Friday, February 13, 2009

She's not mine, but thank you.

I have always loved taking care of babies and kids. Even when I was a kid, I felt most at ease when pretending to be a mom. No matter where we went or what we did, I was always the "big kid" taking care of all the younger kids. Softball games, birthday parties, company picnics, parents' nights out - just look for the big group of happy children and that's where you'd find me.

This is something I never grew out of. I am still babysitting and still in love with other peoples' kids. Specifically the little girl I take care of on Fridays. She has become a part of our family; like a practice little sister who is never around long enough for the novelty to wear off. Liam loves her, I love her, we all love her!

She and Liam have helped each other learn to share and be patient and tip toe down the hall during naps. Liam loves to teach her new words and make her laugh and gets excited when he has to be a big boy and help her with something. She loves to watch him perform and always claps on cue when he's finished with a song. It makes my heart swell to see them together.

She's got sharing down. Now if she could just teach Liam to eat...

I've been watching her for over a year now but we are just now starting to venture into the world on a semi-regular basis (their naps have started to sync up so we can get out of the house without anyone having to sacrifice their sleep). This is one part exciting, two parts intimidating. If you've never crossed the two child hurdle - two car seats, two sizes of diapers, two sippy cups, two small children - getting out the door can seem incredibly daunting. I know there are moms out there movin' and shakin' with four kids in tow, but I have no idea how they do it. Talk about impressive!

I prefer small steps. We started with the park and when that went well tried a quick trip to the grocery store. When that was not only easy but fun, it buoyed my confidence and made me wonder where else we could go. Sometimes a small success is all it takes to see that the benefits of something greatly outweigh the challenges.

So, this week, I decided to take a leap. Liam and I found out about a puppet show when we met friends for story time at the library earlier in the week and I thought that would be the perfect little outing. I've taken Liam to a puppet show at the library before but he gave it a mixed review. He was completely fascinated at first but then got frightened and wanted to go home. Now. But the library program is kind of designed with that in mind - leaving early or crying or acting like a kid isn't just OK, it's expected. We had nothing to lose.

Before we even got to the theater, I already felt like our field trip was a success. Liam walked next to me while I pushed the stroller from the car and when I let them loose in the children's section, they took turns leading and following but always stuck together. They were so well-behaved and happy and considerate, looking around for me to make sure they hadn't wandered too far and responding immediately if I said so much as, "Ah-ah-ahh."

Once the show started, I was even more proud. Sitting in the back of a dark theater with Liam on my lap and our little girl cuddled up next to us, watching Anansi the Spider and silently sharing a snack (she would put out her hand and Liam would stick a cracker in it - no looking or talking or grabbing required!), I felt so grateful for my little Friday Family. They both sat through the entire 30 minute show, whispering on occasion (Mama, what is that snake doing? Look! We're back in the city! That crazy bird dropped some feathers...), dancing to the music, and clapping at the end of every scene.

All that time they've spent together following rules inside the house paid off in a big way. I can't wait to show them off again next week!

Sometimes teaching each other things is good, sometimes it's just...weird. Let's hope she wasn't paying too much attention to his basketball tutorial. It started off strong but soon turned into a game he calls Scarecrow (sort of a mash-up of basketball and a Martha Graham ballet piece from Classical Baby). Enjoy!



LClaire said...

How cute! You look more than ready for baby #2, or 3, or 4 ;)

Katie said...

Love it! Your dog might just have a concussion from the ball being thrown at him! Two is great Maggie, really! It is so cool to watch the older one take care of the little one. However, JT still won't whisper or tiptoe when Calvin is sleeping, so way to go Maggie!

sunT said...

AWWW my sweet girl!! so cute are those pictures!! i'm glad you have made it out of the house with 2 and lived to tell about it. sometimes i have the hardest time with just her, so i CONGRATULATE you!!!!