I was outed several weeks ago – on a blog post here -- as having once upon a time rolled the Baggott-Scott children around in a suitcase for sport (one at a time -- not all at once; that’s just plain irresponsible) during my era as babysitter in the Baggott-Scott household. It happened. It’s fair game. (Let me ask you this, parents of children – would you rather your sitter invent a whimsical Houdini-esque game where your children are encouraged to zip themselves inside a suitcase and roll one another around the house, or would you rather your sitter plop them down in front of a television for a Hannah Montana marathon to pass the long days of summer? Yeah, that’s what I thought.)
My memory of which babysitting hijinks Dave and JBag (in my day, we used letters for the nickname sparingly – there was no accompanying ‘s’ – but I do admire and approve of The G’s addition) were privy to is hazy at best. I do know for a fact that they knew about the faux swirlies I gave the kids. I’d hoist them up by their ankles and hold them upside down inches above the toilet water (mostly Theo, because at 4, he was the smallest and easiest to dangle without any real threat of accidentally dipping him in). They’d squeal with delight (again, mostly Theo) and ask for another, or half-assedly threaten some sort of “misbehavior” to require another “punishment” by swirlie.
One day, as I was dangling Theo over the toilet, mid-faux swirlie, Dave walked out of his office and saw all of this. I froze, imagining what it must look like to see your babysitter dangling your youngest child over a toilet by their ankles, and offered, “I’m preparing them for middle school.”
Dave paused, said, “Carry on,” and continued down the hall.
Another fun game we’d play was called “Blind driver.” You might be able to intuit from the name of the game what it entails. Anytime I drove the kids home from soccer practice, as we came down the big hill toward the house, I’d pretend to be blind, take my hands off the wheel, wave them wildly in the air and tell the kids I couldn’t stop the car. (Any babysitters reading this, please feel free to borrow any of these. You’re welcome.)
I don’t believe I ever volunteered information about The Blind Driver game to Jbag and Dave, but once when Phoebe’s piano teacher was over, Phoebe looked right at me, smiled, and said, “Did you know that sometimes our babysitter pretends to be blind when she’s driving us?”
The piano teacher, an older woman, was moderately horrified.
Am I proud of any of this? Am I feeling good about the fact that I once rolled children around in suitcases, either before or after nearly dipping their heads in a toilet bowl?
Why, yes. Yes, I am.
One of the best compliments I’ve ever received was from Theo (5 years old at the time), upon my return from studying abroad in Italy for two months. We were baking cookies together, and he’d recommended taking them out, but I’d insisted another two minutes would do the trick. He’s telling me how they realized while I was gone that “other kids’ babysittuhs don’t wead to them, or play games with them, and we’ah weally lucky to have you.”
I take the cookies out of the oven, and they’re burned. To a crisp.
I’ve never seen sadder eyes in my life. “You know what, Joanna?” Theo says. “You’ah weally awesome at kids, but you kind of stink at cooking.”