photo by thebittenword.com
For some reason everyone I know always asks me to watch their kids. My mother thinks I’m so fabulous with children that I should open up a day-care center…to which I respond, “Why don’t you just commit me to an institution now instead of later?” Because that is surely where I’d wind up if I had to make hotdogs for 15 screaming kids every day.
I love kids—but only in small doses. A little kid goes a long way in my book. But I do make sure to always respect them, never ever talk down to them, and I try to answer their questions as truthfully as possible.
For a commitmentphobe like me, having a kid is numero uno in terms of a huge commitment. It took me somewhere around the 4-5 year mark before I was able to look at my son as my own, and not simply some child I was babysitting. The fact that I was a mother never felt real to me; my son would call me Mom and I’d still turn around expecting to see my own mother.
I continue to have panic attacks over the diva Chihuahua. I still look at her after almost 4 years and think, What the fuck am I doing with a dog? That’s a huge commitment! This dog will be snoring next to me in bed for the next 22 years. Gah!
In terms of mothers, I’m like the fun aunt. You know, the one who never had kids because of one too many ectopic pregnancies and 2 failed marriages to alcoholics—so when she gets to spend time with kids she goes all out. Like the Disneyland Dad, who overcompensates because he doesn’t want to seem like the bad guy by having to discipline or follow any kind of routine.
My self-centeredness works in my favor when entertaining kids. For example: a good friend of mine has 2 boys who she keeps extremely busy with sports and extracurricular activities so they have less time to play video games. But when I watch them, they get to play like 6 straight hours of video games while I’m on the computer. I’m also not crazy about cooking, so one night I took them to Del Taco for dinner. They went back and told their mom I took them to Del Taco and it was THE GREATEST THING EVER.
“They’d never eaten Del Taco?” I said. “How is that possible?”
“We don’t eat fast food. But they think you’re God for taking them there.”
At first I was kind of embarrassed. Who wants to be known as the God of fast food? It’s not like we eat the crap all the time…okay fine, we do Del Taco once a week. Then I thought well, it’s a win-win situation for me. Why fight it?
I have this neighbor who’s twenty-something with 2 kids—2 different baby daddies. Lives with Mom. Mom watches the kids during the week. My neighbor frequently manages to pawn off both her kids on the weekends so she can go to strip clubs or Vegas, and do all the things a twenty-something that doesn’t have kids does.
She called me Sunday evening to say she was stuck in traffic on the way home from Vegas, her mom had to leave for work, and would I watch one of her girls until she got home? I’m smart enough to know she was full of it and had not even left Vegas, that it would be 4 hours before she got home, and I wouldn’t get a damn thing done if I watched her very cute, but chatty Cathy 4 year old daughter. So I said no, because one, I’ve already watched her kids a hundred times before and two, in my book if you get the privilege of being kid-less for an entire weekend (something I haven’t experienced since…um, before I had a kid), then your ass needs to make it back in time to fulfill your maternal obligations. Not my problem.
Except it became my problem at 10:30 that night while I was walking the diva and I saw chatty Cathy pounding on the door to her house wondering why her mother wasn’t home yet. She noticed me, flew into my arms, and screamed, “I wanna go home with you!”
“What the heck is going on?” I asked the teenage boy with her (another neighbor). “Is your mother watching chatty Cathy?”
“She was, but then we all had to go to the hospital because my mom was in a lot of pain.” (His mother has uterine cancer and is in the process of getting chemo and radiation.)
I sighed. Of course I wasn’t going to have his poor pain-riddled mother continue to watch the little hellcat while her irresponsible mom partied with a carload of hussies. I tossed chatty Cathy into her house through an open window and told her to get her footie pajamas on. Then I hauled her over to my house, popped in The Proposal on DVD (because a girl is never too young to see Ryan Reynolds without a shirt on), and answered her twenty million questions about life and the universe until her mother finally arrived at midnight.