Yesterday was my last day babysitting for a family I’ve grown very fond of. I got the job online in January, during a dark period in my personal life. The work entailed waking up two young girls, ages 7 and 10 (I’ll call them Big Sister and Little One) and helping them get ready for school. I cooked breakfast, prepared lunches, made sure the girls had everything they needed, walked them to the bus stop, and occasionally drove them to school. I also did some light housekeeping: folding laundry, food preparation, vacuuming, and other light cleaning.
During spring break and summer vacation, I watched them all day, from 6:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Because of my teaching experience, at the mother’s request, the girls did an hour or so of academic work every day – worksheets related to what they learned during the previous year or would learn during the coming year, plus 30 minutes of silent reading. We also went to the zoo and to the animal shelter where I volunteer. We visited my cousins’ farm, where we fed chickens, took home a big basket of vegetables, and stopped for homemade ice cream on the way back. We went to movies, played at the park, and had treasure hunts and scavenger hunts. We made spaghetti tacos and a mashed potato bar. We visited a toy store where I worked last Christmas. We went swimming and had squirt gun fights. We watched the Disney Channel, and I laughed at “Good Luck Charlie” and “A.N.T. Farm” almost as much as they did.
I didn’t make a lot of money, but I did have a lot of fun, and I hope Big Sister and Little One did, too. I learned about Indian culture and the Hindu faith. Most importantly, this job saved my sanity and cleared my head about several things. I needed a reason to get up in the morning, and the girls provided that. I needed to discern how I felt about having children; at my age, it’s not a decision on which I can procrastinate. I learned that I want children in my life in some way, but they don’t have to be my biological children. I can be happy adopting, fostering, or being a stepmother. I can also be happy in my role as aunt and cousin, and I can “adopt” the children whose classrooms I teach in and the teenagers I tutor.
I was and am very blessed to cross this family’s path. I plan to stay in touch with the mother and help out if she needs me on days when the girls are off school.
Little One and Big Sister, you changed my life. I feel privileged to have watched you grow up, and I hope some day I meet you as the amazing young women I know you’re going to become. Thank you.