Archive for July, 2010

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Murder, She Purred

July 21, 2010

While I love kids, I fully admit that part of the reason I babysit so much is for money.  It actually makes up a good chunk of my income.  There are some months where I make more babysitting than I do at one of my (several) traditional office jobs.  I’ll pick up other odd jobs here and there where I can, doing prom hair, cooking, and, on a few occasions, house-sitting.

Is there a better job than housesitting?  Someone is paying you to live in their house.  That is the opposite of how it usually works!  Of course, there are usually a few tasks that come with the housesitting, and the house I’ve been at is no exception.  In fact, there are three big tasks, and their names are

Blackie

Abbey

And Scooter (aka my nemesis)

Now let’s get one thing clear right now: I am a dog person. I already knew that.  Dogs are sweet and loyal, they comfort you when you’re sad, and they think you are just the best.  A dog looks at you like you are Father Christmas, scattering bacon from one hand and slow moving squirrels from the other. You are world champion of everything. A cat doesn’t look at you like you’re a loser, because generally they don’t even bother to look at you, unless you are getting them food, in which case they look at you only so they can locate your leg and shred it like parmesan if you don’t move fast enough.

Still, while I would always choose a dog over a cat, I generally thought cats and I were okay.  Like if we happened to be in a living situation together, we would get along.

Now I am not so sure that’s true.

This family had three cats, and an elaborate schedule and list of rules to go along with them.  Blackie and Abbey were allowed to go outside, but had to be in before dark, or if I was leaving for more than three hours.  Scooter was not allowed outside, so naturally he wanted to be out more than the other two combined and made several escape attempts. Scooter also required wet food 2-3 times a day for his sensitive digestion, but Blackie would try to eat it, so it had to be given to him while Blackie was outside. In addition, they needed the usual: change the water in two bowls once a day, keep two bowls full of dry food, change the litter box, etc.

The family had explained that the cats liked to sleep on the bed in the room I was staying in, but if I wanted to I could shut them out in the living room.  I thought “Oh, that’s kind of cute and cozy to have the cats sleeping on the bed with me.  I’ll let them stay in.”  See, I imagined it much like napping with a baby (which is the best way to nap, by the way, they fall asleep on your chest and it’s like this black hole of sleep that sucks you in). But sleeping with cats is nothing like that.

To start with, they like to move around a lot, and since there are three of them, they somehow managed to stagger their shifts so that one of them was always up and moving around while the others were asleep.  Still, I managed to ignore them and drift into a light sleep. However, as soon as one of them would jump onto the bed or move in my general direction, I would jolt awake, heart pounding.  Why the extreme reaction, you ask?  Let me explain, though it’s only going to confirm your suspicion that I am completely unhinged.  See, as I drifted in and out of consciousness, I did not have a firm grasp on reality (this is about to become very apparent).  So when I would startle awake, my first thought was “The cat is going to kill me.”

I told you. Bonkers.

I thought the cat was going to kill me.  Specifically, I was convinced that it was going to come over, lie down on my face, and smother me. And this would not be an accident. There was malicious intent there.  I thought the cat was going to murder me.  I am dead serious. Any of them, all of them, maybe they would tag team it, just whoever was moving at the time.  I wasn’t really concerned with the details (or rationality, apparently).  And every time I would wake up with this thought, in a terrified stupor, I would realize after a few moments that this was probably not going to happen, and I would shake it off and drift back to sleep, only to have the same thing happen again at the changing of the guards. Over and over. For two and half hours. Finally, at 2 am, my nerves shot, I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up, dragged the three cat beds into the living room, and booted the cats out one by one.

The next morning, as I fixed my breakfast, I pondered the previous night’s events and my imagined escape from assassination by feline. “Crazy,” I laughed to myself. “Cat murder. That is just ridiculous.”  I looked at Scooter. He blinked at me.

I slept soundly that night with both doors shut tight.

