Yes, it has been a long time. Something changed with blogger and my computer didn't change with it, so it is more difficult to find the path to post something. The page I am typing on now has a warning sign and the headers are cut off. We'll see.
As Uncle Marcel points out "A Biased View" is a poor choice of a final post. I don't want this to be the end, but we'll see if I'm successful today. My previous unsuccessful posts were called the Conversationalist and Socks--lovely topics, but hardly worth figuring out how to post an old draft with a weird screen.
My topic today is the kids. For the past six months or so, I've been watching my niece's kids at least once a week or so. Mostly it is just the three year old twins, but sometimes it is also her six year old, my darling Caitlyn. The twins are still in diapers and they still take naps, so simple and easy, this babysitting is not (of course the next step of "in between" fully potty trained is feared and loathed, so not complaining in the least). I am a doting Aunt, so quiet and peaceful, this babysitting is not (of course, however, I am the only person in their lives who allows them to have their binkies. My only requirement is that they cannot cry and whine while they have their binkie, as that is the whole purpose of a binkie--to comfort and quiet them.)
The kids have their own room at my mobile home and lots of toys and movies. We have definite routines and Aunt Kathy is easy and fast with the bribes and rewards to keep smiles on their faces, but not so perfect as she wishes that there are not still plenty of opportunities to say "Are you crying? Give me your binkie if you are going to cry."
And then there is referring to myself in the third person. "Does Aunt Kathy let you open the car door by yourself? No she does not." "Does Aunt Kathy let you push the buttons on the tv? No she does not." "Does Aunt Kathy let you drink soda? No she does not." The kids drink milk or juice with any meal that I serve, but it is a very small difference, since I also treat fruit snacks as a fruit in determining if we've hit the right food groups. Of course, that's not necessary for the twins--they love their fruit. I've bought more strawberries in the last few months than I've seen in my entire life.
The twins are very sweet, but diapers are a pain. I'm very patient, so I thought I would help with potty training, but I'm pretty lousy at it. I thought Madilyn would pick it up and this week she did poopoo in the potty. Her reward was ice cream, which she loved, but not so much that she gave me any warning about her next event. Matthew did not seem to notice that Madilyn was getting a reward and I did not want to start a war, so I left him distracted and unknowing. However, right at 5, when I would be putting them in the car to leave, Matthew announced that he wanted to sit on the potty. This is a condition to be encouraged, so I dropped everything and made it happen. Nothing. Not even a tiny bit of pee. But now, he wanted ice cream and he wanted brown ice cream, because he doesn't like white ice cream. I've probably set potty training back some, but my response was no poopoo, no ice cream. Those poor babies will never get potty trained.
At the beginning, I didn't want to be the caretaker that just popped in a movie--I wanted to be the Aunt Kathy that took them to the park and the library and the zoo and the museums. I've tried. But I've also seen more kid cartoons and movies over the past six months than I have over my entire life. This past Saturday we saw all three Rugrats movies, Max and Ruby, 64 Zoo Lane and Bubble Guppies (when I inadvertantly changed the channels on tv without looking at the guide first). For some reason we didn't last too long at the park and I've learned my library lesson (very small children are not nice to books and do not wait well in line to check out books at the library--Chatsworth doesn't have toys like Glendale, but even with toys, playing quietly is not in their nature.) Needless to say, I'm ready to spend full price for movies just to keep my own sanity with a little variety.
We also went to Toys R us. I've been looking at bikes and wading pools, but I ended up getting them junk that they'll tire of soon and throw away. But it was interesting junk to them such that it kept them happy for hours. Madilyn got a baby doll. I tried to get her to name the baby doll (hoping that it would be harder to disgard and abuse a doll with a name), but after many suggestions, her final name for her doll--"baby doll". Oddly it fits.
Another byproduct of watching the kids is that I jump up and down out of my seat to make sure their every small need is met. "I want a drink" I jump up and say "Milk or juice" wait intermitably for a response and if they say nothing, give them the opposite of what they've had last and then change it to what they want when they don't want what I've given them and sit down, only to jump up again when the next one wants a drink. "I'm hungry" I jump up and offer fruit de jure or peanut butter sandwich (the most reliably eaten meal). When they are all set up (both or all three) I sit to enjoy my own lunch, only to jump up to add cheese to a plate, or a different fruit or a new drink and get them to parrot "Thank you, Aunt Kathy". Sit down again, only to jump up to clear the food so that the puzzle can be pulled out. "Can you help me do this puzzle?" "Sure" Jump up. "You've done this puzzle yourself many times, are you sure you want my help?" "Yes" Jump up. "Can we watch Lucy?" Jump up and put in 64 Zoo Lane. "Can we play cards?" Jump up. My knees are killing me. It is not as much exercise as it seems, but it is killing my knees.
"Can we play cards?" Three year olds (and even six year olds) do not mean cards the way you'd think. I had an advent calendar with funny holiday magnets that were flat. When I first pulled it out for them, they fought over who got which magnet, so I started to deal them out like cards. I don't know how they started calling it cards, but the name stuck. Each magnet went with a different day of the month, so we started making it a game to call out the day of the month to see who had that "card" magnet. When I put all the Christmas decorations away, I hesitated putting that advent calender away, but I thought, no, it goes with Christmas and put it away. Matthew asks if we can play cards every single time he comes over. He means that calender. I've tried to show them an actual deck of cards and tried to make up fun three year old games with a deck of cards, but an A for a one is not so logical to a three year old. King and Queen with no princess, not a good game. Jack. No concept to relate it to.
I took all the kids to Sea World about a month ago. I was wondering out loud if I shouldn't rent a hotel room the night before to avoid the long drive the day of the trip and the person I was speaking to said "You want to stay in a hotel with three year olds?" No, I thought to myself, no I do not. What if the hotel doesn't carry Nick Jr.. Parish the thought. Then I was talking about the tricycles I've been thinking of getting them and the person I was speaking to said "You want to chase two three year olds on tricycles into the street?" No, I thought to myself in horror, No I do not.
I'm getting to the age when I should think carefully about my risk of heart attack. I think I'll stick with potty training and leave tricycles to their parents.