Adventures in babysitting

The little boy next door that Tempest is so fond of, Colby, is just barely six years old and one of the funniest kids I have ever seen. Not funny like amusing, funny because he’s so finicky he reminds me of a little grandma.

He came over and instantly seemed bored. He mentioned he had games at his house, sigh, “But they’re probably too old for Tempest…”
I brought him into her room and showed him her extensive collection of blocks, from solid undyed wood, to ancient German imports with entire villages, connecting blocks, trains, wooden cars and various playsets that could excite the imagination of any child. Tempest jumped excitedly.
He sighed again. “I don’t really like blocks.”
I showed him her easel, her sets of crayons, coloured pencils, paints and pastels. Half a dozen tracing and colouring books, blank paper and graph papers. Tempest immediately grabbed a pencil and looked to Colby excitedly. He sighed. “I’m not big on colouring.”
We went out to the livingroom. “Well what do you like to do?”
“I like to watch TV.”
“I don’t think you guys need to watch TV just yet.”
He sighed. “I like… to play video games?” he looked up at me hopefully. I recalled a conversation his mother had where she said she was severely limiting his video game access. I stared back at him, but said nothing. He sighed again and looked down, continuing, “– but my mother won’t let me play them.”

For the next 45 minutes, whlie Curtis prepared breakfast, I listened to a constant stream of: “She’s touching me”, “he kicked me”, “She won’t let me hug her”, “He’s hugging me”, “Stop poking me”, “Stop sticking your tongue out”, “Don’t chase me!”, “That’s my blanket!”, “It’s my side!”, “He’s on my side!”, “Don’t touch my toys!”, “She’s not sharing her toys!”.
Which ended in my ushering them to the television.

Fortunately, it was only about five minutes until breakfast so I had an excuse to turn off the TV. I knew Colby had eaten before he came over, and his mother said he was extremely picky so I didn’t expect him to join us, but I still offered.
“Would you like some pancakes Colby?”
“No, I don’t like pancakes”. A kid who doesn’t like pancakes?
“Would you like some fruit? Maybe a peach or a banana?”
“I don’t like bananas or peaches.”
He stood there idly in the middle of the room as we sat down at the table. I felt bad and searched for more excuses to get him to join us. “Would you like a drink?”
He pondered this for a long time. “Alright.”
“Would you like some water?”
“I don’t like water.”
“Would you like some orange juice?”
“I don’t like orange juice.”
“Would you like some milk?”
More pondering. “That would be okay.”

So I poured him some milk. We don’t drink milk, we use it for cooking, so immediately Tempest caught onto this rare opportunity and begged for some to drink, so I poured her a glass too (which she didn’t end up finishing).
Colby sat down and had the milk, then looked bored.
“Are you sure you don’t want a pancake?” I asked. “You don’t have to eat them if you don’t want to, but if you’re curious you can try a taste.”
Tempest put a piece of her pancake on his plate and smiled. “That was nice sharing, Tempest.” She and I looked at him expectantly.
“Well, earlier when I said no, I meant maybe yes.” He poked the pancake piece. “Is there syrup on it?”
He poked it again, harder this time. “Is it dried?”
I wasn’t sure what he was asking. “Yes?”
“Okay.” Cautiously he took a bite, considered, and then didn’t respond.
“… do you want a pancake?”
“That would be alright.”
I opened the serving pot, “A big one or a little one?”
“Do you have a medium one?”
I picked one at random. “Here you go.” I put it on his plate, buttered it, syrup’d it and handed him a fork. He didn’t make a move to eat it. “Would you like me to cut it up?”
I cut it up. He picked up a piece on his fork, brought it to his face and then put it back down. “The pieces are too big for my mouth.”
I cut everything up again, this time to half the size. He inspected the pieces carefully and then very cautiously started to eat. He was very polite, very quiet, and finished the entire thing very quickly. I asked him if he wanted another but he replied, “No, I think I’m done” and walked away. He thanked me for the pancake.
I thought the exchange was rather funny, but I’m sure if I dealt with that every day I wouldn’t feel the same way.
That kid only just turned six.

There was another half an hour of, “He’s touching me,” “she pushed me”, “He’s on my side”, “She stole my blanket” before they went outside and played. There’s something about the presence of fresh air that seems to get rid of that behavior very quickly. Suddenly they were getting along famously again and even offered to push each other on the swings and play tag. His father came to pick him up shortly after that.
I would be more cynical or intervene in a more meaningful way but I feel like I shouldn’t ‘be me’ because I don’t know Colby that well yet and am unsure what he’s like. Plus they aren’t both my kids so, “Here’s a whiffle bat, settle your differences” method probably won’t go over that well.



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  • Anonymous says:

    I’m merely curious, as it is an interesting name, but how did you ever come up with the name Xan for your son? Did you make it up, is it short for anything?

