Sunday, May 9, 2010

Adventures in Babysitting

Back in December I watched my friend's boys so they could go Christmas shopping for them.  First we went over Brad's three rules, then commenced with the evening's activities.  Rule #1: Brad is in charge.  That means that if Brad tells you to do something you have to obey.  Brad will not tell you to do something just for the heck of it - there is a good reason for it, and you have to listen to what he says.  Rule #2: If obedience is not immediate, then it is disobedience.  Hem-hawing, ignoring, delaying or other such tactics are not acceptable.  Rule #3: We have to have fun.  Life is too short to not enjoy it.  If at the end of the day we haven't had fun, something went wrong.

I taught them the lava game, where the floor is molten lava, and you jump from one couch cushion to another and if any part of you touches the lava you have to sit in the chair for a while to recover.  I couldn't believe they had never played this game before, although I guess in the era of the internet and Wii such games of the imagination aren't as crucial to survival as they were when I was growing up.  Living next to a volcano probably helped too.  It was also during this evening that I changed the youngest (about 1 1/2 years old) boy's diaper, which may not sound like a big deal, but this was the first time I ever changed a diaper in all my 35 years.  That was a pretty good run, if I do say so myself.

During the evening, when the older boys (ages 8 and 6) got a bit too rambuctious, I told them they needed to calm down, which they promptly ignored, until one of them accidentally kicked the other in the groin.  Sometimes there's no better teacher than the law of natural consequences.  We reviewed rules 1 and 2, and I explained that this is part of why they are in place, to prevent such incidences. (Of course they are also in place to prevent total chaos and preserve my sanity, but I left that part out.)

Fast forward to last Friday.  I had volunteered to watch my friends' boys again so they could get away for the evening and enjoy a night out doing something together that didn't revolve around their kids.  At the beginning of the evening I asked the boys what are Brad's three rules?  The oldest says "No kicking each other in between the legs".  I explained that this is not one of Brad's three rules, although it is a good standing rule for all time.  The middle boy comes up with "No jumping on the couch".  Again, not a bad rule, but not what I had in mind.  So we went over the actual rules of engagement, then got on with the rest of the evening.  The boys immediately wanted to play the lava game again, with even the youngest getting in on the action.  Each time he would jump down from the couch armrest onto the couch he would have to precede it with "Mr Brad, look at me". It was so cute. After that the boys played some Wii, during which time we took a break so they could pick up all their toys which they had strewn about the living room.  I read the youngest several books, all of which revolved around trucks.  Did you know that a dump truck can haul 13 tons of rock, and that is as much as a whole herd of elephants weigh?

When I put the youngest to bed for the night he kept saying something that I couldn't discern, but it sounded kind of like "Batman", so I looked around the room for a stuffed Batman but didn't see any, and told him so. Then I thought maybe he was saying "bathroom", so I asked him if he needed to go potty, but he said no. So I told him I couldn't understand what he was saying and we would have to wait until he was older to have this conversation.

The boys were well behaved, and followed rules 1 and 2 when I had them clean up all their toys so mom and dad would have a nice house to come home to.  Nobody's future reproductive capabilities were put in jeapordy by any ill-placed kicks, and fun was had by all, ensuring rule 3 was taken care of.  All in all it was a good night.