Moms know what I'm talking about; the boss brings his kid to work on Bring Your Demon to Work day, and asks you to 'keep an eye on' him/her while boss hides in his office playing solitaire on his Blackberry. Or cousin Sally appears in your driveway with a Voyager full of tots buzzed on sucrose, confident she can dump them on you while Julio takes care of her hair emergency.
Pretty soon, your family crystal and your patience are both shattered, and you wonder, how can I avoid being so abused again?
Here are a few strategies that might come in handy in such a situation.
Play the disease card. Confess that you're fighting an infestation of head lice. To fake whooping cough, just wheeze as you inhale. If you have a few seconds prior warning, a brisk rubbing of the eyes can give them a distressed appearance that could be explained as pink eye. However, be warned that not all parents will be dissuaded by the potential for a non-life-threatening disease.
If that doesn't work, try the Red Riding Hood gambit. Ask the mother if her children are afraid of dogs, because your pit bulls Killer and Ripper can sense fear.
Next try legal ramifications. Explain that your attorney won't allow you to take on the risk of accepting responsibility for another's child. Or you could tell them that the terms of your parole prohibits you from coming in contact with children.
You could try the 'Let's Play Jarts!' maneuver. Enthusiastically agree to watch the kids, explaining that you've just scored a box of out-of-date M80's that they can help you blow up, and, if there's time, you can teach them archery afterwards.