I was hired to watch three kids one Saturday while their parents went to the local Oktoberfest. I supervised my kid best friend, named Kid, his younger brother, KidBrother, and the child of a friend of the parents of the first two, we’ll call him Tom.
Kid is seven, KidBrother and Tom are both three. During the course of watching these kids, I said things to them I never imagined saying to anyone in my life. I hadn’t imagined saying those things because what I was saying were things said to me as a kid, things adults would say when they sucked the fun out of stuff by regulating everything my kid self would do.
And yet I found myself saying these things:
When giving twoKidBrother and Tom beverages that did not have lids: “Don’t spill this.”
When informed for the 8th time in an hour thatKidBrother wanted food, I responded: “You’re not hungry; you’re bored.”
When I discovered the KidBrother in the garage rustling around in the dog food container: “Do not feed the dog food to the birds!” I then had to have a soothing, gentle conversation with a crying three-year-old who was sad I wouldn’t let him feed the birds the dog’s food . I patiently explained that the birds have lots of food outside, and what does his dog have to eat? Dog food. That’s right. She can’t eat the seeds on the ground, or all the apples, or worms. All she has is dog food. Do you really want to feed all her food to the birds? Do you want your dog to go hungry? No, you don’t. So we don’t feed dog food to the birds.
About 20 minutes after giving the Tom a lidless beverage: “I TOLD you not to spill that”
When the Kid asked me for permission: “No, you may not repaint the jeep.” He tried to convince me that, since I was the adult, it didn’t matter what his parents thought. I was in charge in that moment and should make decisions based on what he was wanting, not what I thought his parents might or might not find reasonable.
Reflecting upon my overall situation after touching a spot on my jeans: “Why am I sticky?”
After carefully observing KidBrother in action: “Did you just lick that?!”
When Tom handed me a pretzel to eat: “Um, Tom…this is wet. I don’t think I’m going to eat it.”
When KidBrother his crotch for the third time in two minutes: “Are you SURE you don’t have to go potty again?”
When asked for more juice: “You guys each get three refills then the bar is closed.”
When asked for more juice: “You can have water or milk,” I informedKidBrother. “I want juice!” he responded reasonably.
When watching KidBrother play with his trucks: “Do NOT put that in the dog’s water then lick it!”
When supervising both three-year-olds in the sandbox: “Be gentle when you throw that. Be a gentle crushing giant.”
When supervising KidBrother’s potty time for the fourth time: “Get down from there. That’s not how you go potty.” He’d been sitting on the front of the toilet, lid down, facing the tank.
Again, reflecting upon my overall situation: “What’s that smell? Did someone poop?”
When Tom sat on me: “Why are you all wet?” His diaper needed changing. While wrangling him, Kid and KidBrother began wrestling. KidBrother accidentally bonked his head into Kid’s nose. This cause Kid to fall to the ground crying, so I was forced to abandon my attempt to herd the wet-pants’d Tom toward a diaper change, and instead needed to attend to a now-bleeding Kid. He stopped crying, we got him a tissue for the bloody nose, and then he walked me through the steps of how to change a diaper. At that point, I really only had theoretical knowledge and not much actual practice, and none in the past decade.
As soon as that was done, the parents got home.