“No matter what happens this must be tended!” But poor Horton’s troubles were far, far from ended. (Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Suess) Horton the Elephant, in the Dr Suess book is a loyal friend that commits to help a Mama bird. He keeps his word through thick and thin, through storm and blizzard, and against all odds. I want to be like Horton, but without the weight problem.
We were doing our bit to keep society thriving at the local Wal-Mart. In our “hood,” you don’t go to a nightclub to meet up with your homies. You don’t go to an athletic or tennis club to hob-nob with society types. You go to Wal-Mart. It’s the place to see and to be seen, even in pajamas. Need some Post Toasties? Go to Wal-Mart. Want to show off that new Mullet hairdo? Wal-Mart again.
We felt lucky to find two of the 4,000 checkout lanes open and active. We ducked into #1 and were looking at the tabloids when we noticed a good friend slightly nearer the finish line in the next lane. She was corralling her precious twins while trying to load the belt with more groceries than I’ve seen in ages. She called me over because she likes me best. “Can you watch the girls? I forgot something.” I said that, yes, I’d be glad to. As I moved over, the man in front of her was counting out some money to pay for his cat food and jerky seasoning.
The mom ran off towards the bowels of the store. I looked at my young charges, and it just came out of my mouth. “If you want candy, now would be the time to get it.” Little kids became a blur as they raced to the chocolate bars. I panicked, but the lady who was next in line corralled the little speedy creatures back to the cart and scowled at me. “It takes a village,” she said. I think she was implying I should be voted off of the village.
“What’ll Mom think when she gets back? I bet the kids will rat me out about the candy. Wait, what if Mom doesn’t come back? What if the something she forgot was a ticket to Cancun and a cocktail with a little umbrella stuck in it? What if the something she forgot is witness protection in another state? What if she never ever comes back?” I was getting very, very scared.
What’s the law about kids, anyway? I’m pretty sure you can leave kids at a police station, but that probably looks bad on a babysitter resume. I like these kids, but they’re smart and fast. I’m addled and slow. I could die, trying to keep up with them. What about watching Matlock? Will they sit quietly until Matlock is over? They won’t want juice boxes, will they? How about when they start dating? After three daughters, I don’t think I can go through that again. In some states, you can leave your teenager at the Army recruiter with no questions asked, but that may go on my permanent record. This is very bad.
I thought hard. What does a babysitter do, anyway? I tried to remember babysitter movies. Babysitters eat and have a bad attitude. I opened a bag of Mom’s chips and ate them while I rolled my eyes at the lady behind me. I didn’t feel any better. One of the girls looked at me. I worried she wanted to go to the bathroom or expected a potato chip. The other girl started to sneak off, but the lady behind me snapped her fingers and the kid came back. She must practice one of the dark arts that enable her to control the weather and pre-schoolers.
I’m not qualified to baby sit anyway. My middle daughter was a Houdini, Junior Grade, and got away all of the time. She probably just wanted to get me in trouble, and she was successful. I blame her escapades for my going bald early. I couldn’t even keep track of kids when I was young…what was I thinking now that I’m old? This was bad, really bad.
I entered full-on panic. My chest got tight and my mouth was dry. Wait, that was from the salty chips. I opened her Mountain Dew and took a big swig. The citrus-laden caffeine hit me like a brick. That’s a bad idea. The kids were looking at me with a little smirk.
Mom appeared out of nowhere. “What happened here?” she demanded. The witchy-woman behind me shook her head. “Nothing, we’re good,” I replied, “It was fun.” Mom looked at me disapprovingly as I faded back to my shopping cart. The man in front finished paying for his cat food.