Babysitting and Brownie Points

Posted on March 26, 2013


Prior to getting married, my wife was the default babysitter for a lot of her friends. It was a job she loved to do because she loves kids, and they in turn love her.My wife has a lot of energy and will engage kids in almost anything – wrestling, board games, singing, telling stories, whatever. Nothing is off the table. Some of the little girls became so attached to her that our engagement seemed to stun them. Who was this tall, bald guy coming out of nowhere to steal away our friend and favorite babysitter?? I felt their eyes examining me the first several weeks and even got mean glares from a certain eight-year-old!  

Myself, I’m fairly knowledgeable about kids but definitely not an expert. I started volunteering for nursery duty at my former church two years ago, figuring whatever I learned would come in handy someday. I was always paired with an experienced mother who would know what to do for the 90 minutes we spent with the kids. My usual practice is to talk to kids as if they were little adults – I don’t alter my voice much. Usually, this amuses both the child and me. If they’re infants, I’ll still talk but make a lot more faces. One of my friends in New York who never had children of his own seems to talk baby to kids even when they’re past that age – 5, 6, 7. Kids know when they’re being  coddled.

We babysat for some friends this past weekend. It was a few weeks in the planning because our schedules weren’t lining up. The parents in this family just needed a few hours off, to enjoy a quiet dinner. Last time we babysat for these kids, my wife ended up putting a sickly child to bed and I played a board game w the others. Pretty chill. This time though, they were wired from the start and began jumping on me after dinner! My wife thought this was adorable so she cheered them on and pretty soon I had two boys (ages 5 and 7) punching and kicking me and one girl (about 9) doing back flips/somersaults/cartwheels off of my back…plus the 1-year-old, copying his brothers, jumped in!  Since I had not worn a cup that night, I had to dodge their fists and feet repeatedly. I didn’t hit back of course, but I did use them as shields against each other. A few times the boys cried when their punches missed me and hit hit each other, but they got over it quickly.

They Go to Bed!

Eventually, after what seemed like a very long time of beat up the babysitter, my wife called them into the kitchen for ice cream. And just like that, they calmed down, lost interest in me, finished their ice cream and shuffled off to bed. It felt very abrupt but before I had time to process it, I caught my wife beaming at me.

“What?” I asked.

“You did great,” she said, “I loved watching you play with them!”

Moral of the story? Playing the punching bag will fool your wife into thinking you have a way with kids!


Posted in: Married Life, work