On Friday night, I babysat four kids under the age of four in order to give my best friend a much-deserved night out. Two of the kiddos were mine, so I was feeling confident that I could manage.
No, I was not drunk. I’m just a good friend.
After a successful dinner, the older kids were running around giggling like maniacs and it was pretty much the cutest thing ever. I fed the baby and he quietly fell into a milk coma: mouth slightly agape, face scrunched up in concentrated slumber, a little hand wrapped around my thumb.
We headed upstairs for a potty break, but when I flipped on the bathroom light, the bulb flickered and went dark. There was still enough residual daylight streaming through the window, so I just made a mental note to remind my friend to replace the bulb and didn’t think another thing about it.
Baby boy was deposited in his bassinet, older kids’ hands washed, and we returned to the living room on the first floor.
When we got there, I noticed it was strangely quiet.
Hadn’t the TV been on?
My laptop was running on the battery, the kitchen light was off, and the radio was silent.
My first instinct was that we were being stalked by a mass murderer who was waiting for nightfall to kill us. Naturally.
I remembered the dead bulb from upstairs and wondered if we had blown a fuse. I mustered all the courage I had and headed into the basement fully expecting to be taken out at the ankles as I descended the steps. Killers go for the Achilles heel, or so I’ve been told. The fuse box showed no signs of a short, so I
sprinted headed back up the stairs.
It wasn’t storming. There weren’t strong winds. WHY oh WHY were the lights out?!
I started to sweat, but wanted to remain calm for the oblivious kids who were playing trains.
PUSSY! my daughter yelled.
Don’t call me names! I’m frightened! I cried.
That’s MY Percy! my son wailed, as he yanked Percy the train away from his sister.
Simmer down, Stephanie. You’re the adult. Maintain control.
I needed flashlights.
I noticed a neighbor outside, so I stuck my fat head out the window and a little too desperately called to him, “Do you have power? Do you have any idea when it will come back on? Do you know I’m babysitting four kids all alone? Please don’t rape me.”
He confirmed that he was also in the dark and that he had heard a substation had exploded, and then said a bunch of other things I didn’t hear because the realization that a murderer wasn’t our biggest problem was dawning on me: pretty soon it would be pitch black in the house and what in the HELL was I to do with four kids and no electricity?
I would have been the first to die on the Oregon Trail.
Fortunately, the neighbor’s lovely wife brought a lantern over for us: “You need this more than we do.” Her words were kind, her eyes said, “You crazy.”
The kids and I put on our PJs and awaited the inevitable: the black-out.
I thought it best to be on the same level as the sleeping baby, so we made our way back upstairs, snuggled together and watched Madagascar on my laptop.
You got to move it, move it!
Everything was going swimmingly!
You got to move it, move—-
Until the DVD froze.
A slew of curse words flew into my mouth, but I swallowed them in the name of innocent ears. I re-started the movie. All was well.
Until the DVD froze. Again.
MOTHERFU—PIECE OF SH—SONOFA—
Again, I censored myself and began a creepy narration à la Caillou of my emotions: Okay kids, I am feeling very frustrated right now. Does everyone know what frustrated means?
Three small faces stared back at me, willing the return of their movie.
The movie was back. All was well.
Until the laptop battery died.
I tend to sing when trying to maintain calm, so I proceeded with I’m gonna lose it, lose it! The children clapped along.
I explained through gritted teeth that I would need to retrieve my friend’s iPad from its spot on the couch downstairs. I positioned the little lantern in the hallway so that the kids wouldn’t be in complete darkness and I wouldn’t break my face falling down the steps. My daughter was not pleased with this set-up; how dare I leave her sight without written consent?!
I grabbed the iPad and immediately heard a BOOM! followed by wails.
It’s not what you think.
The kids were not injured. The lantern was not as lucky.
My soon-to-be-2-year-old daughter had spiked the lantern to the ground like a football in the end zone at the Super Bowl, smashing it into pieces.
My son: I wanna go home!!!!!
My daughter: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
My friend’s daughter: So, is the movie over?
My friend’s son: Zzzzzzz…
The planets must have aligned at that very moment, because this sad excuse for a Girl Scout was able to reassemble the lantern by the waning glow of a flashlight. Feeling pretty fly for a white guy, I popped my collar and found a Mickey Mouse game on the iPad.
What’s up now, electricity?
Finally, the kids’ increased yawns and incessant eye rubbing meant that sweet slumber would soon be ours. Eyelids fluttered, sweet voices quieted, and squirming bodies stilled. So…close…
I wish I could say that the rest of the evening was smooth sailing, but my daughter was a psychopath and when my friend and her husband returned home, as all parents will understand, their toddler interpreted their arrival as a green light to go bat shit crazy. I had done so well keeping everyone alive and stuff, and that’s what my pals came home to. Oh, well. At least they got a night out, right?
Like any good story, there is a moral here: an Apple (device) a day will keep the murderers away. You’re welcome.