Monday, September 7, 2009

Adventures in Babysitting

As you may have deduced from a glance at my blogroll, I was a huge Baby-sitters Club fan back in fifth grade. And since babysitting was obviously synonymous with Exciting Plotlines (we all know it's only a short leap from running a playgroup to discovering secret passages, flirting with sexxy lifeguards, and going on free cruises to Disney World), I thought I'd try my hand at a babysitting novel of my own. Never mind that I had never babysat anyone. Ever. I didn't need to! Because I'd been virtually babysitting Jamie Newton and Charlotte Johanssen for years! Or at least a year and a half. Whatever.

So what was my book—my offering to the altar of Ann M. Martin and her pack of preternaturally maternal middle schoolers—going to be called?


That's right. My babysitter was going to be begging for mercy. As you'll soon see, Lauren Lowsky is what we might call a—how can I put this?—"special" babysitter.

HELP.....I'M BABYSITTING #1 Lauren and the Tolivers

That implies that this was going to be a series. Book #2? Maybe Lauren and the Mysterious Diagnosis.

RRRIIINNNGGG....went the phone. I covered my ears. RRRIIINNNGGG. Answermom, I thought, and put the two words together as one. RRRIIINNN- Ah.

She just covered her ears when the phone rang. Would you leave this person in charge of your children?

"LAUREN." mom called. "PHONE."

My little, 7-year-old, sister, Melissa stuck her head in the door. "I think it's a client." she whispered.

I snatched the portable phone from her hand and pushed her right back out of the door. You have to know how to handle siblings sometimes.

You can tell right away that Lauren is just wonderful with the little ones!

My name is Lauren Lowsky. I'm 14 years old, brown hair, green eyes, 5'4", and I refuse to reveal my weight.

I think this has less to do with Lauren's body image and more to do with the fact that I had no idea how much a 5'4" 14-year-old girl would weigh. But I DID know that she'd wear a ginorm polka-dotted bow in her hair!

Lauren Lowsky: 99% Babysitter? Shyeah right!

I really love her off-the-shoulder sweatshirt letting us know she is ALL IN on this babysitting thang. I'm a little worried, however, that she may have trouble walking after spending so many years binding her feet. Check them out! They are like a size –2.

"Hello," I said. "Lauren Lowsky speaking."

"Hello, dear," answered a woman's voice. "It's Mrs. Toliver." MRS. TOLIVER.
[Why the caps? WE DON'T KNOW.] "Can you baby-sit tonight from 7-10?"

Does it seem suspicious that Mrs. Toliver's calling her at the last minute? It's probably because they've called every single other babysitter in town first, and none of them were available.

"" I stammered. "Ah, I don't know. Let me check my calendar. Hold on."

Lauren Lowsky: 100% babysitter, 0% professional. Also, she has to check her calendar to see if she's busy TONIGHT? She can't remember what she's doing in a couple of hours? Mmmkay...

I was free. "Uh, Mrs. Toliver, I'll be there."

"Should we pick you up?" asked Mrs. Toliver.

"I just need a ride home, thanks." I answered.

"Great," she said. "See you at 7:00."

* * * * * *

BONG. That was the Tolivers' door bell. BONG. Why aren't they answering? BONG. WHERE

BONG. Might be what Lauren was hitting before she came over here. Chill, Lauren! You must chill!

A small figure wearing a very big T-shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots opened the door.

"Elvis." I exclaimed. "Hi."

"Lauren." shouted Elvis. He dropped the broom in his hand. Then he ran over and threw his arms around my neck.

"Howdy, partner," said Priscilla, galloping in on her own broom. "Long time no see."

"Long time no see." I repeated.

I have a feeling Lauren repeats LOTS of things. Like maybe the ninth grade.

"Hi, honey," said Mrs. Toliver. "There's a note on the kitchen table. Back by 10:00." So Mr. and Mrs. Toliver left.

