of-a-sudden soaking wet.
She'd wash my kitchen counters--I think she was morally offended by my low housekeeping standards--and leave puddles of water deep enough to stock with game fish. K-Nut must have had an aversion to drying things, because sometimes I'd come home and find my laundry washed, dried, and folded in neat piles on the bed--but the folded clothes wouldn't actually be dry. They'd be more wet than damp, and had to be tossed back into the dryer to finish the job.
See what I mean? Raised by wolves. Or aliens, on a different planet. The planet "What The Hell Is She Thinking?"
K-Nut was raising a mob of children with a complete dearth of cooking know-how and common sense. Knowing this, I'd try to make things easy on her by preparing a crock-pot meal that she'd just have to serve at dinner time. Easy-peasy, right? Not so much.
One time I had crock-potted a delicious pot roast, complete with potatoes, carrots and onions; I turned it on, and left written instructions for when it would be done and what time to serve it. Later than evening when I asked the kids how dinner was, they said, "Great! But the blueberry pancakes were a little burned."
[It was like a surrealism joke: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb? Two: One to hold the giraffe and one to fill the bathtub with brightly colored machine tools. HA! Thank you, thank you, enjoy the veal, we'll be here all week.]
Blueberry pancakes? "What happened to the pot roast," I asked, mystified. It seems that K-Nut had served the pot roast and vegetables, along with blueberry pancakes (burned) and blueberry muffins. On the same plate. The burned-on pancake pan was still soaking in the sink, so I knew that my jokester kids were not scamming me.
See? I told you you'd think I was making it up.
K-Nut was sweet and gentle with my kids, which I always appreciated. They loved it when she came over, because she'd always make brownies with them. Unfortunately, she never got them quite right. They were frequently wafer thin and crispy.
"K-Nut," I said, "This brownie mix calls for a smaller pan. If you use the loaf pan, your brownies will be the right thickness."
"OK," K-Nut agreed, and added redundantly, "I'm not a very good cook."
"K," I teased, "You don't have to be a good cook. You just have to be able to read the instructions on the box."
She laughed, but the joke was on me. The next time she made brownies they were double-thick and raw in the middle.
"K-Nut, what happened to the brownies?" I asked her.
"Well, I used the loaf pan that you told me to use, but the brownies didn't get cooked in the middle," she said.
She had made two boxes of brownie mix, doubling the volume of batter--but she used the same size pan that was recommended for one box. Because that's the pan I told her to use.
More surreal babysitting adventures to come. Stay tuned.