Thursday, August 16, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting, circa 2012

The Walkers are on a quest for a new babysitter. Our beloved Rachael is off to college.
Rachael has been our official go-to girl for a few years now. For her 16th birthday, my husband printed off and gave her Map Quest directions to our house. My oldest child gets some of her cute hand-me-downs. My youngest child thinks she’s as pretty as Barbie (in fact, she’s much prettier and far more real). The rest of us just think she’s cool. The thing about Rachael is that she’s just enough of a kid that my kids don’t realize their being supervised; but she’s just grown up enough to get all of my pop culture references.
We’re all a little sad to let her go.
Who will let the kids play games on her phone and watch too much Disney channel? Who will build forts in the den floor that the kids insist on leaving there for days? Who will let them wash her car with lots of soapy water, then let them slide off the hood into the grass? Oh, wait…NO ONE will do that. We have to draw the line somewhere. Epic night for the kids, though. It’s still talked about neighborhood-wide.
And how, oh, how will we manage date night without her?!
But I’m not one to procrastinate. Just kidding! Of course I am! I’ll avoid finding a new sitter as long as I can, possibly even texting Rachael’s college advisor with an emergency request for her to return home to help avoid a close call with WMD (Walkers Missing Date night).
And while I would love to keep Rachael around to maintain Most Favored Babysitter status, I know what waits for her.
I know she is about to embark of the time of her life. I know she is about to meet lifelong friends and have priceless experiences. I know she’s about to step out into that magical space between childhood and adulthood that will shape who she becomes. I know she’s about to challenge every belief her family holds dear and examine what she’ll keep and what she’ll let go.
I know she’ll head east in a few days, her trunk loaded down with all the stuff she thinks she will need, which I imagine to include some camouflage bibbed overalls, some rocking heels, a flat iron and a volleyball.
I know she’ll do great, and I want her to. I want her to shine her sweet, funny, smart light all over east Tennessee.
Incidentally, I had a brief conversation this morning with a potential new sitter. (Let’s not call her a “replacement.” As if.) This person is someone who already works with children, is capable and comes well-recommended.
So when I let her know of our next planned night out, she let me know she would think about it and get back to me.
What’s that, now? THINK about it?! Don’t you know who you’re dealing with here, sister? Not just anyone gets to watch the Walker kids. They’ve come to expect a certain quality in a sitter.
Sure, this new change will be all right. On paper, she fits the bill just fine. She’ll take care of our kids with expertise and vigilance.
But will she let them soap up her Honda?
Alfred Hitchcock said, “A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it.”
With Rachael, they always were.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To Do: Stop Obsessing On "To Do" List

Oh, those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer! They’re over, people.
School starts today, and that means one thing: my “To Do” List is, again, over the top.
Fueled by good intentions and crippling perfectionism, I, like most mothers, have an epic “To Do” list that Franklin Covey couldn’t tame.  It’s at its worst on the first day of school. While we want to use it as a guide—to bring order to that important first day—sometimes we expect too much from ourselves. Nothing gets a mother’s perfectionism stirred up like the first day of school. We all want to make the day go smoothly for our kids and start them off just right, but face it, we’re human.
That, my friends, is why I have constructed TWO “To Do” lists for your perusal. Perhaps we can manage to find ourselves somewhere in the middle.
First day of school “To Do” list (how we want it to be):
1.      Wake up at 5:00; Preheat griddle for homemade spelt pancakes; tap maple tree for syrup; go for a run before waking kids and hubby.
2.      Wake kids at 6:00 by singing original Good Morning Song composed during previous run; smile and kiss each sleepy head.
3.      Shower and change while kids are getting dressed and hubby is flipping pancakes; be amused that he’s wearing an apron; snap random candid pictures.
4.      Review last minute supply list for each child, being sure to include hand-written note in every organic, super-healthy lunch.
5.      Gather kids on front steps for official “first day of school” picture; remember to mail it to Pottery Barn Kids for cover photo contest.
6.      With 15 minutes to spare, gather everyone in the Odyssey and head to school; hand deliver homemade “first day teacher gifts” to each classroom.
7.      Blow kisses and marvel at those precious people you made.
And for the rest of us:
1.      Wake up at 5:45, hit snooze; wake in a panic at 7:25; run to fridge; curse like a sailor when it’s empty.
2.      Wake kids by screaming that school starts in 20 minutes. Hand them breakfast: half a bag of donuts and a 2-liter of Sprite.
3.      Pull on running shorts, bathing suit top and cowboy boots; tell hubby to pull the pillow off his head and find youngest child’s other shoe; curse again when the shoe is the only thing in the fridge; take batteries from TV remote and add to camera.
4.      Scrounge for school supplies; hand everyone seven sheets of wrinkled, college-ruled paper and a highlighter; pass out lunches: tuna on saltines and a baggie full of potato chip crumbs.
5.      Gather kids on front steps for official “first day of school” picture; insist that they smile, damn it, it’s the first day of school!
6.      With no time to spare, gather everyone in the Odyssey and head to school, screeching on two wheels into the parking lot, just as the Pledge of Allegiance begins; walk kids to class while reciting the Serenity Prayer.
     7.      Blow kisses and marvel at those precious people you made. (Because some things are the same, no matter what kind of "To Do" list you have.)
Have a great first day, friends. May your lists be checked in all the right places.