Monthly Archives: October 2010

Today. What A Day.

First, I groggily tore myself away from a vivid, deep dream. Of which I could not remember a single thing, except that I was really liking it. The clock showed 8:02, which was two minutes past the time I needed to be up and ready to go. My older sister, Abbie, and I dressed and gathered our things and, at 8:40ish, left the house – ten minutes behind schedule. Our destination was the Women’s Care Center, where we volunteer every third week. Every third week happens to be “Hispanic week” and we have the privilege of keeping an eye on these wonderful, gorgeous little Hispanic kids. Some shy, some missing mommy and daddy terribly, some indifferent, some over joyous, and then – my favorite – some rambunctious,  trouble-making imps.

Second, off to Barnes & Noble to return a book… only to find out that one can only return one’s merchandise up until 14 days of the purchase. (I bought this book a month ago.) <– *mood begins to slide downhill*

Third found us on our way home to shove some food down our throats and rush off to the dentist. Where we end up staying for nearly 3 ours due to 6 of the 7 kids needing a dental checkup. The usual. Boring, with no fun pass-times. During which time I sent a text message to a friend as a joke, but which she took more seriously. I apologized twice, and she said it was ok…

Fourth, babysitting at the Hickle’s – where, to my immense delight, the kids and I had a blast! Don’t get me wrong, we usually have fun, but today was different. When I asked them to do something, they did it without much hesitation and stalling. I managed to keep the arguments low key to none-existent. That is, until Bob (dad Hickle) walked in the door. His first words were: “What? – ugh! Why can’t you guys move this freaking rug?” which of course sends a wrong message to the four little girls on whose cases I jump instantly if they say “freaking” “shut up” or “oh my god.”

Fifth found me in the car with two of my favorite people in the world. We dropped into our ghetto Wal-Mart, then headed back to my best friend’s house, where he was to try and help alleviate my struggle through my tough choir songs. And then the friend I texted? She only reminded me every five minutes what a meanie I was, that it was Not a joke, etc. I apologized, and she continued pretending to be deeply offended. (She may have been a little bit, but not as much as she played at.)

So that’s what landed me in the awful grump I am right now.

Do you ever have a day that starts off groggily, progresses wonderfully, stalls annoyingly, continues awesomely, twists down hill, and ends with a feeling that makes you want to cry even though you don’t really have any good reason to? <–Well. That’s me right now. 😦


Smokey the Bear, Clifford, and Brother Bear Too

The air inside the mask is stifling; it is getting hard to breathe. The nose of the costume is the only place through which I can see what goes on outside, where my heavy feet will thud next.

Walking is another issue. My feet are now twice their normal length, and at least three times as wide – encased and disguised as humongous paws. They drag along the floor as I hold my arms out in front of me, making sure the wall or doorframe leading out of the back room does not plan on bumping into me.

And my head. Oh, my head! The “mask” is actually a head, placed over my own, and attached with a very uncomfortable head brace that keeps sliding over my hair. I have to stand up straight so it will not fall off, even though it is also strapped to the back of my neck with straps connecting to the rest of my costume. Which, depending on what animal I am, looks either dark brown, bright red, or a light, hazelnut brown.

Sweat starts slipping down my legs, arms, and face as a librarian takes my arm and leads me the rest of the way, from behind the front desk, down the main room a little ways, and around the corner…

…Where a large group of little kids eagerly await my arrival. I grin as they jump up from the floor, and I long to laugh as a flow of giggles ensues from their little bodies. The librarian in charge tells them to hush, that “their visitor” – me – is going to help tell a story and dance to a song.

The first time I put on a costume, I was Smokey the Bear: complete with very dark brown fur, blue overalls, and a huge snout. The second time, I was Clifford, big, red, obviously a dog – and with another large snout. My tail dragged a little behind me, and the paws sometimes fell off. This third time, my last time, I appear to the kids as Brother Bear from the little children’s book series and TV shows, the Berenstain Bears. In my wake is Sister Bear, in whom is the librarian’s younger sister.

