Saturday, August 23, 2008

Surreal Babysitting Adventures, Part II

In case you missed it, here's the first installment of Surreal Babysitting Adventures.

If I knew that K-Nut would be in charge of dinner, I'd do my best to make sure that she had a ready-made, simple-to-prepare dinner solution. But without fail, my plans failed.

One time, I got out all the fixings for sloppy joes: ground beef, buns, a canned sloppy joe sauce, and frozen corn. I even got out the right pan to use to cook the ground beef. I thought it was fool-proof. This was a woman who had somehow raised one child to adulthood, and a bunch more were well on their way to surviving childhood with no obvious long-term effects from food poisoning. They seemed relatively normal and healthy--so I figured she'd be capable of making and serving one batch of sloppy joe to my kids without anyone ending up in the ER.

Well, as Mr. Peevie and I were getting ready to leave, K-Nut started making dinner. She flipped the ground beef into the pan and started browning it. Moments later, however, I was grossed out when she opened the can of sloppy joe sauce, dumped it right on the raw beef and started stirring it around.

Who makes sloppy joes this way? Who in this hemisphere does not know (or can't read the instructions on the side of the can telling you) that you must brown the ground beef first, pour off the fat, and then dump the sloppy joe mix in? Not only were they in danger of eating raw meat--because how would you actually know when the meat was browned when it was already coated with tomato sauce--but they'd also be eating an extra 1500 calories in straight lard.

I was flummoxed.

I hurried to the kitchen, one shoe on and one in my hand. "K-Nut," I said, "I've never seen anyone make sloppy joe this way."

"Oh, I've never made it before," she said. "I just figured that you put the sauce in with the meat and then cook it."

"Generally, it's a good idea to brown the meat first," I said gently--on the outside; but on the inside, I was thinking a) have you never cooked with ground beef before? No matter what you're making--shepherd's pie, spaghetti sauce, chili mac--you brown, drain, and then mix; and b) did it occur to you to read the instructions? I'm just sayin. My insides are frequently bitchier than my outsides.

"It's going to be harder to tell if the meat is done with the sauce already mixed in," I added, "So just make sure you cook it really, really thoroughly."

"How have your kids survived for so long if this is how you cook for them?" I desperately wanted to ask, but refrained.

We shook our heads at many other clueless choices that K-Nut made as a babysitter as well. She'd leave the window shades up when she put the kids to bed--even when it was still light outside. She'd put them to bed fully clothed, without having them change into PJs. We learned to leave specific instructions about what they could and could not eat, because otherwise, they'd scam her into letting them have an entire carton of ice cream or a whole bag of cookies.

"Oh," they tell her, all innocent-like, "my mom lets us have 10 cookies for dessert all the time." And she'd believe them.

One time, we came home well past bedtime, and found A. Peevie awake and playing on the floor of his bedroom. "Um, K-Nut," I said, "How come A. Peevie is still up?"

"Oh, he said he wanted to sleep on the floor, so I told him he could," she said. "I didn't think you'd mind."

Well, what I did mind was that my child was still awake two hours after his bedtime because my space cadet babysitter made some creative bedtime decisions.

By now you're thinking, why in the name of all things holy did we continue to use this babysitter? Well, we'd call her to see if one of her daughters could sit, and often they could, but when they couldn't, K-Nut would show up in their place.

But also, part of me was wondering: Is it me? Am I just too rigid? Am I the strange one here? Eventually, Mr. Peevie and I decided it was just too stressful to have her over and be wondering the whole time we were out what surreal babysitting stories we'd be telling the next day.

Also, our kids got older, and our need for babysitting diminished dramatically. Unfortunately, this did not happen until AFTER the bathroom caught fire.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Surreal Babysitting Adventures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

JRO: Whoah! For the record, I've never made chili mac, shepherd's pie or sloppy joes. However, I would have read the instructions and I always know to drain the fat.