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A Competant Number of Nursery Maids

Tomorrow afternoon my aunt, uncle and their brood of five will be descending upon our house to stay over for the weekend. Please don’t get me wrong, I adore this family. My aunt is wonderful, my uncle is… um… entertaining (in a good way of course) and the little ones are adorable and lots of fun. It’s just that all those kids can be… um… a handful. And Saturdays are my day off. A day of rest. My mother, my sister and I like to sleep in. And, I don’t know what time they wake up (because I’m usually still asleep), but I’ve been known to sleep in until three or four in the afternoon. (As of now, my record is 19 hours, from around midnight until 7:00pm, this is a point of pride for me.) Once I do wake up, I spend the rest of the day reading, and with three grade 12 English courses this year, I have lots to read.

Photo credit: Zazzle.com

So clearly having small children (between the ages of approx. six months and 10 years) sleeping over will likely cut into my sleeping and reading time. These darling, blue-eyed, brown-haired children in particular are likely to be especially disruptive to our household routine. The moment they step through the front door, the usual “calm” of my household (or at least loudness and chaos that I’m used to) is gone. The entire atmosphere changes to accommodate their noise and energy and needs. They briefly say hello, and if you’re lucky you can have a brief, sticky hug or kiss (if your super-lucky, you’re greeted with excitement and open arms), before they begin marking their territory. They run off to watch the TV their parents deprive them of at home or to play on whatever gaming system it is that my brother has in the basement or to the kitchen asking for food. The latter tends to apply to all of them at some point, no matter how brief their visit; I guess the juice always tastes sweeter on the other side.

Photo credit: cartoonstock.com

Whenever this upheaval of my home occurs, or is even impending (as it is now) I always think of a quotation from Emma (which is obviously by Jane Austen. If that wasn’t obvious to you, I kindly ask you to leave my blog. Right now. I don’t want your kind (i.e. those who aren’t so much as vaguely familiar with the Austen canon, also known as “The Bible” in some circles) roaming around here.)

For those of you who are still with me, when this family comes over it reminds me of the time in Emma when her sister comes to visit for the holidays.

“Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, their five children, and a competent number of nursery-maids, all reach[ed] Hartfield in safety”

When I think of this, I wish my aunt and uncle had “a competent number of nursery-maids” to bring with them. I wonder how many “a competent number” is anyways. How many people, beyond their parents, does it take to watch five kids? I would say about three or four would be nice. However, unlike in the wonderful world of Jane’s novels, where this competent number is comprised of nursery maids, our competent number is comprised of me, my siblings, my parents, and/or my grandmother. Whoever’s around, really. Whenever my cousins drop in, my house tends to turn into a drop-in babysitting service. But what are we supposed to do? Ignore the yummy babies they bring over? Not get them the snacks they so sweetly ask for? Just not respond to their every beck and whine?

Furthermore, when they stay the night (and presumable also when they sleep at home) these kids tend to wake up at the crack of dawn. And in the past when they’ve stayed over, their parents leave them for us to wake up with, so that they can sleep. Well not this time! My mommy informed them that they’re welcome to stay over, but they can’t let their kids wake us up.

Here’s my problem: it’s their eyes, their big, dark blue eyes. And their cheeks, their yummy, shmushy cheeks. And their red, pouty lips and soft, brown hair. And the fact that they just grow up so freaking fast! So they’re going to be here on my day of sleeping and their parents have been told that they mustn’t wake us up, and yet — oh irony! — I’m probably going to wake up early(ish) anyways, and help out.

You know how there’s a theory that kids (and especially babies) are cute so that their sleep-deprived parents don’t hurl them out the window when they’re up crying half night? I think it’s also to help said sleep-deprived parents get babysitters. Of course, it’s only fun until someone starts crying, at that point I’m happy to direct them to the people who brought them into this world.

Do you have any funny babysitting or parenting experiences? I’d love to hear (or, you know, read) about them in the comments.

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About Elizabeth Anne

I’m obsessed with novels, short stories, poetical works &c., and my family has refused to put up with my ranting and raving about these things any longer, so I’ve decided to ramble to you, the internet.

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