...I used to say that I wanted nine kids? Um, I'm sorry, but that is no longer happening. I am spending this week with the four lovely kiddos that I babysat for last summer. They are on April break, and so am I (though not really, since I am working), so we're spending the week together. Oh. my. goodness. They are tough! They made me cry last summer, so it's not surprising that in the past two days they've already frustrated me several hundred times.
The saving grace is that their parents are AMAZING. Their mom recently took a new job 3 hours away, so she is there all week and only sees them on the weekends. Their dad is playing the single parent role--I have no idea how he does it. I talked to their mom today and it was so refreshing to hear her validate my frustrations with the kids--in fact, she was the one to mention them before I even brought them up. Talk about a mom who knows her kids and is real about who they are!
Between teaching, nannying, and babysitting for the better part of my 25 years, I've learned a lot about kids. And I will be the first to tell you: being a parent is the most difficult job you will ever have! It is 100%, 24/7, until the day you die WORK. But, the rewards are incredibly beautiful. I see it every day that I spend with these kids, and I'm only the babysitter. Sure, they piss you off and make you want to kick something several times a day, but they also hug and love you, look up to you, and are utterly surprised (and impressed) that you can see them sneaking into the snack cabinet even when you look like you're sleeping (yup, I pulled that trick today).
The more I do "parent-y" and grown-up things, the more I appreciate my parents for all that they went through trying to raise us to be good kids. Honestly, it's a wonder more kids aren't more screwed up. Is that pessimistic? I just mean, wow, what a job it is to raise good human beings. But, the fact of the matter is, when you choose to be a parent, that's the job you're taking on: you are the creator (well, of course, after God) of this little human being, and it's your JOB to make sure they turn out decent. Jeez, makes you think twice about parenthood, huh?
I was recently babysitting for another family that I've been working with this year, and I ran into one of those inevitable situations: an argument with an 8-year-old. Oy! She wanted to know "Why?" "Why do I have to eat my fruit instead of a cookie?" "Why do I have to put the dishes away?" "Why do I need to wash my hands before snack?" Should I continue? No, I'll spare you. You get the jist because you've heard it before. But, I bet you haven't heard my response!! All of these questions absolutely call for the "Because I said so" or the "Don't argue with me," but I went with something different, and it worked. I responded: "Because it is my job to make sure you being a good person and (insert your command here) will help to make you one." I guess it sounds sort of cheesy, but luckily, it's just the kind of cheese that kids like. Because they get it. Because you are giving them a response that means something. Don't assume that an 8-year-old (or even a 4-year-old) isn't smart enough for a real response and intelligent conversation.
So, when all is said and done, I may not want nine kids anymore, but I am psyched to start (someday) the most important job I'll ever have.