Hat Tip To Ann M. Martin

Back in the day I was quite the babysitter. Perhaps I was inspired by the Babysitters Club book series, written by the aforementioned Ann M. Martin, and devoured by every pre-teen girl in the late 80s and early 90s. All I know is that I enjoyed the task; and my services were in high demand.
Parents would drive twenty minutes one way to pick me up so I could watch their kids…and then turn around and drive me back home rather late in the evening.

I had one family in particular that I loved to sit for. A Navy family with three very well behaved kids, who went to bed at 7pm. That left the rest of the night free for me to watch TGIF on ABC. Remember those days? Perfect Strangers. Full House. Urkel.
AND they paid me quite well. At the time, $20 for sitting in a quiet house as the children slept, eating chocolate chips and watching TV wasn’t half bad. Heck, I’d take that now!

My love for baby sitting turned sour around the time I started high school. Instead, I re-focused my money earning strategies, and took to selling Big Macs and super sized fries to cranky people, who couldn’t order properly through the drive thru speaker. That’s another post for another day.

There’s nothing quite like coming home after a hard day of work, hair glimmering with french fry grease and fingers smelling like those little dehydrated onions on the hamburgers.
Long lasting onion smell.
Charming, I know.
No wonder I didn’t get any dates in high school!

As I have clearly documented on this blog, our house is the assembly point for the neighborhood kids. Much like the gymnacafetorium at the local elementary school. Caroline is the principal; I am in charge of refreshments. That must make me a lunch lady. Sans hair net, of course.

Whatever the case, this set up works well. Caroline is hardly ever lonely and my entry way is forever cluttered with shoes. Just the way I like it.
Today I found someone’s crusty old sock on our front porch! I’d ask why, but it’s pointless.
Besides, I’m sure I don’t really want to know the answer.

I watch other people’s children often, it comes with our open door policy. As long as Caroline is around to play with the kids, I’m good.
I may grumble, but it’s really alright.

My neighbor called on Wednesday, rather unexpectedly. Her preschool aged son is on spring break this week and she needed to get some work done. Instead of calling her normal baby sitter, she thought to call me, because you know, I just adore children, to see if I was interested in earning a little money.

Money is great. But entertaining other people’s children when my own kid isn’t home, isn’t exactly at the top of my list of things that make me go “yay.”
However, in the interest of being a good neighbor, and not to mention, a neighbor with the inability to say no (others in this family might dispute that claim), I said sure.
Because, really, don’t I seem like the type of person that would love to spend her afternoon with a five year old boy?

The truth is, there are a million things I would have rather done, but, maintaining a little perspective helped me remember that it’s nice to be able help a friend out. I like knowing that there are people in the neighborhood to count on. And know that the favor can be returned one day, if need be.

Her call made me think that I must put on one heck of a good show to make her think that this is something I’d enjoy doing!

I seem to have a love-hateperpetually annoyed relationship with kids. I love babies. If they didn’t grow up, I’d have a million of them.
I also enjoy talking to older kids; I like to do crafty stuff and bake with them. However, I don’t enjoy the invasion into my personal space.
I should be used to it by now; yet I sometimes feel like my orderly life is being violated.

I’m glad they feel welcome in our home and I like knowing that they’re safe and within ear shot, but the control freak in me cringes when they move my things, scrape my table with their rock collections and leave Legos floating in my over-filled bathroom sink.

Trivial? Yes.
True? Unfortunately.
Do I need to lighten up? Sweet mercy, yes I do.

Today, was babysitting day.
Jonathan is the younger of two boys and does not like to be alone. Doesn’t like to play alone. Doesn’t like to watch TV alone. Can’t even go to the bathroom without a conversation partner close by.

My type of kid.

He’s a polite, engaging, happy kid. But he sure does not like it if you give him apple slices in a “girl” bowl. I told him that’s all I had; he wasn’t impressed. That is, until I managed to scrounge up a Shrek bowl that the nice Kroger man gave me for free when we lived in Georgia. Thanks Kroger guy. You just made my day a little easier.

While I’m praising the grocery guy, I should also let out a big “hallelujah” for the Wii.
Jonathan loves that blessed thing. However, he doesn’t love it enough to play alone.

Craig, who is off on Fridays, played for a bit. Then I took over.
That killed an hour.
And pulled every single muscle in my right arm. I batted, bowled, putted. And sucked big time.
That five year old beat me in everything! Caroline once beat me in real bowling…with the bumpers up!
I’m coordinated, but evidently lack athletic prowess.
Sorry Dad!

Despite my Wii short comings, somehow we made it through.

And it was OK.

I don’t intend on letting this happen again…unless it’s an emergent situation….but I survived.
And I made some bucks.

Do you know how long it has been since I’ve earned any money? Uh, me either.
I think the last time was when I watched a baby boy, close in age to Caroline, back when we lived in Arizona.
It’s funny how someone lacking the warm, fuzzy gene keeps finding herself in kid-filled situations.

I haven’t quite figured that out.

Perhaps I have an unrecognizable gift.

Or, more likely, as stated above, the inability to say NO.


One response

  1. So much to say…I was part of those McDonald’s years and I know that onion smell well. We’d spend hours making burgers and then I would smell like grease and onions…hmmm…I didn’t really date either. Might have been why.Also, let me say something about Ann M. Martin and those Babysitter Books. You cannot find them in print anymore! I wanted to buy the set for the library cause I thought they would be great, clean books for the fourth, fifth grade girls. Can’t find them from a publisher. I can scrounge and find them in paperback from book dealers, but I want hard backs so they won’t fall apart. Makes me so sad.Oh, glad you finally earned your keep with babysitting. It’s about time. And yes, I am totally sore after 20 minutes of the Wii.


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