Friday, June 29, 2007

Joys of Babysitting

Going Like Sixty (one of my new favoritest blogs ever) offered to give those of us with blogger block three free topics to kind of spark a post or two. Here lately, I've been blogging depressive, so I took him up on it. One he offered was "Joys of Babysitting." I replied and told him that I found no joy in babysitting anymore and I sincerely mean that, but I'm still going to share because I'm saving the other two topics for the weekend.

I've done the babysitting schtick for most of my life. I was 12 when I got my first gig. I've watched snot-nosed pre-teens, adorable chubby-cheeked infants, precocious toddlers, and more than a few screamers. I guess I was good at what I did back when I was a teen because I was never without a job if I wanted to work and there wasn't a parent I worked for who didn't recommend me to their friends. Or maybe I was just cheap.

I used to really like kids. When I was younger, I had dreams of owning a daycare. I'm talking, state-of-the-art, fully staffed, in-demand, waiting-list type daycare with a paved parking lot, a bus and a full time cook. Now I realize that you have to be a special kind of insane to own a daycare. On that scale. Oh, who am I kidding - you have to be insane if you want to work with children. Period.

Don't get me wrong, I've loved every kid that's come through my door over the years. Some I loved so much that I actually called their parents to see if they could come over on the weekends. I took them to family gatherings, the zoo and sometimes just to Wal*Mart for a toy or seven. Some I loved them a lot, but was sure glad when the weekend came because I needed a break from loving them. Some of them I loved only on the weekends when they weren't here.

Babysitting has been my life for 12 years - that's virtually my whole married life. Paul has had the patience of Job to put up with a houseful of kids that we didn't legally own, mommas who were venting about their workday or were listening to me vent about my workday and just general chaos. He has moved furniture - sometimes whole rooms - in order to accomodate the overabundance of children in our home. He's become quite attached to most of the kids I've watched over the years. Some, not so much. The first 6 months Princess was here, she screamed any time Paul was in the vicinity. She didn't even have to see him - I think she could smell the fear on him. He tried taking off his hat before he came in the house, he offered to shave his moustache just to get her to like him. Thankfully she's over that and cries for her Pa-Paul when he's not around. There were some, like Little Nicky, who thought Paul was the bee's knees from the moment they first met and preferred him over me.

But now I'm a crotchety old lady with a lot of gray hair and very little patience. In years past, a kid could slobber and spit up on me, use my knuckle for a teether and pull my hair and I'd just smile and kiss their pudgy cheeks. Now, I find myself working over a blueprint for some kind of GermX sprayer that I could rig up to a shoulder harness because slobber and spit-up are just really, really gross. I don't enjoy little baby gums biting down on my knuckle - it has lost its charm and now I realize that it hurts. And Junior, if you pull my hair I will pull yours back - doesn't matter if it's peach fuzz, I'll wait till you grow some hair and then I will pull it.

Oh, I love my children to pieces. I love my niece and nephew just as much. But now when I see a pudgy little Buddah baby in a shopping cart at Wal*Mart I don't engage it in a cooing conversation. I don't want to kiss its chubby little toes or smell its little neck. I want to run. Like the wind. Because their parents might find out I used to babysit. And then they'll ask me if I'd consider taking their child. And then I have to tell them no, I don't like kids anymore.

My friend, Trishia, told me that life gets a lot better when your last one goes to Kindergarten - they're independent enough to make their own PB&J, they sleep through the night, they are very well potty trained and they can tell you why they're crying. I refused to believe her for years. I thought it a horrendous notion that I would ever NOT want to make a sandwich for my child. Why, that is my job!!! I marveled at my friends who said they never regretted their tubal ligations or their hubands's vasectomies. I couldn't fathom a time in my life that the prospect of my uterus gathering cobwebs and dust and my husband shooting blanks would sound like a good and desirable thing. But let me just say that two hours ago I was sitting on my toilet, peeing on a plastic stick, holding my breath to the point of light-headedness because what if a plus sign shows up?? I would've been fine if it had been positive, but I'm really okay that it wasn't.

Paul's insurance kicks in in two days and we're both talking vasectomy - I'm tired of peeing on plastic sticks if I'm a day or two late. We are happy where we are. We are happy with our tween who thinks Hannah Montana is the most talented artist in the universe, our son who thinks he's all that when he make a basket in a regulation height goal, and our almost-Kindergartener who thinks the tooth fairy is the most magical being to ever live.

My oldest is a few years away from babysitting and she can hardly wait. She's really good with kids and she's going to be a great babysitter. I'll pass the slobber and spitup torch on to her. Along with the wisdom that feeding chocolate Malt-o-Meal with chocolate chips in it to the kids she is watching right before their parents are due to arrive home will make her THE coolest babysitter ever in their eyes and will drive their parents batty. Then she can collect her pay and walk out the door with a smile on her face.


Going Like Sixty said...

Diva, we have a mutual admiration society. For not wanting to write about babysitting, you sure cranked it out!

Mrs. E said...

I love babies and little kids but I never wanted to babysit or have a day care. We talk to babies at restaurants and stores or wherever. However, to me the best thing about babies and little kids is that when you are tired of them or they have stinky diapers or are fussy, you can hand them off to mommy and daddy. Try to enjoy the rest of your vacation.

Betty said...

I love my kids, too, but after two miscarriages and then two healthy births, my hubby had a vasectomy and I must admit it was a relief. Especially when he ran off with my best friend, and I realized he wouldn't be able to have any children with her. LOL

The Darling Duchess said...

Diva - Nicky adored you too but dang Paul meant the world to him :) I completely agree... Babies are so cute from so far away but now, I run screaming too. The vasectomy is a Godsend... no more little ones for us. Funny.. Cass is excited about babysitting tooooooooo... must mean we have to be the adults now! HA!

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