Saturday, November 14, 2009

Daddy Daycare, the Rigors of Modern Parenting, and Mary Poppins to the Rescue

Okay, I know I've commented on this in the past, usually with the question of how I get myself into these things, but this time I was caught off guard. I swear.

We were scheduled to watch HH's kids on Friday, and this was no problem. We love having them over, they're really good kids and have that Waldorf sensibility, i.e., they don't pine for TV (sort of) and go on endlessly about consumer culture. They are craft oriented and the bigger sister really looks out for the little one, a quality I find very agreeable.

HH had to go to a meeting early in the AM so they were coming over around 8:00, and then staying until about noon. This worked out perfectly because we wanted to go ice skating and open skate starts at 1:00. No problem, right? Well, out of nowhere I get this phone call from another parent whom I've never really met, though I know who they are because this is small town. He asked me if I could watch their daughter, as well, whom I've also never met.

His daughter, Z, is friends with A&I, and he originally asked their father, AG, if he could watch them. Since A&I were coming over here, obviously he couldn't, so he mentioned my name and now Z's dad contacted me. My first impulse was to wonder what the heck he was thinking. He didn't know me, and here he was, entrusting his daughter to a complete stranger, and a guy, no less.

Then it got me to thinking about the whole parenting conundrum, and how difficult it is to work to earn a living and watch over your kids. It's a tough world out there that forces parents to make tough decisions. We talk endlessly about the importance of family and family values, and then make it as hard as possible for families to spend time together. It's an awful situation.

Anyway, he clearly needed a favor, so how could I say no? This did, however, complicate my life. Not only was I now going to have to watch one more kid, which can complicate matters substantially, but we were planning on being somewhere. I didn't know this girl, Z, and wasn't sure how the dynamic was going to work out. Normally when A&I come over, the kids have fun playing or being imaginative or doing some sort of craft. It works beautifully, they know each other. Now we were going to have to adapt.

AND, I was planning on working on the barn, but now couldn't just leave the kids alone, at least not at first. My strategy, in the end, was my default emergency plan: put in a movie. It needed to be something non-offensive or scary, and wholesome, if possible. I chose Mary Poppins, which I personally think is a great movie, and dare I say, much to my Mentor's chagrin, one of my favorites. The itinerary was to let them play and do crafts until Z showed up, and figuring an hour and a half for the flick, if I got it started around 10:30, by noon the movie would be over and then the kids could move onto the next stage of their day. HH had arranged for another person to pick up A&I and watch them for the rest of the day, while Z's parents had arranged for another person to watch her, as well. Is that completely crazy, or what?

My big strategic error in all this was mentioning the possibility of a movie in the first place, after which they bothered me incessantly about it. Live and learn. The fatal flaw in this was that they were playing beautifully without it, and should have saved the movie as a last ditch desperation move. The minute I said something, the no longer wanted to play and wanted the movie. Actually, between 8:00 and 10:00, the kids were having a good old time, and probably could have just carried on, but I needed to get some work done on the barn, and new they'd be safe with a big bowl of popcorn.

Anyway, A&I's person showed up early and took them around 11:30. I let the kids watch the end of the movie while I cleaned up my workspace in the barn and then prepared for our big skating adventure. We were going to Stern's afterward to fruits and veggies, then to the library for food for thought, then to meet mom for dinner. I also had to make lunch for the road, and include snacks and skates, as well as warm clothes and gloves.

I also had this unreasonable notion that I'd go to Home Depot to get some work lights, but then realized I was dreaming, though this worked out beautifully in the end. I packed the kids in the car, dropped Z off at babysitter #2, then off to the ice. It was crowded at the rink but we all concluded that it's more fun with other people there because you can skate between the crowds. My foot is still damaged but I found that, of all things, I could ice skate, even if it might result in long term damage. After skating, I scored on some halogen lights on sale at the local hardware store, then off to Stern's for veggies, then to the library, where we saw the Mack's, who we hadn't seen for ages. We met mom, had dinner, then home. What a day.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to elvis santana for the pic.

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