Never have more kids than you have hands or patience

6 05 2010

I wanted to have one child.  A daughter.  She would be named Vivien Leighlyn.  From the time I was about 8 years old until 18, I wanted only that one child.  Singular.  Then I had that one child.  And I enjoyed having that one child.  A daughter.  She was not named Vivien Leighlyn.  I loved every single aspect of having that child except her conception.  I also knew that with my husband in the military and the potential for us to be deployed to foreign or far off lands, and the potential for that to happen frequently – that one child would need a friend.  So we had another child.  She wasn’t named Vivien Leighlyn either.  I love my kids.  I love other people’s kids when they are raised well.  I love infants of any parent.  I love other parent’s children up until the time they develop motor skills.  That is right about when I stop loving them so much.  That being said, I have to honestly admit I don’t even like a lot of people’s children, not once they reach about 2 – 3 years of age through the teens.  I enjoy the cute stories and the interaction as long as their parent is nearby with a firm hand.  If I can’t discipline them, I damn sure don’t want to be near them.

But there seems to be some assumed idea in the minds of some mothers that if you yourself are a mother, you enjoy children.  All children.  And that if you have nothing better to do, you would love to babysit their children.  Nothing could be farther from the truth for me.

Today I met our potential new neighbours.  They pulled in our drive and honked the horn and I went out and put on my happy face.  The lady was pleasant, she had brought her mother with her.  They had questions about the flood table and area before the place their bid on the property across the way and I answered pleasantly.  They told me the lady, who was maybe 25, tops, has a nine-month old daughter and asked about neighbourhood children.  (The neighbourhood consists of a dirt road connecting about 6 houses across fifty some acres of land – but okay.)  To my knowledge, my children are the only ones still in school in the entire area and mine are the youngest at 13 and almost 15.

Immediately, immediately, they say oh great, babysitters.  I laughed and said well maybe, they’ve never actually babysat though so I don’t know.  And then the mom says to me that I can always be counted on as well, how nice.  Wait – wha?  Me?  I wanted to begin a explanatory diatribe of how I have zero tolerance nor interest in babysitting the child of a stranger, much less a child of anyone.  If it is a friend or family member, sure, but then again all of my friends and family know how to raise their child decently enough that I wouldn’t have to stress and fret.  But a stranger’s child?  Are you out of your mind?

Furthermore, why would you want a stranger watching your child?  You barely know my name, you damn sure don’t know my history or temperament, what the hell are you thinking?

It brought to mind a situation I encountered about ten years ago.  I was out of work, single mom, no child support, with two kids – they were 3 and 4 at the time.  A friend called me up and asked if I was still looking for a job.  I told her I was.  So she offered to allow me to babysit her two children (who were about 7 and 8 at the time) and her boyfriend’s two children (they were older than hers but not by much).  I didn’t hesitate to say no.  And she quickly ridiculed and chastized me for refusing work.  Here’s the thing though.  I can do math, for one.  2+2+2=too damn many kids.  Secondly, I knew her kids weren’t held to any standard of discipline and I could fairly well bet his weren’t either.  That worked out to $60 for an all nighter with 4 kids more than my two hands can hold on to.

I write this to implore you, if you are a parent, don’t presume your friends or acquaintances or people you meet while house hunting want to babysit for you.  Ask.  And if they say no, respect that.

(And as an aside to my extended family members and friends in the area with children – there isn’t a one of you I wouldn’t gladly sit for as I know you don’t have out of control heathens imitating children that need watched.)

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