In 1985, at the age of 13, I was offered my first job as a babysitter. For four hours on a Friday night, I would be responsible for 9-year-old Brian Robertson.
I tried the toy cars and other games that had entertained me when my parents had hired sitters for me. But Brian soon got hold of a lighter. Rather than snatching the lighter from his hands, I tried to shame and scold him into handing it to me, reciting the wisdom of a talking bear/forrest ranger I knew from Saturday morning cartoons.
Brian darted into the kitchen, grabbed a roll of paper towels, and proceeded to run in a circle through the house lighting them on fire and dropping them on the floor. I chased him, stomping out the fires, and yelling his name.
Brian was asleep by the time his parents came home. All the fires were out. "How did it go?" Mrs. Robertson asked. I told her what had happened, every bit of it. Mr. and Mrs. Robertson began discussing punishment options for Brian before I was out the door. They paid me and said goodnight.
A few days later I ran into Brian's older brother, Bobby, who was in high school and has been out partying the night of the 40 fires.
"Why didn't you just beat his ass?" he asked me, or, something to that effect. I shrugged.
"Well my parents are never gonna ask you to babysit again, never!" Bobby said peering at me with a look of disbelief.
Of course, I'd known that already. I wouldn't have hired me either.
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