Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hindsight is 20/20

If this was a book instead of a blog I would have given this post the secondary title of "...or, An Apology". Because, Mum, I'm so freaking sorry.

This is my seventh month in this job now, and to celebrate my successfully passing the half way point my host parents jetted off to Valencia, leaving me to look after the kids full time for an entire weekend. And thanks to a well-timed strike followed by a student-free day, I had the boy for 4 days and the girl for 2.

Luckily this isn't going to become a regular occurrence. But with the Summer holidays looming I will inevitably be spending a lot more time alone with the children.

Let me just clarify that my kids are great. They're a sweet, friendly, helpful pair who love each other and give me next to no trouble at all. And they completely outdid themselves this weekend. But those 48 hours still made me seriously question whether I really want children. And I don't mean whether I want them anytime soon (for the record, the answer to that has always been a great, resounding "no"), but whether I actually want them ever. Of course looking after your own children would be a significantly more rewarding experience than looking after someone else's (I'm assuming, anyway). But still.

For one thing, it's boring. I wasn't expecting there to be so many dead hours. Time consuming? Sure. Expensive? Of course. But boring? I'd envisioned constant activity and eventual exhaustion. Not so much, as it turns out.

For example: On the Saturday we went to a school fete, and I finally understood why my Mum always volunteered to be involved. Because I managed to make the stalls and lunch last around an hour (a stretch, believe me. I must have visited the book stall at least 5 times), before retiring to a shady hill with a cup of Pimms and my ipod for the next 3 hours.

There was also a strange frustration/guilt combo, which really came into play on the Sunday. I took them to the movies (in case you're wondering, Kung-Fu Panda 2 - not too bad) (or should that be not 2 bad?! Not really, no). And when we got home all they wanted to do was watch TV or play video games. Their apathy towards any other suggestions was so irritating I knew I'd cave in the end, but I felt terrible for allowing them to be so lazy.

But none of that compared to how nasty they could be. The boy isn't so bad - occasionally he'll say something mildly hurtful by accident, mostly because he doesn't have any real social graces yet. But the girl, soon to be ten and just discovering the joys of adolescence, can be a right little bitch. The worst part is that they're usually so sweet and genuine and nice you can't help but like them, and then they'll turn around and go completely the opposite way, leaving you feeling strangely awful. I'm not sure why - why should I care about the opinions of any nine year old, let alone one who's only known me for half a year? But dammit, she knows the right buttons to press. Luckily for me she likes me enough and I'm close enough in age to her that I can remember how I was at that age, and therefore can quite easily guilt her into feeling bad and being nice again (definitely a responsible child care strategy).

But that's what I want to apologise for really. I turned out ok in the end, as I'm sure my 9-year-old will too. But I remember being just as precocious, dismissive and downright mean when I was her age.

So. Mum, I'm really very sorry. I'll give you a couple of Grandkids to make up for it. Well, probably. Well...maybe.

Also, if anyone has any suggestions for keeping two children under 10 entertained for 2 months, I'd be more than happy to hear them.

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