Babysitting for Dummies, Part II

asian boy 2So, this is the continuation of Minna’s Adventures in Babysitting.  Last night, I went to bed around 1:30 a.m.  I optimistically set my alarm for 9:00 a.m. because I had to be out of the house by 9:20 a.m.  I fell asleep around 2:00 a.m., which would have given me seven hours if I had made it to the alarm.

Alas, it was not to be.  Thanks to a BJ commenter, who shall remain nameless (*cough, JK, cough–but he also turned me on to Cat Stevens’ Father and Son, to which I’ve been listening all fucking day long, so I forgive him), I had a nightmare about Michele Bachmann trying to talk me to death.  Talk about your death panels!  Anyway, I woke up at 6:30 p.m., which puts me in at a cool 4 1/2 hours.

I fed the kittehs, scooped the litter, and then retired to my computer to send emails and surf the web.  Half an hour later, my nephew popped his head in and asked for breakfast.  I went to cut up a pear for him and to hand him two “Grandma ____ (insert my mom’s name here) cookies” and to brew him a bit of coffee.  Yes, he’s a week away from five and already drinking coffee.  The cookies are from Taiwan, and he just loves them.

We hit the floor running after that.  We played with the Bionicles again (I told you, Kel, I don’t have kids so I don’t need to know this shit), and I got to be the black guy this time.   Then, more ping-pong.  It’s the one thing he can play for more than five minutes–and he’s pretty damn good for his age.   Right now, we are focusing on getting him to just hit the ball.  If he hits the table with it, it’s an extra bonus.  My mom likes to exhort him to watch the ball and keep his eyes on the ball and to hit it!  I prefer to just play, damn it.  It’s supposed to be fun, and personally, I don’t find it fun when someone is telling me what to do all the time.

Then, I had an appointment.  When I got back, we went to the grocery store.  My nephew loves going grocery shopping, and except for a few hairy moments with the shopping cart, it went smoothly.  Back at the house, we ate, and then Mom took my nephew for a walk.  My brother came over, ate, and helped me with computer questions.  He’s the techie in my life, and I told him, quite seriously that he could not die before I did or I would be screwed.  I don’t swear in front of my brother.

My mom and my nephew came back, and I played with the nephew some more.  My nephew wandered off to play by himself, and my mother told my brother and me that my nephew had asked if he could live with us (my mom and me).    Later, I got him set up on my laptop to surf pbskids.com, and I returned to my computer. 4:30 p.m. rolled around, and I had to take a nap.  I kissed my nephew good-bye, then went to bed.  When I got up, my brother and nephew were gone, and I had two cats again (Shadow will disappear without a trace when a stranger is in the house, especially a rambunctious child).  In fact, Raven is on my CPU to my right, snoozing, and Shadow is in the papasan to my left, also in dreamland.

Again, my nephew had no meltdowns; he did not act out or up; he had a blast.  He was a kid being a kid, albeit a kid with his quirks.  He HAS to turn on and off the lights.  He HAS to open and close the doors.  He HAS to do things in a certain order.  However, he doesn’t freak out in the same way if his routine is messed up.   Granted, we only had him for roughly twenty-four hours (and he slept for twelve of them), but I can see the bright, mischievous, creative, happy boy that he can be when he’s not weighted down by the cares of the world.

I may be projecting, hell, I know I am, but my heart aches when I see him struggling with his emotions.  Everything can be so fucking difficult for him, and I just want to take it all away from him.  I want to say, “I know what it’s like.  Give it to me.  I will carry it for you until you are strong enough to deal with it yourself.”  I mean, hell.  With all the negative emotions I absorb, what’s a little bit more?

I want to lift the burdens from his heart because someone that young and innocent doesn’t deserve to hate life so much.  When he was two, we were playing a game.  He got frustrated and heaved a huge sigh.  I asked him what was wrong, and he said in his flat voice, “It’s stupid.”  I asked him gently what was stupid.  He sighed again and said with anguish, “Everything!”  He was two!  How I wanted to cradle him in my arms and promise him that everything would be ok.  I didn’t do, because I couldn’t.  You see, I was in the middle of my long-ass depression at the time in which I thought about killing myself every day.  I was barely hanging on to my life by a thread, so how the hell could I kiss his fears away?

Now, though, it’s different.  Even though I’m in a mini-depression right now, I am strong enough to want to wrap a white light around my nephew and shield him from harm.  I am touched that I have such an impact on him (as I do on his older sister), and perhaps, through that bond, I can help him become the boy he truly is meant to be.  If nothing else, I can be the person who tells him it’s ok to be different from everyone else.  I can tell him that he is not overreacting and that he is not being too sensitive.

How I want to wave a magic wand and make everything better for him.  Seeing him as he can be makes it that much more difficult to see him when he’s muzzled.   Yes, he is offbeat and not like other kids.  Yes, he has trouble relating with other people for the most part.   That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be loved for who he is–which is one hell of a kid.

Hm.  That sounds suspiciously like advice I need to listen to myself.  But, since this blog entry isn’t about me, I can ignore it and focus on my nephew.

Nephew, when you are older, you will mostly need a safe haven where you can escape and just be you.  I make you the same promise I made to your sister (in my heart) many years ago.  If you ever feel lost and alone with no one to whom you can turn, come to me.  I will welcome you with an open mind, open arms, and an open heart.

3 Responses to Babysitting for Dummies, Part II

  1. That was beautiful, Minna. I understand how you feel. One of the hardest thing about being a parent is realizing my daughters sometimes need to feel the hurt or frustration of their bad decisions in order to learn from them. It’s hard realizing that not only can one, as a parent, not always make it better, but that one shouldn’t always make it better.

    What we focus on is making sure they know we love them, no matter what they do, even if it makes us angry at them.

  2. I agree with what Gregory said. It really is a beautiful post. And that feeling of wanting to wrap our children up and protect from the world is frustrating, because they really are precious and unique and wonderful just they way they are. But they need to learn to protect themselves or my very attempt at protecting them will tell them they can’t do it themselves.

  3. Gregory and Crystal, thank you. It was from the heart.

    Gregory, yeah, it’s not so much that I want to shield him from the consequences of his negative behavior as I want to shield him from the inevitable damage that being so different in a mainstream world will cause him.

    Crystal, I agree that he needs to learn to do it himself–to a point. I know my judgment is clouded because of my personal experience, but because of how close I came to killing myself many times over the years (starting when I was seven), I wanna make sure he makes it to the point when he can protect himself.