At 5:30 this afternoon, I drove Meelyn and Aisling to church so that they could go to Mass. They went alone today because they have their first-ever babysitting gig tonight and they won't be finished until around midnight. The parents of the two little boys they're minding are going to the Rascal Flatts concert at the Verizon Center, and it's sure to be a crowded and trafficky mess over there.
It amazes me, somehow, that my girls are old enough, first of all, to be dropped off at the church doors and I can know that they're not going to go inside and make paper airplanes out of the bulletins, or step on an elderly lady's feet as they push past her to get a seat in a pew, or sit there playing games on a mobile phone, which is something I saw a teenage girl doing a few weeks ago, with her mother right next to her.
Meelyn and Aisling are babysitting for the two boys at our house because it made more sense for their dad (who works with my husband) to drive the boys and my husband here, for a number of complicated reasons, most of which have to do with the transference of car seats from our vehicle to theirs late at night. Anyone who has ever wrestled with a toddler car seat at the top of the morning after a good night's sleep, a well-rounded breakfast and a cup of good coffee knows what it can be like to haul one of those things from one car to another, let alone doing it at night when you're worn out from sitting on the grass listening to really loud music.
I personally would rather wrestle with a kangaroo.
It's strange to me that this is their first babysitting job (well, they've looked after their young cousins from time to time, so they know how to give bottles to babies and change diapers and all that), but this is their first non-family experience. I was an ardent babysitter from the time I was about fourteen -- I even worked for two summers as a nanny for a doctor's family in my hometown when I was a teenager. But I worked back in the day when it was possible for someone to call my parents' house and say, "Hello, is this Shelley? My name is Mrs. Brown and I got your name from Mrs. Johnson, who was talking to Mrs. Smith, who told her that you were an excellent, reliable babysitter. Could you babysit for my kids, Johnny, Joanie, Jimmy and Jessie next Saturday? They're eight, six, three and ten months and I'm sure you'll just love them..."
Nowadays, my husband and I wouldn't even consider letting the girls babysit for any family we haven't known for at least twenty years. We also would feel it necessary to insist on running a criminal background check on both the mother and the father, with an extra emphasis on making sure that the father isn't some weirdo perv sex offender who likes to make passes at the teenage babysitters. I really am just kidding about the lie detector test and the sex offender things. Well, maybe only partly kidding. But you all know what I mean. You don't just send your kids into anybody's house nowadays. I hate it that things are like that.
Another problem that prohibits their babysitting endeavors is that just about all the families we know who have young children live in Indianapolis, which is where we don't live. Our friends generally have babysitters who live in their neighborhoods. Our own neighborhood consists either of middle-aged professional people whose children are already grown, or elderly folks who have lived in their houses for decades, or small-time drug dealers who live in the decrepit old mansions owned by the slumlords who are the bane of our street. Those people do have kids, but there's not much opportunity there, unless you're willing to take your fee in Vicodin. Which, thanks but no thanks.
The boys are at the house now, aged six and almost-three, and they are sooooo cute, I can hardly stand it. I WANT TO BE A BABYSITTER TOO!!!! The six year old is happily playing a game of Battleship with Aisling and cheerfully coaching her on how to make her guesses. The almost-three is snoozing on the couch; Meelyn just tried to wake him up, on his mama's orders, but when she gently shook him and said his name, he barely opened his eyes. So she sat him up, propped against the pillowy cushion, and he immediately went back to sleep again and fell over sideways. She asked me what she should do, and I counseled her to let him sleep another twenty minutes and then try again.
Meelyn is making mac-and-cheese for a kid-friendly supper and there's a movie to watch later and also Candyland, plus we have dozens of books for little ones of all ages. I think the evening will pass quickly, and if all goes well, the boys' parents have offered the girls another job in a couple of weeks.
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