I can tell you the exact moment it happened.
It was on a visit we’d made to Elizabeth City. At the time, our friend Pig’s son was about four-years-old, which as everyone knows is the most adorable and charming age for the human species. I’d spent some time with him, and we’d enjoyed each other’s company.
On the way home, we stopped at Pig’s. We entered through the kitchen, and then it happened.
My little buddy did something that sealed my fate. He reached out for me with both hands and smiled this sunny, heartbreaking grin. And…the snooze alarm on my biological clock began clanging like all the bells on the planet were playing a wake-up call just for me.
Within eighteen months, we were greeting The Kid in the maternity ward.
But, here’s the weird part. Until the incident in Pig’s kitchen, I didn’t want to have children. Heck, at eighteen I was begging my OB/GYN to fix me like a wayward Doberman (of course, there isn’t a doctor around that’ll sterilize an eighteen-year-old kid, which in my case was a good thing).
And that brings me to babysitting.
In the summers of junior high, I watched my brother while Mom worked. But, he was a bookworm like me, so mainly I just had to make sure he didn’t get a paper cut or burn down the house.
When I was in high school I did a little babysitting. Honestly, though, I was a pretty indifferent sitter. If I’d been in the Babysitters’ Club, I would have been “Debbie, the pretty reliable yet entirely unenthusiastic babysitter”.
Petey had two younger brothers. He also had an older sister Deb, who’s favorite thing ever is to run things, so he only got minimal experience.
There’s something you should know about my spouse. He has a few interests like watching any and all sports contests, learning to play the guitar (which has been an ongoing project since I met him in 1979), and dogs.
But for his entire life, he’s had one interest so central to who he is, that it’s less hobby, and more raison d’etre, and pillar of his personality. If he had to choose between me and this abiding passion, I wouldn’t stand a chance.
The man loves a nap. I mean, he LOVES them. Like really, really loves them. Petey never met a horizontal surface he didn’t want to get to know better.
So, one day, when his family was stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, he was babysitting a neighbor’s children. The homes were built of stone, literally about the time of General Custer. Petey was napping on the living room couch. Downstairs, in the basement, his charges were climbing around on a couple of ancient metal bed frames.
He woke up when one of the kids tugged on his arm and opened his eyes to a lot of blood coming from an scary-looking gash on the little boy’s noggin.
Head wounds bleed impressively, so it turned out to not be serious. Petey’s not sure how the parents reacted because when he called home, his sister rushed over and was ecstatic to take over and kick him out. The parents didn’t give him a hard time over the injury to their child, because they didn’t hire him to sit for them again, and actually never spoke to him after that.
Despite our experience in childcare, we took care of our offspring pretty well. Petey did great, and I only dropped our baby on the head twice, and the one time I misplaced our child, Dom Deluise (yup, that Dom Deluise) returned The Kid to me.
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