My hands are running out of fingers to count how many times another adult has complimented my daughter to me in the last few weeks. I have to say it is one of the coolest experiences of life to hear someone else say something great about your kid and I’m grateful to those who have taken the time to share their opinions with me. I’ve heard everything from, “She’s so sweet” and “My kids LOVE her”, to “She is a really hard worker”. They’re all true.
One of the things I have enjoyed watching her do over the last couple of years is hone her babysitting skills. Ever the great observer, Samantha took copious mental notes of all her babysitters and slipped them into basic categories of “cool” and “not cool”. The uncool ones watched TV and didn’t talk much or play with them while her favorites took the time to make cookies with them, play games, and some even brought bags of toys from home that were age/sex appropriate. Now when she goes babysitting she totes along her own bag of tricks containing, among other things, Pet Shops and lightsabers.
Last week when Samantha was at camp I got a phone call from one of her “regulars” asking if she was available for Saturday night. Unable to get a hold of her to ask, and knowing she wouldn’t be home until just a few hours before she would need to babysit, I wasn’t sure if she would be up for it. (Had she slept at all the last four days on that plush, inch thick sleeping pad she would have put under her sleeping bag? Had the girls in her tent caused drama? Did she get injured doing the high ropes course? Did she have to sing too many stupid camp songs?) I didn’t know, so I made the following deal: “Tell you what. I will say yes for her, but if she comes home and doesn’t feel up to it then I will be her backup,” the mom and I agreed.
After Samantha arrived home it became clear that she was NOT, indeed, in a good position to go take care of three little kids under age 5. I notified the mom that I would be driving over to do the job instead of her coming to pick up my daughter and we hung up. Two minutes later the phone rang and I answered, “Hello?”
“Uhhh…is this Samantha’s mom?”
A little boy was on the other end. A little boy who was expecting a young, fun 14-year-old to come babysit, not a has-been with crow’s feet and an aversion to Nickelodeon.
“Yes, this is Samantha’s mom.”
His breathing was a little uneven, heavy into the receiver as if laboring diligently to make sure I got the message. “Can yooouuu…weelll, I was wondering…could you bring that whip that Samantha usually brings?”
“Sure,” I promised. He seemed satisfied and then the younger sister got on the line.
“Aaaand, can you please bring the Pet Shops?”
“Absolutely,” I agreed.
The mom got on the phone and teasingly suggested, “Why don’t you just have Samantha pack you a little bag before you come.”
After hanging up I trudged upstairs to find a waning teenager on her bed, minutes from blissful slumber on a for real mattress. I explained my situation and the requests that had been made in preparation for her absence and she began to gather her things for me.
“What whip is he talking about?” I asked.
She pulled out one of Drew’s Indiana Jones whips and said, “Okay. Here’s what you do. You’ll go outside and the boy will have the whip. He will try to swing it at your legs and when he gets you, you fall down and play dead. It’s like tag, except he is always ‘IT’.”
“Also, the middle child isn’t going to be nice when it’s time for bed. She will probably tell you she doesn’t like you, but don’t take it personally.”
“She will also probably want you to lie down with her until she goes to sleep.”
“The baby is going to scream when the parents leave, but if she has her binky and her blanket she’ll be fine in a few minutes.”
She patted my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, “Good luck.” Then she fell back onto her bed.
I stood there holding Samantha’s Mary Poppins bag and wondered, for a moment, what I might be able to bribe her with to get me out of this. Too late, she was already snoring.
She is sweet.
Kids love her.
She is a hard worker.
It’s all true.