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Which Is Bigger, the Moon or an Elephant? and Other Stupid Questions

by De Kenyon

Antonia does not need a babysitter.  She has her CPR certification and a list of emergency contact numbers.  But the babysitter isn’t a normal high school girl who just wants to watch TV and call her boyfriend…but a mean, sarcastic teen who wants to terrify them all.

Some of the other kids may have needed a babysitter, but I was old enough not to need one. I had my parents’ emergency contact information in my backpack along with my pajamas, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, cotton swabs, and mini emergency kit. I had taken a CPR class. The instructor had told me I wasn’t strong enough to be able to do everything and get my certification, but the electronic test dummy’s heart had started beating again after I spent five straight minutes pumping its chest, so he had to certify me anyway.

I was eleven, and I didn’t need a stupid high school babysitter.

But it wasn’t my house. I mentioned my CPR training to my father, who had sighed and said, “Antonia, while we have no doubts about your competence in not burning the house down, we have discussed this and none of us are too sure about the other girls’ ability not to be complete idiots. I’m not paying for the babysitter, so it’s out of my hands. I know it’s frustrating, but please make an effort to behave well in front of the other girls.”

I tapped my fingers on the kitchen counter, where we were having our little talk. “All right, father. I suppose it can’t be helped.”

He leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. “Thank you.”

The doorbell rang, and the daughter of the house, my cousin Lavvie (nine), yelled, “Emily’s here!” She galloped down the stairs and flew past the kitchen door, her hair streaming out behind her. The door slammed open. “Emily!”

I followed my father out of the kitchen. My first glimpse of the babysitter wasn’t pleasant. Emily was six feet tall and must have weighed three hundred pounds. She had an ugly face with lots of zits and squinted, even though she wore glasses.

“Hello, Lavvie,” she said as Lavvie tried to squeeze her around the middle. “Ugh. Not so hard, kid.”

Lavvie, disgustingly, rubbed her face across Emily’s arm. “I missed you.”

She would. She was a complete and utter twerp who could not sit still for five minutes if you offered her a dollar to do it. Daring Lavvie to a staring contest was an easy win.

I am just loving on the cover image for this story–it reminds me of my sister Betsy when she was that age.  And thanks to Jen LaPointe, who supplied the stupid question in the title.

This one comes partially from memory…we had a house full of cousins at one point, and one of the older ones got paid to watch the rest of us, even though my brother and I were old enough to stay on our own, when the rest of the cousins weren’t there.  But it ended up being pretty cool.  I read a book about The Dark Crystal thatshe had brought with her.  I can’t remember whether the haunted house in the basement episode was the same day or not, but it was the same gang of kids.  We used to sit on the edge of the cellar steps and tell ghost stories; the only one I can remember was the one about the guts in the bucket.

As kids, we thought teenagers were dumb and mean and kind of creepy-looking, and we treated her like crap.  She didn’t seem to mind; she was just that evil.  Years later, we finally got to hang out as adults.  She’s pretty awesome.