Monday, June 28, 2010

A Family of Four?

Hahaha! No. Sorry. No baby news. We simply baby sat for one of our neighbors this weekend.

It's interesting, for as much as our children play together, we have a pretty strong no baby sitting precedent in our neighborhood. In fact, we have an unspoken boundary of the front door that all of the kids seem to intuitively understand and respect. The kids all share bikes, chalk, and Popsicles but the moment one kid runs into their house, the other kids just stop at the door and wait until they return. It was never planned, it just evolved that the door is the neighborhood boundary.

Early last week, Michael was playing with J and M when J's mom asked M's mom if she had gotten a response from a baby sitter. She was disappointed to learn that the baby sitter didn't pan out because she was hoping to use the baby sister so that they could leave J's little brother and take J to see Toy Story. They just wanted to spend a little bit of special time with J, but it didn't look like they would be able to pull it off.

So, I broke the unspoken rule and offered to babysit C while they took J to the movie. It was a little awkward at first, because it sort of changes the dynamic of the neighborhood a little. It certainly breaches the front door rule, and it could possibly cause bad feelings with other neighbors. However, J is such a nice kid and such a wonderful big brother, I really wanted his parents to be able to give him that special trip to the movies all on his own. So I offered. I was very happy that they felt comfortable enough to agree to it.

When it comes to watching someone else's child, we are in a better position to do so than the other neighbors. We are one of the few one child families left, so it's easier for us to handle another child for a few hours. It also helps that for whatever reason, Michael has always been very good with C. He was great with him when C was just a baby and continues to enjoy him now that he's almost 2. I felt pretty sure that we could handle both of them at the same time.

We prepared Michael for it ahead of time. I talked about how we would be watching C and that C would probably want to play with Michael's toys. Michael was very excited for C to come over and spent Saturday morning asking us when he would arrive.

I was a bit concerned about how Michael would handle it once C did arrive, but he had absolutely no problem with C raiding his toy box or joining in with what Michael was doing. They got along great the entire time. C is a very independent little boy, and he made himself right at home. He giggled and played and was a joy to have in the house. It was really very sweet. It was nice to spend some time with C and get to know him better, and it was also nice to see such a kind side of Michael.

As much as I enjoyed the time, I will say that I don't think I'm cut out for more than one child. It's hard having to divide my attention. I'm just not good at managing more than one distraction at one time. The boys didn't have a problem with it, but it was exhausting for me to try and keep my attention on both of them at once. I don't mean engaging them both at once, I'm simply referring to having that mental hook into the general where abouts of each one. Not surprising really. I can't even talk on the phone and drive other. (I mean at all. I really, really can't do it. The few times I've tried the call quickly ends in, "look, I really can't talk. This will have to wait.")

My biggest concern now is that J and C's parents feel that they need to return the favor. They really don't. I didn't do it so they would owe us a favor. Having spent time with both C and Michael, I can easily say that Michael is a little (a lot) more high maintenance the C, and therefore it's not necessarily a fair trade. I guess we'll see if anything comes up when Andy and I could use a little help. It would be interesting to see how he does spending a few hours with J and C.

Little stinker would probably be a perfect angle for them.


LauraC said...

We've done lots of babysitting for other people and our thought is always that two is enough. Throw in a third and it is too much chaos for us!

Mel said...

I agree with Laura! 3's a crowd. Sometimes we wonder if we are done, and we try to imagine how a third kid would fit into the scenario. That conversation usually ends with hubby agreeing to an emergency vasectomy! So I am 99% sure that we are done. For us, I'm thinking if a third kid ever comes along, it will be several years from now - the TRUE baby of the family.

DesiDVM said...

Having 2 has definitely changed my perspective a bit - how does my daycare lady do it?? Although I have to say, now that Jr. is mobile it's alot harder to keep up with the two of them, but on the flip side I do get rare moments here and there where they play together and I see some of the benefit of not always having to be the sole playmate for J.

MyWorld said...

My FIL told me yesterday that I needed to have another kid and I actually laughed at him. That shop is closed.

We moved into a different neighborhood last summer and I have to say -- good neighbors are the best people ever. Sounds like you guys are in a good neighborhood, too.

Beth said...

I love having two, but I have your same thoughts about having three. With our friends visiting this weekend, there was a 6 year old, a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a 1 year old. And even with their mom there, I felt overwhelmed at times! Our family of four is complete, and I think only a very wise person knows her limits!

Heidi O said...

I have taken in a few kids but usually it is during the day. And you never know until you try with dishing out the kid to the neighbors might end up working out.