Okay, so I know that I like I joke about kids being annoying and potentially scary and that I’ve mentioned how uncertain I feel about whether I want to have children of my own and everything, but deep down inside, on most days*, I love kids.
I started babysitting at a damn early age, and I was damn good at it. All of the kids I took care of? I loved them like crazy. (Okay, not all of them. Some of them were super annoying. But the ones I took care of regularly/often, I loved them.) I would like, walk through fire for them.
SPOILER ALERT: I never had to walk through fire for a kid, thank goodness, but I did do some boundary-pushing stuff for them, which I am about to elaborate on.
Ladybugs. I’m just gonna lay it all out here: even doing an image search for ladybugs made me feel queasy. I hate ladybugs. I HATE THEM. Also, I FEAR THEM. Look, I get it, it’s weird because ladybugs are “so pretty” or whatever, but when I was about seven, I had a recurring nightmare that I’d wake up in my bed in the middle of a room that was mine-but-not-mine and EVERYTHING was covered in ladybugs. The walls were crawling with ladybugs, the floors, my bed, my skin. They were in my nose, my mouth, my eyes. I was suffocating on ladybugs and all I could smell and taste was that gross smell they leave on you when you hold them, which I think is actually a defense mechanism to keep them from being eaten my predators.
SIDENOTE: Don’t worry, ladybugs, I’m NEVER going to eat you. I think you’re super gross. No offense.
(Just describing that dream, I feel itchy and my heart rate is up. Ugh.)
So this one time I was babysitting one of my usual kids, who was about four, and we were upstairs playing in her room with all of her toys (because little kids like to play with ALL of their toys, not just one or even some). At one point, she disappeared to the corner of her room, and when she returned, she looked elated. She had one had extended toward me and a huge, toothy grin on her face. Her eyes were sparkling. This was the best moment of her whole life thus far.
Look, I’m not going to torture you with anticipation. Also, if you’re smart, you should see where this is going already. It was a ladybug. It was crawling around on her hand, and she really wanted me to see it.
“Look!” she exclaimed, holding it out to me.
“Oh, wow! It’s so pretty!**” I said, taking a small, subtle step backward. (See: stumbling away and nearly putting a hole in the wall behind me.)
“Here, hold it!”
“Oh no, that’s okay – you play with your ladybug friend!”
“No, you hold it! It tickles!”
Guys, she was so happy. She just wanted to share the happiness. So I did what I think anyone with a heart would do: I let her put the ladybug on my hand and I smiled (and probably broke a huge sweat) and tried to stay calm. After a few moments, I put the ladybug back onto the houseplant in the corner of the kid’s room and then I suggested we go downstairs to play and watch a movie. (To get the hell out of the room, obviously.)
And then I thought/worried about that ladybug. It haunted me. It still does.
SIDENOTE: My GOD those fries look good.
So this other time that I was babysitting (this was actually more of a nanny gig than a babysitting gig, because I would watch the kid from 10-6 a few times a week), the little boy’s dad left me with a $20 bill and said, “You should take Sammy*** for lunch today at the Arby’s – he loves it.” So I agreed and incorporated a stop at Arby’s into one of our many afternoon walks. (Sammy LOVED going for walks in his stroller, and it was one of the only ways to get him to sleep, so we went on LOTS of walks.)
We got to Arby’s and I ordered some french fries for myself and a chicken nugget and french fry combo for the kid and we found a booth to hang out in. Sammy was so excited. He clearly loved seeing all of the people at the restaurant, climbing around on the seats on the booth, etc. It was pretty adorable, and since I was a young teen myself, I felt pretty cool sitting there with a kid and pretending he was mine.
SIDENOTE: Imagine, I thought it was cool to have a kid. That’s cute. Also, he was like, white blonde with giant blue eyes. He would have only been mine if I had stolen him.
Once we actually settled down to eat, Sammy thought it would be really, really fun to feed me french fries, probably because I was feeding him french fries and he wanted to return the favour. So I let him feed me one. All right, no problem. We went on like this for a while, back and forth feeding each other french fries. Then something caught my attention and I looked away, or I was daydreaming about what if Sammy was actually my kid or something, and when I turned back to Sammy, he was holding out a french fry for me, so I took it. But as soon as I closed my mouth around that fry, I noticed something was off.
It was totally soggy.
Guys, Sammy had totally been sucking on that french fry before he fed it to me. It was like, pre-mushed for me. All of these realizations flooded my mind in half a second of horror, disgust, and maybe some mild nausea.
So I did what I think anyone with a heart would do: I ate the fry. I said, “Mmm!” and chewed it up and swallowed it down.
(I didn’t want to break his little heart!!! DON’T JUDGE ME!)
And then I thought/worried about that fry. It haunted me. It still does.
But I guess love makes you do crazy things.
Also, maybe I should have kids one day.
Or maybe not.
*I feel like my percentage of “most” is probably higher than a lot of parents. And if I were a parent, who knows.
**Because that’s the rumour I’ve heard on the streets. I’m such a sheep.
***Not his real name. It was Sebastian.