Fit to Be a Mother

When I was in college, my roommate offered me her usual Friday-night babysitting job because she has a hot date instead.

“No freaking way,” I said, “When my cousin had a baby, they had to sit me down on the couch and surround me with pillows so I wouldn’t break it’s neck with my man-hands.”

“This isn’t exactly an infant, she’s three-and-a-half. She’s much less breakable.”

“But I don’t know how to change a diaper!”

“Three year olds don’t always wear normal diapers, they have pullups. Man, you haven’t been around kids much, have you?”

“I was the baby of the family, so how the crap am I supposed to know this stuff?”

“Well. It pays $11/hr. And they have all the premium cable channels.”

I was normally paid $6 an hour to serve rich people ice cream in a store with no air conditioning or cable TV. The offer sounded tempting, but I was still a little concerned. Just as I started thinking about the horrifying legends of babysitters accidentally putting babies in the microwave, the phone rang.

Of course, it was my mother. “Stephie, you vant to come home tonight and go to dah Hometown Buffet for dinner?”

“I can’t, I might have to babysit tonight.”

“Babyshit? Who vould ever let you babyshit? You’re not fit to be a mother!”

Of course, I decided to take the job out of spite.

I arrived at the house and Mr. Dad and Mrs. Mom gave me the tour of their lovely, probably ridiculously expensive, downtown Philadelphia apartment. As they showed me the downstairs, I spotted the big screen television. I got a brilliant idea; if I could just tire the kid out, she would go to bed and I could watch as much Comedy Central as I wanted.

On the way out the door, Mr. Dad left five dollars on the table. “Be a doll, go get her some iced cream with bananas.” Last time I checked at my own ice cream parlor, five bucks got you a melty swirl cone with no bananas to speak of, but who’s counting?

As the couple walked out the door, I heard a faint, “Ooooo, icie-cream!” from below the table. A little curly haired blond girl with huge eyelashes stared up at me. “You have icie-cream?”

“No, but we can go get some!” I said, trying desperately to buy her love. I grabbed the money, took her hand, and locked the door behind me.

We slowly, but surely, walked through a very nice neighborhood to get to a 50’s style ice cream parlor that was about seven blocks away. Although she could walk quite well, she kept on laughing and trying to throw herself down on the concrete. I got scared that some crazy bicyclist would go by us too fast and hit her, so I decided to carry her the rest of the way. I learned very quickly that kids are really heavy, squirmy, and kinda pointy.

Once we arrived, I ordered her a strawberry “icie-cream” with rainbow sprinkles and a side of bananas. They didn’t have any kiddy chairs, but the attendant assured that the stools were safe. I sat beside her with my arms stretched out, ready to catch her like a freaking baseball, in case she decided to dive off head first onto the linoleum. Although the attendant gave me some funny looks, the kid didn’t seem to care, and she voraciously devoured the entire concoction. I’m not even sure how much she even swallowed since most of it was on her face or flung onto the table. After cleaning her up, I carried her back home, getting jabbed with her now sticky, pointy elbows the entire way.

“Music Time!” she demanded as we walked in the door.

Mrs. Mom had told me that she liked listening to cassette tapes and dancing around, so I grabbed the collection and put on every awful Raffi and Sesame Street tape I could find. We sang and danced for ten minute until she screamed, “Pee Pot! I want the Pee Pot!”

“Okay, fine.” So, I took her to the bathroom.

She stopped in her tracks and looked at me like I was some kinda nut. “No, I don’t have to go.”


We went back to Happy-Fun-Music-Hour and I did my best Baby Beluga swimming dance move. She started screaming, “Pee Pot! Pee Pot! Pee Pot!”

I took her to the toilet again. There was no peeing in the pot. This went on like this like two more times, and then she started to cry. Hysterically.

I had no choice but to call Mrs. Mom. “Your daughter keeps yelling that she wants the Pee Pot, but when I take her to the toilet, she won’t go. Does she have a little potty or something that she uses instead?”

Mrs. Mom started laughing hysterically. “It’s Teapot, not Pee Pot. She wants her “I’m a Little Teapot” cassette tape. Okay, so I’m a moron.

We danced around to the freaking teapot song for about another hour, I made dinner, we finally went to the “actual” Pee Pot, and then I started to get really tired. “Time for a bed!”

“Lez pay Barb-beeee’s Dream-how!” she said without missing a beat.

The hours of Comedy Central watching were quickly slipping away. I came to a startling conclusion: Children don’t GET tired. Obviously they are like some kind of rechargable battery that gets more life every time they drink a Juicy Juice.

After playing with Barbie and her numerous outfits, careers, and very abused Ken’s, I said, “Okay, wow, it’s late, time for bed!”

“I’m a dradle!” She started spinning around and knocking crap over. Everywhere.

I finally managed to lure her into bed with a bedtime story. Just as she closed her eyes and I turned the last page of “The Berenstain Bears and the Slumber Party”, Mr. Dad and Mrs. Mom burst through the door. Of course, the kid jumped out of bed, so all my bedtime efforts were in vain. I should have strapped her in like Nagymama always did to me.

“So how did you do?” Mr. Dad asked, “I hope she wasn’t too much trouble!”

“No, she was fine, except it was really tough to get her to walk so I just carried her back and forth to the store. Man, you guys must have arms of steel!”

Mrs. Mom looked shocked, “You carried her the whole way? Why didn’t you use the stroller?”

My brain started churning. Stroller: A device that transports babies. One does not use a stroller for a child with working legs. Error, error, does not compute.

They must have seen the confused look on my face because they never called me again. Either they assumed that I was a complete moron because I did not take a class in “Stroller Function and Etiquette 101” or they saw my horrible “I’m A Little Teapot” dance moves on NannyCam and was afraid that I would be a poor influence on their child’s dance-skill development.

Either way, my mom was right, I’m not “fit” to be a mother. I would need to go to the gym at least like four time a week to build up enough muscle to wrangle a squirmy little kid.

Moms and Dads of the world – my hat’s off to you!

Photo by Michael Chambers