When people call my house requesting a specific babysitter, they normally strike out. However, since there are three of us, normally someone else is there to pick up the slack. Somebody called for Laura, but she had a photo shoot, so I was second best. I'm ok with that. I had never babysat for this family before, and Laura had. The kid's mom worked at my high school, and I'd met Cole through day camp, my summer job a few years back.
Cole was pretty well behaved and quite self-sufficient for being five years old. A couple little problems here and there, but he's five. Even the best five year old doesn't always drop everything and do what is requested of him (or her) at that exact moment (not even the best twenty year old does that, eh, Mom? :-)). However, bedtime was a different story. Stall Queen here may have met her match. "Two more kicks with the soccer ball before we go inside." "I can't get my socks off because my legs are made of rubber." "Look, I'm a dummy!" "That's too much toothpaste." "No, I don't want to wear those pajamas"... you know, kid stuff. Yes, I did start counting. I got to two, and Cole picked a book to read. I breathed a sigh of relief; I didn't know what I was going to do if I got to three. No brushing your teeth?
The book Cole picked out was entitled The Human Body, and he flipped through it looking at the pictures and asking questions. That human biology class I took a few semesters back came in handy in an unanticipated way. All else fails, I could just read the words next to the drawings. "That's the ribcage; it's this part of your body." "That's a tooth and there are four different kinds." "The smallest bone in the body is in the ear." Piece of cake! Until we flipped to the last page. When he first turned the page, I was thrilled because it meant the book was almost done and it would be lights out. Except then I remembered what publishers keep on the last page of human body books just to torment unsuspecting babysitters. Yup, as that dawned on me Cole's little fingers slammed down on a drawing showing the differences between boys and girls.
I lied. I said I didn't know.
Problem: this five year old can read.
"What's 'protection' mean?"
If I'd have been thinking on the spot I could have explained the word in a different context, but the only word that was coming into my head was "condom." Sorry, Cole, not gonna happen. Instead, I changed the subject and said it was time for bed. It was true, and I like to think it I did it in an inconspicuous way; he'd been stalling long enough. I'll be honest, I have no problem with the anatomy subject. Yes, I can say those words without giggling. Just a few months ago I taught a female friend infinitely more than she ever wants to know about male anatomy using my own drawings, textbook diagrams, and webmd. Not a problem. Also not a conversation I'm having with the five year old who had ten minutes earlier asked me to leave his room so he could put on his pajamas. That is not in my job description. Since I think he asked more out of a desire to stall than he did out of a need to know, I didn't even go for the "Ask Mom and Dad." The last thing I wanted was to invoke a, "Daddy, Miss Katie said..." Frankly, I don't think that's a conversation a five year old needs to have and definitely not with a babysitter.
I took the book away before he had the opportunity to read any more words and said it was bedtime. Cole really was just stalling. We moved on to something I'm a little more comfortable with: bedtime prayers. "Now I lay me... and thanks for helping Miss Katie dodge a bullet."
Thoughts? Similar stories?
PS: In an earlier conversation, Cole told me that with his principal's permission his school's mascot could eat my school's mascot. Thanks a lot.