I have watched infants. I have watched toddlers. I have even watched “Uncle Buck” at least 10 times. However, nothing could have prepared me for this past weekend, in which I watched my 3 and 6 year-old nephews from Friday until Sunday. A marathon event which, had it been filmed, could have easily been used as a Scared Straight program for at risk teen mothers and baby daddy’s.
Let me just state, for the record, that my respect for parents has never been higher. I will never again ask my brother why he hasn’t found time to listen to the new Wilco album or watch “Community,” since I can’t figure out when he and my sister-in-law even find the time to shower or eat a decent meal.
Within my family’s babysitting depth chart, I fall slightly higher than leaving the tv on and the windows cracked or hiring a birthday clown from Craigslist, so my previous babysitting experience is limited at best. Babysitting for two days when my previous record had been six hours was like training for the Boston Marathon by once running across a Dunkin Donuts parking lot to avoid getting hit by a car.
Before getting married last year, I had lived on my own for a long time, so the concept of co-habitating with anyone is still new to me. After seven months, Jen and I are still figuring out each other’s quirks , but I can be pretty sure that, unlike my nephews, at no point will she kick me in the face or bust into the bathroom while I am taking a shower to ask if she can eat some yogurt.
I learned a lot over the course of the weekend. I learned that a 6-year-old can eat his weight in chicken nuggets and that he is not a very reliable source when you ask what his mom would usually do in a certain situation. I also learned that my 3-year-old nephew talks in his sleep. A fact that I discovered after the third time his words woke me from a dead sleep and I found him to be out like a light in his room but apparently having a very vivid dream about teaching a dog to tie his shoes.
I also fell for one of the classic babysitting blunders by asking the kids what they wanted me to fix for dinner, as they waffled more than I did on the Science portion of the ACT. Then, after getting together an entrée, fruit, milk and a side, my dinner consisted of Totino’s Pizza Rolls that I scarfed down over the sink as I washed dishes. (By the way, if the molten filling for those Pizza Rolls were any hotter they would be in danger of causing flight delays in Europe.)
Rain came down like a gift from the heavens to cause the cancellation of two t-ball games, but I still had to stick the landing on two separate karate classes on Saturday morning. Since I like to live on the edge, I cut the schedule way too close by letting my older nephew sleep in until I had to practically wake him up via megaphone. He awoke with the gusto of a 75-year-old man and ambled to the breakfast table wearing boxers and wrapped in a blanket. I would have not been surprised had he asked me for a cup of Sanka.
I found that when he did not want to do something, a mystery malady was soon to be discovered.
Here is a list of his symptoms over the course of the weekend:
- My legs hurt
- I have an upset stomach
- I have a fever
- I have cold hands
- My leg is bumpy
- My tongue is bumpy
- The back of my heart hurts
The WebMD results were inconclusive, but I’m not ruling out Yellow Fever. I won’t know until I can ask him if he has recently spent any time in South America or sub-Saharan Africa.
On Sunday afternoon, despite the Wii, the Nintendo DS, dozens of DVD’s and a mountain of toys, he let me know that he had never been more bored. I told him that I didn’t have any of that fancy stuff when I was his age. To say that this “back in my day” speech garnered no sympathy from him would be an understatement.
As the day wore on, and I found myself saying things like “Oh, this is a funny episode of ‘Fanboy and Chum Chum’,” I knew that I was losing it. I longed to speak to another adult and let them know all about how unappreciated I felt as I spent my day picking up hand towels and sweeping up crumbs.
When my Mom came to relieve me on Sunday night, I don’t know if I have ever been happier to see anyone. (Mom, look for a little something extra in next year’s Mother’s Day card.) I was very happy to go home to my wife, who has never once taken credit for a Lego spaceship that I built.
To my nephews, you guys really were pretty great all weekend. But Uncle Scott needs to take a break. It’s not you. It’s me.