My older sister and brother-in-law ditched town and their responsibilities for a little vacation and my siblings and parents were put on a babysitting rotation for their four kids.
Mine and Skylar's turn came last weekend. Friday evening to Sunday evening, to be exact.
Look. I don't have natural parenting abilities. I'm incapable of talking to children. I don't know what to say. I address 5-year-olds like they are middle-aged insurance defense attorneys. Every exchange is a legal transaction. When my 11-year-old nephew tried to haggle on bedtime last Friday,
Nephew: What if I just stay up for 30 more minutes?
Eli: You'll go to bed now.
Nephew: But what if I promise to clean my room tomorrow?
Eli: You'll go to bed now and you'll clean your bedroom tomorrow.
Nephew: This isn't fair!
Eli: I don't speak whine.
Nephew: But it's not fair!
Eli: Unless you have something of value to offer me, this negotiation is a waste of my time.
HE'S 11. I'M A MONSTER.
I just don't know how. I can't do the condescending little kid voice everyone else seems to naturally pull out when confronted with children. When I try to do it, it just sounds like I'm mocking them.
Skylar has the opposite problem. He speaks to his nephew, who is in high school, like he's a toddler. He calls him cutsie nicknames and pinches his cheeks.
For the above reasons, the young kids in my family loooooove Skylar. And they don't quite know what to think of me. Which, considering that I speak to them like they're middle-aged insurance defense attorneys, is pretty generous.
So there we were, Friday night to Sunday night, staying with my four really wonderful nieces and nephew, me wholly out of my element, and Skylar saying things like, "I wish there were MORE kids" while he made pillow forts and told the children that for every job that must be done there is an element of fun!
I'm telling you all of this just as a set up for the below. During my weekend escapades, I posted Instagram stories of our progress, including this:
Skylar, who was having the time of his life, had not actually even noticed that I seemed to be disappearing for an hour at a time. His total apathy for having a break at any point just made me feel like an even worse person.
And so, I cannot overstate how incredibly grateful I was to all eleventy million of you who sent me Instagram messages in response to the above story, telling me that if I'm a bad person for hiding in my car while pretending to run errands, then so are you and so is every parent you know.
I like to think that right now, across America, there are somewhere around 8 millions parents sitting purposefully in their cars in grocery store parking lots.
We finished our weekend babysitting. We said goodbye. The kids gave me polite nods. They gave Skylar weepy hugs. I got into my car. Just to the east of me I saw Skylar float away, holding ever so elegantly onto the end of an old umbrella.
~It Just Stranger