perils with writing and whatnot
When I’ve talked about my life as a kid, people have said that my life must have been sheltered because there weren’t any earth-shattering catastrophes, at least not until I was seventeen. (I won’t go into that now. I’ll tell that story another time.) My personal opinion is that I think they are dead wrong. I have many stories to tell to prove my point. Today I will be telling you about one that will show abilities to take on tasks that others would have ran from.
Harrison and Courtney moved into the house right behind us on the next street the spring before I turned ten years old (a September thing). They were a relatively young couple but were considered older parents of a one-year-old boy named Chip. Yes, it was a nickname for the formal name of Clarence. Although I thought at the time that Harrison and Courtney were foolish to give such a name to their son because of the jokes that would eventually fly left and right, I kept my mouth shut. What did I know? I was just a kid.
Courtney was pregnant with their second son, Larry (Lawrence), who was born in July of that year. Because Courtney was so outgoing and flamboyant, by the time this happened, our two household were chummy. If I couldn’t find my mom at home, I was pretty sure that she was across that back fence having coffee with Courtney. (No, my mom didn’t usually climb fences, and neither did Courtney. My father had put in a gate between the two yards several years before because we were chummy with the previous family too.)
Harrison and Courtney received seasonal football tickets from Courtney’s parents later that summer. Courtney being Courtney had the ‘perfect’ plan so that she and her husband could make good use of the tickets. She employed me to watch her little boys on the Sundays when the team was playing in town. For a ten-year-old this may seem like a lot of responsibility. However, Courtney had been prepping me for my duties as a babysitter ever since those tickets had arrived.
I knew how to make baby formula and prepare food for Larry, as well as how to put a diaper on his little butt. Chip had been taught to mind me and I was well-informed about the shenanigans he could pull. (Is any kid good all the time?) There weren’t any tears from either of them when Courtney would walk out the door. They must have been comfortable with me.
Every football season after that for the next five years was pretty much the same. I would be at Courtney’s back door on numerous Sundays at approximately twelve noon to take my role as babysitter.
Chip and Larry were close. This is something I had never experienced with my own brother so I would often smile at them as they would play. Wherever one was, the other one would be there too. And talk about conniving – the trouble they could get into multiplied as they grew. Chip was the leader of course, but Larry had the brain that went at warp speed. I would hear them playing in the backyard as I would clean up after their mid-afternoon snack, but when I’d walk out to check closer, usually they couldn’t be found. Most of the time they were sitting on the ground behind the short cement wall of the driveway or just beyond the covered patio that was hidden by the far wall. There were a couple of times when they had me scared to the point that I was seriously thinking of calling my mom. Both times I found them in the neighbor’s backyard playing with Joe, the Labrador dog who lived there.
Because of their shenanigans, I had to start doing the ‘timeout’ routine. My version of this was to send one to the bedroom that they shared and the other one would have to sit behind the big overstuffed chair in the living room. This spot was reserved for the one who would start the trouble. The bedroom was for the one who willingly followed the other’s lead. All in all, they were good kids. Rarely did I ever have to do the ‘timeout’ thing more than once during a babysitting session no matter how many hours it was.
Sean was born when Chip was five years old. Despite all of the experience I had by that time, he was a handful. That football season (the sixth one I babysat through) was rough because of Sean’s attachment to his mom. I would spend most of my time holding Shaun so he wouldn’t wail nonstop. I know he didn’t mean to be such a pain, but nevertheless, that’s what he was. He was attached to Courtney in a way that the other two boys weren’t. I was aware that there were kids who just had a hard time with separating. In most instants, it wasn’t the fault of the parent. It was just the way the kid was. Still, because of how tiring it was, that was my last football season babysitting the boys.
Despite my resignation, Harrison and Courtney continued to use my services for evening events.
Anthony (Tony) was born a year later. By that time, I was beyond my babysitting days and had a part-time job at an insurance company. Still, when Courtney would come over for coffee, if I was around, I’d spend a few minutes with Tony while the other three played outside.
They moved a few years later.
Courtney’s boys were special to me, even after I resigned my services to them. Learning so much about being a caregiver from that experience served me well when I had my own son. These days, I don’t hear about or see many teenagers taking on the responsibility of babysitting. Parents I’ve talked to say that teenagers aren’t ‘old enough’ for the responsibility, or the teenager has so much to do as it is so that any type of job isn’t feasible.
I don’t think their reasons are warranted. What is your opinion on this?
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James Edgar Skye
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