When someone else’s child is in bed, this mama mouse gets to play in her head.
I love babysitting. After bedtime, that is. I wrote recently about not particularly enjoying helping out friends during waking hours. It’s true that as my son gets older, he and his age-mates are better able to entertain each other. But they are also toddlers who sometimes get in wicked clenched-fist fights over toys or who melt into tears when another child picks up the toy they’d set aside. So even if you are able to sit on the sidelines, you have to be ready to pick up the referee whistle and make sure no clumps of hair get removed or skin gets dented with teeth.
When I’ve had dinner, though, and walk over to another couple’s house to sit with their sleeping cherub while they enjoy a late meal, I have no choice but to relax. There’s no laundry, no clutter I’m expected to do anything about, and I couldn’t possibly bring over our five-pound pile of junk mail to sort through. My husband is putting the boy to bed, and I’m pretty much unplugged from any responsibility relating to my domicile. Plus, I’m accruing a future date of my own during which these folks will watch our kid – and they’ll even do daytime so we can tune-up our relationship or sort through stuff in the basement. And it’s a block away, to boot!
For me, nighttime babysitting is like a reading and writing vacation. I’m too full to do yoga, and watching TV is the thing I do while my husband is around and I’m going through that junk mail pile. Emails can be addressed all day long in short snippets of relative focus. But in the monitor-hum quiet of someone else’s living room, all I got is a book, a pen and a laptop for the longer stuff that needs more than ten minutes at a time. And I can share it with the world through a wireless network whose password is “margarita.” Yee haw!