Spaghetti Can’t Be Bad and Other Tales of Teensitting

I am in the process of licensing my new business “Kelly’s Super Special Teensitting Service: Want your kids to appreciate you more? Hire me to watch them for three days!”  Sometimes, you know you have a million dollar idea.  And if you don’t believe me, I offer up the following stories (even though as the spaghetti exploded across the stove, I declared The Narsaker House to be the new Vegas: What happens there, stays there).

Anyway, I am prepared for the business boom.  Just dial 1-800-U-R-N-IDIOT and connect with me right away.  Operators are standing by.  And by “operators” I mean “me” and by “standing by” I mean “wandering near my phone but it’s on silent because I don’t really want to answer it.”


My first night’s task was supposed to be the hardest for two reasons: 1. There was a significant time crunch with very little room for error.  And, much more importantly, 2. I was being asked to cook.  I was worried about this from the very first second I saw it.  It was only spaghetti.  I had received explicit instructions that actually included the words “Take bread out of plastic wrap” as though I would throw the whole thing in the oven at 375 for 8 minutes.  I made spaghetti a lot in college…except it wasn’t spaghetti, it was Ramen noodles and that’s completely not the same thing.  Still.  Boiling water.  Obviously close enough.

If I had had a significant period of time to really prepare myself for this endeavor, it may have gone better.  Alas, I picked up Ben at 5:35, drove 13 minutes to the Narsaker House, and had 20 minutes TOTAL to make the spaghetti before Isaac had to leave for practice.

I am good at a lot of things.  I have had occasion to believe I have super powers.  BUT I CANNOT MAKE WATER BOIL FASTER.

We stood there.  The three of us.  Isaac declared, “Well, it’s not like you can make bad spaghetti.”  Oh, my dear boy, how you are so very very naive to the levels of my abilities.  We continued to stand there.  My patience waned quickly.  I broke open a loaf of homemade bread Dragon had made and threw it on the counter and hurriedly told Isaac to eat it.

We continued to watch the water NOT boil.  My mind immediately began to scheme (couldn’t we just change that to “My mind schame”?) as to how to speed up this process because Isaac was in peril and possibly going to die of starvation at exactly 6:15 if this water didn’t boil.  “Well, let’s just put it in and see what happens,” felt like the best option.

Well.  There was a lot more spaghetti than there was pan.  And water.

  Also, I missed with approximately half the box.  It is a humbling experience, to watch noodles fly across the stovetop, to know that these people who once upon a time called you a friend will be finding hard spaghetti in crevices until they are 92 years old.  To know that the example you are providing for these impressionable youth is one of “oh my god I hope I’m not this stupid now, not to mention when I’m 31.”  (I do assume this is a hell of a lot more effective than “this is your brain on drugs” type of PSAs.)

Finally, the noodles were somewhat soft (which we know because approximately every 28 seconds, I pulled a noodle out of the pan and told Isaac to ignore the burning boiling water part and tell me IS IT READY TO EAT?!?)  So we took our spaghetti-drainage-system (colander?) and I took a spoonful of sorta cooked noodles and threw them in a bowl, dumped some almost heated sauce on it, and Isaac wandered around eating it while getting ready.  “It’s really not too bad,” he declared.  It is hard to take seriously the taste assessment of a boy you once watched wash down three tacos with a glass of egg nog.  Just saying.


So that was that.  The boys are really entirely sufficient except for driving.  They got themselves up in the morning.  They fixed themselves breakfast.  And lunch.  If they were doing it to prove to me that staying with them is a fun thing and we should do it more often…or if they were doing it because they assumed I could not safely provide for their basic needs…it doesn’t matter.  They are impressive young men.

Tuesday was therefore supposed to be easy.  Ben had a doubleheader in baseball which, if you don’t know, I love to watch.  This should have been simple.  Go to baseball game.  Watch baseball game.  Take baseball player to Subway for dinner.  Take baseball player home.

Alas. It just wasn’t quite like that.

I hung out with Slider for an hour and then headed over to the ballpark.  I parked and wandered down to the field where teenage boys were playing a game.  One of their teams had “Winona” on their chest.  All teenage boys look alike when they are dressed the same and 80% of them have Justin Bieber haircuts with caps on.  I assumed I was at the right game.

