Oh Yes, They Called Him the Streak


Way back when ADD was just that thing you did in Math Class, I was babysitting a seven-year-old we'll call Scotty. Now, Scotty was a sweet kid, but supercharged with the kind of hyperactivity scientists would have been wise to harness for nuclear power.

Give Scotty a couple of Pixie Sticks, and I bet we could have solved the energy crisis.

With that sugary diet, plus not a lot of parental consistency, and nervous energy to spare, Scotty quickly proved to the teenaged Me, I'd probably have to give up some of my more idealistic babysitting goals...

So bonding moments like Storytime, Going to the Park, Helping with Homework, or... oh, five minutes of sitting down... were soon replaced with more realistic expectations.

Like: Just Please Don't Set the House on Fire, Run with Sharp Implements, or Nair the Cat.

I tried to keep it simple.

Well, in addition to sharing the relative atomic composition of Uranium, Scotty was also a big Jets fan. And that meant one of his very favorite activities was pretending to be a football player.

The pretend aspect? I was totally up for.

The fact that Scotty felt he could only be a truly-effective football player while stark naked?

A minor concern.

Then I learned that the entire opposing lineup was traditionally played by the family dog. That's when things got tricky.

Oh, I still remember poor Queenie. She was a long-suffering, nervous creature, part German Shepherd and part garter snake.

Queenie had no real bones. No bones. I swear it. Even the gentlest pat caused Queenie’s spine to go limp, and slither out from under my hand. Now that I look back on it, I believe it was a genetic mutation developed from years of playing Defense.

So one afternoon, I’d already intercepted play a few times-- much to the grateful brown-eyed gaze of Queenie. I'd used episodes of Duck Tales, Double Dare, and the not-so-unreasonable request for pants.

But when the doorbell rang, I’d had to take a small TV Time Out. And little did I know I was about to need interference myself.

The people at the door looked friendly enough. But before I got a word in edgewise, the woman had launched into the kind of monologue even Shakespeare would have called "wordy."

She tucked religious pamphlets into my hand... she laughed congenially... she rattled on like I was an old friend.

I blinked and smiled and tried to think of how to extract myself politely from this unwanted visitor.

I mean, you just didn't leave Scotty to his own devices for more than thirty-seconds. Heck, I did that once and found him all the way outside, crouching in the doghouse, pretending to be Queenie and refusing to come out.

It wasn't pretty.

So when I heard Queenie run by, I knew trouble would follow.

And man, that dog was really truckin', too!-- darting into the living room behind me and then slithering out of view like the wise snake-dog she was.

Yes, intuition said the Jets versus Mutts game had gone well into Overtime. But the woman in the doorway just kept on talking-- telling me about the Watchtower, and trying to get me to donate a quarter for a copy.

Until:

"Tackle!" the boy shouted. And here he came, straight down the hallway-- nothing on but a football helmet and a smile-- in hot pursuit of his four-legged opposition.

The woman stopped in mid-sentence, her mouth hanging open on its hinges. "Honey," she exclaimed, "you need to get some clothes on that baby!”

"Tell me about it," I agreed. Only unfortunately, she did tell me about it-- amazingly, she just picked up the Watchtower conversation with renewed vigor.

Well, that was about all the multi-tasking I could manage that day. I dug a quarter from my pocket, stuffed it into her hand, said I was sorry, and shut the door.

I often wonder what she said when she got back to Kingdom Hall.

Did she tell her brothers and sisters of the congregation that she'd done her best to explain their mission. And that things were going well, only then they came-- boogity-boogity-- a boneless dog and a tiny streaking quarterback.

Jehovah apparently works in mysterious ways.

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22 comments:

Adullamite said...

Three ways to lose JWs from the door.
1, Keep saying 'The bible says you MUST be 'born - again.?' They don't like that.
2, Say 'Clear off!.'
3, Start undressing.

They all work for me!

p.s. the best cure for kids with hyper activity syndrome? A hyperactive slap!
Enjoy Christmas, JWs don't!

Da Old Man said...

