This week, I’m helping out a neighbor by watching her two boys, ages 9 and 6, after school. She’s in a class all week for work and her husband, a physicist (!) is overseas talking science with a bunch of fellow scientists.

Because I’m a pushover good neighbor, I agreed to help her out, despite the fact that her children are over scheduled and have a different activity each day of the week. On the plus side, she’s paying me. I haven’t made any money in quite some time, so I can’t say that I’m not a little excited about earning some extra cash to blow on frivolous things. I like shopping for frivolity.
We keep a pretty tame schedule around here; Caroline plays soccer and that’s about it. We have one practice a week, which will change to two per week next fall, and one game a week. Otherwise, our afternoons are spent at home: doing homework, playing, running like a wild savage through my house with her crazy stampede of friends and devouring every last snack in my pantry. Every now and then we throw in a session of swimming lessons, but for the most part, we’re pretty laid back in the schedule department. It’s easy, for sure. But then I wonder if I’m not doing enough to develop a well rounded kid. Maybe she needs piano lessons? Maybe she should take tennis lessons or join a bowling league? What if she has great potential to become a professional bowler and I didn’t let her hone her skills early enough? I don’t know. This parenting thing sure is confusing.
My gut tells me that kids just need to play. One activity is enough, right?

Anyway, the boys I’m watching are bizzy. Therefore, this week, I am bizzy.
Take yesterday for instance: after school at 3:20, we walked home from school, stopping so that Jason (age 9) could grab his piano lesson gear and Jonathan’s (age 6) tball gear. We quickly ran over to my house, grabbed snacks, hopped in the car and drove Jason to piano lessons, which started at 3:45. Then Caroline, Jonathan and I went back home to get Jonathan changed for tball. Now that was a feat of epic proportions. I forgot how unfocused littler people can be. Or, maybe that was just Jonathan’s usual behavior. I don’t know? Caroline, thankfully, has always been pretty cooperative.
Once we got Jonathan together in his Mets uniform and removed him from atop Caroline, where he was trying to get her to smell his feet (ugh!), we got back in the car to pick up Jason.

Next on the list was pre-game fuel. Fuel in the form of Boardwalk Burgers and Fries.

It was close by and had something for everyone, so we went with it. Nutritive value be damned. The kids ate their chicken fingers, burgers and fries and I drank a very large diet Coke and stole more than my fair share of french fries. Man, were they good fries. Seriously addicting.
Next up: tball game. Oh, and also, a drive of craziness through after work traffic that was peppered with some unsavory ridiculous kid conversation. On the drive, Jonathan kept putting up his middle finger, just to get a reaction out of the older kids. I told him we weren’t allowed to say bad words, with our mouths or with our hands, in my car. The conversation was pretty varied and somewhat inappropriate, thanks to the wise ways of a certain 9 year old. He’s almost 10 and in the fourth grade…and a little too eager to share anything on his mind, despite the immaturity of his listening crowd. Sigh!

What is with kids these days? They’re innocent for such a short amount of time and there I was, driving the mom/neighbor taxi of doom, listening to them all say how they know all the bad words and what they mean. I guess I probably knew such things when I was their age (since my mom curses like a sailor and all–ha! just kidding!) but when you’re the mom, it just seems sad. Although, in all honesty, I’m sure Caroline has heard many bad words (not from ME…I only curse in private!) from other hoodlum neighborhood rats, but I’m not sure she really understands ALL of their meanings. I know my kid isn’t an angel all the time, but it really burns me when other kids corrupt MY BABY.

What have I gotten myself into?

This parenting thing sure is mind boggling.

Thankfully, I needed Jason’s help with directions to the ball field, so I as able to divert any conversation that was heading in the wrong direction. Whew!

The boys mom met us at the game to relieve me of my duties, but we stayed to watch all the little people play their game. Have you ever watched 5-7 year olds play tball? It’s so cute!

One of the little girls, in her purple batting helmet and purple glove, was much more interested in catching caterpillars than catching balls. I wish they stayed that little and innocent forever; especially after that car ride of inappropriateness.

Caroline was having a ball playing with some older kids at the ball park, so we stayed much later than I had anticipated. We didn’t get home until after 7.
If anything, this week makes me feel better about having an only child. Usually I second guess the decisions I’ve made regarding family size, but this week, I can say with absolute authority that onlies are awesome.




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