Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Check out these really fun ... HOUSEPLANTS!

Why is it that the thought of having a baby is so appealing, but the thought of having full-blown children terrifies me to no end?

I guess because even with the never-ending dirty diapers and round-the-clock care, babies won't remember if you screw up. And they haven't learned to talk yet, so they'll never call you on it. Kids, on the other hand, are damn smart. And they'll be the first one to tell you if you're doing something wrong.

So when Jerry called me from work Saturday morning to ask if we could watch his sister's kids for a few hours that afternoon, my heart seized up. Amy and her husband wanted to go to the annual home show and knew their kids would rather die than look at siding and grout samples.

"But our house is even less exciting than that!" I said. I mean, we have nothing to entertain kids with. NOTHING. Well, besides Toby. But I didn't think we could expect him to enthrall a 13-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 3-year old for four hours. As in, "Here you go kids! Play with the dog! We'll be over here being boring adults and paying our bills and balancing our checkbook and stuff!"

"It'll be fine," Jerry said. "I told Amy to pack some stuff for them. Besides, it'll only be a few hours. When it's time for them to leave, you'll wish they could stay longer."

Right. This coming from the guy who has the easy end of the job. He'll sit with the two older boys and play video games while I have to entertain a toddler with house plants. Maybe we could pick off the dead leaves. WEE!

But I knew there really wasn't a decision to be made. I mean, they're the best kids on the planet and that's what families do. They help each other out. Besides, maybe sometime in the future we'll need them to watch our kids while we go check out siding and grout samples.

When Jerry got home from work, he found me in a panic. I was upstairs in the attic, frantically digging through boxes we haven't unpacked since the move, trying to find the lone box of crayons I know we have. Somewhere.

"What are you doing, crazy lady?" he asked.

"We have crayons! I know it!"

"Kelly, relax," he said, laughing. "It's not a big deal."

"It IS a big deal! I don't know what I was thinking wanting children! We're outnumbered, they'll swarm us. Do we even have enough food in the house?"

But there wasn't any more time for pep-talks. The doorbell rang. We knew because Toby flew down the steps barking like a maniac.

On the way to the door, I couldn't help but remember that I was babysitting by the time I was a teenager. And I was damn good at it. I've had so many parents tell me over the years that I was their children's favorite.

What's changed? I guess the knowledge that I can ruin them. In the course of a few hours I can completely destroy their chance at a stable future. Just by accidentally swearing or something.

In a matter of seconds our quiet home became a war zone. The guys plopped on the couch and hooked up their game system while Little Miss Emily decided it was time run around chasing Toby until she caught him, all the while screaming at levels detectable by our neighbors. In a 14-block radius.

As predicted, Jerry hung out with the boys while I played with Emily. I asked her to show me what was in the bag she brought. Toys! Glorious toys! First we did a Strawberry Shortcake puzzle. Then we played a retarded version of Dora dominoes. Then we played with her freaky polar bear-looking stuffed animal that snored and whined and moved its limbs, sending Toby into an epileptic fit.

And that was it. The bag was empty and we burned about 22 minutes. Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

So we played dominoes again. And tucked the bear into one of my silver serving bowls and found a really, really, really quiet spot ... shhh ... for it to sleep in on the kitchen table. Then we set the oven timer for five minutes later so we would know when to wake him up.

Then Emily reached into her bag and pulled out a Strawberry Shortcake video. A video! An HOUR-LONG VIDEO! So we went up to my bedroom, plugged in the mini DVD player and chilled out on the bed. But trying to keep Toby and Emily from killing each other while balancing the DVD player proved to be a difficult task. First of all, if the disc bumped and I had to watch that "berry berry fun birthday" crap a second time, I just might kill myself. Second, Toby and Emily have a lot of limbs. And when all eight of them are flailing around in a wrestling match of sorts near my face, I'm not pleased.

Miraculously, we made it through the video with only one bump and restart. I am now dumber for having watched it, but Emily seemed very pleased with the "fun little baby DVD player like in her car." Whatever rocks her boat.

Next, I realized I was starving and stupidly decided I couldn't wait another hour until the kids were gone. So I asked everyone if they wanted anything, mentioning that I had made a fresh batch of homemade chili the day before. What I should've done is gotten out a notebook and written down their orders, waitress style. Because, of course, everyone wanted something different.

Nate: "Um, I'll take some popcorn if you have it."
Ben: "I'll try the chili, please."
Emily: "Chili. Um, ew, it looks gross. Maybe grilled cheese? No wait! ... Peanut butter and jelly. No wait! ... Are those cookies? Ooh! And string cheese! Wait! ... Is that popcorn?"
Jerry: "I'll eat the four sandwiches you just made for Emily that she suddenly decided she doesn't want anymore."
Kelly: "Can I eat now?"

