Although she is initially pleased at the result of her yard sale, The Child quickly realizes that she needs to find a source of income: the yard sale was a lot of work for not much money, and worse, eventually she was going to run out of stuff to sell. She starts to research.
Can I take surveys online for money? she asks.
No, I tell her.
Can I sell the photographs I take on this website?
Sure, unless you have to be 18 to do that, I say.
She grumbles and mutters. In the early part of the summer, she got training to be a lifeguard at the city pool, but even though she was allowed to take the class, and passed it, she was not old enough to work as a lifeguard, and spent her summer helping out as an unpaid volunteer at the little-kid swim class.
I say encouraging, mom-ish things, telling her she’s laying the foundation for a great summer job in the future, and eventually she’ll get paid for her efforts. She wants to get paid now. She signs up for a babysitting class, which is then canceled for lack of participants.
She attempts an allowance re-negotiation, complete with legal-looking contracts. I consider her proposals, and, realizing her allowance will decrease if I agree to them, end the discussions.Let’s talk about grades, I tell her.
I send an email to the next door neighbor, who has an at-home jewelry business. Any ideas? Please?
Can she babysit for us? I’m desperate next Saturday, she says.
I text The Child and her reply is immediate: OMG, YES!!!!!!
I plan to be home the evening of her first babysitting job, so I’ll be right next door if anything – anything at all – is needed. Or happens. Or she has questions. Or gets lonely after the little neighbor girls go to sleep.
I can do it, The Child tells me. She heads over to the neighbors’ house at the appointed time, and I watch nervously as the neighbors drive off, leaving my little girl in charge of two even littler girls.
I putter in the back yard, checking on my garden, and listening to them play in the yard next door. I hear squeals and fun and hope nobody gets hurt. After a while, I don’t hear them anymore. I go out to the mailbox – I think I might have forgotten to get the mail – and The Child is in the neighbors’ driveway, sidewalk chalking with the little girls. I ask her how it’s going.
You don’t have to be here, she tells me.
I head back inside, and after a while, make dinner. I don’t want to make anything fussy – in case I get called away to help next door – and I really, really want steak, which I can’t eat when The Child is around. I make one of my fallback recipes, a ginger-soy marinated flank steak, which is simple to make, tasty, and cooks quickly on the grill. I toss some asparagus in sesame oil and grill them alongside the steak for a light late summer meal. (The steak can also be broiled, and is super atop a bed of rice pilaf for a heartier meal.)
When dinner is done, I check in with The Child, by text, and she replies: I’m fine. I relax a bit and watch a movie, drifting off to sleep for a while. I wake up at 10, and send The Child another check-in text, but this time, she does not reply.
I try not to panic. I didn’t hear any police cars or fire engines. I turn on the porch light, just in case, and check next door, but the neighbors’ house just sits quietly, revealing nothing.
I sit on the couch, awake, and wait for The Child to return – and around midnight, she does. The neighbor delivers her to my doorstep, where she stands, beaming I did it and clutching $40.
It was so awesome, she tells me. This babysitting thing is so awesome! All you do is play with them, and feed them, and then eat and watch tv. And you get paid for it!
It’s a great gig, I tell her.
It’s easy, she says, and beams.
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp pepper
- 1½ - 2½ lb flank steak
- Mix all ingredients besides steak. Marinate overnight.
- Broil or grill steak 5 minutes per side.
- Slice 1 lb mushrooms
- Saute mushrooms in 3 tbsp butter, cayenne pepper, and juice of 1 lemon.
- Add reserved marinade and boil.
- Serve over steak with pilaf.