Last spring, my neighbor came bounding up to my front door to deliver some exciting news. Her daughter, a law school student, had just gotten engaged.
Wow, I thought, how was it possible that the ponytailed teenager who lived across the street was old enough to go to law school? Or to be getting hitched? Wasn't it just yesterday when she was babysitting my kids?
There are few things in life that will make you feel as old as finding out the babysitter is getting married.
But just this past week I discovered what one of those few things is. It's realizing your own baby is old enough to be a babysitter.
I think I was eleven, too, the same age as my daughter is now, when I first took the lives of children I was not related to into my own hands. They were a family I didn't yet know well, with a four-year-old daughter and two sons, one six, the other not quite a year old.
I remember being a bit apprehensive going over for that first evening job. The four and six year old didn't seem too scary. But as a sixth grader, the idea of being responsible for an 11-month-old seemed pretty daunting. His parents didn't seem concerned though, and after telling me to help myself to the impressive supply of Hostess snack cakes in the pantry, they left the name of the restaurant they were going to on the fridge, and said they'd be home by midnight.
As it turns out, my anxiety was warranted; within 20 minutes of my employers walking out the door, the baby fell down a short flight of stairs. Panicked, I called my mom who came rushing up the street. She took a look at the goose egg on the little boy's forehead (which if my memory serves me was more like the size of something an ostrich would have laid), helped me ice it and recommended I keep him up for at least a few hours to make sure he didn't have a concussion.
And then she went home. My mom was not much of a worrier.
I spent the rest of the evening carrying the baby around the living room while trying to keep his two older siblings entertained with non-stop games of Operation and Twister. I finally put everyone to sleep around 10, grabbed a Twinkie and turned on The Love Boat.
I figured I might as well enjoy some part of what was likely to be my first and last babysitting gig.
When the parents came home a few hours later I explained to them what happened. We went upstairs, checked on the kids, who were thankfully all breathing and rouseable.
I was shocked when the parents then asked me if I was available the next weekend; those kids became my steady Saturday night employment all through middle school.
Hopefully things will go a little less stressfully at the onset for my daughter, who just became a card carrying, certified baby sitter after taking a one-day course at the Red Cross this past week.
She loved the class and now knows quite a bit about rescue breathing, age-appropriate game playing, and spoon-feeding. She also learned how to change a diaper, bandage a skinned knee and feels, if push came to shove, she could deliver back blows and abdominal thrusts in a choking emergency.
She's even pulled together business cards and smartly rejected the tagline suggested by her brothers-"Hope's Babysitting Service: For a babysitter who won't actually sit on your baby".
Yes, I think she's far more prepared for her first job that I was at the same age. But just in case, I will sit by the phone all evening, ready to rush down the street if she has any concerns.
Worrying must skip a generation.
Oh, and want to know something else that makes you feel really old? It's finding out the baby you used to baby sit now has his own baby.
In a fit of nostalgia, I just Googled the 11-month-old boy who fell down the stairs on my inaugural night of childcare so many years ago. And it looks like that goose egg didn't get him down. He's in real estate, married and, based on Facebook photos, appears to have a young son himself.
It's a shame they don't live in town. My daughter could give him her card.comments powered by Disqus
This post will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging. There is no question I completely enjoyed my break from the kids. But my biggest discovery this past weekend was that it was the kids, perhaps, who needed a break even more.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.
My 11th-grade and 8th-grade sons have heard "the chant" for years. You know which one I'm talking about -- the ESFY (U?) chant (I'm not sure what the parenting post rules are for writing two of the more forbidden four-letter words in the English language) that appears to have both Barry Alvarez and Chancellor Blank quite concerned.
There are many different criteria parents use when evaluating which pre-school programs will be right for their children. Some parents might be looking for an educational philosophy that stresses creativity and community. Others may desire an option that revolves around learning through play or is more academic in approach.
We spent hours poring over name books and checking for inappropriate initial combinations. We looked at meanings, variant spellings and popularity charts. And, as I am sure every parent does, we thought we'd hit the name jackpot with each of our kids. But there are always surprises.
A generation or two ago, the pediatrician was the guy (yes, they were mostly guys) who gave your kids shots and prescribed big bottles of antibiotics for every sniffle. Madison's Dipesh Navsaria is a different breed of pediatrician.
Gamehole Con will be the premier tabletop gaming convention in the region. And with Wisconsin being the birthplace of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as the nation's leader in gaming stores per capita, it kind of makes sense that the convention's organizers want the Dairy State to be known for more than just cheese, beer and bratwurst.
This year I will also try to ease up some of my previous costume concerns. Sure, the world is rife with inappropriate dress up choices for our kids; there is no parent out there that is keen on his or her child dressing like a pint-sized prostitute, even for one night.
This past Saturday, I took my youngest to hear Caldecott award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Henkes read from his latest work, The Year of Billy Miller, a short novel for the early elementary grades.
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Despite celebrating 30 years in business this year, Knowledge Unlimited Inc. remains relatively unknown in the community. Those concerned with closing the achievement gap in Madison's schools, however, may want to take note. This award-winning educational-materials producer, based in Middleton, is unique in emphasizing multiculturalism throughout its lines of educational posters, DVDs and children's books.