You had the walkers (JW.) One summer, my friend was stalked by the bicycling ones (the Osmonds.)

Great story. Whatever happened to Scotty? Did he become a Senator, or just a Congressman?

Jenn Thorson said...

Adullamite- Oh, I usually tell them that I already know about the Watchtower, etc., as I had a good friend who was a Jehovah's Witness. (Which is the truth.) As for the hyperactivity, it was a bit more than I'd bargained for, that's for certain!

Da Old Man- I now have images of these people on bicycles chasing after you. "Wait, wait! Here's a pamphlet!!"

I don't know what happened to Scotty. They eventually moved. Hopefully he's got his ADHD sorted out now and he's not fidgeting his way through business meetings somewhere.

ReformingGeek said...

I think my baby-sitting career lasted about 5 minutes. I'm not sure what I would have done with that child.

We get some off-shoot of JW or something out here about once a year. Whatever.

Jenn Thorson said...

Reforming Geek- I ended up babysitting for him for about two years. It certainly had its challenges!

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

Jenn, you are a saint. At that age, I would tied him in a chair and made him watch TV so I could talk to my boyfriend on the phone.

Jenn Thorson said...

Meg- That certainly would have been tempting! I would have settled for just getting enough quiet to get my homework done.

unfinishedrambler said...

Jenn: I second Meg's thought, that you are a saint. Luckily, I never had to do much babysitting (my kid sister excluded), so thankfully, I can't relate at all.

Chat Blanc said...

Maybe the Jehovah's Witnesses held a prayer vigil for ya! ;)

Sending you wishes for a very Merry Christmas! Cheers!

JD said...

when i answer the JW doorbell i start chanting hari hari

hari krishna

and they leave me to my delusions

Melanie said...

Scotty sounds a lot like a few kids I used to babysit. There were three of them.

JW's usually leave fairly quickly if you anwswer the door bearing arms, swords, knives, gun, paint brush full of white paint!

PaulsHealthblog.com said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

DeadRooster said...

I think you missed a golden opportunity when she saw the stark naked Scotty running by in his football helmet: You should have said, "This is OUR religion, now..." Then slowly shut the door.

The look on her face would've been pure gold! LOL

lunaticg said...

Hi!
just want to send a merry x-mas and a happy new year wish to you and your family. See you around.

Ken Armstrong said...

Funny stuff. :)

So, next time the 'Good News People' call, I shall chase the dog naked through the hall.

'Sounds like a plan...

Jenn Thorson said...

Unfinished- I doubt the sainthood, but I'm pretty sure this babysitting experience was not the average, for sure. :)

Chat Blanc- Maybe so-- and I would have accepted any sort of help I could have gotten, at that point. :) Supernatural or otherwise!

JD- If only I'd thought of that!

Melanie- THREE at one time? Oh good grief. And you lived to tell about it!

Paul- Merry Christmas to you, as well.

Dead Rooster- Ah, but I was just a naive 16 year old. Maybe NOW I might have come up with something like that, but I was too sincere at the time to try anything along those lines.

LunaticG- Thanks for the well-wishes, and happy holidays to you.

Ken- Let me know how this ends up working out for you, too. :)

Jay said...

I hate being rude to people - even very, very annoying people - but I think this would be an example of a time when it would be the right thing to do.

It's not the naked child I'd be worried about - kids love being naked - but the poor boneless dog!

Although, actually, that kid was lucky not to get bitten, and certain parts of his anatomy would be kinda vulnerable! LOL!

Jenn Thorson said...

Jay- Heh, yes-- but Queenie had more patience than any animal I've known!

chyna said...

Hmm, chasing the dog naked eh? Will have to consider that. My husband thinks it is funny to befriend them and then never answer the door again. Instead I get the speeches, good thing I learned how to go to my happy place in high school. I visit quite often now. LOL

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- Look out, neighbors, Chyna is doing the Naked Mile!!

timethief said...

What a brilliant piece of writing this is. I'm in awe of your storytelling talents and your writing skills.

Jenn Thorson said...

Thanks so much, TimeThief! It was certainly a memorably day for me!