February 06, 2016

On watching other people's kids when you have no idea what you're doing.

A few weeks ago my neighbour asked me to watch her kids while she dealt with a bit of a family emergency. I love spending time with Parker, but I'm not very confident with other kids. I never really got over being intimidated by other pre-teen girls, and I constantly need to remind myself that I am so much older than them that they might even think I'm "cool" or something and probably aren't judging me anymore. Hopefully.

The point is, I'm not great with other kids. It's not that I don't like them or think that they're little wonderful blessings that are the future of our world and blah blah blah, but I just don't have a freaking clue how to relate to them. That, and the neighbour boy, not quite two months older than Parker, hates me. His two year old sister is delightful and is quite fond of me (or at least she used to be), but for some reason her brother cries every time he sees me. Every. single. time.

On the rare occasion that I'm asked to watch someone else's kids I always say yes, with the caveat that the worst that can happen is that we'll all end up crying. Like every good health nurse will tell you, though, tears aren't going to kill anyone so just don't shake the baby and it'll all be fine.

Parker was napping so we decided to hang out at our place. When my neighbour dropped her kids off her son started crying when he saw me, right on cue. As an expert child minder, I know that there is very little (with the exception of bodily injury) that can't be cured with a bottle or some cuddles when it comes to young children. It turns out that hatred for me also falls neatly into that category.

He didn't want to cuddle (I think my touch is fire to him) but he didn't want to be put down. He didn't want more than half a bottle. He didn't want real food. He didn't want to read a story. He didn't want to play with toys. He didn't want his soother. He didn't want to go in the exersaucer.

You know how they say misery loves company? His normally mellow sister started crying and following me around while I vainly tried to calm her brother down. When I asked her what was wrong she didn't know. When I asked if she was hungry she didn't know. When I asked if she wanted to read a story she didn't know. I understood, though. I'm a girl, too, and sometimes our feelings just get the better of us and we need a good cry. She didn't want a glass of wine to go along with it, though. I just don't get kids.

I couldn't hear him over the symphony of tears, but I could tell from the angry red colour of the baby monitor that my own child had woken up from his nap early and was none to happy about it. It could have been a really good teaching opportunity with the two year old if I'd taken advantage of it. "Your brother's crying, you're crying, and Parker's crying. How many crying kids is that? And how many crying kids can I reasonably cuddle at one time? And how pathetic is it that you've only been here five minutes and I'm calling your mom asking for advice on calming the angry baby beast?"

Anyway, all attempts to help out in a last minute moment of need failed when their dad had to rescue me after a half hour of tears. I'm proud to say that none were my own, unless you count those of laughter and maybe relief when he showed up to rescue me/his children. I am also proud to say that I did not request help, it just came. I did, however, take a couple group pictures to commemorate the occasion because, hello, memories. I learned that two year olds can apparently judge just as well as twelve year olds but don't have as much of an appreciation for group selfies.

I have to say, Parker was a real champ through the whole ordeal. That kid's a rock. Once he was up and got a bit of a cuddle he was fine (SEE?) and kept looking at the other crying kids with great interest. My son, immune to my terrible parenting skills even though I never had a chance to take him out of his sleep sack until I was the neighbour kids were rescued by their dad.

A few days later I told this story to a good friend with three kids, the same friend that will be watching Parker when I go back to work in June. I apologized for never offering to watch her kids and she assured me she understood. It's one thing to be good with your own kids and another completely to deal with someone else's.

Anyway, guess whose kids I ended up watching last minute for two hours Tuesday morning?

I'm a survivor.


  1. First off, I'm so glad I'm not the only one terrified of other people's children. I like to admire them from a distance. Being around teenage girls immediately transports me to high school and I always forget how much older I am.

    You ARE a survivor. I would've plopped down on the floor and cried with all of them.

  2. Other People's Kids are always the worst. Especially when they have leaky noses and dirty diapers. I don't know how childcare workers do it.

  3. Other peoples kids scare the crap out of me haha you aren't alone.

    1. I think if I'd realized mine would be so different we might have had one earlier. Contrarily, if I'd spent any time looking after other people's kids right before we got pregnant... Well, we might not have Parker haha.

  4. Oh no! I'm so glad Parker was good! I don't have kids of my own yet, but I'm super intimidated by other people's kids!

  5. Wow. My kid also did everything horrendously early. He was crawling at 5.5 months, I have video evidence, and I was horrified.


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