“Because I said so.”
“No more juice, try water.”
For the past few days, I wore the shoes of babysitter and began to know what it’s like being a mom. I don’t have kids of my own, but my advice is if you want to know what it’s like, go babysitting–the more kids you sit for, the better you learn how to deal with them. I took the opportunity recently and have been sitting for four kids. That’s right, f-o-u-r. A 2-years-old, a 3-years-old, a 5-years-old, and a 6-years-old. I thought I knew all about multi-tasking, until then.
The mother and father work odd jobs trying to make ends meet, and had posted a classified ad on the Web to secure help. I found the posting, applied, and met with the mother and father. “Don’t you have any relatives to help you?” I asked the mom. “Yes, but they are elderly and don’t have a lot of energy to keep up with the kids.” During this interview, all four kids surrounded us and were “checking me out”. I could tell they were curious as to who I was, but I kept my focus on mom. After I pondered the distance to travel back and forth to the home (approximately 37 minutes from me) and the pay (which barely covered for two kids alone at day-care), I let my heart rule my mind and decided to take the job. Was I in for it.
For the first few days, my sitting job began at 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. I didn’t have to cook for the kids, since mom or dad would have already provided the meals. I just had to share them out. In case I had to cook, I was given a list of each child’s allergies. I learned that toddlers could be allergic to anything, but one of the toddlers I sat for was allergic to soy, mango, and egg and liked to eat whatever their bigger sister or brother had (which meant getting used to saying the word, “No”.)
I also saw a distinct difference when mom and dad left the house. When mom was departing, all kids would run to the front door behind her, especially with the youngest one clamoring to her leg with amazing resoluteness of not letting go. Once mom got him off her leg and ran quickly out the door, the little one cried and cried. Each minute he cried louder. Now, from my earlier days I knew that when a kid is crying after he doesn’t get what he wants, he cries and if his wants are not met, he cries louder…a word to the wise, don’t give the kid attention…ultimately, he’ll stop crying. Now, when dad left home, the kids would run to the door, and the littlest one would wave “buh-bye” and head back inside. “Wow,” I thought, “Mom, must really be loved” (isn’t that how it is though?) *I’m smiling*
Since I didn’t have the car seats in my car, I wasn’t allowed to take them outside or even to the playground just a few blocks away. The farthest I could take them was in the backyard to play. Other than that, we were stuck inside. So, I reverted to games or books or even homework. The oldest child was in day school for an hour and sometimes had homework to do, but getting her do it was the hard part. I found that when I started reading or offered an incentive, the girl would acquiesce. But as much as I disliked it, I had the kids watch T.V., one of their favorites: NICK Jr. I don’t know what it is about that channel, but miraculously all the kids would place themselves on the couch and watch the shows with such devotion, it allowed time to run by. I sat with them and even began liking the shows. Shows like: Yo Gabba Gabba, Kai-Lan, Dora the Explorer, Max & Ruby, Team Umizoomi…I was being entertained and so were the kids, and they were actually learning, which was great. (The sad part was, when I got back to my home, I would tune into these shows to watch them.) At this time the kids were getting used to me and when I said “No” they obeyed and even the littlest one started calling me, “Mommy.” I, of course, had to correct the kid and politely reminded him who his mom was.
After about two weeks of babysitting the four children, I had gotten another opportunity to babysit elsewhere that was closer to home and ended my job with the family of six. (They were able to find someone.) My last day was a half-day and before I left out the door, the littlest one, who was the most mischievous, wanted to give me a kiss on the cheek. Do I dare say I wanted to shed a tear? It might have happened, I can’t tell you, but I truly enjoyed watching those kids. They were a handful, but truly a life lesson in disguise. I promised to visit them and bring them all brownies (hopefully one that is made without egg).