a little east of reality

Sunday, December 04, 2005

instant motherhood x 4

On Monday I moved in with four kids whose parents are overseas. (They only have dial-up ~ that's why not many blog entries this week.) The Supreme Ruler of the Universe (SR) (as she likes to be called) is 15, Mr Quip is 12, Vague Boy (VB) is 7, and Little Miss Ponytails (LMP) is 5.

The first babysitter was a bit of a stress bomb, so my local bishop, who's trying to sort it all out, asked if I would step in. It's been a while since I did the instant parent thing, but I've got plenty of experience in child care so I'm not too nervous about it all. Plus these are nice kids. SR was in my seminary class this year and she's lovely: interested in everything, always has an opinion, cooperative...just a great person to have in class. Ironically she is the one the previous babysitter had the most issues with. She's been great for me. They've all been cooperative actually, which is good because there was enough to deal with just keeping track of their busy end of year schedule.

Here's how our week went:

Monday: I move in and ring the old babysitter for information, only to hear the sad tale of how she'd accidentally left her bag at the library, with what was left of the housekeeping money in it. Ack! Handed in to lost property with the money gone, of course. The kids' grandad rings to see if I'm settling in and offers to put more housekeeping money in our account ~ we're saved!

Tuesday: I discover that cooking for five is a bit different to cooking for two. SR goes to Air Force Cadet training. We've made a plan to see Harry Potter 4 on the weekend, so the younger kids and I begin our HP week by watching the first movie. (They all look so young!!!)

Wednesday: SR is taxi-ed to her school performance ~ a rock version of Alice in Wonderland ~ where she is playing the mad Hatter and also drumming in the other scenes. Meanwhile the rest of us try to watch the second HP movie, but by the time the Quidditch match is done, they're all asleep and have to be shuffled off to bed.

Thursday: I get the phone call telling me I'm in the running for the new car. That night we all head off to the school, as this is the night that we have tickets for the performance. It's a typical high school performance with its share of last minute problems, but most of the acting and singing is good, and we enjoy it. SR is great (!) as the Hatter ~ so much so that she's quite in demand for cast photos after the show. Eventually we drag her away. It's a very late night, but a good one.

Friday: A storm hits Canberra (more news of that with pictures later) and I have to spend some time at home cleaning up glass and other debris. As a result dinner is very late. I watch HP3 after everyone's asleep.

Saturday: The church Christmas party is postponed due to storm damage out at the property where it was to be held, so we bring our HP plans forward and see the new movie (review to come). We end up with a spare hour after the session we'd planned to see sells out, which we spend choosing snacks and drinks at the supermarket. We buy too much and eat our way through it all. The movie's great! After dinner the younger kids head off to bed and SR and I spend the next hour or so watching deleted scenes from the first 3 HP DVDs and discussing how the 4th movie differed from the book. Fanatics, yes.

Sunday: There's a bit of a showdown in the morning with LMP. I've noticed throughout the week that when there's a problem, she (in the grand tradition of youngest children) tends to cry until someone else figures out what's upsetting her, and fixes it. I decide to call her on it, by simply asking her to 'use her words' and tell me what is upsetting her, explaining that I can't help her unless I understand what's wrong. SR is disapproving ~ she thinks I'm expecting too much from LMP and giving her a hard time for no reason. Of course I'm not. I see this kind of behaviour as disempowering. If you can't tell your side of a story, and other people are always figuring out your problems for you, eventually they will start fixing them in ways they see fit, and not listen any more to what you really want. I think five is old enough to start learning to voice how you feel.

The evening brings vindication when the following conversation takes place:
Me: Do you understand what I wanted you to do this morning when you were upset?
LMP: Yes. You wanted me to talk to you about what was wrong.
Me: Do you know why?
LMP: So you know what's wrong.
Me: Exactly. Because I can't help if I don't know what's wrong, can I?
LMP: No.
SR: (surprised) She really did get it. I've never heard her sound so intelligent.
Me: You can't underestimate a five-year-old. They are taking on a lot at that age - school, new friends, new learning - they think a lot and they can understand more than you think.
LMP's been a piece of cake to deal with since.

One more week to go!