Your soul

Kids Don’t Give A F*** About Us. (Why Everyone Should Babysit)

By November 24, 2015 0
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Rule # 1) “I make the sun come out”.

Rule # 2) “I cannot be seen without a dress on”

Rule #3) “Candace?…You are not my favorite.”

Sometimes, it takes years of living and learning to become the person you want to be: to realize that a lot of things and people that you once surrounded yourself with are no longer cool, or relevant.

Other times, it takes a sassy three year old to figuratively choke slam you into this understanding.

When I was in college, I took up a job nannying for a 3 year old girl, and her 6 month old brother. What I expected was some whining, a few predictable tantrums, and it’s resulting end-of-the-week paycheck that I could go spend at a local bar. What I got, was a precocious toddler, hellbent on making me realize that it was her world, and the rest of us were just being made privy to all of its excellency.

Here are the 5 lessons I learned:

You are seriously not that cool: Take it from any kid, we all sorta suck. Grace didn’t care that by most standards, I was good-looking. She didn’t care that I cheerlead in high school, or that I once dated the captain of the football team. In fact, she was altogether underwhelmed by my existence, believing me to be painfully average. She had this Anna Wintour essence about her;  she simply knew that her white turtleneck paired with her denim overall purple dress and stockings was the flyest outfit in the game– and she didn’t need a magazine, or a Kardashian Instagram account to verify that. She wore precisely 3 headbands, daily which were secured  together with a butterfly clip for extra measure, and my opinions regarding the matter were better delivered to her royal barbie subjects.

Children are the most confident people in the world. When do we as adults take a left turn?

Emotional adaptability: We are human and sometimes we have bad days. Sometimes we break up with with our significant others, sometimes we fail tests, and other times, we find out tragic news regarding our friends and family. While babysitting Grace, I went through a crippling break up, one that reduced me to an outline of my former self and guess what?

“Bring out the barbies. That’s what.

Turns out you don’t get to walk in and dump your emotional baggage on a toddler. Babysitting taught me how to compartmentalize. If I was going through any type of personal turmoil, I had a 25-minute car ride to their house to bottle up my emotions, and then greet those children like I had just won the lottery, because asking a child to put a sheet over their head and join you in the mourning of your ex isn’t practical.

How to create a mind: For her younger brother, Matthew, he was just learning how to talk. He was learning to string sounds, followed by words, followed by sentences together, culminating in what I can only describe as the terrifying, subsequent questions about life.

Why is the sky blue?

Seems innocent enough. But what about “why are those two men kissing?” “why did he yell at her?”, “but why, but why, but WHYYYY?!”. Children are experiencing every thing– every single little thing for the very first time, and they are the most focused, present observers in the entire world. It suddenly dawned on me how careful I had to be when he asked me anything. I was ultimately creating a mind, and I was panicked, racking my brain for the perfect answer when some jerk at THE bowling alley decided it was a good time to light up a cigarette. “What’s that? Why does it create smoke? Why does he eat that stick?”.

Because he’s an idiot loser who I am going to run over with my car. And you are perfect. That’s why.

The truth is, we adults don’t really know anything. We are just as clueless as children are about why bad things happen. I have no idea why the sky is blue.

When do you actually want to have kids?: We’ve all had/have friends that are in relationships and just cannot wait to get married, and make little spawns of their perfect selves. They daydream of flipping Sunday pancakes, the sweet pitter patter of feet coming down the hall– delicate fantasies that keep them warm at night. But children are not a fantasy. They are actual, pooping, crying, sometimes sick, no-nap wanting, snack-craving little avengers, and they NEVER shut off. (No seriously, Grace spoke in her sleep.)

Babysitting taught me not to romanticize a family, but to sincerely understand the implications of bringing one into the world. It is complete, and utter selflessness, 24 hours a day, zero reprieve, which I do not believe any person should commit to until they have become a polished version of themselves. I should also add that children propel you into this constant state of fear. When Grace was going through an issue at school, or if something was making her sad, I would carry around this tremendous guilt, knowing that I couldn’t alleviate it, and even more cumbersome perhaps, suspecting that it was only going to get worse. Life has this way of taking children–these perfect, tiny, light beings, and stripping them of everything that is bright and light about them. Of transforming them into adults.

Children know the answers: This final one is my most important, most special takeaway from the time I spent babysitting. Children really do know the answers, and the answers are both simple and pure. Adults?– we’ve complicated the shit out of everything so much, that it takes a tremendous effort to get a pure thought out. We’ve become a product of everything that we’ve read, been told, and have experienced, insomuch that we have completely lost touch with our cores. Toward the end of my career as their babysitter, the joke was on their mother. I had effectively devised a way to have her pay me, when in reality, Grace and Matthew were teaching me. They taught me that all people are born good, it’s their experiences that make them turn away from that. Grace in particular taught me that being yourself is the coolest, bravest thing to do in the whole wide world, and if you can commit to that sort of honesty everyday, then those around you will get in line.  (I certainly did).

All hail Queen Grace.

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