I arrived at my neighbour’s house to babysit their 5-year-old daughter for a few hours while they attended a wedding. I had babysat plenty of children before and had always had a pleasant experience. I was expecting this to be no different. Jasmine sure looked innocent enough. Her curly hair had been tied in a ponytail and she was wearing a pink frock. She looked like a little angel. All that was missing was a halo above her head.
I had brought a book along to read because I assumed Jasmine would soon get busy with her toys. There were some toys lying in the living room but Jasmine ignored them. Instead, she sat on the sofa next to me and asked if I liked songs. When I replied in the affirmative, she began singing a popular nursery rhyme. As she finished singing I applauded and told her that she sang beautifully. Apparently Jasmine had a hunger for praise. She immediately started singing again and then looked at me hopefully for more compliments. This continued for ten more nursery rhymes after which not only had I run out of good words but my patience was also depleting.
I suggested to Jasmine that she play with her toys for a while. She took it as a cue to introduce me to all her toys. She had names for all her toys. She had stories for all her toys. Just like herself she wanted me to fish out compliments for all her toys. I was slowly being brought to my wits’end but nonetheless, I somehow managed to come up with adjectives for her toys. Next came her doctor set toy for which I was made to play the role of a patient. While pretending to be suffering from a stomach ache so Jasmine could ‘cure’ me. I glanced furtively at my watch. There were still two hours till her parents returned. I groaned inwardly.
When it was time for Jasmine to have a snack, she wanted me to make her an egg sandwich just the way her mother used to. Unfortunately, Mrs Afzal hadn’t left me with any sandwich making instructions. The sandwich I made wasn’t good enough for Jasmine so I had to hunt in the pantry to find her favorite cereal instead. Her meal was followed by an excruciating exercise in which I was invited to a tea party that included all her favorite dolls. I sat holding a plastic tea cup in my hand, telling Jasmine how good the tea was whereas all that I wanted to do was escape from her house as soon as possible. As though my prayers had been answered the doorbell rang. Her parents had returned and I was finally free from my captor Jasmine.