Monday, January 2, 2012

Kids I Babysat 2: Leilani and brother

While I worked as a mother's helper for the 2 year old twins, I then acquired another position (at age 11) working for another family with 2 kids.

At age 11, I had one mother's helper position, one babysitting position, and a PT job for the local newspaper.

I was then very good at sales but didn't know this, I just tried to be persuasive and convince people that reading the paper was a great thing. I paid for many of my own things and had a bank account and put money into savings and spent a lot on ice cream from Schwanns. There was a little drive-up store where one could buy Schwanns ice cream and almost every day I went for an ice cream bar. Mmm. I think I bought milk too. I didn't buy water to drink, or juice very often though sometimes I did. It was almost completely ice cream and milk. After all that bike riding. And I bought things like my Archie comic books and sunscreen. My mother baked in the sun and I told her she shouldn't.

I said, at 11, "Mom, all the magazines say sunscreen is the most important thing." My mother would say, "I don't need it, sunshine is good for you." Me: "But Mom, this way you won't get skin cancer!"

I duly bought and applied my sunscreen to my face everyday. And ate my ice cream bars. Sometimes more than one. So that, and getting books at the library after dropping off their paper, were perks.

But I want to write about what I remember of this family, for the kids.

I can't totally remember her brother's name but they were from Hawaii. Their parents adopted them from Hawaiian or their ancestry was Hawaiian. This family was very different from the other one. The mother there wanted to stay at the house when I was there and would drive by the windows on her rideable lawnmower, looking in and waving. She was pretty organized as well and had regular food or groceries.

The other family, their kids were older, a little older than toddlers and they were extremely and highly active too. I actually babysat, and was a nanny for, a lot of smart kids (come to think of it). They had a junglegym outside that they loved to play on and I remember her brother was very content to find something to do and do it. She wanted to pretend to be a ballerina. Because her brother kept more to himself and she wanted to be right there, focus of attention, I remember her more.

She was one of the most athletic and naturally flexible kids I'd known. And both she and her brother were all muscle. I had never seen such muscle on little bodies. She had little biceps. They were sort of gymnastic kids. And her mother had a videotape of a ballet that she loved to watch and we watched ballet while she danced with it. I am not certain which ballet it was but it had Barishnikov I'm pretty sure.

Mainly I played with them outside on the junglegym, but I also read to them, drew and colored and danced with them. He loved being read to. They both really loved books.

I remember they were given a lot of options and independence for their age.

If they were hungry and wanted a snack, their mother had made a whole variety of snack options for them, which she then stored in a box that was within their own reach. She didn't keep it up in a cupboard, or in the fridge. It was packaged dry goods, or ziploc bags that she created with a mixture of raisins and nuts, and some dried fruit in other ones. And if they wanted a snack, all they had to do was ask and then they'd pull out the box and choose for themselves what they wanted. I actually think they maybe didn't even have to ask, they just let you know and then I would watch. They didn't food restricted at all and they were so active and had such nutritious choices they weren't overweight.

They were about age 3 and 5 or so.

They had a very small house or trailer and a fenced yard and put a lot of attention the space they had. I never asked why they didn't have biological children because at age 11, I was sensitive enough to know it wasn't something to ask. But they were very happy with their kids.

Leilani was very talkative and her brother was a little shyer and both seemed very happy. She liked taking my hand for showing me to things a lot.

I had my own ideas already on how to babysit because I had good babysitters myself, but I also took ideas from all the families I worked for and applied it for remembering what I might think about one day.

With the first mother, I saw that she had her own life and was independent and very trim and fit and didn't look like a mother at all. I also looked at the layout of where kids played and everything. It was never so much the space as what you do with that space. And with the other mother, I always remembered the snack drawers. They had an art drawer too. Everything was within reach at their young age and I remembered this and was surprised but thought it was nice to see how they responded to their options and having some control of their own environment.

That was age 11. I had the one position mainly for a summer mother's helper and then the other one I had until I moved away to Oregon when I was 15 years old but babysitting was a little more sporadic.
(There was a short period of time where I wasn't babysitting because I was a new teenager having slumber parties and spending almost all of my time with the Maiers or Fallons. Mainly with the Maiers. And I was in 4-H (for arts and crafts) and had a little 4-H pin from it and I was also in swimming lessons.

We have a photo of my jumping from the high dive when I was about 5 or 6 and then after I learned how to float, I didn't take swimming lessons again, that I remember, until I was in a full-fledged swim team doing competitions and relays. (ahem. sort of a gap in my education) I went from floating and graduating from high dive at 5 to swim team at age 13 at an Olympic sized pool. With no swimming lessons inbetween that I can recall. Wait, I had a lesson or two maybe. I know I was jumping from the side of the pool at the edge and then up on the low dive and then the high dive.)

I always wanted to babysit my own brother but was told no, it was a conflict of interest. I wasn't allowed to have a supervisory role over my brother when we were both equals. I was actually never given the reason but that's probably it. They just said "No, you guys will fight." I was sort of bossy and my brother always stood up for himself and didn't want to be bossed.

I babysat for one other family in Moses Lake, a horsewoman.

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