Other Kid, you may remember, is the little boy we've been babysitting since he was six weeks old. He's our reason for getting out of bed in the morning--at least the reason we got out of bed all summer at the cruel and unusual hour of 4:40 a.m. Anyway, due to changes in his parents' schedules, we're off Other Kid duty at least for the moment. This change is bittersweet--he has been part of our daily lives for years so it's kind of like sending one off to college--at the tender age of four, but it also means no more arbitrary and insane fluctuations in our schedule based on the arbitrary and insane fluctuations in Other Kid's parents' schedules.
Being so closely involved with someone else's child is a strange thing. I love him dearly; I'm tempted to say I love him like one of my own. But the truth is, the investment's entirely different. I care very deeply about him and do my best to protect him and provide him with the things he needs in his parents' absence, but I don't see his growth and behavior as reflections upon me so I can face any problems with him with a bemused sort of detachment that I didn't (and don't) have with my own kids. It's sort of like what I imagine grandparenting will be--love 'em a lot, hope for the best, and send 'em on home. When, for instance, potty training wasn't going well (this is a massive understatement--potty training was failing miserably: there was screaming and tears and bribes and threats--it was like nothing I'd ever seen before), I never spent sleepless nights staring at the ceiling, envisioning Other Kid having to wear Depends to his high school graduation.
For another instance, when things come out of his mouth, I don't wonder much who taught him that or what his saying that means about my skill level as a caregiver. A week or so ago, we were waiting for his grandmother--who happens to be none other than Cranky Boss Lady (oh what a tangled web we weave when first we agree to babysit for the Boss's grandon)--to pick him up for Montessori. She was, as is very usual, running late. Other Kid said, "Where's Grandma?"
I said, "She's just running a little late. She'll be here soon."
Other Kid said, "Grandma's a loser."
Ya' know, I'm really gonna miss that kid.
I Am Not a Wimp
4 hours ago