It was exciting to see them head out the door. But first there was the challenge of finding a babysitting which wasn’t easy especially since there was five of us all under 10 (by the time I was 11 year old, my sister and I were doing the babysitting). One time my mom said she had to call 50 teenagers before she could find someone willing to watch us. In retrospect I can see why.
We used to play with the babysitter’s hair and we’d tangle it up in the brush while asking them a bunch of uncomfortable and private questions. One babysitter we locked in the basement. We barracked the door so she couldn’t come up until she said the pre-defined ‘magic word.’ Another time we drew with crayons all over our beds and then told her not to worry we would clean it up like our dad did, with cleanser. We poured a hefty dosage of comet and water all over the bed before wiping it around with paper towels, which made a huge mess, and then we rushed down the stairs the minute our parents got home to make sure that the sitter didn’t say that we’d misbehaved. “Did she tell you we were good?” We’d shout as we hurried down the stairs and as she hurried out the door. Once my sister and I started to watch my brothers it wasn’t quite as fun anymore even though my parents did pay us.
My mom tutored for extra money and often it was for kids who were kicked out of their home or had some other type of trauma. Once she tutored two teenagers who essentially were homeless and lived on the street prostituting to survive before being placed in foster care. I am not sure how or why my mom came to tutor them but do remember that she felt sorry for them and invited them over once to swim in our pool. They had the same first names as my sister and I and were only a few years older than we were. I couldn’t help but gawk at them like they were celebrities of some sort while we sat on the side of the pool dipping our legs in the water chatting about our similar yet very dissimilar lives. I remember trying to be polite but being inquisitive too.
Most of the summers you could find us there at the pool. One day my brothers and I were swimming while my sister was at the mall with her new friend. My sister’s friend’s mom had dropped them off and my mom was to pick the girls up. When it was time to head to the mall, my mom rushed to get us into the car all still with our bathing suits on (including my mom). We, kids were barefooted but my mom grabbed the nearest pair of shoes to drive in, (her high heels) figuring they would be fine given she shouldn’t have to get out of the car as she had instructed my sister to meet her outside of Sears.
Big mistake. My sister got the directions confused, as did her friend on where to meet her which necessitated my mom needing to prance through the mall in her bathing suit looking for them. Eventually she did found them at the other end but not before running into a neighbor. Neither my mom nor the neighbor let on that they knew each other, both looking away as they passed one another. It is no wonder my mom liked to escape with an Agatha Christie book and a few glasses of wine at the end of her day.