Posted by: emjb | August 7, 2005

Much Shorter, Much Less Deep

Damn, that last post was long. And a bit shaggy, now that I re-read it. Such are the joys of the blogosphere. I’m still glad I got it down.

Anyway, I went to church today…

Heh. No really, I was a paid babysitter at the church of one of my acquaintances. As I told Matthew and Dean, I went to church for years and never got paid. Only seems fair to get some money this time. And I never had to leave the nursery.

I was a little worried that the church people would try to recruit me, but they didn’t seem to be the types, or maybe just didn’t have the time. Fine with me.

Besides being part of our Frugality: Wow! campaign pre-baby, this little odd job was also an opportunity to hang out with some people of the baby persuasion, to see how it felt. It’s been a while since I did any baby-wrangling. And I did just fine.

It occurs to me that I get along pretty well with most toddlers, because I am like one in many respects. I don’t like constant noise and stimulation, or people talking to me in high fakey voices. I get cranky about discomfort or disruptions in my routine. I like to eat what I like and play with what I choose. If I could still get away with it, I would definitely crawl under the dining room table to get away from people at boring social events. Left alone with a toddler, unless he’s having a truly bad day or is ill, we usually reach an understanding. I follow his lead, keep him from sticking forks in light sockets, and make sure he hasn’t pooped himself. We may or may not watch TV (I’m not a big fan of too much of it), we may nibble on some crackers, we may play Chase or Racecar Crash* if he’s got a lot of energy. And that usually works.

What made today not so hot is that the acquaintance who recruited me, who is much younger, was also a bit territorial; there were only two kids there, and she had a hard time letting me do much of anything to soothe or play with them. She also had the common adult belief that children need Constant Loud Stimulation, so we had The Wiggles on at full blast, every toy out and being proferred the moment a kid lost interest in one of them, and constant questions: Do you want to put on your shirt? Do you want a cookie? Do you want to watch something else? All asked before the kid had a chance to be bored, or hungry, or interested in what was already going on. I kept wanting to tell her, chill, girl. The child will tell you when he’s ready for a change, and then you can figure out what the change is. Maybe she was terrified that they would cry. Which is never fun, but there is with most kids a little lag time between “I’m getting bored with this” and “I’m going to scream my lungs out.”

Not that there aren’t children who will absolutely make you pull your hair out. I had one kid back at my old church nursery, where I volunteered, who had the amazing ability to cry for two solid hours till his mama came back. Nothing made him feel better; he just wasn’t ready for separation, I guess. But most kids like to play, like attention, and like to be physically comfortable, and if those things are there, and there isn’t some other problem, they’re ok.

I go back next week. We’ll see if disaster strikes and makes a liar of me.

*Racecar Crash goes like this: you sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you, the kid between them facing forward. Your arms are the seatbelts. Making various “vrooooooommmm….rrrrrrrrrrrrrr…” noises, you imitate a car driving faster and faster. You make “turns” by leaning left or right unexpectedly, or when the kid turns his imaginary steering wheel. At the crescendo, you “crash” which involves making car crash noises and rolling around on the floor with the kid, and go “Oh no! we crashed!” It was always a hit. The kid will make you do it until you’re exhausted.

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