We are told that we will only truly appreciate our parents when we become parents ourselves. I beg to disagree. On one end, I am sure the sacrifices our parents made will become clearer to us when we have to give up the same things for our kids. But on the other hand, even without having kids of my own, I am amazed and humbled by the altruistic and tolerant acts of all parents. Most especially the ones I’ve known way before they became parents!
Two weekends ago, my hubby and I babysat my two nieces while their parents went to a wedding. We did not mind at all since we’ve always been extra fond of these kids. The first hour was spent at home making them popcorn, eating Oreo cookies and watching Nick Jr. They were perfect little angels then. But once the t.v. was turned off and after their folks left, it was doubly hard to keep them entertained. Since it was a nice day, we took them to a local fair and thought this would be a perfect way to keep them entertained. After all, there were rides, games, food, music, balloons -- it was kid-perfect! It took about 2 minutes for my older niece (Meredith) to decide she wanted to go on the Spinning Teacups ride. Because I have motion sickness, my hubby would have to be her riding companion. He reluctantly got in line with all the little girls and their mommies who were lining up to ride bright pink and yellow teacups. I took my younger niece (Maddie), who was too small to get on the rides, for a walk. Little did I know that the fact that she could not ride the Teacups would launch her into “full-fledged crying” mode. It was mind-blowing how much energy a little 2 year old could have when throwing a fit. I did my best to not panic and to point out all the fun and interesting sights to calm her down – desperately trying to divert her attention elsewhere. It also took a lot of willpower to ignore all the pitying looks I got from other parents who knew a temper tantrum when they saw one. But what was even worse was the condescending looks from those who were not parents – looks that seemed to be saying “that won’t happen to me when I have kids”. All I can say is, “we’ll see about that!”.
After the Teacups ride, Meredith wanted to go on the bigger thrill rides. Since she is 3 and couldn’t get on the rollercoaster, we now had two kids whose attentions we had to divert. We led them (half carried them) over to a game booth where the object of the game was to throw plastic balls towards jars filled with water. If the ball landed in a jar, you won a real live goldfish. If the ball landed outside the jar (which was about 99% of the time), you ended up with squat. We spent about $10.00 on 50 balls and not even one of them grazed the rim of a jar. Of course, it did not help that my nieces were throwing balls at random – some of which did not even land on the table where the jars were on! After we were out of balls, my nieces decided they wanted a goldfish whether we had won one or not. Rather than spend another hundred dollars on balls that would not have landed anywhere near a jar, I did the next best thing any desperate adult would do – I begged the carnival lady to sell me a goldfish! Yes, I sadly admit it -- I caved in and bought a carnival prize.
After another hour at the carnival, where we played even more games and did not win even more prizes, we decided enough was enough. We then took them to every parents’ refuge -- the play place at McDonalds. All I can say is thank god for Happy Meals and the little toys that come with them. They kept my nieces entertained for all of 4.5 minutes – long enough for my hubby and I to wolf down McChicken sandwiches. We spent a few more minutes playing in the playground and a lot more minutes begging the kids to call it a day and go home. Between that and figuring out the intricacies of infant carseats, we got home alive.
But, the night was not over. Once at home, we had to look for an appropriate jar for the fish, then we had to feed the fish, and then we had to find them something else to do. All this while one of my nieces had to poo-poo and my hubby had the pleasure of changing a diaper. It’s pathetic but I’m too chicken to do it myself. I know I’ll have to learn some day when I have my own kids – but I’m hoping that by then someone will have invented a machine that can change a soiled nappy! (Wishful thinking!).
After both little girls snuggled into our bed and I let them play with my jewelry box – it was adorable how they oohed and aahed over the “treasures in the treasure chest”. Shortly after, I lulled them with fairy tale stories that I made up as I went along until I could see their eyes getting heavy with sleep. Maddie was asleep almost instantly, but Meredith wanted to talk bit more before drifting off. Almost absentmindedly she said “Ninang (which means “godmother”, which is what I am to her) you’re my best friend”. After that, their folks came to pick them up and take them home. It was a long day and some parts of it were pretty tough. But being called my niece’s best friend – it really made the whole day worth it.
And so, yes, I truly have a new found respect for all the parents out there (especially my own!). It’s definitely not an easy job and there is definitely a lot of sacrificing that comes with the job. Yes, there are tough times, and there are tantrums and of course, there are the dirty diapers. Don't even get me started on pregnancy and labor pains! And yet, I can’t wait to have my turn some day! :)