When I signed up to this babysitting business, I didn't realise how many life lessons (all grim) would surface. And yet, 2 months on (waaaaah, it's going waaay too fast!), I know more about myself, about children, and about general coping mechanisms, than I ever thought possible. I'm being a drama queen (quelle surprise!) as usual, but it has been a rocky road at times.
Let me share with you a few of my favourite (and when I say 'favourite', I actually mean 'most upsetting') moments thus far:
A few days ago I had to wipe a bum that was not my own for the first time in my sheltered life.
I was with the twins, and we were playing chase. They were in their socks; I was in my brogues; the immaculate wooden floor was getting scuffed to within an inch of its life; there were 6 year old boys slipping and sliding dangerously all over the shop... A laugh all round.
Suddenly a twin cried out 'PAUSE', and ran to the toilet for a much-advertised poo. Not a problem. Even if, at the ripe old age of 6 years old, I feel as though he could have shown me the respect of closing the door (it's not much fun to accidentally make eye contact with a child who's pulling concentrated faces, whilst dangling their little legs off the toilet...) So I continued to spin around the front room like a Beyblade (I'm becoming an expert in these!), while Twin 2 grew gradually more and more violent with his catching methods.
After a few minutes I shout out a tentative, 'Are you okay in there?' to Twin 1. Wish I hadn't.
'Peux-tu m'essuyer?!', he calls back. No need to tell you what that means... Well, I will if you really want. Homeboy was asking me to be designated wiper. Yup. My job just changed from something light and cheery to... my worst nightmare.
Let me explain... I'm kinda squeamish when it comes to bodily functions. I've only recently learnt how to say the word 'poo' out loud (and even then only with my closest friends.) I once stopped seeing a boy because we walked past some spilt chocolate on a floor, and he said, 'Siiiiilv, have you shit yourself again?!' He thought it was hilarious; I thought it was a dealbreaker.
Obviously I couldn't leave Twin 1 stranded on the toilet (and believe me, I contemplated it), so I mustered up all the courage I had in me and proceeded into No Man's Land. Once there, I gathered approximately 16 sheets of toilet paper, and then struggled to find a way of wiping without actually seeing, or getting too near to, anything. Luckily, Twin 1 was completely o b l i v i o u s to my discomfort, humming away, happy as Larry, while I performed professional gymnastic moves to try and get the job done without actually using any of my own limbs. It was a proud moment in my career when I'd disposed of the pile of paper and stepped back to breathe a sigh of relief, until... a little voice shouted, 'Encore!!'
I swear to god.
So the whole charade had to start again, and by this time I'd lost the will to live, and was genuinely considering leaving my post (always one to take things calmly...) How did my cutie little babysitting job turn into this horror story?! How.
Once His Majesty was satisfied with the result, he clambered down from his throne to continue playing as if nothing was wrong with the world, while I frantically washed my hands 20 times.
And then the game of chase continued.
Toilet Trauma Take Two
This story involves a different 6 year old, a completely different situation (i.e. it was me on the toilet, not a child), but the same level of upset and unease.
I was with J.L., the little bubba who lived in Boston for a year, therefore understands every word I say to him in English (even when I say, 'cannot be arsedddd with this today'- whoops!) I excused myself for 30 seconds, telling him I was going for a quick wee, and was surprised to notice that while I was in the toilet he was beautifully quiet.
Until... he charges the bathroom door open (I'm still sitting on the toilet at this point, but clearly J.L. doesn't see the point in shyness among friends...), and comes stomping in in my 5 inch wedges. He looks so pleased with himself, and keeps looking down at his feet, as if to say, 'LOOK SILV! NOTICE! LOOK AT MY TINY BABY FEET IN YOUR ENORMOUS SHOES! DON'T I LOOK PRETTY?! TELL ME I LOOK PRETTY!!!!'
So I humoured him, and said, 'awww, that looks funny!', before dealing with the more pressing matter in hand, and saying, 'but you shouldn't really walk in on people when they're in the toilet...'
He completely ignored my ludicrous suggestion, and continued to parade up and down the landing in his new shoes (actually handling the heel height very professionally- props where props are due).
So that was nice.
Okay, so, I probably shouldn't say this (but then again, I probably shouldn't say most things that I do say), but I have a favourite child that I look after, and that's E.V. He gives me every single possible reason to dislike him, and yet I just think he's a dude. He's the youngest, at only 4 years old, and he's an only child like me, but the kind of only child that gives only children a bad name. He is the manager of the tantrum team, and the director of the strop association. When he's in a good mood he is the most fun, cutest little cherub anyone's ever laid eyes on. When he's in a bad mood it's the end of life as anyone knows it.
So last week I found him in one of his most impressively horrible moods. That's okay. We all have off days.
But ooooh shit, this one took the crown.
I dealt with him relatively nicely until bath time, and then all. hell. broke. loose. All hell broke so loose. He did his usual trick of making me think he's going to comply, by taking off all his clothes and standing near the bathroom. But then once he looks as though he's all ready to jump into the bath, what he actually does is jump... away. And then runs all around the house. Really fast.
Or else, he'll put one foot in the bath, SCREAM that it's too hot (it's never too hot; in fact, a lot of the time, it's almost too cold), and then jump out and run all around the house. Really fast.
Or, on special occasions, he'll put two feet in the bath, lulling me into a false sense of security, and then SCREAM that he needs a wee, and then jump out and run all around the house. Really fast.
A personal favourite, and alternative method of distraction, that he uses, is the Snail Watering-can Trick. He has a watering-can, and it's in the shape of a snail. This is the Snail Watering-can. The Snail Watering-can Trick goes a little something like this...
He'll put his two little feet in the bath, SCREAM that he needs a wee, and then when I offer to run him quickly to the toilet, he'll shake his little angelic head, and point to the Snail Watering-can. Yep, you've guessed it. What this 4-year-old joker is suggesting is that I hand him the Snail Watering-can, so that he can urinate inside it, saving the unnecessary job of getting out and going to the toilet, so that I can have the unsavoury job of emptying and washing out said Snail Watering-can. Lovely.
The first time he suggested this I was absolutely horrified, and point-blank refused to hand him the Snail Watering-can. However, he was incredibly insistent, and his voice got higher and more distressed, until his live-in nanny (yep, he has two ladies looking after him at a time. He's royalty, my friends, he is royalty), came in to see what all the commotion was about. As he SCREAMED about his predicament, I turned to Live-In Nanny to find some solidarity, and to share the hilarious joke about him wanting to use Snail Watering-can as a personal potty, only to find her conspiratorially handing him Snail Watering-can and putting her finger to her lips to indicate a secret shared.
As E.V. happily urinated into the poor unsuspecting snail, I put my head in my hands, and considered changing my methods of persuasion. I mean, if a child really wants to piss on his toys, should I let them?
You'll be glad to know that I decided that it was a definite 'no'. I may come off as the bad guy occasionally, but I do think the line needs to be drawn when piss starts being thrown around. One day it's the Snail Watering-can, the next day it's you.
You need to nip it in the bud, you guys, you really do.