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Small cash inspires large decisions.

I am learning by experience that the first priority upon starting over is to find a way to make money.  Forget all of my great ideas to volunteer at the animal shelter, read War and Peace, write a novel, and learn to cook French food (from Julia Child’s cookbook, of course).  Money is everything, no matter how much I wish that it wasn’t.  And, honestly, cooking French food is pretty expensive.

I have a few sources of income right now.  I am still looking for the elusive job that not only pays the bills and has benefits, but also makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning.  But, I confess, my favorite job right now involves blonde-haired blue-eyed Matthew.  I love him.  He’s laid back, funny, smart, loves dogs, reads books, and he laughs at my jokes.

Never fear, this blog (hopefully) will not contain any boring, self-indulgent analysis over my past or present relationships.  But I may not be able to resist saying how cute Matthew is.  Of course he’s cute… he’s one year old.  And I am lucky enough to babysit him, which allows me to enjoy his cuteness for several hours at a time.

Babysitting stressed me out when I was a tween.  I spent many long Friday and Saturday nights working for a couple with three kids.  The parents both worked until well after midnight, and their kids were completely unruly (and I’m being kind).  I was intimidated by the fact that I had to feed them (they did not own a microwave so I had to actually cook), help them with their homework (provided that I could actually get them to do their homework at all), make them brush their teeth (which wasn’t so hard with the girl, but it was nearly impossible with the boys), and make sure they were in bed at a reasonable hour (allowing at least an hour for their stalling techniques).  I made enough money from them to buy myself a pair of Guess jeans, which was all I really wanted at the time.  Needless to say, the family moved to another town, and I declared myself retired.

Now, for the first time since I was 12, I am babysitting again.  Unlike my previous charges, Matthew is an angel.  He loves to eat, so feeding him is easy (and I only wish he was old enough so I could cook French food for him).  He doesn’t have homework, but I like to make him practice walking (which he does willingly and emphatically).  He LOVES getting his teeth brushed (even though he can’t do it himself).  And, best of all, he goes right to sleep without a fuss.  It’s cute overload, kind of like a kitten pile.  But Matthew is doing much more for me than simply giving me a smile, a laugh, and a low-stress opportunity to make some cash.

As an adult, I’ve always been on the fence about having kids of my own.  I constantly waver from one extreme to the other, but the reality is that I’ve never actually had a reason to make a solid choice on the matter.  I’ve never been married, so I’ve never reached the point in a relationship where I’d have to honestly confront the issue.  And in the relationships I’ve had so far, none of them had ever expressed any serious interest in being a dad.

It’s not that Matthew has made me decide once and for all that I do or do not want kids; it’s that he is making me realize that I should at least make a decision about it… soon.  I am at the age where, regardless of whether I have one of my own or I adopt, I need to consider (for example) whether I’m going to want teenagers in my house when I’m anticipating my retirement.  Of course, I also need to consider whether I am willing to do it alone, because it seems that all the men my age who genuinely WANT to be husbands and fathers already ARE husbands and fathers.

In the meantime, though, while I decide, I will continue to babysit cute little Matthew as long as his parents need my help (or until the elusive perfect job comes my way).  Maybe I’ll even start reading War and Peace to him... or maybe that will have to wait with the French food.  At least I can use my babysitting money to buy a new pair of jeans.


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Part 1: College Submission

Alice stepped onto the dock in the backyard where her daughter sat, feet dangling into the creek.
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“But I need supplies for my presentation board.”
Alice inhaled tightly. “It’s almost curfew, Madison. Why didn’t you remind me earlier?”
“It’s just stuff from Target. I can go myself.”
“No. Write down what you need. I’ll go right now.”
“Seriously, mom, it’s okay. I’m 18. I can sign.”
Alice was firm. “Inside now, please, and make a shopping list.”
Madison rolled her eyes, but obeyed. Arguing was futile.
Alice grabbed Madison’s list in one hand, purse in the other. No use getting frustrated. College applications were treacherous; the private schools made it nearly impossible. If Madison’s project didn’t astonish the enrollment board at Elmwood, her acceptance could be revoked and she’d end up at State.
State was a good school, but it didn’t have the budget for security. Outside the ivies (which no longer accepted applications from non-legacy candidates), Elmwood…

Part 2: Campus Tour

Alice looked impatiently at her watch. Five more minutes until her daughter Madison and the other four candidates would present their high school theses to the Elmwood University enrollment board. 
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“Oh, that’s a closed event, ma’am. We’ll finish up the tour in time for you all to retrieve your students.” The tour guide didn’t even pause before continuing. “Next we are going to walk through the residential quad. Naturally, we will not be going inside any of the residence or dining halls for security reasons.”
“Are the dorms co-ed?” asked a parent.
“No, they’re all gender-segregated. Each entrance is equipped with a fingerprint reader and laser counter to ensure only authorized residents have access.”
Well, that’s overkill, thought Alice. What fun is college if you can’t sneak boys into…

Part 3: Life After Curfew

“Do I need to bring TP?” Madison whispered into her phone to her best friend, Grace.
“Nope! We’re stealing it from the school bathrooms,” replied Grace. “Hurry up and get down here!”
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“Welcome to life after curfew!” Grace said in a loud whisper.
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“Relax, Maddie, there is NOBODY out here. Not even Curfew Officers. It’s been hours since twilight. Come on!”
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