The clock is ticking. I can feel work getting closer, day-by-day. And because of that, I’ve been doing all sorts of (s)motherly things, like kissing his cheeks nonstop and putting aside everything on my “should” list in favor of taking afternoon naps with baby Dylan tucked into my arms. I’m also knowingly indulging his bedtime routine. Usually, he’ll fall asleep in my arms and I’ll carefully shift him into his crib, much like the coin purse switcheroo in Indiana Jones (a comparison another mommy blogger pointed out, which captures the trick perfectly). If his pacifier slips out of his mouth or something startles him, though – like one of the one thousand train whistles we hear every night – I’m back in his room in a flash. Despite what the sleep books say about letting him cry it out, I will hold him and rock him until he falls back asleep. I’m aware that I’m probably creating a monster. I’m also aware that I will probably have little to no sleep for the next ten to fifteen years, because I’m willing to drop everything the second he needs me. But frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
However, what does give me a bit of pause is the type of challenge this creates for future babysitters, if and when we get there. If this type of pandering becomes Dylan’s usual routine, no one is going to want to babysit for us. Or, if they do, I’m not so sure we’re going to want them to: I know of babysitters who’d let a baby cry for hours on end with parents being none the wiser. That idea terrifies me, and it makes me think that when karma finally comes around in the form of babysitters, I hope I’ve paid my due.
On the one hand, the babysitting karma gods may smile on us, because I did my fair share of babysitting over the years. I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to be old enough to babysit. Within days after turning twelve, I was enrolled in a babysitting safety class through the American Red Cross, held at St. Catherine’s Hospital. I also read all of the books in The Babysitter’s Club series and had a signature Babysitter’s Club shoulder bag, chock-full of coloring books, stuffed animals, games and toys, just in case I needed to babysit at a moment’s notice. I prided myself on being an active babysitter – even if a Disney VHS was playing, we were singing and dancing to every number. I loved babysitting so much that the money that came with it was simply an added bonus. Certainly, this is worth an honest teenager willing to put up with Dylan’s needed coddling, no?
On the other hand, I also had my missteps along the way and I’m secretly dreading babysitting karma because of one memory in particular, which involves dangerous stunts, sanctioned by me. One family I babysat for had children the same age as my younger siblings, and I would actually take my siblings with me when I babysat. This may sound like I was taking on more work, but actually, it was brilliant: they all played together, and I was like the foreman, just making the rounds. More often than not, however, I’d get roped into whatever they were doing. Our age differences weren’t that drastic and I always had a good time with them: I was twelve, Casey & Vince were ten, Kara and Cara were eight, and the little guy, Peter, was small enough to be carried around by one of us at all times. One summer afternoon, Casey & Vince decided it would be awesome to jump off the railing that overlooked the first floor and land on the couches below.
No, I said.
It’s only one floor up, they argued.
Absolutely not, I repeated.
Everything’s carpeted, they countered.
They’d spent time reinforcing the landing area with pillows and they took turns flirting with danger: reaching one leg over the railing, and then the other, as they tried to convince me to let them jump. I didn’t like the idea…but they knew as well as I did that my authority was flimsy at best. Before I knew it, they were launching themselves off the balcony, landing like a pile of dirty laundry in the couch cushions below. (In hindsight, this may have been the start of my dismal classroom management.) To make matters worse, what they were doing actually looked like a lot of fun: they would land in laughter and then race off the couch and up the stairs to do it again. Pretty soon, I was jumping right along with them: so much for my Red Cross training. I was not exactly the kind of guardian you’d want protecting your children from harm’s way.
But I was lucky: no one got hurt. The problem, though, is that if I was one of the good babysitters, how on Earth are we ever going to find one we’ll feel safe with, let alone one who will rock Dylan to sleep for hours on end? I guess I’ll just take comfort in the fact that there’s got to be at least a dozen kids out there more responsible than I was. Also, there are no balconies in our house.