It’s funny, I’m babysitting for the Chaplain, C, tomorrow night, and I’m quite nervous. Her three children are five and three (the girls) and the baby, a boy, is fourteen months old.

I’m always nervous before babysitting – this is a keep-them-entertained job rather than a putting them to bed job, or a merely showing up after they are in bed and watching telly until the parents come home (with any luck) job. Of the three perhaps putting them to bed would be scariest – children have routines and many of them are very precise about how things must be done, and then they get critical, potentially grizzly, and it’s horrible for all of you.

Thankfully in living memory that’s never happened to me – I only know this because my sister and I could be quite like that when we were little. Obviously showing up after the kids are in bed is about the easiest way of earning money that anyone has ever invented, but it’s also not particularly rewarding, and often quite boring. So really this is about ideal – I’m babysitting before bedtime, so we will get to play some games or something and rather enjoy ourselves.

Children always scare me, but then you show up and what you have to do becomes obvious – they’re usually keen to show you things, want to do certain things, and have set ideas about what happens next. And all you have to do is keep everyone happy and, by and large, that’s fine. As a babysitter, with very little moral authority, you’re a sort of servant, an experimental subject, almost another toy, with certain special powers (like operating the scissors or doling out biscuits) which the child doesn’t have, and a certain clownish fascination value.

So, really, I’m quite looking forward to it.

And this is a job which is barely five minutes from my front door. Winner.



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4 responses to “Children

  1. mikel

    Children are wonderful little beings and ae amazingly adaptable so there is no need to be nervous, just be open and yourself and enjoy their company. It’ll work

    I remember visiting some friends in Holland a while ago and they had two little girls. One was about 10 months and the other about three. I got to “entertain” the three year old for a while while father went to get some supplies and mother was doing the cooking.
    I spent a delightful 30 minutes reading to her and chatting to her. Me reading from a Dutch story book (with loads of pictures) in English and her chattering to me in Dutch, neither of us understanding a word the other was saying and it mattered not one bit. A wonderful time was had by both. In fact mother was watching us for a while and we didn’t notice at all. She told me later it was facinating to watch the interaction between us. Me I just had a fantastic time.

  2. Dave

    Good luck with it, you’ll be fine.

  3. Flix

    Kids R Cute. Until they start snapping at you relentlessly and pee on the kitchen floor. I may be getting confused with puppies. They’re kind of similar.

    On a serious note with an interjection of personal happens – looking after more than one child of various ages under ten really does give you a new found respect for parents. Also, quite likely wishing you had regular access to their child-like (no, wait, child-actual) wonder and interest for all things that you already know but yet don’t really appreciate. Have fun and report back, kthnx.

  4. teacherface

    I would like to know how this went!

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