22 June 2013

Their Beautiful Little Minds

Feet up, ear-buds in, and "Dinos" fruit snack out. All the right subjects with all the right prepositions; perfect set-up for blogging. Especially perfect because this house is totally quiet, an adjective which never ever happens at my house. You see, this is not my house. I'm babysitting, and the kid's asleep. The most peaceful times of my life tend to happen when those two things are true.

Of course, babysitting is not always peaceful. It's not always even fun. But it usually is! Today, I took three-year-old Halle to the park. She tends to run off and make friends as soon as we arrive, leaving me to sit on the pavement and watch from a distance. She has a blast. This particular time, after she'd been socializing for about 2 and a half minutes, a little girl, seven years old, came running up to me, green dress and pig-tail braids flying behind her, demanding some answers.

"HEY. Are you really her babysitter?"

"Yes, in fact, I am!"

"Huh. How do they get treated?"

"..who?"

"I mean, how do babysitters treat kids? What do you do?"

I explained that sometimes Halle's mommy and daddy want a night out with just the two of them, so they call me and I come over to watch their kid and take care of her till they come home. She had endless questions, like how often they do that? Do I do it for other mommies and daddies too? Have I ever watched a little baby? What about an older kid? How many kids do I watch? How many at one time? The number of career questions I answered today would indicate that I was a lawyer or an architect or something fancy like that, rather than a babysitter. The girl was cute, though. I didn't mind talking to her.

A couple minutes into our conversation, another girl, about 2 years old, dashed up and plopped her cute, ruffled butt right down in my lap. "She likes hugs," explained the pig-tailed girl. "Oh," I said, unsure as to how to proceed, "well..where is her mommy?"

"Over there."

"Well, does her mommy want her to talk to strangers?"

"Only when I'm here. I'm kind of like her baby-sitter. I'll keep her safe, it's ok. And y'know who's watching when no grown-ups are here? Jesus."

I was trying to decide how to explain the suspicious appearance of my holding her in my lap when her attention span fortunately expired and she jumped to join Halle in a game of tag. But the pig-tailed girl wasn't bored with me yet. She showed me how to play a hand-clapping game, then showed Halle as well. Suddenly, she jumped up and said, "Well, I don't think my mom wants me talking to strangers this much. I better go."

OK then.

A few minutes late, she returned to ask me to push her in the swing. I didn't mind at all, but asked if her mom would mind. "I don't think so. She doesn't like strangers, but I think you're nice."

"Well--" I stammered, grasping for the right words, "I am nice, but not everyone is. And some people seem nice, when really they're not. So you shouldn't talk to strangers, even if you think they're nice."

stare.

"So...go ask your mom, and if she says it's ok I'll swing you."

I'm such a softie when it comes to cute little girls. Turns out, her mom had been watching the whole time and was glad to let me swing her. So I did, until it came time to go.

"Say good-bye to your friend, Halle." She'd been playing tag with a little boy her age.

"Bye-bye!"

I guess he heard "Bye, By" because he answered, "My name isn't 'By,' it's Alexander."

"Halle, say 'Bye, Alexander!'"

"See ya."

I guess that's easier to say than "Alexander."

As I drove Halle home, this Taylor Swift song came on. I've always liked this song, and it's always made me think of the kids I babysit. But never like this. I kept thinking about the pig-tailed girl. Her innocence, and desire to trust anyone who seemed "nice." I thought about Halle, and how much she's changed since I first met her. Even more, how much she will change in the not-far-enough-away future. It was all I could do to keep the tears invisible to the little blue eyes in my back seat.
 
This is getting much too serious, so I'll share one last funny anecdote from the mouths of babes.

Upon arriving at her house, Halle exclaimed, "I saw a dog at the park. A training dog." I flashed back to my memory of a boy dragging, I mean seriously, dragging, a dog by the leash. The teeny tiny animal was making every effort to keep up, but most of the time he remained airborne with his legs whirling like a hamster in a wheel. The scene had seemed almost comical, in a sick, twisted way. I felt sorry for the poor dog! I wondered if she had seen the same one, as I asked, "What do you mean by 'training dog'?

"He...trains."

Kids sometimes have to have a lot of patience with us "grown-ups" (not that I am one! Oh no, not at all!!) and our slow minds. But that's what makes baby-sitting fun. Kids are the best.