This summer, I couldn’t find a job. It was basically a preview of the kind of failure that awaits me in my post-college life: no internships, no awesome programs in foreign countries, not even another three months of scooping ice cream at the place I used to work at in high school. When you wait until late May to apply for summer jobs, they’re pretty much all gone. Except — it turns out — for babysitting jobs. People always need babysitters, especially in the summer. Especially babysitters who are Yale students. That’s right — going to an Ivy League school couldn’t get me an internship at the local children’s book publisher, but it could get me a job making grilled cheese sandwiches for eight-year-old twins three times a week, because grilled cheese making is what we learn at superior academic institutions like this one. I got at A- in it last semester.
What I did not get an A- in was exorcism, because I’m just an undergrad and I think they only teach that in the Divinity School. I could have used some tips, though, because it turns out that in addition to grilled cheese making and remedial reading help (for the boy), my childcare duties included demon-wrangling (for the girl). I know that sounds like the kind of exaggeration one might expect from a babysitter, but I’m seriously not kidding when I say that there was some paranormal activity going on in that eight-year-old’s Hannah Montana for Target-clad body. For one thing, she spoke in tongues. I would tell her to pick up her toys, and she would put her hands on her hips, open her mouth and let out a stream of guttural syllables that sounded straight out of “Jesus Camp II: The Bloodletting.”
“It’s our secret twin language,” the girl told me when I asked her the PG version of “what the actual fuck is wrong with you?” “We use it all the time.”
I looked at her brother. He shrugged and took another bite of his grilled cheese.
The next day, I told her she couldn’t watch another episode of Hannah Montana until she finished her lunch. “C’mon,” I said. “I made grilled cheese!”
“HISSSS,” the girl said. I can’t render it textually. It was an actual hissing noise, the kind you might expect to come out of a snake — a really immense, goat-swallowing snake. She hissed again, then made her hands into claws and tore at the air in front of her, face bright red, eyes bulging out of her sockets.
“But I used your favorite cheese!” I said, backing away. “HISSSSSSSSSSSS,” she said, one last time, and spit at me.
When her mom got home, her brother immediately reported what had happened.
“She used the language and hissed,” he said in a bored voice. It turned out that the speaking in tongues thing is a problem they’re trying to work on with her, along with the clawed-snake-creature impersonation.
“I’m so embarrassed,” said the mom. I thought about asking if she’d consulted a man of the cloth, but I didn’t want to risk offending her. I needed that job.
Eventually, the scratches on my arms healed and I made it back to school with only mild PTSD but without much padding for my resume. The only thing a babysitting job helps you get is more babysitting jobs. And even though Branford’s new dean comes complete with three adorable girls ages three to nine, I’ve held back so far. It’s not that I think any of Dean Fink’s kids might have a demon-possession problem — I’m just trying to save time so I can focus on my schoolwork. I want to get a real job next summer, so I’m trying to ace my ice cream-scooping class. The lecture’s not that bad, but the lab is a total bitch.