I was an amazing babysitter when I was a teenager. I’m not bragging. I’ve got credentials.
My favorite charge is on my Facebook page, and last time I saw her (and it had been a few years), she gave me an Eye of Horus necklace because she saw it and remembered I used to draw that on everything in my high school years. Her brother, who just recently moved out of his parents’ home across from my parents’ house, would always stop to say hi to me no matter what boy or girl was with him. My first chargers ran into my dad a few months ago and became excited over the fact that I had moved back to town and that I had children of my own. Though they are both out of college, they begged, “Tell her we’ll watch her boys! We’ll play the smell game!” Let’s not forget my little cousins, all of whom I had at one time or another changed their diapers. Every Christmas they would recount stories of my babysitting exploits (after they retold the family lore of something I did long before they were even a thought in their parents’ heads). “My favorite time was when she took C and I to the zoo with her high school friends.” “One time she made me order the pizza because I kept dialing numbers the same time she was on the phone in my parents’ bedroom.” “She used to do my makeup so I was a princess.” “She used to let me stay up longer because I was the oldest, and we would talk about X-men or baseball players.” “Remember her treat bag!”
Yup. I kicked ass.
Lately I began to wonder where was that kid who thought on her feet and solved random childcare problems. Like the smell game. The girls were bored. I was bored and desperate. I sat the eldest one in a stool and made her close her eyes as I placed a spice under nose, making her guess. It became a household favorite game. Like the prize bag filled with candy and little toys for kids who listened to me. Like how I slowly got one of my chargers to go to bed when I babysat. Every time I babysat, I suggested a new bedtime routine. First just staying in his room playing with toys with me. Then the next time reading books with me. Then the next time playing by himself with his toys and the nightlight. Then he looked at books with the nightlight. The next time he went to bed without protesting. Like the time I brushed a boy’s teeth with Baking Soda because he would brush with toothpaste. I introduced him to the old fashion way, and I never had a problem after that.
So why can’t I be creative like that now?
My mom pointed out that I had my kids longer than a few hours a day. Her belief is patience is eroded by time spent with children. She may have a point.
But I’m learning to look at a problem from a slightly different angle. That seems to be working. Like yesterday. I chose Tornado S’s clothes. I helped him into them as I listened to him go on and on about Star Wars. Once he was done, he realized he was ahead of his brother. We raced to the bathroom, and I brushed my teeth with him, making him brush longer than 10 seconds. Once he was on his way on chores, he could keep going by himself. He didn’t lay on the floor day dreaming. He didn’t whine that he couldn’t do something (even though he could.). He got done with his morning routine in the fastest time ever.
Now if only I could apply this to more of my child rearing.