Imagine, if you will, a run-down trailer court, an 18 year old college student striving valiantly to get out of said trailer court, a 9 year old girl, a cat named Scuzzy, a concussion and porn.
Do I have your attention yet? Good.
So, when I was little, one of my babysitters was named Linda. Linda had a baby named Renee. When I was 18, Linda sent Renee to my parent's trailer to ask if I would babysit her that night. I said sure, as long as I could do my accounting homework (which was due the next day) in peace, I was glad to make some extra money.
The following is a true and accurate account of that evening.
I arrived at Linda's trailer around 6pm, with my accounting textbook and workbook in hand. This was my first time babysitting. Ever. I expected I would be forced to watch a Disney movie, make popcorn and possibly play truth or dare, before tucking Renee in bed at 9pm, at which time I would finish my homework, get paid and be on my merry way.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
First off, when I got to Linda's, she and her husband had already been drinking, so I had to play dumb and smile vaguely while her husband made inappropriate comments regarding my butt. A nasty looking black and white cat with mange named Scuzzy slept in the front window.
Linda informed me that they were going bowling with another couple, and planned on being back around 11pm.
Linda's last words to Renee were "NO JUMPING ON OUR BED!"
So....I sat down at the kitchen table and opened my workbook. Approximately 8.5 seconds later, my hell night began.
Renee: "I want to play zoo."
Me: "Fine. I'm doing homework Renee, can you play zoo quietly?"
Renee then grabbed Scuzzy the cat, a storm window and a spray bottle of water and disappeared into her bedroom. Should I be worried? I wondered. Nah, just a kid having fun. Let's see... "A permanent quality with a rate of $3000 and gathered reduction of $2750 is sold for $350. What is the quant..?"
Just then, Renee sidled up to me and casually asked, "Um...can a cat get a concussion?"
My ears perked up at that.
Me: "I don't know. Probably. I mean, why are you asking?"
Renee: "Well, um, Scuzzy and me were playing zoo, and I had the storm window in the doorway so he wouldn't escape the zoo. Only he didn't know it was there and tried to escape and ran into the window and bounced off and now he's hiding under my bed and won't come out, and everytime I try to get him out he hisses at me. So, do you think we should take him to the hospital?"
I stared at my accounting workbook, trying to think. Could a cat die from that sort of thing? Would I have a dead cat to explain when Linda and her husband returned from bowling? Better check it out.
Renee and I went to her bedroom, and I heard Scuzzy making that deep, yowling sound cats make when they're scared or in pain. I cautiously made my way to the bed, lifted the bedspread and peeked under the bed. Scuzzy narrowed his eyes, hissed at me and growled, as if to say "I blame you, this is all your fault. You're the adult here and an adult should know that CATS DO NOT LIKE PLAYING ZOO!"
I carefully replaced the bedspread and slowly backed away.
Me: "Um, it looks like Scuzzy wants to be left alone right now. I think we should give him some space."
Renee: "But I WANT TO PLAY ZOO AGAIN! Scuzzy!!! Scuzzy, you bad cat, come out and play RIGHT NOW!"
Me: "Renee, leave the cat alone. How about you go watch some t.v.?"
Renee (brightening): "Ok! There's some good shows on tonight. We get cable, you wanna watch t.v. with me?"
I imagined that Renee was speaking of Disney movies, and innocent fun. Not so. I was about to be forever, irreversibly traumatized, and by a 9 year old girl, at that.
Me: "I really can't Renee, I have homework due tomorrow and I need to finish it."
Renee: "Is that the stuff you were doing when Scuzzy got his concussion?"
Me: "Um, yeah."
So Renee went to the living room to watch t.v., and I went back to the kitchen to do my homework. I hoped that Scuzzy didn't die, or if he did die, it would happen after I'd been paid and left the home.
Suddenly, I heard this sound coming from the living room:
"Uh, uhhh, oh YEAH! That's right, right there big boy. Do me! Ah, ah...!!!!"
I don't think actual words went through my mind at this time. I'm pretty sure I was thinking in exclamation points and question marks, like a dog.
That's right. Renee, the 9 year old, was watching porn. Hardcore, X-rated, dirrty dirrty PORN.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, a cat yowled. "Mrrrrooowwwwrrrrrr!!" This would forever become my internalized warning sign for danger.
