Babysitting for Dummies

Asian boySo, my middle nephew came over to play and spend the night.  He is the very sensitive, prone-to-melting-down-in-a-minute, extremely intelligent, and hard-to-handle boy who takes up much of his parents’ attention–and patience.  He is the most brilliant of his siblings, and if he makes it through his furious fives, he will do something amazing with his life.

When his sister slept over a few weeks ago, it was really easy.  We popped in the Harry Potter DVD, and that was it.  The next day, she drew for hours.  She and I chatted, and it was all pretty mellow.  I drove her to the roller rink for a birthday party, and that was that.

With her brother, it was very different.  He had to be DOING something every second, and it switched from minute to minute what he wanted to be doing.  My mom and I taught him ping-pong, and he was actually interested in that for ten whole minutes.  Then, he wanted to play with Play-Doh, but we only had very dried-out crap.  Next, he wanted to play with the juggling clubs I have, except he wanted us to hit a ball back and forth with them.  Uh, no.  Even though the clubs are plastic, I do NOT want him hitting anything at me with one of the clubs.  As I have said earlier, I had one rule for my niece as she was growing up:  Don’t break your head–everything else can be fixed.  For my nephews, especially this one, I had to make up rules by the minute, and most of them included not hitting me.

Then, there were toys, toys, toys.  He jumped from this thing to that.  He had these robots called biotechnicals or something like that.  When I asked what they were, he said in a very exasperated voice, “They are biotechnicals.  Haven’t you heard of the movie????”  I said in a mock-exasperated voice, “No because I don’t have children.”  My mom thought that was funny–my nephew, not so much.

Then, we went to McDonald’s.  He got pop with his Happy Meal, which meant that he was bouncing all over the place after drinking it.   He chattered about his Hans Solo bobblehead (from the Happy Meal), about the other Star Wars figures he had, and about whatever popped into his mind.  Then, he became fixated on the red box (for the movies) and started pressing the buttons.  We had to remind him that he wanted to go to the park in order to pry him from the red box.  Even then, he wanted to watch the woman who was actually getting a movie from the red box operate it.

Eventually, we made it to the park.  He ran from one piece of equipment to the other, staying no more than two minutes on any one.  The ironic thing is that he spent the most time using his pop cup to move cupfuls of sand from one part of the playground to the other.  Whereas he was jittery and jumpy when playing on the swings or the slides or any of the other playground equipment, he was perfectly serene as he moved the sand from one area to another.

Back at home, he watched a Veggie Tales video (yes, VHS!) for about twenty minutes.  He sat perfectly still and just watched.  Then, he got ready for bed and was out like a light when his head hit his pillow.  I peeked in on him, and he was curled up on the bed, surrounded by his many stuffed animals.  He was in a deep sleep, and he looked so restful.

Why am I rambling about my nephew?  Because in his own way, he was really easy to be with today.  This is a good thing because my emotional reserves are a little thin right now.   Yes, he was high energy and bouncing around, but that’s normal little kid action going on.  He didn’t have one temper tantrum; he didn’t melt down at all; he didn’t attack me with his fists or his toys.  In short, he was on his best behavior without even realizing it.

He was simply a kid having a good time.

Now, we still have half a day with him, but I have seen this side of him on enough occasions to know that it’s not accidental or just a fluke.  He has it within him to simply be a kid.   I have decided to start taking out my niece and nephews on a regular rotating basis.  I think it will be nice for each of them to get a little alone-time with Crazy Auntie Minna.

I want to give them an alternative to what they already know.  I want to expand their horizons while still having a bunch of fun.  It’s easier with my niece because she had my undivided attention for six years before her brother was born.  Then, not even two years later, the youngest boy was born.  I think the middle brother unconsciously feels overlooked.  My niece is stunning and quite gregarious.  The youngest is cuter than a button and charming as hell.  The middle boy is dark and scowling and serious and smart as a whip.  In fact, he sometimes remind me of myself.  Maybe that’s why he can piss me off faster than the other two can.  I will have to tuck that away and think about it at a future date.

