Monday, October 23, 2006

Parent Trap

This weekend I was a parent for twenty-seven hours. The couple I babysit for hadn't been spending much time together, so they had me come and stay overnight with the kids so they could "go on a hike." I hope this meant "stay in a hotel room and watch cable TV," but I don't really understand the restorative power of nature, I guess. I like a hike, but when I'm trying to kick back, I prefer beer and steak. But that's neither here nor there. For twenty-seven hours, I was in charge of three kids under the age of ten.

I have got to give it up to the parents of the world, especially the single ones-- being a parent is not easy. I didn't even have to make any huge life-altering decisions for these kids. I just had to keep them alive and in one piece for a day, and even I was getting frustrated with the baby whining when she was tired and the older two pummeling each other out of boredom. I had to resort to pulling up Mythbusters clips on YouTube to keep them quiet before I put the Incredibles on the DVD player for a movie night.

"I'm excited for when Mom and Dad come home," the eldest said. It hurt a little, but I remember getting around to missing my Mom when she went on vacations without Sam and I and left us with a grandparent. You have to share a room with your brother, you're bored with all the toys you usually love, your grandmother insists you keep a large towel wrapped around your damp hair until it's totally dry while your Mom has bigger things to worry about and just lets you walk around with wet hair. Because your grandmother only let you have an Instant Breakfast shake for breakfast, you're hungry by 10am and she won't feed you until 1pm. I imagine the kids felt similar with me-- I was grumpily calling for caffeine, couldn't fix the broken teatherball string, didn't know what to do with them all afternoon because they were too tired to do anything but not tired enough to crash, and didn't pronounce character's names in stories correctly.

As much as I wish I could see a family in my future anywhere in the next ten years, it was really nice to hit the packie on the way home, grab a six-pack and crash on my couch without having to worry about anybody but me. And, due to the healing power of Brooklyn Lager, I wasn't even particularly concerned with myself.

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