Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pin the tail on the donkey

Daily Forum Column for 7-21

It's been years since I've babysat a child, and there's a reason why.

After a few summers of missed naps, temper tantrums and terrible twos I opted for a job flipping burgers and swore off children altogether.

Now, nearly 10 years later, I find myself in a room full of youngsters three nights a week. Insanity lead me to a part-time job as a dance instructor.

I'm not sure if it's that I only see them for an hour at a time or if it's that they can't put their sticky paws all over my stuff but either way, children have made their way back into my life.

"Catch me!" yelled the tiny, blond torpedo whose sites were set on my face.

Trying not to drown either of us or the toddlers in their inner tubes nearby quickly became the goal of the day.

I had been suckered by a four-year-old girl.

The events leading up to our day at the local swimming pool went something like this (keep in mind it was a Tuesday):

Girl: "Miss Megan, when can I come to your house and see your puppies?"

Me: "How about Friday? We could even go to the pool." (This was when I realized I had backed myself into a corner.)

Girl: "When's Friday?"

At this point her mother interjected and in classic motherly fashion reminded her that she had learned her days of the week in

preschool and the two began to perform a crazy song and dance.

Though the girl's calendar didn't follow the typical pattern at first, she eventually got it and realized that Friday was just three days away.

Come Friday morning, I had a text message from the mother saying that one very excited little girl had remembered it was Friday and was already packing her swimsuit.

Not one to disappoint, especially a four-year-old, I dug up my suit and beach towel.

Just a few hours later, there was a car seat in my Jeep, a large duffel bag of children's accessories in my living room and a bubbly blond chasing my terrified dogs through the house.

I was officially babysitting once again.

Once the dogs had been pulled from underneath the couch and were assured that they would be tortured no more, us girls headed to the pool.

For me, the pool going process is simple. Find a spot to perch and bask in the warm sun. When it gets hot, get in the water.

The pool going process with a four-year-old is a bit more complex.

It's a bit like pin the tail on the donkey, with a moving donkey.

She wiggled out of her sundress and sandals and darted toward the kiddie pool before I had even found the sunblock in her bag.

One arm floater attached, the pursuit was on to secure the other floater, both of which were just as quickly removed and tossed aside. Four-year-olds don't want arm floaters, they just complicate the cannon ball process.

The next few hours were spent jumping, swimming, or floundering rather, and terrifying the life out of poor Miss Megan. And she plans to do it again next week.

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