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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sitting on Babies

"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance. " ~Franklin P. Jones

Two years ago my mother bought me a pair of Coach boots. They reminded me of hiking/snowboots with leather at the ankle and toe with the Coach logo on the rest. It was in these boots that while babysitting for four year old twin girls and their two year old brother, that I was locked in this family's upper level bathroom. It was in my brand new Coach boots, that I was forced to jump out of their bathroom window. The only thing between me and their cement walkway in the backyard, was a large tree. I stuck my head out the window and determined that I could make it. I slid my legs out first and kept my hands over the side of the window and held on for dear life. I looked down at the tree and swung myself out so that I was over the tree. That tree caught my fall and my brand new Coach boots supported my ankles.

I remember this story now as I sit in a home where the mother has left without leaving me any instructions or notification that the baby is both sick and teething. In this same house, the mother has never given me a tour, so I also have spent 30 minutes with a screaming baby trying to find the diapers. The entire time contemplating things I would rather be doing, like ummm drinking for instance.

I've been babysitting since freshman year, through all of the internships and real jobs, I've been babysitting to supplement my income (Coach man, coach!). I've been through many families, through no fault of my own, I've never done a bad job or beat a child, but because my schedule changes, I get a real job, I go abroad. Whatever. Mostly I look at it as a job, that I have to do and it can be very thankless. Parents change their minds suddenly and decide that they no longer want a babysitter or that they want a live in aupair instead (yeah right).

For the past several years I have been babysitting for my former boss, who is like my mother. Her children are now 7 1/2 and 3 and I've been with them since Sam was 5 and Rebecca was 6 months. I've seen them go to school, start walking, get teeth, lose teeth, and learn how to say my name. When I returned from my four month trip to Spain, Rebecca saw me and screamed "Hi Hedder". Sam (Sammy Sosa as I like to call him), enjoys snuggling but hates when I see him and tickle him and tell him how adorable he is. And Rebecca now says things like please and thank you and well she's thankfully almost finished with the whole "I'm going to scream the minute my mother leaves the room" phase. Parents ask me now, how I deal with a screaming child, I just tell them that they grow out of it. I also learned that I was once a chronic screamer and I didn't get potty trained until I was well over the age of three. Go me.

Do you see this? Me reminiscing about babysitting and in reality, how much I adore Sam and Rebecca. Yeah, I do it for the money. And yeah there are other ways for me to make money, but (and if any of you tell anyone I said this), I kind of like kids. While LB, scoffs at the amount of babysitting I do (like every weekend), Kimber (who was also a nanny until recently) understands that through babysitting, parents trust you to care for their children as they do. I would do anything for those kids and have given up many a vodka tonic to spend an evening with them.

Until about thirty seconds ago, none of these things were apparent. This was going to be about how much of a pain in the ass it is, when parents run extremely late or don't tell you where the diapers are. But this has turned into a "well hell, I'm really not completely selfish and can be sweet and doting" kind of post. And the key to it all, is a whole mother fucking lot of patience.

Oh, and parents who have cable and feed you and let you do your laundry. And for all you new parents out there, heed my words. Free laundry and good pay is soooooo key. A tour of the house and being told where the diapers are located is also a plus.


Blogger RitMeyer said...

Oh I miss babysitting. I had some devil spawn push me in their pool in november. yes it had the cover on. But then you have the kids you watch grow up. Damn it girl, now I'm all misty eyed.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Chicken Little said...

I was a bad babysitter. The kind of sitter you should never leave your kids with. OK, so it was 40 years ago, but still I didn't care how long the parents were gone, I didn't change a diaper. And I put the kids to bed as soon as the parents left, so that I could talk to the boyfriend on the phone. But for 50 cents an hours, that's all you got.

6:24 PM  
Blogger karla said...

I never babysat, not once--and don't have any younger siblings or even cousins that I ever associated with. It seems like I practically never came into contact with anyone younger than me the whole time I was growing up. Which is unfortunate for my now 8-month old son, Jake, who probably wishes I'd had some goddamn practice with some kids along the way before giving birth to him. But so far, we're doing okay. :)

6:39 PM  

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