15 years old, I was not the best babysitter. Not the worst. My brother made it out alive. But he was 12. Did he really need a babysitter? I wondered frequently to my parents. They were not convinced.
So, once a week, every week, for three years, I was my brother's tether between the living world and death -- at least according to my parents. I, the angsty teenager, had to keep my brother, the angsty pre-teenager, alive. In reality, this meant we both had to ignore each other for roughly three hours and not light any fires. That was doable.
Unfortunately, I learned part of this whole "keeping the young alive" thing involves nourishment. I didn't cook. My brother didn't cook. But inevitably, hunger would settle in, as hunger often does, particularly around dinner time.
Enter Kraft Mac & Cheese, direct from the box -- instructions included. This was a godsend. I didn't need to know how to cook. I didn't need my brother's help. I just needed to follow three instructions printed on a box and measure ... ish.
Each week, the measuring was a little different. Do I really want to dirty a measuring cup just to measure milk, I'd ask myself. Nine times of ten, the answer was "No." The results were paste or soup. Do I really want to wait and keep stirring until two whole tablespoons of butter are melted? Again, no. Of course not. The TV was on and much more interesting than a pot, a spoon, and the dull ache that would creep into my thoroughly unexercised biceps. Mac & cheese without most of the butter usually turns out... watery. Mmm. Delicious.
But it didn't kill us. I didn't burn the house down. And in the process, I became quite proud of my soupy, bland, watery, box mac & cheese.
In fact, years later when I was home from college, my brother was feeling sick and requested a special meal. He wanted Kraft Mac & Cheese. He didn't want to make it. He didn't want our mother to make it or any of our other relatives. Oh no, he wanted my soupy, bland, watery, never-turns-out-the-same-way-twice version of box mac & cheese. 'Which I made for him. It has kept him alive so far. I'll count that as a babysitting win.