Welcome to “Babysitting 101” with Erin. We’ll start with what not to do (since, as with most things, that’s my strong suit).
When I was 12, I babysat a lot. We lived in a vacation town and what vacationing parents aren’t dying to get away from their children?
One dark and stormy night (or one warm June evening) I went to babysit for a very nice couple (at their vacation cabin in the woods) who had an 8-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy…and they each had a friend with them. So, do the math…I’ll wait. Yes. That’s four kids. Now – it wasn’t the number of kids so much as the balance of power thing…cause I was only a couple of years older than the boys which didn’t instill me with a tremendous amount of authority.
The evening started out fine…we played with those toys that were big cats that turned into robots Transformer style? (Totally aside the point – but they were awesome.) An hour or so in, things started to unravel and my little monsters realized they did not actually have to listen to me. At all. This realization degraded into the lot of them running out the front door into the woods…forcing me to find a flashlight and pursue the little bastards. Once I finally wrangled them back into the house, I was at my wit’s end…and I was only 12…my wit wasn’t very long to begin with.
So I told them a little story. (*Note: I do not condone this – but it was wildly effective and slightly hilarious in retrospect.) Let me preface this by saying, I am quite the actress…especially when pushed to desperation. I told them that I was a werewolf and had (regrettably) eaten the last children I babysat for. I described it something like this:
Now, I know what you’re thinking…no way they’d fall for it, right? You underestimate me, my friend. I cried…actually cried…while telling them the story about how I lost my temper and turned into a werewolf…and awoke in the aftermath, covered in adolescent blood with mutilated corpses in the house. Well, within 5 minutes, I had four exceptionally obedient children in bed, none of them speaking above a whisper. I still remember the boy asking, “how are you feeling now? Do you think you’ll turn?” And me answering, somberly, “no…I’m feeling much calmer. I think it’ll be okay.”
I did come clean to the mom when she was driving me home that night. She was surprised but more amused than angry. And they did ask me to babysit again (unfortunately, after assuring the children that I was not a lycanthrope so that card could only be played once). And so began my lifelong love of terrorizing children.