There are many things in life that are universally accepted as wonderful. Getting one’s hair brushed or stroked, for instance. Holding a newborn baby in one’s arms, staring down at God’s special tiny blessing. Watching a favorite movie with one’s friends. Rushing through the ocean’s waves at the beach while the sun sets in the background. (Sadly, I have never experienced that last one, though if it’s in my power I shall do so before two years pass!) But one thing that people rarely stick in that category is babysitting. Most probably see it as a paying job, and that’s it. No need to play with the kids, just make sure they’re staying out of trouble and not about to burn the house down. However, a much better way of looking at babysitting is as an opportunity to bless the little children who are put in your care.
I am always thankful for babysitting jobs, and even more so when they’re consecutively once a week. Not because I can’t survive without some money now and then, but because the kids I watch are such little blessings. Take Sunday nights, for instance. My older sister and I used to have babysitting jobs every Sunday evening that lasted two years, until the parents finished their study. Then we found ourselves only babysitting barely once a week.
Then, recently we got asked to babysit for a church group every week. I found out that apparently Abbie and I only watch kids 4 and younger; anyone older simply stays with their parents. That matters little though; not that I mean to play the favoritism card, but I’ve always loved the smaller ones more. Their eyes are so bright, their chubby little arms wave frantically, their short legs carry them everywhere, and I could survive on their dazzling smiles alone.
The first week I unearthed an astronomical discovery that presented to Abbie and me twenty to thirty minutes of semi-calmness: the children love painting. The watercolor paints I dug up in a child-proof locked cabinet wasn’t quite enough for the four of them. Not to mention there were only two brushes. I mentally awarded them that week with the Most Patient Young Children I Have Ever Known award.
The next week, I came in the nursery swinging my crafts bag on my arm. I was ready… well, almost. When the kids stampeded into the room demanding the right to know if we were going to paint, I realized I should have brought newspaper to spread across the floor so we wouldn’t have to contend with the tiny wooden table. So just last night, I did. Bring the newspaper, I mean. I set it all out, layered a bit near the middle, along with two styrofoam cups for the water, and my own 6 brushes and 5 sets of watercolor paints.
Babysitting may get tiring, especially when you’re tired, or sore for any reason, or you just don’t feel like “getting down and dirty” with the kids. But oh my goodness gracious, with the mindset of “It is what you make of it” – babysitting is almost like an escape for me. I get to roughhouse with them on the floor, get paint all over my arms (and sometimes on my legs) that matches their own tell-tale marks of a little artist, and yell with them as we capture and tickle-torture one of our company.
A couple weeks ago I was emptying the soaked watercolor set of the gallons of water the kids had dumped into it (unknowingly and without caring, of course; the amount of water didn’t change the fact that the paint still showed up on their paper) in the sink in the bathroom. It was either tiny, fair-haired Emmy or rambunctious, brown-eyed Cash who ran up behind me, peered over the sink, and exclaimed over the array of rainbow colors that slithered and dripped down to the drain. Emmy or Cash hurriedly called to his/her fellow friends to “Huhwee! Huhwee and wook at dis!” before the colors disappeared underneath the water I had turned on to rinse them away.
It was one of the most precious moments I’ve ever experienced while babysitting: the youngsters, crowded around the sink – either peering over shoulders or pulling themselves up until their noses stick on top of the side – staring and laughing over the little thing that was happening. How much we take for granted as we grow out of our childhoods and into teenagers and adults! We forget to stop and admire the tiny details of life God gave us that make such memorable moments.