Meanwhile, I will continue to hold my nephew’s hand (both if he needs it) as he struggles to find his way in this world.  I am not going to let go of him, and I will not let him fall.

8 Responses to Babysitting for Dummies

  1. He was simply a kid having a good time.

    There’s nothing better. It’s sad that we often lose the ability to have a good time in simple play when we grow older. Maybe I’ll find a swing set after work today.

  2. Have FUN Gregory. I personally LOVE to play and have my own silly little play routines.
    I also LOVE red Swedish Fish. mmmmmmmmmmmmmm
    It’s fun to watch the differences in kids huh Minna? I’m glad you enjoyed your time.

  3. Oh my god, I love Whabs! I love red Swedish fish too! And red gummy bears!

    Minna — those would be Bionicles. My son still has all of his, but he keeps them so the 7yr old that he babysits can play with them. =) He would go on for hours about the different colors and what they meant, and who was on whose team, etc. I just nodded and smiled. =)

    You are an awesome aunt. I am that aunt too, which is kinda cool for me. I’m the one at whom they fire the tough questions, but I’m also the confidante and the help. A kid having that sort of relationship is a good thing.

    The sad thing for me is that your amazing, busy, intelligent, curious nephew is going to go be-bopping off to school soon. And when he does, he is going to almost definitely get slapped with the label of “AD/HD”. Not because he is, but because he doesn’t fit in The Box. As someone who truly does have AD/HD and have had since before it became fashionable to, it kills me to see so many active, bright kids in their drug stupors because the teacher was too lazy to challenge their minds, or the parents were too lazy to parent for real. (Not slighting your brother…that was a generic statement!)

    I hope your nephew knows and continues to know that he has a role model and an advocate in your, as well as a friend.

    Oh, and by the way? It’s “soda.” Pop is a verb, not a noun. Xoxoxox. =)

  4. Gregory, I hope you found a swing to swing on. I did swing while playing with my nephew, and it brought back memories of me swinging as a kid, trying with all my might to swing around the top bar. I thought I could really launch myself into another dimension that way. Just when do we lose our ability to play with such unabashed glee?

    whabs, hells ya. Ya gotta be in touch with the inner child in some ways. Me, I feed mine bourbon and chocolate. I’m not a big fan of Swedish Fish or gummies, though.

    The good times continued today. My nephew is pretty good at ping-pong, so we played that for a bit. Then I set him up on the computer for awhile (don’t worry, concerned parents, it was pbskids.com). Then, more playing. He told my mom he wanted to live with us.

    Kel, first of all, POP POP POP! Soda is so blah-sounding. Pop really, uh, pops!

    Secondly, I am really quite content to being the Crazy Auntie. I think everyone should have someone who shows them a different world than the one they know.

    I do think my nephew may have a tad of something. He has a flat affect, and his emotional responses are not quite appropriate. However, for the most part, I am seeing that he is just extremely-intelligent and extremely-active. I think some of the trouble he gets into (like spreading…olive oil? I think that was it) over all the floors in the house, is because he’s bored.

    We had a great day today, and I am breathing a bit easier about him. Both he and his older sister have expressed a lot of desire to spend more time at my house. I am going to do something about that.

  5. OMG you let your nephew look at PORN?? Minna how could you? PBS? Have you SEEN the beak on Big Bird? I am ashamed of you, Minna. Deeply, deeply ashamed.

    He could well have a touch of Aspergers. Not trying to diagnose without knowing him, but from what you have said both here an in Part Deux, it wouldn’t shock me. See, as a special ed teacher, I would love to get a hold of him. I could make him truly love school, instead of the feeling the loathing that I fear he will develop.

  6. Kel, I would rather he learn it from me than from someone who doesn’t care! (in response to your first paragraph).

    School is gonna suck for him. I was talking about it with my mother and how much I loathed school. I would like him to go to an alternative school that will help nurture his talents rather than stifle them, but it’s not my choice.