As a child, babysitters during the daytime were extremely rare and used only for PTA meetings that couldn’t happen with small children running amuck. I remember vividly the baby sitter who taught us to make flowers with coat hangers and kleenex. I thought she was the coolest sitter ever and brought her every single shoebox shaped container of tissues in the house. It was a huge disappointment for everyone when we ran out of kleenex.
My mother did not share my enthusiasm for the babysitter. Instead of being impressed by the tissue transformations, my mother had a meltdown over wasted kleenex. As an adult, I understand that my mother had a million frustrations, problems and stresses that had nothing to do with tissues. The kleenex were the final thing that pushed my mother over the edge at the end of what had to be a very hard day. My mother was upset about everything.
As a child, I thought my mother was upset about nothing.
I am very lucky to have older children who are willing and able to babysit for the two youngest children. Each of the older children has a slightly different sitter style, but they all understand that the primary goal is for everyone to be safe. Last week, I put Professor Teen in charge so that I could tend to PTSA duties.
Professor Teen is the kind of sitter who follows the children around the house and yard while he reads whatever book has him captivated at that moment. The children are always supervised, but are otherwise allowed to do anything the imaginary voices in their little heads suggest.
When I came home, the children were healthy and unharmed. The house did not fare as well. It looked like the inside of a playpen after snack time. The toy carnage was nothing compared to the mess in the bathroom, where all of the shampoo and conditioner was poured, mixed, splashed and squirted out in some kind of mad scientist experiment. The empty hair product bottles scattered lifelessly on the bathroom tile looked like melted, wasted money.
I immediately thought about kleenex.
Instead of getting upset, I smiled. My children gave a silly childhood memory a new meaning.
Have I mentioned that I am a very lucky person?