Having kids under your authority for any x amount of hours opens your eyes to a lot of things.
1. They're a lot of work. I kind of knew this already having witnessed my brothers produce three children each in the last seven years but this concept is magnified when they're at your mercy for everything: safety, finances, conversation, direction, intellect, discernment. I think I exerted almost every fiber of my being trying to plan and direct a Saturday visit to a local book festival, disciplining when necessary while being loving and gracious and not overbearing but of course not forgetting to be fun all at the same time. Oh, and making sure they weren't abducted, too. Kind of important.
2. Playgrounds are freakin' stressful. When I have kids, I'm sitting just far enough away that I know they're having fun and they're safe. I don't need to know that girl #1 butted in line and now my niece and her are having this weird unspoken staring contest. I don't need to know that my niece is taking way too long on the slide or that she's a little timid to go down it and therefore holding up the line. I don't need to know that the moves the girls are doing on the monkey bars might warrant an ambulance. I don't need to be the playground police, stressing over every broken cultural rule. I just need to take a deep breath, open the flask, and drink it down.
3. Radios aren't safe for kids anymore. I know, that statement makes me very old now, which I am, but it's true. I thought one of our local stations 106.5 or 107.3 was a safe place for young ears but I was wrong. Although Rihanna's "S&M" song has an infectious dance beat and the girls loved it for oh, three precious seconds, I had to turn the station. I also had to turn off Ke$ha as a sheer matter of principle. Which left me with Avril Lavigne (Hannah Montana) singing about how all of her life she was good and now she's doing whatever she wants (hey thanks Avril, so when my niece becomes a coke addict and ends up on Intervention, I'll play your song as a memento). Of course I found out AFTER the fact the song was called "What the Hell" (how apropos on so many levels) so the next time they hear that song and Mom asks where they heard it they'll trace it back to my car which will guarantee me an unfit babysitter for life and probably also in the afterlife if they do end up being cokeheads on Intervention screaming unpleasant things in the same lyrical vein as Lavigne. The other choice which I settled on was Katy Perry's "Firework" which is pretty harmless (right? RIGHT?) and if it's not, well, it was the lesser of the three evils and we ended up listening to it twice on two different radio stations because I was overly stressing trying to decipher a song's message against a seductive beat in a matter of five seconds. Next time, I'm bringing pre-approved CDs.
4. Sometimes kids know best. Sometimes they know how to disarm a situation better than you can. Sometimes they know how to be the leader and garner the support of the majority more graciously than you. Sometimes they're smarter than you. Sometimes they need pure unconditional love instead of tough love.
All in all, my weekend of baby-sitting, celebrating a 2-year-old's birthday party, and more baby-sitting was incredibly fulfilling and always a learning experience. I know kids are in my future but just not now. I think taking care of myself and Carebear will do for now.
The Weekend Gallery:
Annapolis Book Festival
- Entertainment featured at the festival worth watching: Mutts Gone Nuts
- FML Moment: Realizing after we left the festival that NPR's Michele Norris was on a panel discussing race in America
Chuck E. Cheese Celebration
The birthday boy "rode" in a car which took your picture each time and he ended up collecting a handful of photos throughout his time there. This one was my favorite, of course.