The note said:

We're at the "Starlight Dance Club"
The # is: 555-4237

If any emergency, call us and Georgia Martin at 555-9394

Be inside at 8. You can have fudgesicles at 8:30. Clean up when you get in at 8:00. Brush teeth, put on P.J.'s, and use potty. Bedtime is 9:00.

Back at 10:00

-Mary Toliver
This may be the most precise babysitting note ever written. They have to eat fudgesicles at exactly 8:30? Mrs. Toliver has to remind Lauren to take the kids to the bathroom before bed? Clearly our heroine has babysat for them before.

p.s. I love that the Tolivers are on a hot date at the Starlight Dance Club. Before 10 p.m.

"Looks like we've got a full evening, guys." I said.

Priscilla and Elvis are twins. They are 4½. They are average height and weight. They both have silky blond hair and brown eyes about the color of melted chocolate. They're really cute kids.

Were shirts not made to cover both shoulders in 1989?

I think the backstory here was that the Tolivers loved them some Elvis. In real life, I had just read Priscilla Presley's memoir Elvis and Me. I still remember parts of it VIVIDLY. Like how Elvis cheated on Priscilla with Ann-Margret? And how Priscilla moved in with Elvis while she was still in high school... but they didn't make with the sexin' until she graduated? No no, instead they just indulged in some near-sex role-playing games in which Priscilla portrayed a naughty nurse. OH. MAN.


Was this appropriate fifth grade reading material? LORD NO! But it wasn't as bad as The Prince of Tides, which I read in fourth grade over the course of ONE WEEK because I couldn't put it down. Adultery? Alcoholism? Attempted suicide?
Murderous tigers? Children raped by escaped convicts? Check, check, check, check, and—sorry to ruin it for you—CHECK!

I believe a penis is likened to pigskin at one point?

Ahem, back to the babysitting...

"Are we playing cowboy?" I asked.

"You bet." Elvis yelled from the other room. I ran to find the kids. To be a good baby-sitter you have to know where your kids are.

Thanks for the pointer, Babysitting Guru!

"Here," said Priscilla. She handed me one of her father's vests and a large straw hat. "Put 'em on." she urged.

"Are you sure we can use the vest?" I asked.

"POS-I-TIVE." said Priscilla, stressing each syllable.

Elvis handed me a broom. "Ride 'em, cowb- I mean, 'Ride 'em cowgirl.'" he told me. Priscilla and I laughed.

How many brooms do these people own?

"So," I said. "Do you want to play outside.

"Yeah." said Elvis.

"We can play in the tent." added Priscilla.

"The tent?" I asked.

* * * * *

"We need some Indians." announced Elvis.

"Yeah," agreed Priscilla. "Can Liz and Tommy Martin come over? It's dumb without Indians for us to tie to the big tree."

Hello, and welcome to the politically incorrect portion of our story! I do remember that most games could be improved upon by tying someone (oppressed minority, royal hostage, kidnappee, whoevs) to a tree. Tip: A jump rope gets the job done quite well.

"They can come over for 45 minutes. Then we have to come in." I said. "But, I don't think Liz and Tommy are going to let you tie them to trees."

"Awwww." moaned Priscilla.

"O.K." said Elvis. "Let's call."

* * * * * *


"Hello, is this Mrs. Martin?" I asked politely.

"This is her. Who's this?"

"Lauren Lowsky." I answered.

"Omigod." gasped Mrs. Martin. "What happened?" she managed to choke out.

Normally I'd say Mrs. Martin is a bit jumpy... but it is Lauren Lowsky in charge of these children.

"Oh," I said. "Nothing."

"Nothing?" Mrs. Martin asked, sounding annoyed.

Wait, is she
disappointed that Elvis and Priscilla aren't in mortal peril?

"I didn't mean to startle you. The kids wanted to know if Liz and Tommy could come over to play. Only for 45 minutes, though."

"Well," said Mrs. Martin. "I suppose so. Can Liz bring her friend, Sarah. She's sleeping over."

