Do you remember your most important babysitter? This is not necessarily your first babysitter, or the one who let you stay up past your bedtime, or the one who gave you way too honest answers about what high school was going to be like. This is probably the girl (or boy, as I am assured this is a thing? I may be a little bit sexist with regard to childcare. I’m working on it.) who came the most often though, and even when she was making you drink your milk (this was my childhood Mount Everest. Give me a vegetable any day, but milk shall not pass through these lips if it doesn’t contain cereal) you would probably admit she was your favorite.
Mine was named Amanda, and she came every Saturday night when my parents went on dates. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was about 9 or 10 when she started coming, and she was 16 or so. I have no idea how my parents found her, but she was the bee’s knees. She had a Samantha American Girl doll that she brought over and let me play with (sometimes she even left it at my house for a week!). Every week she would come over while we were eating dinner, make us finish before we got dessert (that milk incident was real, and something that led both of my parents to support her whole-heartedly), and then after we finished we would dance in the living room to Backstreet Boy’s Millenium or Christina Aguilera’s first album (classics). After that we would color while watching Snick. She read me Han Christian Anderson stories before I went to bed every week and always came to check on me (thus stopping me from reading until my parents came home. I may have been a nerdy punk of a kid). When she got older my parents left us with her for a weekend and we baked gingerbread cookies at a totally inappropriate time of year and got flour all over the kitchen. She was in the Music Man at her high school and I went to see her in my first Broadway moment. Also, she lent me a taped copy of Cats and Annie and fully supported my bid to get my parents to take me to see Cats (which was not successful, I suspect because my parents did not want to sit through Cats if they could avoid it). She also let me sing all the songs from Cats a lot. Including “Memories” AND “Magical Mister Mistoffelees” which are definitely the most obnoxious ones I could have chosen. Basically, dudes, Amanda was the best.
Weirdly, looking back on it, legitimately all of the things we used to do are things I currently love doing. I’m having a hard time figuring out the chicken or the egg part of this argument: was Amanda my favorite because she was the same sort of person I am, or was she my favorite and I started liking things she liked because of how cool she was. I actually have no idea, but I’m tempted to believe that it’s a little bit of both. While I’m hanging out with these kids on a daily basis I think of Amanda a lot, especially as I watch Katrina and Verena start to veer towards the things I love doing. If the situation continues as it has been Verena will know all of the words to every song in The Sound of Music (except for “Climb Every Mountain” which I hate more than almost anything in the entire world), she will be able to quote The Princess Bride, Katrina will be addicted to Sriracha (something I did not even encourage her to try), we will all be able to sing any song by The Beatles in three part harmony (specializing in “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Blackbird,” “Rocky Raccoon,” and “Help!”) and they will both have seen all of Doctor Who. I don’t know what kind of impact this will have when they look back on me in 10 years, but I bet when they hear their Magical Mister Mistoffelees, they’ll be able to sing it out proud.
It’ll probably be “My Favorite Things.” That song when sung loud and proud can stop crying in a moment. Possibly due to laughing at the faces of those around when I loudly sing in public. #don’tlookagifthorseinthemouth?