Adventures in Babysitting

Sept. 22 was my sister-in-law's 30th birthday. Her husband, Brandon, had a night class, so Kelsey and I decided to divide and conquer to help her celebrate. Kels rallied the troops (Kari's friends) for dinner at Legends in Ames. I stayed at the home front to watch Myah and Maysen, the 3-year-old beauties otherwise known as my nieces. I was asked numerous times leading up to this day if I was nervous to attempt this feat on my own. I said, "I'm not scared." And I wasn't, because I always have a great time with the girls and I think they really like their Uncle Ric. Sure, I wasn't scared, but I don't know that I was fully prepared for how tired they would make me in two-and-a-half short hours. As Kelsey and Kari were heading out the door, it started: Maysen says in her cute little voice, "I wanna go to the park." Go time. I said we needed to eat supper first and then we would go to the park. Myah says, "That's a great idea, Ric." Really, how cute is that? I opened the fridge and asked what they wanted to eat, kind of like opening Pandora's box. Maysen wanted chicken salad, which was already made in plenty by the birthday girl. Easy enough: one down, one to go. Myah pulls out the tortillas, "I want a quesadilla." OK, that's not so bad, I can do that. So, I dished up some chicken salad for Maysen and started cooking a quesadilla for Myah. Then I got a true taste of parenthood as the question came to my mind, "Am I going to get to eat?" As a man, naturally I'm not the best at multitasking. So I was a bit overwhelmed during supper time. "I need a napkin," "I want some applesauce," "I need a spoon." Wow, they were relentless. I think they were testing me. They are so smart.

We finally all sat down to eat and all was well. Maysen showed me what a big girl she was by pulling herself close to the table. Then she pushed herself back so she could show me again. That's when the folding chair folded on her and she fell backwards to the ground. All was OK, but she was scared and wanted her mommy. The screaming started as she ran to her bed and wailed face down in her pillow. I was rubbing her back, telling her it would be OK and that mommy wasn't here but Ric would make it all better. Myah comes in and says, "You can leave her alone, she won't stop crying cause mommy isn't here." I asked Myah if she could give her a hug and kiss and make it all better. She did, and it was. So, back to the dinner table to finish supper. All went well, we cleaned up and headed to the park.

Myah puts her shoes on all by herself, on the wrong foot, with no socks on. Valiant effort. Maysen wanted to wear sandals and put them on all by herself. Myah loves to try to do things by herself first and ask for help if she can't do it, which I love. Valuable life lessons here: Give it your all, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Shoes and socks on, we head out the door.

We make it two houses down and there is trouble: two dogs start walking toward the girls, who were in front of me. Not scary dogs, but they terrify the girls. They run behind me and cling on tight to my legs with a frightening cry. This is my first taste of having to calm them down and tell them it is OK and that it is a nice puppy. I herded them across the street to get away from the dogs, holding hands and looking both ways, of course. Myah says, "I can't like that. Puppy tried to lick me." Across the street, another couple of houses down another dog approaches, a big yellow lab. Very calm, but another small freak-out by the girls. The owner apologized and took the dog inside. At this point I am wondering if going to the park is a good idea?

The rest of the walk was fine and we made it the three blocks to the park. I pushed the girls on the swings, one with each hand. What a great workout. Each one saying, "I wanna go faster!" Then they wanted to play on the playground. This is when I get to rest a little and just watch them play. They go down the slide a few times and then enter into what I call "Pretend Mode." There is a door underneath the playground that acts like a house, so they play house for a while. After a while, Maysen left through the door and Myah came after yelling, "Hey, WE HAVE TO GO TO TARGET!" Be careful what you say, they remember EVERYTHING! Around the other side of the playground there is a window. So Maysen picks up some bark and puts it on the counter at the window and says, "Food is ready." Myah, on the other side of the window, picks up some bark to pay for the food and says, "Here you go." Don't tell ME they don't know how the restaurant business works! Such little entrepreneurs, trading bark for bark. It was so precious.

"I have to go potty," Maysen says. Myah, "Me too." As they sprint to the bathroom at the park. This is probably my scariest moment. I have little to no experience in helping a 3-year-old go to the bathroom. My instructions from Kari were pretty simple though: "They will tell you if they need help." OK, so here I am, the creepy guy standing by the women's bathroom door waiting for them to ask for my help. Myah just needed help getting on the toilet, but that was it. Whew. Got through that, no problems.

Back to the playground. I sat on the picnic tables to watch them play and they took turns playing Mommy. Myah would go down the slide then ask for "mommy's" help. Maysen played Mommy and helped her off the slide then they reversed roles. Do you think they look up to their mom? They then rested on the picnic table for a couple of minutes and I got to snap a few pictures.

It started getting dark so we headed for home. The walk home was a lot less eventful than the walk to the park. We made it home, took off the shoes and then it was time to play for a little bit before we got jammies on. I sat on the love seat to observe them playing. Maysen brought over a T-Rex that bit my finger. Dr. Myah to the rescue. "Pretend Mode" again. Myah got out the doctor's kit and checked my finger's heartbeat, blood pressure, then gave it a shot of Novocaine. None of this must have done the trick cause then she kissed it and said, "All better." The T-Rex bit my other finger and this time I wanted a second opinion so I asked for Dr. Maysen. She went for the blood pressure pump and said, "Hold on tight, it's going to be OK." So funny. They had some issues sharing their medical practice, so Maysen decided that she wanted to open her own. While Myah had the doctor's kit in a small plastic box with a handle, Maysen started storing some of her supplies in the grill that came with their playschool kitchen.

Time to play school. This is my favorite. Maysen was the teacher first. As if pointing to a chalkboard, she says, "Time, Wednesday, Manners, Teacher." Myah gets up from the floor and goes to the "chalkboard" and repeats, "Time, Wednesday, Manners, Teacher." Then Myah was the teacher. "Sit on the floor, cross your legs, hands on your lap, eyes on the teacher. GO LINE UP." I asked her why Maysen had to line up. "Her pick her nose and wipe it on the floor. NOT VERY NICE!" Maysen then had to go wash her hands while Myah stood in the hallway with her arms crossed as a teacher would and watched to make sure Maysen was washing correctly. Then she told Maysen "good job" when she was done washing her hands. "Go line up, cross your arms." Once they got seated again it was "Go line up, you pick your nose, sorry." I don't quite understand all that they were doing while playing school, but boy was it entertaining and hilarious.

By this point it was time for jammies and to settle down to watch Dora. Jammies were a little tricky as they fought hard to run away from me as I tried to change them. It was all in good fun, though. Once I got them settled in to watch Dora, it was fitting that I randomly selected the episode that was Boots' birthday. The whole reason I was watching the girls in the first place was so Kari could celebrate her birthday with her friends. Before the show was over, Kels and Kari were home and my job was complete. I didn't burn the house down and no broken bones. I consider it a major success.

Keep up with what these crazy, cute girls are doing at the Smith family blog.