Meditations on the Delights of Babysitting

November 28, 2011
By WhyDieACopy SILVER, Santa Rosa, California
WhyDieACopy SILVER, Santa Rosa, California
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We do not see things as they are, we see things as WE are." –Anais Nin

When considering the idea of a summer job, I was determined to avoid operating the cash register for some retail store or moving heavy objects around the dry dust of a construction site. There would be time enough to sell my soul to the mechanistic drudgery of capitalism, and this final summer before college seemed like the last opportunity to preserve my freedom (and innocence). To make a long story short, this summer I babysat. More specifically, I babysat twin 2 year olds and a five year old. More specifically, I didn’t know what I had signed up for.

While I could write about tears, diapers, or cleaning without foreseeable end, I will not; these moments are transitory. They are not life, but the moments in between being alive. In constructing a meaningful narrative of existence, they are impertinent and impermanent. But playing tag with the kids was something different entirely. It was pertinent and permanent. It was a moment of delight.

In the late afternoons, we would wander out into the front yard to play, with rules modified by my pint-sized counterparts. They decided that everyone under the age of six (i.e. the kids) would be “it” and chase me for the game’s duration. A seasoned babysitter knows not to question such decisions.

With this understanding, we would play, racing back and forth across their lawn. While the oldest made inspired efforts to track me down, the twins mostly just giggled and smiled as they straggled behind. Feinting and dodging, accelerating and decelerating, I avoided their small hands. The fact that they rarely, if ever, actually caught me never fazed them. Where others see competition, they saw a dance. And as our paths carved trigonometric functions into the axes of yellowish grass, we explored limits approaching infinity. I am sure their legs and lungs burned with exhaustion, but their reserves of glowing smiles and golden laughter were inexhaustible. In these hours, we swam in the flowing amber of the afternoon light, fossilized in a moment for all eternity.
Years from now I will visit them, and they won’t recognize me. Their substantially more conscious and self-aware selves will smile awkwardly at me. They will think before they laugh. They will question playing tag without rules that make sense. And eventually, they will measure out their days with coffee spoons and join the other linguistically capable, existentially lost two-legged creatures to find fulfillment in their lives.

If only they knew they found it years ago.

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