We listen patiently as the librarian finishes reading a story about the Berenstain Bears, and then hands us egg shakers filled with tiny beans. Music plays, and Sister Bear and I dance and shake until the music cuts off, then we freeze. The children, laughing and shrieking, follow our lead, continuing when the music starts again and suddenly holding still when it stops.

Then, my favorite part comes: it is time to say goodbye, and the children are given the option of giving us high-fives, hugs, or just waving at us. To my infinite delight, most opt for the hugs. Silently I squeeze them back, trying not to crush them with my hardhead, longing to laugh with them but knowing that I cannot. (“You can’t speak, because each child imagines what your voice sounds like. If you talk, you spoil the image in his head,” the librarian explained.)

Finally the time comes to say goodbye. Sister Bear and I wave our large paws at the kids, who gather together in circles or bunches on the ground, their disappointed faces staring at us as they wave regretfully. And there are also those mischievous yet adorable little children who take hold of Sister Bear’s and my hands, grinning up at us and hoping to go wherever we are heading. These the librarians gently extract, but how I wish they could come with us! Not into the back room to change from our costumes, but to the child’s world of imagination, where Brother Bear and Sister Bear, and Clifford, and all those other favorite animals are very alive, and where fun abounds and never ends.

Huh. Sounds kind of like Neverland…

Megan, Sweet Megan

Tonight I babysit for a family by the name of Jehle. When I arrived at 7:05PM respectively, Megan was in need of a bath. \ This being only my 5th night watching the five children, I was not at all sure if the 4-year-old would yet feel comfortable with my helping her bathe. But she surprised me by saying, “Yes,” when asked if she wanted help. Regretfully, she set aside the three containers of nail polish she had held in her hands and rushed to the door to show me. Then we dashed upstairs and plugged up the tub.

Directly afterward we headed for the kitchen table, where I proceeded to paint Megan’s nails — blue, pink sparkles, purple, blue, pink sparkles. On her other hand I chucked that pattern and just did purple, blue, pink sparkles, blue, and purple. Unfortunately, the blue was that cheap little-girl nail polish crap that NEVER stays on. The four times Megan went to the bathroom (she’d had a *lot* of apple juice), she took care to inform me, “Niiiiina! My bdue nail poliss is tumming off…”

“To Grandmother’s House We Go” — or, what I’ve dubbed “the grandma house game” — was played 5 times; I won 2 games and Meg won 3. This game is basically like Candyland, except the play pieces aren’t little colored gingerbread men who trot around the board in attempt to save King Kandy and escape that evil lickerish guy and melted chocolate fatty monster. In fact, all the grandma-house-game pieces are lost, so Meg and I made-do for 2 rounds with 2 little shells (she got the prettier one), and 3 rounds with 2 different rocks (she got the marble-y one while I got the lava-looking rock ;). The cards players flip are either pink, purple, blue, green, yellow, or red, and all the colors are matched with different shapes. The path curves around the board, and the first player to reach Grandma’s House wins.

Apparently, contrary to my former belief (I played the game a few times with her last week), there IS a skill to this game. Because Meg possesses it!

Oh, goodness. I sometimes get such blooming, happy feelings when I’m babysitting. For example, some of the cards for the grandma’s-house-game might have a message: “Smile at a player and draw another card” “Give a player a Big Hug and draw another card”  “Make your silliest face at a player and move ahead two spaces.” The first time we played this game, Jon played with us. (It took a little while for Meg to warm up to me the first couple of weeks, and Jon always had to be present to make things less awkward – for her 🙂 Whenever Megan got one of those cards, she’d to pretty near every single one to her older brother.

Tonight, with only the two of us, she did every. single. one. to me. I was so elated! Since we played the game 5 times over, we got almost all the cards 3 times each. Including the Big Hug one. The first time, I got that card. “Give a player a Big Hug,” I read aloud. I put the card on the board and opened my arms, grinning. “Hug me?” I asked her.

Megan’s grin lit up her entire face and she jumped up and ran into me. “Mmmmm,” I squeeze a few seconds, and as I started to let go I felt her arms still tightly pressed around me. I squeezed again, then began to let go. But she STILL held me tight! After a little while longer, she finally released me.

I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t think she’d EVER do that to me!

Gah. At times like this… I love my job. Even if it is only once a week. ❤