UPDATE:

So I now shut the cats out at night, but the past two nights Blackie and Scooter have fallen asleep on the bed while I’m reading or blogging.  They’re really cute, the clean each other off and snuggle up with their paws on each other (they’re brothers), so I feel bad waking them up but I know they’ll just wake up later and annoy me.  Well, after night #1, I came out to the kitchen in the morning to find this:

You can’t get the full effect here, so let me explain: my loaf of bread was knocked off the counter, onto the floor, and mauled.  The bag was all shredded at one end, with little puncture wounds all over.  Just being playful cats, you say? Exhibit B:

That night, as I was sitting on the bed, the cats were traipsing about the house, when all of a sudden, Scooter, out of nowhere, bolts up onto the bed, sprints across at full speed, mauling me in the process. I was bleeding!  That’s not playful, that’s evil. I rest my case.

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Going to the Mattresses

July 6, 2010

On occasion, the family I nanny for asks if I’m available to babysit.  It’s not often, I think they figure by the weekend I am fleeing the premises as soon as possible, but every now and then, if other sitters aren’t available they’ll call on me like the mayor of Gotham calls on Batman: desperate and with nowhere else to turn.  Despite my crazed ranting, I do enjoy those kids a lot, so I will usually babysit if I’m free.  On this particular night, they had a “Cougar and Manther” theme party to attend.  Oh, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  The mom’s outfit had a lot of animal print, while the man had an unbuttoned shirt, fedora, and more bling than his wife.  I showed my parents a picture of them heading to the party and told them these were the people I nannied for.  I may not have explained they were going to a theme party.

But I digress. The parents dressed up in all their sleazy glory, and headed off.  Shortly after dinner, James was invited out to a movie with the neighbor, leaving me with just the little girls.  When I told Molly it was just us having a girls’ night, and she could pick what movie she wanted to watch all by herself, she was very excited. After selecting “Ratatouille,” we got dinner ready.  Their mom had left tortellini for me to cook, however, I am used to cooking pasta for one, which usually involves a small pot.  Proving once and for all that I was not a physics major, I did not really take into account that an entire package might be different, so after boiling water in the smallest pot in the cabinet, I poured the whole bag into the pot.  The result was that water, with pasta floating on top, was exactly level with the edge of the pot.  This led to me skimming water off the top with a cup and flinging it into the sink, a la a sailor on the Titanic.  But I did finally get it cooked.  Of course when it came to actually eating it, it was the usual battle with Molly.

She stared at me across the table, a small amount of pasta eaten, and a good deal more still in the bowl.  “You can’t just eat popcorn if you don’t have dinner,” I explained.  Molly was silent and unmoved. It was a standoff.  “Ok,” I said, “how about you just eat five more?”  Molly pondered this offer, then pulled the TV remote over. “One, two, three, four, five,” she counted on the buttons. “So that’s five? I would like to do one, two, three,” she threw back. I’m sorry, I thought, what is this, a mafia negotiation?  I felt like I should write a number on a slip of paper and slide it back across the table to her (this plan was of course encumbered by the fact that she can’t read).  I decided that a little bartering was worth her eating some dinner, and we threw the following offers back and forth. I think I had an unfair advantage, being as I know how to count.

Me: “Five.”

Lucie: “Three.”

Me: “Four.”

Lucie: “Five.”

Me: “…okay…”

Lucie: “No, four.”

Me: “Deal!”

After dinner, Molly decided that instead of using the money her mother left to go get ice cream, she just wanted to make popcorn.  This despite my talking loudly to no one about how delicious ice cream is.  I just didn’t want her to miss out. Obviously.

So we sat down to watch the movie, or rather, I sat down and attempted to catch snatches of the movie when Molly paused for breath while talking nonstop.  At one point, she turned back to me, and asked, “Lindsey, does God have butter?”…I wasn’t sure how to answer at first. “Uh, well, if God eats food like we do, then yes, I supposed he has butter,” I stumbled out, cringing at the theological implications of any answer to such a question.  She turned back to the movie and was actually silent for longer than 5 seconds, then turned back again and said “Yeah, I bet you’re right, God probably has healthy food.” Well sure, ever since he went on Weight Watchers, he’s been on a real health kick.

All in all, girls’ night was quite a success.  I put Molly to bed, and as I turned to close the door she said “Lindsey? I love you.” I smiled. “I love you too Molly.”  “I used to hate you, but I don’t anymore,” she assured me.  I’ll take that offer, I thought as I closed the door.