My daughter is thirteen. And she seems like a pretty mature thirteen although to be honest I don’t hang out with that many thirteen year olds. My wife said the other day that she think that our thirteen year old can babysit the other four for brief periods of time.

Yippee. Yay. Yes! I hadn’t really considered it before but the possibility intrigued me. And by intrigued I mean excited me to no end. So today I had a bunch of errands to run and I thought this would be a perfect day to run out for an hour without kids. Oh the joy I envisioned of that peaceful car ride where I wouldn’t have to threaten to pull over, wouldn’t have to listen to Radio Disney, wouldn’t have to mediate between arguing siblings. In my mind it would be as peaceful as drinking appletinis with Ghandi.

So I told the thirteen year old she could watch the little ones while I ran out. OK. I announced this and the kids were all excited. Oh boy. A big day.

Then a funny thing happened. The five year old asked if she could come. Wait, what? I told her that I was just picking up a few household items and dropping some stuff off at the bank. I expressed to her that this would be the most unfun car trip since hearses were invented. But still she insisted. “Please can I come,” she pleaded. “Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaazzzzze?”

I told her to put her shoes on. She did and we were halfway out the door when I saw the boy running up to me screaming he wanted to come. He said he wouldn’t take long because he hasn’t untied his shoes the whole year so he can just slip them on…if he could just find them. We eventually found them. One was in the bathroom and the other was on the stairs. I don’t even want to imagine why or how that happened.

So, I told myself, it would still be pretty peaceful with just the two little ones, right?

Then the ten year old wanted to come and since the ten and eleven year old don’t ever separate they both got their shoes on.

OK. Everyone in the van. I turned to the thirteen year old who was lying on the couch reading and told her that she was now coming as well. I wasn’t going to leave her home alone.

“Wait, you trust me to take care of four little children but not myself?” she asked.

I admitted it made no sense but she was coming anyway.

Maybe next time I’ll tell the kids I’m going to talk to their teachers…or to a meeting about the Dewey decimal system…or a podiatrist conference…or a seminar on flossing…

*subhead*To the van.*subhead*