Hide-and-Go-Seek a Babysitter
One of the best things about being a stay-at-home parent is all the time I have with my kids. Farrah Star and I amble for hours after dropping Arlo off at school, just as Arlo and I ambled for hours around Bermuda. Farrah hasn’t met a stoop that doesn’t need her bottom on it for a couple of minutes or a dog that doesn’t need his whiskers pulled. There is no wrought-iron gate within a 10-block radius that doesn’t have her fingerprints all over it. We amble and I am happy to watch her explore on her terms and with no agenda of my own.
One of the worst things about being a stay-at-home parent is all the time I have with my kids. Without getting into the Why Attachment Parenting, WHY? or Why, Moving Again, WHY?, I’ll just state the obvious: I need help. During our last week in Madison, Farrah played with a beloved babysitter for two and half hours – her previous record (with anyone) was 25 minutes. This signals to me that at 18 months she has the power to play with others – just not the impetus. I think it’s time.
During yesterday’s ambling I heard the tapping of a hammer down an alley and well, sometimes that’s all it takes to steer us in a direction. We came across a young boy building a fort.
This surprised the hell out of me – wouldn’t it you? I mean I know kids aren’t always on screens but this wasn’t a “just go outside and do something for an hour willya?”, this was a long-term project. I then saw two girls run out of that same driveway and into a play yard so of course we followed them.
You wouldn’t believe what they did. The three of them played hide-n-seek. They climbed trees. They did gymnastics on the high bar. They chased each other and threw a ball around.
I was amazed. They played so easily together and were so happily active I just knew I had stumbled upon our new babysitter in the eldest girl. My heart raced. We ambled down this alley for a reason! For years I would tell this story and my kids would glow in the memory of how they met their beloved caregiver/best friend. I rode that euphoric/delirious wave right up to that girl and asked her in my most desperate, broken French – “Do you live here? Vous-habitez au Montreal? Is that your sister and brother? Ta souer et ton frere?” She shook her head. Oh god. What? Wait. “Oh, you are um…visiting?” “Oui, veeseet. Coozanns.”
I have a dream that one day I will find a babysitter and it won’t be via craigslist or a fee-based online subscription service. When it comes to finding someone to be with my kids, I hope it comes to me organically – a click, a feeling in my gut or as a witness to someone being amazing without knowing I’m there taking notes.
Teach my child to build a fort or climb a tree and I’ll put you through college. I’m out there looking for you. I’m the smiling, overwrought mom pulling a pebble out of her toddler’s mouth. Nice to meet you.