For the past two days, I've been babysitting my cousin's four young kids while she works (and I'm doing it again tomorrow, and maybe a few days next week!). She's mostly a stay-at-home mom, but has the occasional part-time assignment she needs to do.
The kids are one, three, four, and six years old. The oldest and the youngest ones are pretty easy to care for. The middle two, boy - well, they are pieces of work! They constantly have tantrums. It kind of makes me dread when Sly will be that age. These have been long, tiring days for me. And I've also had Sly with me, of course. So that's five kids to keep happy, when I'm only used to one. And I still have to come home in the evening and take care of my own house. Seriously - how do "working mothers" do it?
In some ways, it seems like this could be "good practice" for when we have more kids. For example, I now know more than I ever wanted to about wiping little kids poopy bums after they use the toilet. But it would be different if these kids were my own. I would likely have received them one at a time, for starters, and had the time to adjust after each new addition to the family. Plus, if they were my own, I would know them much better, and know how much I could realistically expect from them. I would be seen as "mom" rather than "entertainer." And I would have a stronger authority over them. I've really had to experiment with different tactics to try to figure out how to get them to do what they need to do...or to stop doing what they shouldn't be doing.
I know one of my brothers has watched them a couple times, and he always pulls the old, "let the little ones watch tv, and the oldest one play video games the whole time" trick. And, of course, that keeps them busy and very easy to watch. But something in me - I guess the fact that I'm now a mom myself and constantly thinking about how much I don't ever want to fall into that trap with my own kids - prevents me from using that.
The oldest one, Jonathan, begs constantly to be allowed to play video games. I know his parents definitely limit how much he can play them, but I've already seen the damage it has done. All morning, he complained about how bored he was [I should mention that I'm almost certain that he would not have attempted to get video game permission from his mother. He thought I would be easy to persuade]. At one point he even said, "I'm so bored. I don't understand why the only time I'm not bored is when I'm playing video games." Oh my gosh! I know why. It's because video games are like crack! Tom was not allowed any video games growing up, and always insisted we withhold them from our own kids. I used to be kind of resistant to that idea. I mean, we had them growing up, and it never got too bad. But I'm also a girl. I have now seen many examples of the startling negative impact they have on some kids, especially boys. So now I'm in agreement. I made Jonathan look for his own fun instead, and you know what? He eventually found it :-)
And now, just a few cute things...
Olivia, age 4, thinks Sly is called "Slide".
Olivia: Who's your boy?
Me: You mean...Sly?
Olivia: Nooo...your big boy.
Me: My husband?
Me: That's Tom.
Olivia [with a swoon]: Is he awesome?
Jonathan: You know those things that when you have four of them, it's a dollar?