But then I watched the lineup turn over and at no point did anyone say, “Let’s go, Ben!”  [There was, however, an incident at this point.  That incident is that a 13-year-old boy named Forrest came to bat.  Now, I thought everyone agreed that post 1994, it is part child abuse to name your child Forrest.  But Forrest hit the ball.  And Forrest’s mom began to yell.  “RUN, FORREST!  RUN!”  Now, ladies and gentlemen, NO ONE ELSE LAUGHED.  How for all that is good in the world did no one else laugh?  I’m not THAT old.  Later, when I re-enacted this for 16-year-old Isaac, HE laughed hysterically.  Holding in that type of laughter is not good for my health.]  Anyway, Ben never came to bat.  And I stared at the bench and thought, “He’s not here.”  So I begin to think.  The options I came up with included:

  1. He is off taking batting practice somewhere.
  2. He skipped out and is off somewhere experimenting with drugs for which, in 8 years, I will be a part of his intervention and he will blame me.
  3. He decided to go to a movie.
  4. Someone abducted him while everyone in the stands was busy yelling at Forrest.
  5. He got severely injured and is on his way to the emergency room which, of course, no one would tell me because why would they tell me?

It was at #5 that I began to worry.  It seemed the most plausible since Ben is a good kid who wouldn’t skip baseball because he loves baseball and I’m thinking he wouldn’t get abducted in front of a bunch of people.  I wasn’t sure how to ask that, being a non-parent and everything, so I finally said to a mother, “Um, so, I’m teen sitting this week and I seem to have lost Ben.”  And she said, “Oh no – he’s an eighth grader.  They play at that field [she pointed] over there,” which is hidden behind 80,000 trees and a makeshift pond area.  Of course he does. I thanked her and walked away.

In order to get to this field, you have to “come around the bend” and walk across a grassy knoll.  As I did this and looked toward the field, I saw that no baseball was being played.  Instead what I saw was a child’s body laying in this exact position in the middle of the infield, face down, not moving.  Somber adults surrounded him with faces of concern, many on cell phones.  There was no panic, just that eerie silence that consumes an athletic event when one person lies on the ground unconscious.  Because of the adults, though, I couldn’t see the player.

And I thought, “Oh. My. God.  I can’t even keep him safe for THREE DAYS!!!!”

It wasn’t Ben, however.  Instead, it was a player for the other team and he was fine, just knocked unconscious chasing a pop up and colliding with another of his players.  He was down for a good 20 minutes, not moving that crazy arm that made him look like a chalk outline.  The ambulance took its sweet time getting there and they strapped him to a gurney and carted him off the field with lights spinning.  Y’know, a typical day at the ballpark.  Do games actually happen without serious injury?  Probably when I’m NOT IN CHARGE OF SOMEONE PLAYING.

Joke of the night, though, was Ben who was keeping score at the time of this event.  He said he never thought he was going to have to write “KO” in the book, but he did.  I assume this will make him have to run an extra lap but I guaranteed him that his coach would laugh and that it was well worth the extra exercise.  See?  I am a great influence.  But c’mon – that’s fracken funny.

So that’s how the first two days went.

By the way, we had Subway last night.  I didn’t screw up ordering it.  So ha!  One meal successfully “prepared.”  Eat it, Stupid Spaghetti.  [While eating his sub, Ben read the nutritional comparison from his sub [which marks the second time in the last month that someone has read the Subway nutritional menu to me, but at least this one wasn’t for a grade in the class I was teaching]  to The Whopper, which has 40 grams of fat.  Later, during the Twins game, there was an advertisement for Burger King with the Whopper.  Ben goes, “They should change their slogan to: The Whopper: You MIGHT not have a heart attack.]

Remember folks, my services are available to you for one low price of not worrying if your children are fed properly and obviously enhancing the likelihood of injury to someone in my nearby vicinity but probably not your kid.  Also: a famous baseball player might die.  But really, you can trust me to worry like a parent, laugh at all the jokes you wish your children weren’t old enough to tell, and mold their young minds for three days to the idea that they are so very very lucky that YOU are their full time caretaker and that I am best to remain the crazy family friend.  I look forward to working with you.

2 thoughts on “Spaghetti Can’t Be Bad and Other Tales of Teensitting”

  1. If I were Forrest’s mother, I would also bring along an iPod and speakers and blast the music that plays when Forrest runs in the movie. I’m not kidding.

    And then Forrest would be taken away by child services.

  2. And this is why they were NOT happy to see us return home early. Thanks for being part of our family.

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