After being abroad for five months I returned home with my wander lust quelled and my bank account severely diminished. I had known since I signed up to go to Australia that I wouldn’t return home until July, so I wasn’t even going to bother trying to find employment for the month and a half I was going to be home. The week I returned home I did nothing but eat and sleep at very odd hours while trying to get my life back in order. I scheduled some doctors appointments and made plans with friends to hang out, but generally I was quite lazy. I got home on the 20th of July and I did almost nothing that entire weekend following. Monday, July 25th was my best friend Jaime’s birthday. She loves cupcakes more than any other sugary treat, so I grabbed Julie and we headed in DC midday to procure some of the famous Georgetown cupcakes for Jaime’s 21st birthday celebration. Mom knew we were going into the city that day so she asked if we could pick her up on our way out, and of course we agreed.
As Julie and I were driving into the city Mom called us and told us that a woman in her office was in a panic because her nanny had just quit on her, and she had come to her asking if she knew anyone who could watch her 18 month old son for the remainder of the summer. She had mentioned that Julie and I both babysat and now she wanted to meet us. This worked out perfectly since we were already in DC, so after we had gotten the cupcakes we headed over to Mom’s office to meet this woman. What she was offering was a 9-5 job working at her home in NW DC watching her son through the last week of August. Julie wasn’t too keen on the idea, but I was in need of some cash flow, so we both left her our contact information.
She called me the next day offering me the job, which I accepted. I had told her up front that I already had plans to visit Justin during the first week of August, but she had managed to find temporary help for that week, so I was hired! When I got back from Missourri on the 7th of August I went over to her house to meet Ryan, who I would be taking care of, and get acquainted with her house. Monday I showed up for my first day of work.
I have to say that aside from the money making aspect of this job I wasn’t thrilled about this. I have always preferred to watch children that are of an age where I can hold a real conversation with them. I was at a loss as to how I was going to entertain this child from 9-5 every day for a month.
To more adaquetely summarize this, a passage from one of my favorite websites, cracked.com on children
“Based exclusively on what I’ve seen in public and my own spectacular imagination, I’ve gathered that having a child is the end of personal existence. Every selfish indulgence, every private ambition and every lazy afternoon of recreational sex is pinned down by biological imperative and strangled to death with an umbilical cord. Whatever part of the body Sense of Self used to inhabit is suddenly filled with only an intense urge to raise and protect an ill-designed hunk of flesh incapable of lifting its own spongy head. And even when it’s old enough to walk or speak, there is still an 18-year investment of ensuring its hair is combed, its closet isn’t filled with evil and that it learns to swim before falling in the family pool. Frankly, it sounds awful.”
To compound this, the family didn’t have a television. Great. So I was going to spend my days changing diapers and spoon feeding a toddler who couldn’t yet walk or talk. I wasn’t too elated at the idea of this, but I figured at the very least it would be a low stress well paying job, and hey, worst case scenario it was only for a month.
My first day with Ryan was delightful. I couldn’t have been more wrong about hanging out with him. He was the happiest, most complacent and easy to please child I have ever worked with, and the hours we spent laughing and playing flew by. I would come over in the morning and eat breakfast with him and then we would take naps together in the afternoon. In between I read books to him, we took walks around the neighborhood and to local playgrounds. I learned that Ryan loves music, so I would bring my ipod or computer and have songs going in the background all day, and sometimes dance for him which made him giggle endlessly.
He wasn’t quite walking yet, but he was on the verge, so I would help him stroll around the house using his little baby walker and sometimes pick him up by his hands and twirl him around the room before plopping him down on the couch. The only danger in this behavior was that once I had done it once he wanted it again and again and again. His favorite food was bananas so we would often split a banana for a snack in the afternoon. Once the heat finally broke I would take him out back to play in an inflatable baby pool.
The first few days I was there he put up a bit of a stink when his mom would leave in the morning, but by my second or third week he wouldn’t even notice because he was excited that I was there. Whenever we would go out on walks, women would tell me what a beautiful son I had, and even though it seemed odd to me that they thought I looked like I had birthed this 18 month old baby, I just went with it. Oddly enough, when men passed us by they always picked up on the fact that I was not his mother, instead saying things like “I bet hanging with him is a nice summer job.” I could never tell if the women were just trying not to be wrong in assuming that he was mine, or if the men were really more perceptive in these situations.
I have never become very attached to the kids I have babysat. Even when I was a summer camp counselor I never felt any special connection to the kids that I worked with, so it felt odd that I grew so attached to Ryan. I was genuinely sad to hand him over to his parents at the end of every day, and now as I write this, I think of his smile and his laugh and feel a twinge in my heart (wow that sounded less sappy in my head). He was such a happy and delightful little boy, and so close to walking and talking that it was exciting to watch him almost say words and stand up on his own every day.
I can say without a doubt that watching Ryan changed my perspective on babies. Before watching him I thought babies were cute, sure, but I had always seen them as these eternally loud, smelly and needy little beings that operated on pure id, constantly wanting things but unable to express it so they would just cry. Watching parents make stupid faces and spouting all their “goo goo ga ga” baby talk dribble at their children made me feel embarrassed for them. But in playing with Ryan I got to really enjoy myself. I am still not a fan of baby talk but we had a blast together, and I became the peek-a-boo master. He seldom cried, instead he would just screech really loud to get my attention, but in getting to know him it became very easy to figure out what he wanted when he did that.
Whenever Justin would ask me about him I would say ” O me and my new boyfriend are very happy together, he is a far better cuddlier than you. He kissed me today too, be jealous.”
I would come home every day and enthusiastically tell my mom how much fun I had with Ryan. One day she said to me, “I’m pretty sure you working with Ryan is the reason I am going to end up getting grandkids.” She might be right. If I could have two babies just like Ryan I would be so down for parenthood.
I am very jealous of the Au Pair Ryan will soon be working with him full time, but I did leave my phone number with his parents so hopefully one day I can babysit for an evening. I was very tempted to forgo my last semester of school and just work with Ryan instead. If only if only.