I was 14 years old when I was babysitting regularly for Laura's Mother. Laura was the oldest child of 5 kids at the time. She had long dark brown hair as she bounced around me. I was a natural with babies also by this time in my life carrying them around, changing diapers and bottle feeding while singing soft tunes in the way my mom had shown me to do. Now I never could sit mindless in front of the TV when being in charge of babysitting. Even though there were moments I could breathed a sigh of relief when all the kids finally settled down to a movie. I didn't like the fact that TV was doing my job, I had many ideas to creatively teach children to play, color, draw or challenge their young minds. One of my favorite games I made up was getting the kids around the kitchen table to draw what I thought about in a time limit as if in a race. Like I would say "I am thinking of a dog...on your mark, get set, GO!" Then the kids while giggling would roll the crayons across their blank pieces of paper to draw fast creating a picture of a dog. I always arrived with a small bag of candy for prizes or getting them to make their beds. My biggest job while babysitting was cleaning the house. I thought that if I was Laura's mother after being out on a date then the last thing I would want to do was wash dishes in the kitchen. So a spotless home create a sense of peace and calming to me as I herded the children around to help with such energized excitement, saying "Let's clean House!" Laura would always look at me as if I was so weird. Yet I relied on her more then all the other children, because she knew where things were and how everything worked. When her younger sister Marissa was laying on the floor screaming. I thought to myself "This child will be the death of me!" as I went back to scrubbing the dishes in a soapy sink, Marissa was refusing to take a bath and I didn't pay attention to her as she screamed on the floor for what felt like forever. She grew even more mad as I stopped paying attention to her all together. Laura came out into the room where Marissa still laid on the floor explaining to me "You need to give her something so she will stop screaming." I was bewildered by this time. My ears hurt and my house cleaning chores felt like they would never end. "Like what? She is refusing to calm down." I asked helplessly as Laura reached into the refrigerator to hand her hysterical sister a pudding cup. Instantly the house was silent again, I couldn't help but chuckle at how simple that was and yet how crazy at the same time! I accidentally got bit on my pinky finger by the baby girl Megan as she refused the apple sauce I was trying to feed her so she bit my finger so I squealed and danced around the room she thought I was funny and giggled. I gave in and fed her those pudding cups as Laura walked by explaining "She won't eat anything else, just pudding." I nodded as I kept my fingers more to myself.
When I walked into Laura's home the first room was a wide open living room with a new couch set. The room went right into the dinning room table and sliding glass door to the big backyard. To the right hand side was the kitchen with dark cabinets tucked away in the passing through space to the family room full of books, toys and where the TV was. This was the most commonly used space of the home. From the dinning room table to the hallway Laura's brother had his bedroom, Then the bathroom was to the right which also double as the laundry room so as I cleaned it I thought of how toothpaste was the hardest thing to removed . What always bothered me was the only boy in the family had his own room while the second bedroom was crowded for 3 girls. So I asked them why doesn't anyone share a room with their brother so each of them could have half a bedroom. They thought I was crazy for suggesting that and the older I got the more I thought of ways to give each girl some more privacy. "You could always hang a curtain over here in this is corner of bedroom to be your own space." I would suggest as the girls would giggle at me. Laura would roll her eyes and answer "Curtains are for windows, not to hang in the middle of the bedroom." I laughed at how funny I must be sounding to them. I was always happy to get Laura's bedroom setup so she had her own bookshelf with her favorite things on them. I think deep down I related to her in being the oldest and understood how she was the one with the most responsibility over her siblings. In a way I thought she needed to be spoiled sometimes too. Her mother and I often got into discussions and I am sure I lacked tactfulness in how I thought a parent should behave. Yet she always invited me back to babysit even if we ended up in a heated disagreement. When Laura's Parents came home at night asking if the kids had been good, even if the kids hadn't behaved, I always said they were wonderful. I had a fear that if I said anything troubling or frustrating then those kids would get the belt. It came from my own childhood of being babysat, I often acted up or tried to get away with something when babysat since my parents were gone. For all my bad reports and bad behavior I remembered that the belt followed. Now that I was the one in charge, the one who babysat, my own report of the kids never failed, I couldn't live with myself if they got spanked because of something I said. Laura and I would both get along and then challenge each other too. My priority was that once the house was cleaned we could all play, have candy or ice cream during a movie time or on those late summer nights outside. I loved teaching the kids games in the back yard like "Green light, Red light.","Simon says." and "Toss Salad." Looking back now, I realize the time spent with the kids was by far more important then creating an immaculate home. I was always trying to do it all and sometimes I would think I didn't have the energy to babysit more then just once a week. Laura was always one of those girls who could just look at you and know if you were bullshiting her or not. I couldn't help but admire her spunk, her awareness and most importantly her beauty!