Slowly, I got up from my seat and headed towards the living room. Slowly, because I was 18 and had never seen a porn myself. so I didn't know what to expect.
I peered around the corner and saw Renee, sitting approximately 22" from the t.v., completely engrossed in watching 2 adults having sex, a copy of the local cable guide in her hands.
I creeped into the living room, expecting Renee to jump up in embarassment. I got this instead:
Renee: "Oh goody! You're going to watch t.v. with me! Here, I'll scoot over so there's room for you!"
Me: "Um, Renee? What are you watching?"
Now, this was obviously a rhetorical question. My goal was to remind Renee of the inappropriateness of her viewing choice. Instead, Renee wrinkled her forehead in concentration, then turned to the cable guide for help in recalling the exact title of the porn she was watching.
Renee (flipping through the pages): "Ummm, it's called 'Debbie Does Dallas', wanna watch?"
This couldn't be real. I had obviously fallen asleep at my homework and was in the middle of some horrific dream.
Me: "Renee, you have to turn that off, right now!"
Renee (looking puzzled): "Why?"
Yep, this was definitely a nightmare. Only in a nightmare would a 9 year old question why she couldn't watch porn, after having given her cat a concussion.
Me: "Well, because your parents wouldn't like you watching it. It's not appropriate."
Reneee: "But my parents told me to watch it!"
Ok, this kid obviously was a pathological liar, and a porn addict to boot.
Me: "Renee, nobody's parents tell them to watch porn! Besides, you are NINE YEARS OLD!!!"
Renee: "They did! They said this was a good way to learn about sex! See? I'm supposed to mark off all the porns I've watched!"
At that, Renee offered me the cable guide, and I saw little marks next to 30-40 porn movies, indicating which ones Renee had already seen. I may have thrown up in my mouth a little, at that point. Still, I was 18 and not quite sure that it was my place to interfere in someone else's personal parenting style.
Me: "Well, you still need to turn it off."
Me: "Umm, because I'M not allowed to watch those movies, or even listen to them."
Renee: "Seriously?? Ok, fine. Can I jump on my mom's bed?"
Me: "I'm pretty sure I heard her tell you not to do that."
Renee: "Ok, well, I'm going to check on Scuzzy then."
It was at that point that I threw poor Scuzzy under the bus (figuratively speaking).
Me: "Fine. I'm going to finish my homework. Just don't pick Scuzzy up, ok?"
15 minutes later, I heard the sound of bedsprings. Shuddering, I plugged my ears and continued working. I didn't even want to know what that little hellion was up to now. This already qualified as the most bizarre night of my life, and...
Then came a tap, tap, tap on my shoulder. I unplugged my ears to see Renee-The-Devil-Child standing next to me. Now what? I wondered. Did she want to torture some puppies? Discuss her penchant for traumatizing babysitters? WHAT??
I took a deep breath and smiled.
Me: "Yes, Renee? What do you need?"
Renee: "Ummm....I was jumping on my mom's bed, and, well, um, now there's a big hole in the floor, and one of the bed's legs went through it. I can see the ground under the trailer. Can you fix it?"
I stared at her. Just stared. Like this:
We went to her parent's bedroom and I saw this:
Holy crap. There was a 15" wide HOLE in her parent's bedroom floor, and one of the bed legs was sticking through the hole. I looked at the clock. 8pm.
Me: "Renee? Why did you jump on the bed when I told you not to?"
Renee: "I was bored. You said I couldn't play zoo and I couldn't watch t.v. There wasn't anything else to do! Do you think my parents will notice?"
Here's what I was thinking: Correction, you little demon-spawn. I said you couldn't give your cat another brain injury, and I told you you couldn't watch porn. You seriously can't find another way to entertain yourself besides torturing animals and watching porn??? WHAT IN THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU???
Here is what I said: "Um, yes. Yes Renee, I'm pretty sure they're going to notice it."
Renee: "Well, can't we get some cardboard and cover up the hole?'
This was the most 9 year old thing she said or did all evening.
Me: "No. Now go away, I need to call my mom."
So I called my mom and told her the child I was babysitting had given the cat a concussion, most likely had an addiction to porn and had put a hole in her parent's bedroom floor.
This story doesn't really have an ending, because I don't remember what happened after that. I'm pretty sure I got paid and nobody yelled at me, but my therapist tells me this could be my mind's way of protecting me from the trauma until I'm fully ready to deal with it.