Feb 4, 2013

Pinch-hitting: Anna's tale of a Saturday with the kids

Until today, there were only four posts tagged as "pinch-hitting." One of them was written by Amelia. One of them referred to you Jamie's blog to read a guest post I wrote for HER. And two were written by my sister.

So the fact that there's a new pinch-hitter today is kind of a big deal. But it's Anna, an extension of our family, our babysitter of more than eight years. Anna is one of the people I know will hold me accountable for what I write about the kids here. If I ever wrote anything unfair or untrue about them, she would HAVE MY HEAD. She loves them without qualification ... which you're about to see, in her own words.

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Hello all! Babysitter Anna here. First let me say that as a fan of her blog, it is such an honor that Katherine would ask me to do a guest post! I have worked at the same daycare/ preschool for ten years, and for most of those years there has been at least one H child in the building. Beginning with Nicholas and Nathaniel at three months old and two years old respectively, through Jakey and beautiful Amelia, I have watched these children grow as the family has grown.

My coworkers often accuse me of spoiling the children in my care. My philosophy of child care, which is backed up by research, is this: infants quickly become aware, in the first few months, that they have these people around them who love them, cuddle them, and respond to every whimper and cry. These people are their parents, their family. But after a few months it becomes necessary for their parents to leave them with strangers for a good portion of the day. The only way that this is not a traumatic and damaging experience is if those strangers quickly show that they also will love them and cuddle them and respond to every whimper and cry. These early attachment experiences not only affect social and emotional growth, but have also been scientifically proven to be crucial to early brain development.

When you add a teaching style like that to the fact that I spend roughly eight hours a day, five days a week, with the children in my care, of course I grow to love them. Add all of that to the length of time I have known the family plus the after-hours babysitting, and it's understandable that Nathaniel, Nicholas, Jakey, and Amelia hold special places in my heart. I spent a recent Saturday afternoon babysitting them and counting the things I love...
  • I love that Nicholas and Nathaniel, heads buried in their laptops, take a snack break together, talking and joking with each other.
  • I love that Jake begs me to open Amelia's little porcelain tea set so that he can have a tea party with her. At four years old, possibly the most egocentric time of a child's life, he wants to explore where she is and what he thinks she'd like to do.
  • I love that they are all proud of Amelia for using a spoon to eat her ravioli, even when the result looks like Chef Boyardee exploded next to her. I also love that Amelia, though happy with the attention, has no idea what the fuss is all about.
  • I love that none of the boys can pass Amelia without stopping to cuddle and hug, even when she is engaged in whacking their bag of Legos like a pinata.
  • I love Nathaniel, Nicholas, Jake, and Amelia. Even when Nathaniel is being sassy, Nick is being stubborn, and Jake is being cheerfully oblivious to the word 'no'.
There was another mass shooting at a school a few months ago. Our corporate office realized that the victims are getting younger and that the perpetrators are not always peers, and they asked that we have plans for such an emergency, should it arise at our center. As the Health and Safety Coordinator, it was my job to come up with selective evacuation and lock down plans, and to make sure everyone knew what they were supposed to do. Which I did.
When I think of such a scenario, the H children come to mind and represent all of the children in our center. And I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that any bullet intended for one of those precious beings would have to go through me first. I can only hope that that fact gives Katherine and Grayson something that is so hard to have when your heart is walking (and crawling) around outside your body in such a dangerous world: a little peace of mind.

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