I recall the first time I babysat. It is entirely possible I went about the whole affair the wrong way. As far as I could tell, there was very little sitting involved. Unless, of course, one was meant to sit on the baby—an option that did appear tempting at times.
It wasn’t that Paco was being particularly difficult. He was extremely intelligent and shockingly articulate as a two-year-old, attributes that made him vulnerable to negotiation or coercion. Unfortunately, I simply have never been good with children—even when I was their age. It was a trying experience both for me and for Paco.
But children are adorable! A friend of mine gushes. Her dream is to open her own pre-school someday. Frankly, I think she’s nuts.
There’s nothing mysterious about it, she tells me. Just try to remember what it was like when you were a child. What were the things that upset you when you were little? I thought about this for a moment. Well, I said, I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities when I was seven, and feeling rather distressed when Sydney Carton was being carted off to the guillotine. She stares at me briefly. Frankly, she says, I think you’re nuts.
It shouldn’t be too bad, another friend tells me consolingly. Given the genetic component involved, your children will likely turn out to be morbid, introspective, moody little freaks who won’t need too much attention or effort to raise. I shake my head sorrowfully. I hope so, I tell her, I’d be at my wits end if I bore any offspring that had even a passing preference for Barney.
Does that mean you’d rather not risk having kids at all? Rica, Paco’s mother, asked me. No, I told her firmly—at which point Paco threw his arms around me and gave me a sticky kiss. Well, I relented, at least not right now anyway.