Don’t Stop (Make) Believin’

June 1, 2009 § 1 Comment

Last weekend I got my pink slip.  This weekend I signed a 700/month lease for my new Boston-area apartment.  Long story short – I’m looking to make some extra money.  I took an afterschool childcare gig that matched my schedule.  Today was my first day.

I agreed to the job before I learned how old she was.  When I heard she was four, I imagined sortof a big toddler with wide eyes who would walk around showing me things and not talk. I guess when you aren’t around kids that often, you lose sight of how old kids really are at certain ages.  The reality of the four year old girl is quite, quite different from what I had hoped.

The minute I picked her up from preschool she was talk-talk-talking on and on about how she wants to be half dragon, half unicorn, half dog, and half, um, I dunno, maybe it was a cow?  After I buckled her in, she wouldn’t let me close the door before she finished talking. And she wasn’t ever going to be finished talking.  Eventually I had to just shut the door on her, to which she replied, “HEY!”

At home, she wanted to play horses.  Sigh.  I know that I absolutely delighted in make-believe games when I was a kid, but for some reason, they plague me as a babysitter.  They just drive me crazy.   We put a bunch of horses on the floor.  She picked one up and made it fly through the air.  I kept mine on the ground and said, “Oh no!  Can you teach me how to fly?”  I was trying my best to dive into the make-believe.  My enthusiasm lasted about five minutes.

Soon I was walking around a cramped attic playroom (clearly designed for people under 3 feet tall) and taking orders.

“No!  You say, ‘Oh no, my mommy and daddy will be so mad and I will have to go to bed.”

“But you just said it.”

“NO YOU SAY IT.”

(I say it)

“NO! Don’t copy me!”

After two and a half hours of carting stuffed animals to jail via dump truck and bumping my head on the slanted ceilings, I was about done.

Finally she got distracted and we read a book.  Yes!  I like reading!  I like reading, coloring, movies, stickers, board games, playing outside… anything other than pure make-believe games.  I guess it’s sad in an “innocence-lost” way that I can’t get into make-believe anymore.  When she told me she wanted to be half dragon, half unicorn, half dog, half whatever, I found myself trying to explain fractions.  I guess that’s just what being a grown up is.

Though this is a little bit bittersweet, I am not going to apologize or bemoan my lack of child-like imagination.  I have come a long way from being a child, thank you very much. At this point I take pleasure in my newly-matured adult mind.

I don’t think that everyone needs to be a “kid person.”   Can’t I be an advocate for children without actually getting down on my knees and playing horses with them?

Besides, has anyone ever noticed how freaky kids can be sometimes?  As I was buckling her into the carseat, she grabbed ahold of my chamsa necklace.  I told her it was for good luck, to keep me safe.  She stared deep into my eyes with her icy, crystal blue ones, and asked, “Are you parents dead?”  I said no.  “Will you tell me when they die?”  Honestly, that freaked me out more than The Sixth Sense.

I am hoping things will get easier as I get more comfortable with this little girl, and more used to the mind of a four year old.  Even if I don’t, the money makes it worthwhile.  Bt truly, folks, I’d take a moody, hormonal teen with a criminal record any day.

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