As a teenager, I babysat rambunctious boys. They destroyed everything in their path. They brawled to resolve arguments. Their parents laughed, “Boys will be boys!” when I described their aggression.
When a couple down the street asked me to babysit their demure five-year-old daughter Ana, I was relieved. Playing with Barbies and reading stories would be a welcome break from the chaos of babysitting boys. I wouldn’t have to stop fights or put valuables in unreachable places.
After going over Ana’s bedtime routine and their contact numbers, her parents left for their date night. We had pizza for dinner and played hide and go seek. (Not as difficult with two people, she discovered.) Before bedtime, Ana insisted that we have a tea party. We sat at her pink table and sipped invisible tea out of matching teacups.
“Samantha, how do you like my tea party?”
“It’s the loveliest tea party I’ve been to, Ana. Thank you for being a gracious hostess.”
“What are those things under your shirt?”
“You mean…my bra?”
“What’s in your bra? My mommy said those are called breasts, right?”
“Uh — ”
“My mommy and daddy are doctors. They say you should use the real words for privates.”
“Scientifically speaking, I have breasts under my shirt.”
“When will I get those?”
“It depends on when you go through puberty.”
“When your body changes — actually, you should ask your mom about it, not me.”
“My mommy and daddy aren’t regular doctors. They talk to people to make sure their brains are happy. What’s that called?”
“Why are they white and I’m brown?”
“My hair doesn’t look like my mommy’s either.”
“This tea party has been a fantastic one, but it’s your bedtime, Ana.”
“Teeth brushing and pajama time for you!”
“You’re not making me sleep early because I ask lots of questions, are you?”
“Not at all!”
While Ana slept, I decided two things:
- I would rather broker peace between battling brothers than field more awkward questions from this observant little girl.
- I would never babysit for a couple of psychiatrists ever again.