Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Public Service Announcement: The Lonely Little Chip

During Spring Break of either 2000, 2001 or 2002, I made a promise to be the best Child Advocate twelve Pesos could buy. I kept myself alert while digging through the bottom of the prison latrine (unfortunately, in the morning it was revealed to be a public toilet at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville) by dreaming up a series of child safety Public Service Announcements. Here is the first.

Four Dangerous Joykills:

1. When people give out toothbrushes for Halloween - especially if you're a dentist. Do you need to be so self-righteous EVERY day in October? Really? All the way to the bitter end, huh?
2. A pinata filled with raisins.
3. Candy Villains, especially Lord Licorice. What a royal douche!
4. When people make cookies for children and put way less chocolate chips then the recipe requires. If you want to be healthy, please just give a kid some nice crunchy carrots. Don't put health where it doesn't belong: in the cookies.

Rosie received some such cookies from a well-meaning yet grossly misguided relative the other day. I watched as she carefully wriggled her fingernail across the surface like an Archaeologist digging for delicate pottery shards. A full minute later, the cookie was crumbled to bits and Rosie's face broke into an expression of relief as she extracted the lone chocolate chip from the rubble. Then she put it up her nose. Carefully weighing her options, she then removed it from her nose and placed it in her mouth. "I want... chocolate chips!" she announced. Don't we all, Rosie. Don't we all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

High Fructose Hijinx

Since he is now in Jr. High, I've started educating Ryan about everything important a teenager should know after his younger siblings have gone to sleep. Last night I taught him that sequined nipple covers are called "Pasties." In return, he taught me how to do this:
Ingredients: one orange. You're welcome!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Please Meet my Interracial Love Child

His name is Kalim. Isn't he cute? I was babysitting him during the day while his Mama got some work done, and decided to take him for a walk in his stroller around Lake Merrit. Then I remembered the Oakland "bird sanctuary" (pigeon slum) on the south side of the path and decided the risk of bird flu was much too high. It would be even better to walk him over to Lakeshore Avenue, where I could obtain both a giant piece of pizza and a hearty sense of accomplishment.

As I wheeled the stroller through a small crowd of people taking in the oboe stylings of a one-legged clown and past the hoards of jobless coffee sippers in front of Peet's, I noticed that some people were looking at me funny. Not "so, you're a stripper" funny, but a weird, eye-darting puzzlement that slowly dissolved into a glare. I put on my large pink sunglasses so I could observe undetected.

A man craned his neck to see in the stroller, but was trying not to look obvious about it, so I just halted right in front of him and fake pushed a bunch of buttons on my phone. Don't mind me, just sending a very important text message to the Viceroy of Guam! lmk if u want me 2 pick up knishes for tuesday potluck bingo nite. The man looked at Kalim sleeping in the stroller, then up at me. Then he looked at my... hand? What was he looking for, a ring? Finally, the glare. I walked passed the bagel shop. Same deal, but a woman, this time. Stroller, me, ring finger. Duuuude... it suddenly dawned on me that people thought Kalim was my interracial love child. And they were totally offended! Oh man, this was gonna be an awesome walk. I sighed dramatically and pushed the hood back a few inches on the stroller so passers-by could get a better look at Kalim's mini-halfro.

Many years ago, when Rodney King was still wearing Grant Hill Filas, I jumped into a garbage truck to escape the special school for wayward girls I was attending and hitchhiked to Oakland. It was here I befriended a "living statue" named Kevin. When he took off his silver body paint at night, he became just another a black man in duct tape overalls and silver glitter hi-tops, carrying a jeweled ghetto blaster. We were walking down the street together one evening and noticed that all these black chicks were staring at us, looking displeased.

"What gives?" I asked.

"Well, you know... they're upset seeing us together. There's not a lot of good black men out there, and they don't want to see any of them fall into the wrong hands."

"Good?" I scoffed. "I was thinking it was because I'm so much better looking than you."

Well, it turns out we were both right. I can't WAIT to take Kalim for another Lakeshore stroll. I still have some food stamps leftover from my brief commitment to an urban yurt collective back in 2005, and I'm going to conspicuously take them out of my Lewis Vuittron wallet to pay for my pizza. Hopefully, there will be a long line of good black men behind me. That's what she said! JENNI, OUT!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Curb Your Enthusiasm

It's very, very tempting to make up a bunch of spontaneous games while babysitting, especially when you're working with a pack of siblings and you've had a couple of Diet Cokes on an empty stomach. During the span of my entire babysitting career, I'd say that the five most popular games I've coined are:
1. Tickle Monster
2. Car Wash (ages 0-3)
3. Marshmallow War
4. Flaming Marshmallow War
5. Extreme Stair Toboggan and Kitchen Floor Speed Skate Olympics

Now, I'm not saying that there's not a reason these games are in the top five. There's actually a very good reason - these games are fucking fun as shit. However, they also require an enormous amount of physical energy on the babysitter's part, and when you come crashing down from your Diet Coke high, guess who still has a gajillion more rounds of Marshmallow War left in them? The Neibaum triplets, that's who. And they haven't even eaten dessert yet.

