There is probably no job so difficult as caring for other people’s children. I know it was the most difficult job I ever had and I wasn’t very good at it. Actually, I wasn’t very good to other people’s children. I was good with my own, to the best of my memory, I just didn’t have much patience with other children, who sometimes sassed me, thought their mother knew better than I and messed up my house.
I was young then and had lots of energy but little wisdom. Now that I’m old, I am easily able to fall in love with children, whether they are my own grandchildren or the children of a total stranger. Of course, now I don’t have the energy to ever take on a babysitting job although I continue to work daily at my office job. That’s because babysitting is hard work physically and can be emotionally draining. But even if you’re young, strong and basically nice, if you don’t have patience, you aren’t fit for the job. I wasn’t patient back when I was a babysitter for other people. I was a young mother at home with my own child and needed to make some money. Therein lies the problem. When a mother goes out to work, the people she has care for her children are too often those who are least equipped to do so.
Needing money and being willing to take children into your home to care for them is no guarantee that you will give those children the love and acceptance they need. You may be a nice person when you’re on public display, but you may scold like a fishwife if some little person puts jam covered hands all over your new curtains. I know I did. And I’m ashamed that I did.
Once I had the nicest little boy stay with me. My son was about a year and a half old. My little paying guest was a couple of years older and he was very bright. He talked my arm off, and every day he wore me down with trying to keep up with his inquisitiveness. Inevitably he would do something that would make me snap. I would scold him nastily and later be ashamed.
I am still ashamed of that behavior.
I think his mother finally figured out that I was not as good to her son as I should have been, because eventually she made other arrangements. I’m glad she did. I hope I didn’t seriously damage the psyche of that wonderful little guy whom I now recall with amazement. He was truly a bright, wonderful child. I was truly a flawed babysitter.
I think I’m a better person now, but I can’t undo my early life when I was given responsibility for which I was unfit. All I can do now is ask God to forgive me for my harshness and ask Him to bless that brilliant little boy, now a middle-aged man, wherever he may now be and for as long as he may live.
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