A few months ago my family was invited to participate in a babysitting co-op involving 4 other families. This means that once every 5th Saturday Geoff and I watch 17 kids for about 5 hours. All the children are between the ages of 18 months and 9 years old. Yes, I said 17 and no, I’m not crazy…at least not in my mind. The really great thing about our babysitting co-op is that my husband and I get free babysitting 4 out of 5 Saturdays and our kids think they are going to a great party every weekend. This last Saturday it was our turn and I thought I might share some of the night’s events with you.
5:45 The kids begin to arrive and start running around the house, saying hello, and calling dibs on toys.
6:10 I break out 2 large pizzas and juice boxes. Hhhhmmm, how come the children whose parents claim they eat like little birds are on their 3rd piece of pizza and their 4th juice box? Oh well, at least they’ll be full for the rest of the night.
7:15 Kids are getting bored, time to start the dance party. This is actually a strategic move. I’m hoping to really wear them out. We start dancing. The girls want some Kelly Clarkson and the boys want the Killers. I know, I’ll put on my 90s dance party cd. Oh yeah, we’re “getting jiggy wid it” now! I spend the next 45 minutes twirling tiny girls around like ballerinas and shouting, “We’re having a dance party, NOT a pillow fight!”
8:20 Time to put the babies to bed. Strangely enough the age group I thought would be the hardest turns out to be the easiest because of their early bed time.
8:30 I head back down to the basement to check on the dancers. Oh great, the 4 year old in a cast is trying to take it off because he is too hot with it on. How do I distract this kid? I know, “Hey honey, I’m going to let you pick the first movie tonight. Would you like that?” He nods his head. Phew, cast crisis diverted. The rest of the kids start shouting, “How come he gets to pick the first movie? That’s not fair!”
8:35 The SpongeBob movie starts. Children start complaining of starvation. I spend the next 35 minutes running back and forth between the microwave and the children with bowls of popcorn. Hey, they look like little talking piranhas. “Move! I can’t get to the popcorn.” “No, I was here first!” They’re so cute.
9:30 Another crisis: who will pick the next movie? We do a rock, paper, scissors tournament to decide. A 6 year old wins but instead of picking a movie he just walks away. That’s men for ya, only caring about the competition. That’s ok, the girls start a discussion and eventually we come up with the movie “Home on the Range”.
9:35 What the $&@#%? “You’re hungry again? I don’t think there is any food left in this house. Geez, I’ll go see what I can scrounge up.”
Now these kids are pretty well behaved and the whole babysitting 17 kids isn’t as hard as I thought it might be. But I do watch the clock while thinking, the parents are coming at 11, the parents are coming at 11. 2 more hours, 1 more hour, you get the picture.
10:00 Sweet! Some of the kids are starting to fall asleep.
10:45 I’m feeling pretty great right about now because I’m almost done with my turn and I get free babysitting for the next month. “Sister J?’
“What’s up honey?”
“My stomach hurts.”
Geoff: “Oh yeah? Go in the bathroom”
Me: “Do you need to go potty? Maybe you should go into the bathroom.”
The kid lies back down for a few seconds. “Sister J, my stomach really hurts.”
Me: “If you need to use the bathroom you better go in there. Either that or lie down.”
Geoff: “Dude – the bathroom is right there!”
He lies back down. I watch him suspiciously. Suddenly he grimaces, throws his head over the front of the couch and starts to vomit all over the ground. Of course all the little girls start screaming and the boys start shouting. My husband races over grabs the kid and starts carrying him to the bathroom. “Wait!” I shout. “Don’t move him. I don’t want a trail of barf all over my house.”
Just by luck there happened to be a blanket next to the couch where he barfed. I’d say he got about 80% of his barf on the blanket. Yeah, I only have to scrub 20% of his vomit off my carpet and couch. Just then his mom walks in and says, “Hey, I’m back. How did everything…Oh my gosh! What? Oh no, I’m so sorry!” His mother is a dear friend and she gets on her hands and knees and starts scrubbing.
11:00 The kids are all gone and I start planning my next 4 Saturdays. This evening has only reminded me of how precious they really are.