Jun 6, 2021 • 1M

Midnight Confessions #36: Baby Ish

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Mara Wilson
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Another installment of my embarrassing stories, told through audio.

One of the girls I used to nanny for graduated from college last month. She’s now headed to grad school. I’m really trying not to let this make me feel old. I’m trying to remind myself that she was already in middle school when I met her, and I was mostly there for her younger siblings. I guess that isn’t really nannying, and not really babysitting — none of them were babies. Caregiving?

Anyway, I’d like to think I was good at it. I know that once a month, I wasn’t: I had no interest in playing soccer in the hallway or walking to the park, I would keep suggesting activities that were very low-key and didn’t involve much movement and involved lots of Double Stuf Oreos. But most of the time, I was good. We played games and talked and I sang songs to the girls before they went to sleep (their brother wouldn’t stand for such things.) I wanted to be the kind of adult that had answers to kids’ questions. Usually, though, it was me asking the questions, and me leading the lessons, even when they weren’t particularly interested. Once I noticed Holden, the middle child, had given himself the name “H-Bomb” on a multiplayer game, and asked him if he knew what that meant. We got into talking about the Cold War, and I ending up trying to explain communism to him.

“That’s gross,” he said, when I was done. I had expected “That’s a dumb idea” or maybe, “That’s a good idea,” but I had not expected to hear the word “gross.” I was baffled until I realized he had taken the “sharing” part literally. As if the Communist Party were an actual party where strangers shared toothbrushes and double-dipped their chips.

Sometimes I just made dumb mistakes, though. Like all kids, they were big into whatever was on the radio at the time, and I spent a lot of time worrying about what their mom wouldn’t want them to hear. Every other song in the early 2010s was built around some terrible, belabored double entendre — “Peacock”, “Whistle”, “Animals”, all of that. One day Holden wouldn’t stop singing The Wanted’s “Glad You Came" and I told him to stop, because it wasn’t appropriate.

“What’s inappropriate about ‘I’m glad you came’?” he said, all innocence, and I couldn’t come up with an answer. Shit, I thought. I’d just inadvertently taught a nine-year-old euphemism. (It could have been worse. At my job teaching kids to wall paint in public schools, one of the middle schoolers had put a piece of painter’s tape on his chin and yelled, “Look! I have a flavor-saver!” And before I could think, I said “What’s that?” One of the high schoolers laughed at me.)

Probably the thing I’m proudest of, though not without a twinge of guilt, is the phrase I taught the youngest daughter. She, like her older siblings, was very smart, but she had a wry, dark sense of humor from a young age. She once asked me, “How do you be goth? I want to be goth!” She also said being the youngest “rocks, because I’ll be the last to die!” She spoke little a little adult, and could tell when adults were talking down to her, and hated it. That’s why I taught her to tell them, “Don’t be so condescending.”

Is this the best thing I did as a babysitter, or the worst? I’m still not sure.

Stuff I Did This Month: Yes, sorry, it’s been a month. First of all, I appeared in Newfest Pride’s all LGBTQ table read of Legally Blonde! I played two VERY different characters.

I talked about mental health and mental illness on Adult ISH, Merk and Nyge were FANTASTIC hosts, and listened to me talk about how medication changed the way I perceive time. I also got to give out advice with Matt Braunger on This Might Help, and we talked about the benefits of playing a character much smarter — or much stupider — than you are.

Fake BBC Show of the Week: Nan’s at Bingo (also, please enjoy this weird list of Bingo nicknames)