In the latter part of the 20th century, I was a babysitter. Back then we weren’t called “nannies” just “babysitters.” While consistently watching 2 extra babies and, occasionally, 4 extra babies, added to the 3 that were mine; I rarely did much “sitting” but, “babyrunner” sounds like something illegal.
I did not want to babysit. It was my husband’s idea to alleviate our stressed finances. I tried to talk him out of it. I had all kinds of wonderful and, quite honestly, legitimate excuses…for example…I had three children of my own ages 4, 6, and 8. My sister-in-law and her family lived upstairs and they had, at the time, 5 children; some of whom spent a great deal of time in our part of the house. Our house, our house, was only 900 square feet! For goodness sakes, where was I supposed to put these kids?! AND, on top of everything else, I was home schooling our kids! I whined. I cried. I yelled. To all of this my husband calmly replied, “You can, and you will.”
Before you begin to think my dear husband was an ogre, can I tell you that through this I learned one of my greatest life lessons; one that has stayed with me my entire life. I realized that I had a choice to make and it really was all up to me. I could continue to have a bad attitude about this and make myself and everyone around me absolutely miserable or I could decide to enjoy what my husband had asked me to do, what he believed I could do.
With my decision to enjoy this adventure made, and my marriage (and my husband) still intact, I found a little girl to watch. Her name was Katie and she was adorable. She came to me at 8 months and she quickly crawled into my heart. A few years later her brother, Danny, came. It was Katie that decided, I was their “Rocky.” I loved that nickname. It was a sweet adventure with Katie. It was an ongoing riot with Danny.
Once Danny learned to talk, we all realized he had developed his own language. Personally, I had decided he spoke in “tongues.” It was more than a little frightening to me that I understood every word. A “shoo-shoo bop” was a choo-choo train. It was also how he referred to Rachel, our oldest daughter. “Biden” night or garbage night to the uninformed, was his very favorite night of the week. It was the night that Cliff let him help drag the garbage or “biden” to the front for pick up. His favorite saying was taught to him by our teenage son, Eric. “Freeze, Sucker!” Of course Danny said this with perfect clarity.
My favorite episode with Danny came on a weekend when he was in his own home. It was a Saturday afternoon when I received a desperate phone call. It was Kathleen, Danny’s mother. I could hear Danny crying in the background.
“Roxanne, Danny has been asking me for something for over an hour. I have no idea what he wants. Do you think you can help me?”
I told her I’d try. She gave the phone to Danny.
“Danny, this is Rocky. What do you want, Buddy?”
Between sobs in a choked little voice he said, “Dubby-dubs, Wocky…dub-by-du-bs…”
“Okay, Buddy, give the phone back to Mommy.”
“Kathleen, he wants jelly beans. “Dubby-dubs” are jelly beans. I don’t know why.”
After a sigh of either relief or exhaustion, she said “Thank you” and hung up the phone.
When Danny was three we moved to Florida. I think of those days often and gratefully. My husband was right, he usually is. I could and I did!
It was a wonderfully big deal!