Some of you young sitters out there may be a little skeptical. Oh come on, you might be thinking, I've still got some kick left in the old jalopy. Aren't you a little old (yet still very beautiful) to be a babysitter? Didn't I see you yesterday at the Alpha-Beta buying gin and six tins of catfood?" Though the first part is somewhat untrue, I understand from experience why you might think such things. I was young and naive once, too. Then I invented Tickle Monster at age 12 and barely lived to rue the day. Look, it's a simple fact that once you make it to Jr. High, you become physically incapable of producing a fraction of the energy of a 7-year-old who's just enjoyed a frosty pint of apple juice. So do yourself a favor... before you make that bright idea of yours into a game of harsh reality, consider this checklist:

1. Does this game have any monsters in it and if so, must this monster always be played by the same person aka me?

2. Does this game have a clear beginning and end or can it just cycle on for all of eternity?

3. Does this game require the unusual bending of my body for longer than 10 seconds?

4. Does this game require intense upper body strength or "fancy feet?"

5. Does this game allow children to defy gravity and if so, are you the source of their defiance?

6. Is this game going to be remembered the next time you babysit? How about the time after that? And the time after that?

If you answered yes to every question except #2, which isn't really a yes or no question, then you're in danger of entering the no-rest zone, where sweat is shed and DVDs lay unopened for months. Carefully consider whether you really want to be playing this game for 3 hours straight on a rainy evening. On the first day of your period. Just after you walked in on your boyfriend softly tonguing the Zac Ephron poster he claimed was only in his room for "hair inspiration." Hmmmmaybe not.

...Or maybe you do? It's a little known fact that Willie Nelson was a babysitter once. My babysitter. Invented a little game called Shotgun, and look at him now... haggard and decrepit, but still awesome.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Burning Sensation

Today I unwisely violated one of the six golden rules of the Babysitter's Code: Never say "sure, why not?" when a boy between the ages of 8 and 16 asks you to do something unfamiliar* - and ESPECIALLY don't do it twice. This was the result:
This is what happens when you open a fresh stick of Big Red gum, lick the wrapper, and stick it to the soft, vulnerable underside of your arm. And you know what? It really does hurt twice as much if you do it on both arms. If you don't believe me, why not suggest that a hated co-worker give it a try? This would be especially funny if you worked at Abercrombie. Please note: the burning, itching welt reduces in intensity after 2 hours and 39 minutes. Thanks for the helpful information, Tyler!

*If you want to start following this rule before puberty just for safety's sake, by all means... be my guest.

Notes from the Supply Monitor: Duct Tape Discovery

A good babysitter carries a very large handbag at all times, and that handbag is filled with assorted items - some necessary, some illegal - that can literally mean the difference between life and death on the job. No matter the season, if you emptied out my colossal purse, there are a few things that you would always find. A roll of duct tape is one of them. Duct tape is the solution to so many of life's problems that I wonder why the nation's therapists don't roll through Long's (Duane Reed, if you're chilly) in the middle of the night buying up the entire stash. As a babysitter, duct tape plays an important roll in everything from fixing a torn pair of pants at the park to acting as a crucial prop in a heated game of Kidnap. So imagine my delight when I strolled through the aisles at Michael's today hunting for Bedazzler refills and came across this:

A hot pink roll of duct tape!!! I came in my pants. Twice. I could hardly believe that two of my favorite things in the world were combined into one amazing super-product, and that it could be mine for only $3.99. Oh, sweet Michael's... if I wasn't already engaged to an imaginary kettle corn chef, I'd marry you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Congratulations... You're Going to be a Wonderful Mom!

...The mothers of my babysitting children have been saying this to me since back when I still used Maxi-Pads (see above circa 1992). Naturally, I assumed it was true and couldn't wait to have a kid of my own. As a result, I developed what I now realize was a very unrealistic fantasy of my future pregnancy. I imagined that (insert whatever boyfriend I had at the time) would accidentally knock me up. We'd totally freak out, cause we were like, totally not prepared! He was a (drug dealer, neurotic vitamin salesman, wifebeater, great-grandfather) and I, a poor child care professional with no health insurance. Months would go by while I deliberated whether or not to redeem the free coupon I'd earned from my frequent buyer card at the Abortion Clinic. Would I, or wouldn't I? Pitcher after pitcher of margaritas would be drained, but nothing could quench the fire of uncertainty in my belly. Then: a phonecall. "Hello? Yes, this is she. General hostpital? He what? Instantly, you don't say... I'll be right over." My boyfriend - dead in a mysterious accident! ...and the last lingering piece of him on this earth was living in my womb...

