Why is so much emphasis placed on informing children who will be picking them up should their regular caretaker become unavailable? I have been babysitting the same kid every Friday for two years. I couldn't make it last Friday, and he didn't even notice I had been gone. I certainly didn't make it a point to tell him and he seems to have made it to soccer practice in any event. Children are remarkably resourceful when you just give them a little freedom.
I spend my Friday afternoons leaving work early (more people who don't notice my absence) to escort a child from a bus stop to his house, to soccer practice, and back home. Children have this adorable way of cutting across your path while you're walking beside them so that you are forced to collide directly with traffic, the nearest mailbox, and/or frail elderly women dragging themselves behind walkers.
This weekly hauling across town gives me roughly forty-five minutes to fill with conversation with an eleven year-old boy. I don't think I would even know how to fill forty-five minutes of conversation with an 11 year-old boy if I was an 11 year-old girl. I have to admit, this is partly my own fault. I could come more prepared. I tend to exhaust all my prepared questions in the first minute. This includes the time-tested classics: "How was school?" (fine), "What did you do in class?" (I don't know), and "What happened to your forehead?" (an accident in archery). Subjects he has a demonstrated interest in are: sports, Wii, and why I am not very smart. The last video game I owned was JJ and Jeff for TurboGrafx-16. Not only has he not heard of this, he doesn't believe it ever existed, and wonders how I could play video games in the first place since there was no television, electricity, or running water in my youth. I have to say he makes a very convincing argument and even I am starting to have doubts about how correctly I am remembering things.
As I have recently been informed (by aforementioned child), my sole responsibility is to sit there and make sure the house doesn't burn down. But that's not all! I also have to make sure he is not hit by moving vehicles or abducted by a band of gypsies, that he does not shoplift, commit large or small scale fraud, or eat more than two HoHos or less than three green beans, and watch closely for signs of swine flu or other recent frightening pandemic, dyslexia, stroke, or early onset male pattern baldness. After school, we are both burnt out from putting in a hard day's work, so I make sure I fuel up with Diet Coke and Oreos before soccer practice and that he doesn't burn down the house. The only assumption you can make about children is that absolutely everything they touch is covered in billions of teeming germs just waiting to get their hands on you, without exception. Within even relative proximity, you can and will catch any number of illnesses you thought you had acquired an immunity to years ago.
I know you're not supposed to tell people's children they are the reason you're never having your own kids, but sometimes it's hard not to. On the other hand, if you pay close attention (by eavesdropping on their conversations) you can pick up some valuable insights, like that having a girl as a friend is good, in the long run, but definitely not on the bus. It's hard for me to determine exactly why this is, but I'll just have to take their word for it because buses weren't around when I was a kid.