Once in awhile, when my friend Myrtle (this is her not-real-name name) has decidedly had far too much to drink, she comes up with a plan for me to watch her children. There are three of them. One, three and five. I don’t have any mini humans of my own, so for me, moments like these are much more exciting than they should ever be. Or so I’ve been told. In response to Myrtle’s plan I tell her, “YES! I’m hiding all of my pills right now. But hey, are you sure though? I mean, the only thing I know about childcare, I’ve learned from observing rabid rhesus monkeys”. She takes a few seconds to think this over and goes, “You know, that’s perfect! I’ll drop em off at three!”.
Occasionally watching Myrtle’s three children isn’t really babysitting. It’s more like entertaining miniature mental patients. One minute, they’re laughing at your funny faces and the next? They’re screaming bloody murder, because they don’t like the way you’ve eyeballed their Honey Nut Cheerios for the past two hours. Children are unpredictable. They are crafty. They climb bookcases like primates in the jungle. They are everything I strive to be in life. I was super excited. It’s not everyday that you get to entertain three children without the aid of alcohol. Here are some observations I’ve made during my recent stint in the Rent-Three-Kids-Overnight forum.
Stickers are like the drug of choice for children. Kids will do almost anything for a piece of pre-cut, sticky backed paper. Spring for the good stuff though. Just like magpies, children can’t resist the sparkle of glitter and foil. Remember, half price stickers mean half ass work. Kids brush their teeth for a Winnie The Pooh glitter sticker. They poop without flushing for clearance bin smiley face stickers.
After spending hours trying to baby proof my home, I finally gave up and handed out helmets to each child once they entered the doors.
If a child can speak, they can spell. This probably isn’t true outside of my own head. But I figured the girls were pounding away at my typewriter already, so I might as well have them type out Thank You letters. They usually started off with “dhaiu8re” and ended with “jdhfaiuh8888!23”. It’s okay. People will just think I was drunk when typing out those Thank You notes. Even better.
Children seem to eat two things: whatever you’re not serving and sliced bread. I made the mistake of giving them Macrina Bakery’s olivetta bread. They poked at the green stuff and asked what it was. “Those are olives. They taste much better in drinks but this isn’t too shabby either”, I informed them. They asked if I had plain sliced bread. I told them, “No. Adults can’t buy those until they have kids. For now, us childless couples have to make do with artisan bread”. I made a compromise and we had cake pops and oranges for lunch instead. Served with a flight of milk for them. Cow’s, almond and soy milks.
I’ve never believed in slipcovers until I saw three chocolate covered children make a beeline for my Thackeray sofa. I decided that this would be a good time to introduce them to the “water park”. Two minutes later, all three kids are standing in my bathroom telling me, “Um, this isn’t a water park”. I turned on the bathtub faucet and said, “Yes, it is. You park yourself in this tub, right here, and I turn on the water. Water park. And say, you know what will make your bubble bath even bubblier? If you scrub the bathtub first. Hold on, let me grab you my favorite toy, Mr. Scrub Brush”.
If you ever have to watch children, invest in a spinning globe. Children seem to be fascinated with the spinnability of a ball on an axis. They asked me where the South Pole was. I, in turn, asked them why. They told me that’s where toys are made. I said, “Oh, you want to know where toys are made? Here, let me find China for you”.
“Can we watch cartoons?” was a common question. My common answer was, “Only if you can figure out how to turn it on, because I sure can’t. Here are the remotes to the T.V., playstation, DVR and that other black box in back there. If you can figure it out, then you can watch it. If not, then there’s a view of ships rolling into Elliot Bay out the window”. They ended up watching the ships roll in for a few hours and telling each other that Bainbridge Island, in the distance, was Korea.
Kids don’t want to play with their own toys. They want to play with yours. And when you don’t have any toys, you have to come up with a quick solution. So, I gathered a bunch of rocks and told them this was the newest toy invented by Mattel called the Pocket Rock Its. So new, that they haven’t even released any commercials yet. These rocks kept them entertained for two hours. I have no idea how. But I’m not one to question luck when it makes a guest appearance.
Finally, send them off with a little gift to show them, “You’re not half bad when you’re not crying and thank you for not pooping in my houseplants”.