Of course, I would have the baby. How could I not? His family would be so grateful to me for bestowing this miracle upon them that they wouldn't say anything when I named the baby Claudine in hopes that she'd turn out to be a slutty French Gypsy. Why, they'd probably even let me live in the pool house rent-free for as long as I wanted! Yes sir, I thought, having a baby of my own was going to be pretty sweet...

Then, I failed at dying before age 28. Friends and cousins started having babies that weren't pretend. I started to see things... horrible things. Mistakes were made. Relationships fell apart, dreams were killed and vaginas were ruined - sometimes forever. Pregnancy, childbirth and the ineveitable parenthood were revealed to be not a generous scoop of Cream Dream, but a cantankerous bottle of old breastmilk curdling in the sun... precariously perched on the windowsill and just waiting for you to walk past without a condom.

Nowadays, I have a much more realistic perspective on what having my baby would really be like. Here is a photo-realistic depiction:
Motherhood: For Fruits Only

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Notes from the Naughty Corner: Words, Words, Words

Lots of grownups have woken up after a long weekend at Burning Man to find themselves parents, but they don't want to completely give up vices such as smoking pot, drinking before breakfast or wife swapping. And who can blame them? Parents such as these who have young children underfoot often make up euphemisms for their naughty behavior so the kids totally won't know what they're talking about, man! Sometimes, when I'm supplementing my income with a little light pot dealing, I am telephoned with a request to "come over and bring a bowl of chips," while children shriek loudly in the background. If I've recently been to a birthday party where I've handed out a bunch of my suggestively erotic business cards, I might be asked if I can "watch the dog and let him out when he has to go" by a potential new client. The answer, of course, is always a firm "no." This got me into trouble once with a family that had a new puppy and a Missoni cashmere rug.

These naming conventions have proven to be useful for dodging Child Protective Services, but I always wonder... what if little Joey gets invited to little Soon-Yi's birthday potluck and is asked by her recently immigrated mother to bring a bowl of chips? Then what, he rifles through Mom's stash and shows up to the party with a big bag of weed to put on the table between the hot dogs and the kim chee? That $20 set of Bratz Acrylic Nails you meant to be Soon-Yi's birthday present has now become a $120 liability ($210 in New York).

As an experiment for the science fair, I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if you made up explicit euphemisms for ordinary tasks and taught them to your small children. If your child sees you washing the dishes and asks what you're doing, you can say, "Oh, I'm just gently massaging my penis." If you're taking out the trash, you can announce in a loud whisper that you're going outside to "cook up some crank" and will be back momentarily. Cleaning out your ears with Q-Tips? Yawn! Why not "insert asparagus tips into your anus" instead? And sorting through junk mail is much more fun when you're "engaging in urethra play." I wish my parents had thought of this when I was young, before they stopped herbally expanding their minds and became Republicans. Well, it's been fun, kids, but I've got to go now and polish my doorknobs before the landlord comes over for his monthly inspection. TTYL!

"I was gently massaging my penis when I ran out of soap."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

...and that's why Vishnu made YouTube.

David After the Dentist

Monday, February 2, 2009

Smokin' Hot

The kids have been haranguing me about it for months now, so today I finally taught Gracie and Tyler how to smoke. They're pretty wet behind the ears, but I suppose that's to be expected from a couple of grade-school amateurs. Gracie had the cigarette in backwards at first and we had to start the whole thing over due to extreme sogginess. I made her give me 50 cents and a clean pair of socks for the ruined cigarette so she would learn a valuable lesson about prison commodities and their costs. Soon, however, both siblings had mastered the detached glare and the slouchy posture one needs in order to smoke convincingly.

Congratulations, kids! I think you're both naturals. Oh, but here's a free piece of advice: avoid American Spirits, they're really foul tasting. If you truly want to go natural, smoke Nat Shermans. They're a bit more expensive, but hey - what's a little allowance in exchange for a good time?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fistful of Dollars

Having just completed a successful garage sale, Rosie's mom paid me in one-dollar-bills. I went to the market after babysitting to buy some shrimp, and the total came to $16. When did shrimp for one become so expensive? Probably somewhere between global warming and the new Red Lobster opening in Richmond. I decided it was worth the cost for a delicious shrimp dinner, and took out my wad of cash to pay. It took me a moment to carefully peel off 16 dollar-bills and when I handed it to the man at the counter, I noticed he was looking at me funny. Really funny. At first I assumed it was yet another case of mistaken vegetarian identity, but then I realized... he thought I was a stripper! A budget stripper. Awesome!!!
From now on, I think I'll always carry 50 ones with me wherever I go. You know, just to make spending my hard earned money a little less painful and a lot more uncomfortable for others. Maybe I'll even clip some coupons for things like air freshener, flea collars and Q-tips and put those in with the bills along with a large ball of weird, questionable lint.