Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two Kids, A Dog and a Large Glass of Expensive Wine

Not by choice, but by nature, I am uncomfortable around other people's children.  They are strange, small creatures who look at you with innocent eyes and expectancy, waiting to be entertained.  It's so unnerving to me that every time I find myself around someone else's children I wind up acting like I would around a dog.  

Step 1)  Pat child on head.  
Step 2)  Smile and speak loud, high-pitched statements at said child like, "You're a good girl!".  

It's awkward for everyone involved and reinforces my nagging insecurity that I am going to raise a child that either thinks it's a dog or behaves like a 40-year-old when it's 10.  I was going to go back and correct myself in the previous sentence, but I think the fact that I used "it's" as a pronoun when referring to my future child, just further illustrates the deep disconnect between me and my maternal instinct.

You can imagine my fright when one of my favorite cousins asked me to babysit for her at the last minute yesterday.  I was visiting for the day when she had to run out for a couple hours. Now, having spent a few hours prior with the whole family, I was slightly more comfortable around these teeter-tottering little people than I normally would be, but that's not saying much. Perhaps sensing my fear or perhaps because I blurted out the word "wine" like someone with turrets syndrome, my cousin's husband whipped out a bottle of the good stuff and poured me what was the equivalent of a bowl of my new favorite Cabernet.  

Halfway through the bowl of wine, I was feeling much more comfortable, enjoying The Hound and the Fox Sequel # 576 and making up scary stories at the four-year-old's request.  Then, just before the 1 and a half year old's bedtime ( I know - in baby speak I'm supposed to say how many months she is),  the half bowl of wine hit me and I had to pee.  I told the kids I'd be right back and headed toward the bathroom just a few steps away, petrified that as I emptied my bladder, they would somehow learn how to skateboard, build a ramp in the house and crack their heads open trying to do Ollies.  What I didn't expect was the 1 and 1/2 year old to teeter as fast as she could behind me, appearing as if out of nowhere, just as I was about to unbutton.

Now, I am sure, for parents this is common and not even thought about.  However, as someone who's babysitting experience does not extend beyond the number of fingers she has, and as Aunt UnPlain Jane, it's a little awkward.  

Pop Quiz Hotshot

You're babysitting and have to pee.  The child follows you into the bathroom.  You really have to pee. Do you:

a)  close the door on a crying child's face so you can take down your pants and go in peace, or
b)  drop trou in front of the about-to-scream-if-you-shut-that-door child's face?

I went with A and here's why:

I could deal with five minutes of crying and my own intense fear that these two were going to break their arms/heads/legs/insert body part of choice.  I could not deal with the thought of little Suzie watching me pee then announcing to mommy and daddy later, "I saw Aunt UnPlainJane's Hoo-Hoo on the Potty Today!"

It made sense at the moment.  

Magically, thanks to either the wine or my cousin raising insanely good children, putting them to bed was a snap.  Before I knew it I was on the couch, back in my comfort-zone, surrounded by adults and downing bowl of wine number two while thinking to myself what a great mother I'm going to be one day.  So long as there's wine.  Lots of wine.

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