    (It’s probably one of the few names I like that parents are naming their kids today. :])

    • admin says:

      I heard the name (within) throughout my pregnancy, and had heard it once before I ever even had Jericho so I knew it was a real name. In the beginning of my pregnancy when I was asking about his name I saw the same old reference again, opened up a book and saw it in a dedication and then heard it twice on the radio within a three day span – so it was fairly clear. However it didn’t “feel” right (I was applying it to a girl, and it didn’t feel right for a girl). I searched for MONTHS online trying to find a reference to the name that wasn’t as a short form of “Alexander”. I finally found it’s origin in Gaelic, although spelled slightly differently (I believe the original is, “Xanne” or something, but pronounced the same). It means “bright”, as in full of life. Once I realized what it meant it seemed perfect for him, bringing life and light back into our lives after Jericho’s death.
      I spent a long time trying to play with it, without crossing the line of making it a name I made up, trying to make it sound ‘right’, but as soon as he was born and I figured out he was a boy then it was, “Oh well that was why” and it was clear it was his name.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh, thanks for that. I appreciate you typing so much so I got the entire story. I’m always interested as to why mothers (or fathers) pick the names they do for their children.

        Xan is a very darling name for a baby, and it seems to me that it would suit a boy even when he grew up and able to fend for himself.

  • handgun says:

    this is kind of a dumb question, but does tempest not drink milk much just because, or is it part of your approach to healthy foods and such (I have been reading for a while and am thus familiar with some of your medical stances and such).


    • admin says:

      We have dairy as a treat because it’s not that great for you. That was one of the only times Tempest has ever drank milk. Generally her treat is fortified rice milk instead.

      • I’m so thankful I’m not the only one who doesn’t think cow’s milk is god’s gift to nutrition. πŸ™‚

        • admin says:

          Nope. πŸ™‚ I had to stay off it as a child because I was very allergic, over time it got better so I kind of “dairy’d out” and then by the time I was out of my teens it started to make me feel sick again. I already knew about the hormones and antibiotics, but it wasn’t until relatively recently (since Tempest’s pregnancy/birth) that I learned about it’s lack of health benefits, so we just mutually agreed that it was more like a treat. With the exception of cooking, we probably *eat* it straight maybe only a few times a month, depending.

      • florassecret says:

        same here, we use it as a treat. I have learned a trick with Madeline and cow’s milk, if water it down, warm it up and add a little honey she thinks it’s breastmilk. πŸ˜€

  • birthingway says:

    You handled that really well, Babs.

  • sualkin says:

    LOL, that was SO me as a kid.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is sad for a 6 year old to be that addicted to video games. I think it is strange how a mother can leave her child with someone she does not really know that well. Good thing you are a decent gentle person.

      • admin says:

        I appreciate that you would call me a decent person, however you’re demonstrating the biggest mistake people make when reading online journals is to assume they know everything about that person, or their lives, or the lives of their friends and anyone they interact with because they read it on their blog. I don’t write every single conversation, all the times I’ve been to her house and spent time with her, the times she’s been here to spend with our family and how often she has had Tempest over there or for walks. I’d be concerned too if I’d only spoken to her twice and then she dropped her kid off at my house for hours!

      • Where you got the impression that he was addicted, I’m not quite sure. Just because a kid likes something doesn’t make them addicted to it. Heck, the child admitted that his mother doesn’t allow him to play. Even if she did previously, there was no indication made that he was ‘addicted’ before.

        • _delphiki_ says:

          Agreed. One would assume my three year old is “addicted” to video games by the number of times he asks to play them. Number of times he’s actually played video games? 0.

          Well handled babs!

          • admin says:

            On the other hand, it may be a phrasing difference. Tempest plays what we call “Video games” in the form of things like (learning games, learning to read, etc) – and she asks for it either by, “ABC game” or “computer game”. But I don’t put this in the same place as playing Duke Nukem or endless hours of Mario.

        • I agree, I thought he was just testing his boundaries, to see if he could get away with video games.

          I found this entry to be hilarious, but it probably wouldn’t be so funny if it had happened with me. πŸ™‚

  • delababy says:

    You are a much better person than I am cause I would have screamed

  • hoodwink says:

    man, that would have made me nuts.

  • erinmdmd says:

    THis exchange (particularly the food part) reminds me greatly of dealing with my sisters. They are almost 14 and 9 and literally only eat about 20 very specific things. The almost 14 year old’s list is pretty much the exact opposite of my healthy vegetarian whole foods based diet- she eats beef and cheese in a few different forms really.

  • jennnk says:

    He’s 6? The way he was talking I thought he was 4 at most. “The pieces are too big for my mouth?” The HELL?

  • gangwaygirls says:

    OMG, are you sure his name isn’t Max? He sounds a lot like my five-year-old stepson, especially the part about “The pieces are too big for my mouth.” Max needs so much to be comfortable – it’s exasperating and amusing at the same time. We have to do the same routine at dinner every time…

    Max: ((sniffs whatever’s on his plate; last time it was a tuna cake with garlic mustard aioli)) What’s in this?
    Me: Garlic–
    Max: I don’t like garlic.
    Me: Yes, you do. Mustard–
    Max: Don’t like mustard.
    Me: Yeah, you do. And tuna.
    Max: I like tuna, right?
    Me: You did the last time we had it.
    Max: ((sighs and shrugs)) All right. Here goes nothin’!

    And then he’ll eat the entire thing and ask for more.

    Cracks me up.

  • “Here’s a whiffle bat, settle your differences”

    Love it-I’m totally using it with my crew.

  • timmytm says:

    I was a picky kid, but I also never said much.

  • oysterjaw says:

    He sounds like a six-year-old child version of Eeyore the donkey!

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