The extent of my babysitting experience comprises eyeballing and beaming at young chance children. I occasionally cuddle them... if their parents are absent and alcohol breathes into my brain.
In Thailand, after Chang beer and Thai whiskey, my cranium capacity deteriorated from ardor for all mankind to loss of bodily function, speech, and memory. I reclaimed consciousness without friends, but holding a Thai five-month-old that could fit in my overweight uncle's pocket. Extreme maternal instincts inhabited my body. I don't recall if it was a boy or girl.
When I resolved to be an au pair instead of enlisting in the Navy, I needed references. My two references: one of my best friends, and my cousin. I estimated functioning as an au pair would be easier than dog walking. I calculated that acting as an au pair for five children would be easier than bathing my dog. Kids listen.
Day One: I careened off the plane at three-fifty in the morning. The mom, two daughters, and baby fetched me from the airport at nine-ten.
By noon I drifted in the pool, shelling the surface with my back. My eyes dripped into the clouds and my limbs feasted on leisure. And then I heard the shrieking.
The nine- and six-year-olds howled like they had just seen their bunny decapitated. I charged upwards and dog-paddled to the deep end to see what was wrong. They hopped onto me, bawling, their arms entwining my neck. I sank.
The kids' mom and grandma surged from the house to find me asphyxiated and drowning. They detached the kids from my head and established through the screaming that they had been stung by wasps. The nine-year-old in the head, the six-year-old on the finger. The six-year-old wouldn't cease the hysterics. The grandma took her to the hospital.