We soon find out that Liz is only 5½, which seems, I don't know, a bit young for sleepovers.

"You got it." I exclaimed.

* * * * * *

"My name is Doreen Martin." she said coolly. Dor. Liz and Tommy Martin's older, 8-year-old sister. I guess she forgot who I was.....or was acting like she did. But she knew me. I'd sat for her 3 times before that.

Not that anyone's counting.

"Hi, Laur." said Tommy. He has short, black hair. Thick. Just like his 2 older sisters.
[Uh, who are you calling "thick," Lowsky?] He's 4.

"Hey, Laur-en." cried Liz. Her hair is slightly longer than Tommy's. She's 5½. "This is my friend, Sarah." she explained.

"Hi, Sarah." I said, bending over to see her.

Sarah's head snapped up in terror.
[TERROR? Ah, Lauren Lowsky's reputation precedes her.] I backed away. Or at least I tried to. But I'm pretty sure I stopped.....and stared. I looked at her eyes first. I was pools of clear blue. Then her pale, flawless skin. Then her long, bright red hair. This girl might as well be 'Miss America', I thought.

Okay, so Lauren is a developmentally disabled lesbian. Woo boy, I was breaking down barriers with this one!

"Hi." said a small voice from behind Sarah. That's when Sarah stood up. She was my age.

Then I saw the real Sarah.

A small girl; dull, blue, eyes. And last but certainly not least was a tangled mop of red hair on her head.

Lauren mistook a 14-year-old girl for a 5-year-old? Because she was kneeling? REALLY? She has freaking BRACES ON HER TEETH.

Here she is, she's... uh... Miss America...? Is this a joke?

That's right, "Miss America" has hair that resembles Silly String, no chin to speak of, and a baby-sized mouth full of metal. STOP indeed. However, I'm relieved that Mrs. Martin sent her children over with a chaperone.

And that's where this one ends, unfortunately. I really wanted to see Gloria and Lauren team up in business... and pleasure. Or to have their car stolen in downtown Chicago and almost get knifed on the subway and then have to make up an impromptu ditty at a blues bar. Maybe Lauren would meet her future wife at a sorority party! Oh, what could have been....

NEXT TIME: Can't get enough of babysitters? How about one being terrorized by a soul-sucking demon?

Until then, I have another diary for you to read! My friend Damiella is working on The Diary Project, wherein she's systematically posting and reflecting back on all of her childhood diary entries. It makes me wish I'd kept more diaries.


Cory said...

Lauren went from being just immature and not someone I'd ever want babysitting my kids to someone who should never, ever be anywhere near a child, even with adults present. Seriously, I when she basically fell in love with Sarah...oh, man, that sort of freaked me out.

Also, I freaking love Adventures in Babysitting. It's amazing. And, I'm excited to be the next guest author! YEAH! My dream has come true!

Cory said...

P.S. Now I see why you waited until now to post part of my's goes with the babysitting theme.

Kathryn said...

I loved "Elvis and Me" ! Of course, I was 18 when I read it, but my awe was more or less that of a fifth grader. And then I read "Child Bride", which called bullshit on everything Priscilla said in her book. So I'm torn.

I ate up all the Baby-Sitters club books when I was in fourth/fifth grade, yet have still to sit for an actual child. Or pets. Or water anyone's plants.

I'm afraid real kids would be a let down after the Perkin's girls.

zanne said...

I wrote a babysitting story too! I read too much BSC, of course. I'll have to send it to you.

Sada said...

Yes, please! More babysitters!!!

p.s. The Perkins girls didn't even need a babysitter. We all know Mariah would have had it under control.

Harlem's A Hatin said...

I loooooved babysitters club, I used to watch the show on TV also!

That Kind of Girl said...

Oh man, I miss this blog. I was so looking forward to the demonic babysitting adventures!

Sada said...

It's coming soon! I'm working on it, I promise!