And even though I'm pretty sure more popcorn kernels ended up on the floor and in between our couch cushions than in anyone's mouth, and even though it was crazy and hectic and I was absolutely EXHAUSTED after only a few hours, I did have a good time. There will be much less hesitation the next time.

But after the door closed and the three of us realized the whirlwind was over, I swear even Toby looked slightly relieved.


Naomi said...

Why is it that the thought of having a baby is so appealing, but the thought of having full-blown children terrifies me to no end?

Absolutely! Just about the time I think I've overcome my phobias of pregnancy and childbirth, I think about offspring wanting cell phones and cars and alcohol...Ack! Maybe I should leave the reproductive duties to my super-mom Amish-Menno sister?!

gora_kagaz said...

i agree wholeheartedly with your first statement. whenever i have to watch my cousins, i feel so useless. but they usually end up entertaining themselves, so it's okay :]

Maria said...

Yea, the first time I babysat I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I seriously wondered why anyone would trust their 2 and 5 year old children with a 15 year old teenager. After the initial shock wore off I realized it wasn't too bad, all I had to do was promise them ice cream if they were good. Worked on them for the next 5 years!

ajandmac said...


that's SO cute! but i do have to warn you, the Baby Einstein videos are much, MUCH worse.

way to persevere!

the plainsman said...

It will be really funny when little Emily grows up and reads this post, remembering when they stayed with Aunt Kelly and Uncle Jerry that first afternoon, and..., and..., and Toby, too!

chelsea said...

i think its harder to watch other people's kids, than your own (i don't have any yet i have a handful of cousins under 10). plus, with your own kids you have the power to tell them that too tell them that strawberry shortcake will turn them into a strawberry, so it kinda makes it easier!

Wendy said...

I love the idea of a baby...even a toddler. But, older kids terrify me. What do you do with them? How do your raise them to ensure that they grow up into fine little adults? Allowance or no allowance? At what age do you allow them to have a cell phone? How do you keep them safe? How do you not let them down? I could go on and on.

Pauline said...

I think that I'm just not cut out for having kids. I look at them as if they were foreign objects, when asking me to play with them. Play? Play what? Red light, green light was so much more entertaining to my generation.

Pauline said...

Oh gosh, here I am double commenting. I noticed most people said they loved the thought of babies, but not kids. It's opposite for me. I want to skip right to the 10th year. I know all the ways to not parents a child, and everything I would do different. I want a chance to prove people wrong, that I *can* do better, and will.
End rant.

Sarah said...

Children! *shudders* Kids scare me more than raging fires and deep water. I don't know what to do with them, what to say to them, or anything! It'll be a long time before I have any.

grace said...

LOL your title makes me laugh every time i see it, cuz i can actually visualize you doing that lol said...

Well you can always do the stand-by in my area.

Go to the bowling alley to get trashed while your kids run rampant everywhere.

Then when the kid nearly gets crushed under the giant gum-ball machine he decided to steal from, give me a dirty look because I dared to catch it on the way down.

Yeah, I see your meth-mouth, Bitch! I was more than happy to attept to keep one of your 10 welfare checks alive!

Sorry..... kinda vented there a bit. :)

Kay said...

My girlfriend has a kid, she lives in Australia and I live in the US. I'm nervous about what happens if I decide to move in with her. Will this kid accept me? Will she resent me when she gets older? I feel your pain.

Ray said...

Hehe, funny post. And I agree babies are WAY MORE appealing than the HORRID thought of having to deal with a 5 year old, 7 year old, 10 year old and then a teenager! I mean if they stood babies forever I'd be okay with that. I love babies. But then they start talking and the like, and I'm not sure about that. Which is why I don't want any children! I'm not the parent type, that I know for sure. It's just not my thing. But you'll get the hang of it. When they come next time you'll be better. Plus, with your own kid you'll be awesome because your a great person. It'll just take some getting used to I guess. Or it'll probably just come naturally.

Take care, Kelly.

Teme said...

LOL! What a wonderful description of the afternoon. I felt like I was there -- brought me right back to all the times I've (usually reluctantly) agreed to watch other people's kids. For some reason, other people's kids are always harder than one's own.

Nutkin's Ho said...

Kids still terrify me, even though I'm *okay* with them. haha

I blame it on being an only child who spent too much time with old people. ;) My parents were 36 & 38 when I was born, so there's always been a huge age gap.