Adventures in Babysitting and Microeconomics

So how did I spend this past Super Bowl Sunday?  Well, it wasn’t spent doing the traditional types of activities like hovering over a bowl of chicken wings and vacuuming up shitloads of beer while reveling in the much-anticipated Super Bowl commercials and halftime show like any respectable bachelor might, I can tell you.  No, it was spent babysitting…alone…just me and the kid.  My first big stab at being a responsible adult and it was total a Twilight Zone.

Okay, okay, I confess – before I get completely sold out – I wouldn’t know a football from a footlong hotdog, nor did I even have the faintest clue of who was even playing in this year’s big event…nor did I care for that matter.  In fact, I might be the only bachelor alive on the planet that doesn’t give a sparrows fart about organized sports at all.  But I can tell you one thing for certain, my Sundays – Super Bowl or otherwise – would not have ordinarily been spent the way that it was.  No, sir!  Look after a seven-year-old girl for the afternoon by MYSELF?  Are you shittin’ me?

Yes, this whole sans-child ‘Super Dude’ to with-child ‘Pseudo-Parent’ journey was significantly ramped up this weekend when, low and behold, I was asked to look after ‘Her Royal Highness’  for the afternoon while mommy went 0ff to the Iridologist (what’s an Iridologist you ask?  Beats the living shit out of me, but if it makes my baby happy, then so be it).  Now, you have to remember here that I’m an endurance athlete so moving from weekend visits to having to occupy the undivided attention of a very energetic seven-year-old for five whole hours would be the equivalent of someone enrolling in a marathon after having completed the local 2k ‘Fun Run’.  So with little more than four and a half hours sleep and a hard morning swim/bike workout, I picked up ‘HRH’  from Grammy and Grampy’s place around noon and embarked on my day’s dark mission.  No sweat.  This will be easy.  Yeah…right!

God help me.

First order of business – breakfast!  That should kill an hour maybe, right?  After all, what seven-year-old doesn’t like breakfast…even if it comes at 12:00pm, right?  What I wasn’t expecting was the resulting lesson in economics that erupted between us at the hands of a toasted breakfast bagel.

Between mouthfuls of orange juice, the conversation went something like this:

Me: “Are you sure you’re hungry?  You just had a sandwich and Dilly Bar at Grammy and Grampy’s.”

HRH: “I’m starving.”

Me: “You’re sure?”

HRH: “Yes”.

Me:  “Really?  You’re absolutely sure?

HRH:  “Yes.”

 I figured, ‘what the hell’,  sure it probably wasn’t a great idea to load her up on needless carbs and all, but I couldn’t exactly eat in front of her either could I?  Likewise, How would it look if I started off our day by driving the car into the ditch on account of my not having enough calories to properly operate a moving vehicle.  Yeah, not good.  Besides, I can afford a bagel and cream cheese so no big whoop.  So for the next 10-15 minutes we entertained ourselves with rousing games of ‘Guess what number I’m thinking of now?’, as well as every kids staple Hallmark game: ‘Truth of Dare’.  I never did guess the correct number, but I was successful in having her chug back a few of those single portion coffee creamers which I will chalk up to proactively aiding with her daily calcium intake – strong bones and teeth and all that shit, right?

I knew something was up, however, within minutes of the bagel being plopped in front of her.  It’s wasn’t that the bagel hadn’t been toasted to perfection or anything like that, but after nearly 10 minutes of laboriously spreading cream cheese and jam on it she actually hadn’t eaten any of it.  Seriously, I’ve seen some artists that don’t give quite the same kind of focus when applying paints to their canvas like the way HRH was spreading out that cream cheese.   Maybe she was sculpting out some elaborate ‘Group of Seven’  landscape, or just lost in some sort of seven-year-old dream world, whatever, but one thing was definitely clear…none of it was going in her mouth.

Me:  “What’s the matter?  Why don’t you eat your bagel?”

HRH:  “I’m not hungry.”

Me:  “Pardon?  You just said you were hungry.”

HRH:  “Well, I’m not anymore.”

Me:  “But that’s a total waste of money if you don’t eat what you ordered.”

HRH:  “So?  It’s not my money.”

Okay, so now I know what a brain aneurysm feels like.

I had to take a quick pause here to remember that she’s only seven-years-old and has absolutely no concept of money or personal finance.  All she knows is that given the choice of choosing something  off the menu or nothing at all, she will inevitably choose something; even if just to create cream cheese landscapes.  Furthermore, my attempt at explaining basic microeconomics was completely lost on her despite the comprehensive ‘Supply and Demand’  diagram I traced out in the soggy cream cheese; time to make it real.  After all, a man has to set some boundaries, right?

On the way home, I decided to stop off at Tim Horton’s for a coffee and a chocolate chip muffin…ONE chocolate chip muffin to be exact.  Immediately the protests started from the back seat once we pulled out of the drive-thru and were back on the road.

HRH:  “Where’s my muffin.”

Me:  “You don’t get one.”

HRH:  “But I want one too.”

Me:  “You’re full, remember?”

HRH:  “No I’m not.  I want a muffin.”

Me:  “Well, I don’t have any more money.”

HRH: “Why not?”

Me:  “Because I spent it on that bagel that you didn’t eat.”

I’m pretty sure I heard a blood vessel pop and judging by the glare I caught in the rear view mirror as her head cocked at me sideways like the RCA Victrola dog, I definitely had her attention.  Take that, your majesty.  How do you like me now?  Check…and…mate.

Now don’t get me wrong, it really has nothing to do about having wasted a whopping $2.50  on a stupid bagel.  But there is a principle to be learned here in that money doesn’t just grow on trees – especially MY money.  I am happy to share, of course, but for the love of God take a fucking bite at least!  I would even have been happy had she attempted just a nibble, or made some kind of  effort in the slightest to even appreciate it.  But just make a mess of it and push it to the side?

Oh, ‘Hell-to-the-No!’  Not on my watch

Even I realize that communicating the value of money to children is one of the toughest challenges that parent’s face and definitely something that I am going to struggle with in the coming months.  I want to be a provider and somebody she can ultimately look up to.  I want to support her and shield her from the hardships of a bleak and cruel bagel-less society, for sure, but I’m not Daddy Warbucks and she’ll need to learn that where I am happy to share, I’m not a walking ATM machine either.

I’m sure there will be many more of these learning opportunities for us in the near future but as for this first time outing, I am quite pleased with myself.  The rest of the afternoon passed quite pleasantly with a kitchen counter puppet show, a bike ride and a brief swim at the YMCA …and none of it cost us a penny.

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3 Comments

  1. if its your kid its not called babysitting.

    Reply
  2. It’s not my “kid”…so I haven’t transcended that boundary yet.

    Reply
  3. Kathren

     /  February 9, 2012

    How funny! Good for you… you made it!

    Reply

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