This weekend, I assisted my friends by babysitting their three kids: 13, 8 and 7. They went out of town for the first time in like probably a year sans kiddos, two nights and three days. This was sort of a test I guess, if you wanted to think that way about what it would be like to have children. Mom and dad’s parenting style is similar to my beliefs so that was very helpful.
I have to say though that there were some things that made me see that either they need to be my kids in order to have that unconditional love for them; that I still need to get used to “having kids” and the concept behind it; or that maybe I just don’t want them.
My first realization is that I have to feed them and they don’t go away without some kind of food. I don’t eat when my spouse is gone, but these folks wanted food on the dot of noon and were milling about this tiny, tiny kitchen during the dinner hour. They also randomly came up during the day asking for more food. They had prescribed snacks they could have, but they were coming up right after dinner asking for almost another whole dinner. It’s a very different perspective when you have to be responsible for someone else, including feeding them.
My second realization is that parents can’t get a moment alone if they tried. The younger girls spent a good portion of their time playing in the playroom, but it always seemed like just as the good part of the movie or Charmed, whatever was about to play they wanted to come and play in the area you were in. Since the material was not age appropriate, the eldest child was banished to the bedroom with a portable DVD player to watch the rest. I must tell you, I hate all things Pooh at the moment as well as wanting to strangle the idiot that made Barbie in the Nutcracker! Pooh music or anything I can sing too while being half asleep is a horrid, horrid invention by a bunch of sadists!
Number three is that I am so glad I am almost done with my masters! I read the same page about twenty times over during the weekend. Either someone was hungry and needed something other than chocolate, someone was fighting with each other, or the giggles had gotten too soft and too dangerous sounding that it needed to be investigated. There was no time to yourself and someone always needs some kind of attention for what ever the reason.
The last is learning how to deal with them in an age appropriate manner. The teenager can be talked to pretty much as an adult, but when an 8 year old sasses you, it gets tough. I had to keep reminding myself that she is still learning how to express herself and that I need to encourage her talking but not like that! I also had to suppress the urge to throttle her for being such a smart arse! I ended up giving out the consequence of what would happen if she continued to use that tone of voice and to be smart with me – a ten minute timeout at the kitchen table. This would be torture because she couldn’t play with anything there and she could hear but not see the television.
Then the second child works out the issue of what ever pretend toy they didn’t have for the pretend game they were playing. She found something else she could use since the middle child refused to play another game and wasn’t about to share in order to play whatever it was they were going to do. So what do I hear being muttered by the middle child as I start to leave, “I told you I solved it. I fixed this problem; it’s not a problem anymore because I was the one who fixed it….not you.” I was exasperated by that point and just quietly shut the door, walked calmly to the kitchen, opened the fridge and made faces and hand gestures of throttling something in belly of the fridge.
I was rather happy to be back at my house. They weren’t really bad kids, hell it could have been much worse but still it was rather different to have someone so dependent on you and so inseparable from your every move. It was nice when I got home, the dog said hello, we went out for a walk and after dinner she went to take her nap. I didn’t have to worry that she was destroying something, she was content with the food she got and didn’t argue for something else and we didn’t fight over the usage of the television. She was just happy to go take her evening nap. I am thinking dogs may be the better way for us to go. Seriously!
So I survived the weekend with someone else’s kids, where’s my frickin’ T-shirt?