Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mothers of small children hate me. Children love me.

There are a number of mothers out there that hate me with a passion because of the way I baby sit.

My neice has a couple of kids and she is the daughter of my sister who raised her the same way she was raised, which is to say that my neice was raised pretty much the same way I was raised, so the two of us see eye to eye about a few things.

One of the things we agree on is that kids should be allowed to be kids and when I baby sit kids I simply let them be kids and do kid things and have fun and be kids.

A while back I was with my neice who was covering a bunch of kids because it was her turn to watch them for whatever reason and one of them saw me fixing a kitchen sink and watched. I wasn't in a hurry, so I let the kid help me and then another kid came in and then another and the group of us fixed the sink. For some reason kids are often fascinated by just about anything that involves the use of tools.

The little ones handed me tools and I showed them and actually let them try their luck turning screws or wiggling things into place. Of course, when they were done, I undid it and re-did it correctly. It's a part of being with kids. The hyperactive one was the easiest to take care of. I simply wrapped a wrench around a pipe and told him to hold it.

It was a win/win deal. The kid got to feel pretty useful and I got him out of my hair. All he needed was an occasional encouraging word.

When I returned the tools to the garage, I saw a pound of 8d nails and some 2x4 scraps so I grabbed a couple of hammers and let the kids pound nails. They had a pretty good time, even though most of them whacked their thumbs a couple of times. Still, they learned something useful.

Of course, a couple of the mothers were pretty upset when they saw their kids had bruised their thumbs, but my neice stepped in and in an exasperated tone explained to the mothers that that's the way kids learn. With a straight face she also told them that when they got older I would teach them to use a chain saw.

The look of horror on the young mothers face was a real classic sight to see. When one of the mothers started to say something, my sister stepped in and pointed out that at least they were being taught by someone that knew what he was doing and that in a matter of time the kids would be using tools and better to learn safety and responsibility early.

For some reason the other mothers actually listen to my neice. Maybe it is because my sister has stepped in before and is an instinctive good mother with common sense. Maybe it is because the other mothers know talent when they see it. My neice knows her stuff when it comes to mothering. Maybe it is because my sister is generally around to help out and Lord knows, she knows her stuff when it comes to raising kids.

The most recent time I baby sat was at the birthday party of my neices older daughter. That was held at a pony ride place and when the kids were done they grew bored of watching the other kids take their turns so they made a beeline to the nearest body of water, a small, scummy pond. I was instantly dispatched by my sister to keep an eye on them.

My job as I saw it was simply to keep the kids from getting hurt.

The kids had a ball chasing frogs and collecting pond scum to look at and just generally being kids.

Of course, when the mothers arrived and saw their kids all wet and grubby from chasing frogs, they were less than pleased. I got a couple of very dirty looks and a couple of pretty barbed comments.

I think that what angered the mothers the most was that later on that day I got the two boys to cheerfullly eat their veggies. Before dinner I told the two of them that eating veggies puts hair on their chests and I unbuttoned the top couple of buttons and showed them my chest and told them I got the hair on if from eating my veggies. My father used the same trick on me when I was their age.

The pair of them commenced to wolf down every pea, carrot and green bean they could find and clamored for seconds.

When the astonished pair of mothers asked why they had started eating their veggies, one of them told his mom that Uncle Piccolo had told them that veggies make hair grow on their chests.

The two mothers glared at me and my niece stepped in and told the pair of them to simmer down.

"Uncle Pic got them to do what you can't seem to do so give it a rest!" my neice said. said. "They've eaten more veggies here in 10 minutes than they have since they were born!"

I attribute my success with younger children to having an excellent memory.

Unlike a lot of people, I have not forgotten what it is like to be a kid.

Come to think of it, my father had a good memory, too. He remembered what it was like to be a kid and let me be one.
He had never forgotten the value of a fun childhood.

The mothers probably have. Or maybe they never had a childhood.

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