Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Kids? No ta.

There's something oddly complicated about one of the most simple jobs which is often given to teenagers for them to earn a bit of extra cash. I'm not on about dogsbody in a hairdressers or chimney sweep (?) but that age old trade of babysitting.

Having had no younger siblings it's never something I've had to do as a young teen, or indeed anything I've been asked to do until I got to uni where my parents friends, mother and father to a then 3 and 5 year old, needed the odd Saturday night or weekday babysit. Easy peasey - kids to bed, then TV and raid the food cupboard til the parents tottered in, lowered £20 in my hand for the trouble and off I went.

So every Friday I pick the kids (now 6 and 8) up from school and look after them until 6ish, paid by the hour - all good.

Except I'm not a massively natural 'kid' person and looking after someone elses kids regularly is difficult; I know how to act with kids but I just don't think I interact with them very well, mainly because I try and reason with them when I know full well most children at that age are unreasonable. I know the family well and I kind of know what the kids are and are not allowed to do, or at least from what I've picked up on from what they get told off for and what they tell me...but sometimes it really wears me down. It's not even that they're naughty or bad, and despite my relatively little time spent around children of that age I think they're normal, even well behaved for their age. There are however the constant demands for food to contend with; they're "starving" but only for sweets and chocolate; the dinner, one won't eat vegetables (we have carrot/pea-gate weekly), they want ketchup on everything; the entertainment, one wants to go on a certain game on the computer that I know he's not allowed on, he's bored but he has every PSP, Playstation and gameboy under the sun...and so on. It's constant. Tonight I got them both drawing pictures and discovered that once their attention was directed away from a computer / tv screen and onto their own imagination and a piece of blank paper, the elder one who is getting increasingly arrogant and rude as he gets older, actually reverted to being rather amiable and sweet. However, with the demands I know it's the parent's job to lay the ground rules, but if I've got to spend a lot of time with these kids then I want the respect and I don't want them taking the piss - so I try and uphold the rules and not let them get away with too much.

So that's the background. Onto today and I just feel really worn down. I went to pick them up from the school and drove into the forecourt of a 4x4 car showroom - sorry, I mean the school car park. While I was waiting for 3.15, out of the corner of my eye I became aware of a small, snotty nosed pirate who hurled himself at my window with a 'Yaaaaahhhhh' and awaited a reaction. I notice kids do this a lot, waiting to see what you'll do in response to them. Maybe my response speaks volumes - I ignored the little scamp and waited for him to go away, slightly miffed at my lack of 'oh, teehee, aren't you cute you little pirate you' (don't worry, hold off the NSPCC, he wasn't one of the children under my care). Then the kids were collected and we had the weekly 'whose going to sit in the front' argument...clearly I've forgotten the importance such an issue held over every journey me and my sister went on as kids, but that's beside the point. I'm like Kids! It doesn't matter! We'll be in the car for all of about 2 minutes! Arrrghhh.

Then back home it's the usual requests that they evidently give to their parents every other minute. But it's stressful to me because I'm making the parental decisions and dealing with them at what is probably their most demanding stage of the day...so later on I'm thinking ok it's nearly 8pm, so they probably shouldn't be eating chocolate now, 'if you're hungry have some fruit / a yogurt' or 'your mum will be in at 8 so ask her then'. In walks mum at half 8 'Muuummm I'm starvin can I have something to eat'...and at her approval, they help themselves to chocolate bars thus undermining everything I've just spent the last hour trying to uphold. I chat for a bit before making an excuse about why I couldn't pick up tomorrow.

All I wanted to do after my 5 hours of child warfare was to chill out...but of course the roads, although significantly drier than yesterday, are still blocked off here and there and prohibiting my normal route home. The path to my house is still as flooded as an incontinent woman's pants post-sneeze...and the whole journey takes half an hour instead of 10 minutes. I get home and instantly feel alone because Est is back home for a few days and, well, it's quiet after a weekend with the boyfriend and his family. Add to this that he has only just replied to a text I'd sent 5 hours before, but by now the jovial mood I'd been in when I'd sent it has fizzled into an irritable, fed up mixture of wanting to be alone but at the same time wishing I was surrounded by people. The feeling culminated in a particularly disappointing jacket potato, which tasted no way as good as it should have given the amount of philadelphia, cheese and beans (I've put it down to them being Sainsbury's own instead of the usual Heinz) I'd jammed into it's every crevice.

At this point, the boyfriend promptly responded to my request for conversation that wasn't with either a 6 / 8 year old or my mum and was met with the even more prompt sound of me bursting, quite unexpectedly, into tears.

So on that note I started this post and here I am, one of the many satirical, all say the same thing programmes leading up to Tony Blair's exit from power on in the background. I think I'm in need of a good sleep and a day off from driving anywhere or conversing with people devoid of common sense or clear, logical thinking -I am referring, of course, to young children.

Bed + Book calls. Goodnight.


Bec said...

Babysitting? Ugh... Shiver...

The days of the 'bit more' you know, can I have a bit more? A bit more? More? More? More?' are gone for me. I will NEVER do that again... NEVER.

Miss Understood said...

I used to be a childminder.

My day started at 7 in the morning with a 1 yr old being dropped off (I had her from 9 weeks old to two and a half). After spending eight hours with her, 3 more kids aged 7-9 joined the camp. By 7 in the evening I was ready to slit my wrists!

londongirl said...

Children are indeed exhausting creatures. Perhaps you could have a chat with the parents about which rules they expect you to uphold (eg chocolate) so you don't spend time wearing yourself out for no good reason.

London-Lass said...

I used to tutor a demonic 10 year old specimen in English & Maths whilst I was at college. It still makes me break out in a cold sweat just thinking about it. Also noticed BOTH BBC Breakfast and GMTV ended up playing the same background music to their specially chosen collection of images of Brown & Blair this morning - `Hello Goodbye' by the Beatles. Had the dratted song on my mind ever since.

Venting said...

I love looking after kids, despite the fact that it's completely exhausting. The most frustrating thing is trying to set rules/boundaries and then having parents come home and completely spoil the 'little darlings'. So frustrating!


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