Baby-sitting

Sometimes big girls pretend, too,
Romanticizing daily tasks.

Four sick children, three boys and a girl,
In my care for a day.
I don’t drink coffee much
But the oldest boy wants to make some
And I haven’t a good enough reason
To tell him no.
My sister tells me I will spoil my children.

Breakfast time:
Eggs? Oatmeal? Both?
I scramble eggs with a small boy
Clinging to my back.
My sister says I will spoil my children.

Everyone dressed, out to ride bikes
And explore and pick flowers,
With a lesson in road safety.
“Miss Darcy, can we go to your house?”
“We’ll wait till this afternoon.”
Back inside to play
Hide-and-seek.
Dishes in the kitchen want attention.
The keyboard plays music,
“If You’re Happy and You Know It,”
Over and over again.
So I sing and clap and stomp my feet,
To the children’s delight and surprise,
With a dish towel in my hands.

The little girl colors,
The boys play with toys.
Soon we’re cutting hearts
From paper napkins.
One napkin becomes a cootie-catcher
To nip little toes
And kiss little noses.
“Miss Darcy, can we go to your house?”
“Not till a while after lunch.”

Pizza for lunch.
“No, not just bread-sticks.”
Then, next thing to punishment–
Quiet time for an hour.
The Food Network for background noise,
“Not so loud, please, boys.”
Baby sleeps at last.
I read a book to the others softly.
We watch the minute hand on my wristwatch
As it slowly ticks off the time.
Blocks are quiet toys,
But a little sharing must be enforced.
“Miss Darcy, can we go to your house now?”
“We will go after Chris wakes up.”

Parents home early.
“But I promised we would go to my house.”
“No problem; they can go.”
Only Anna comes.
At my house she paints
With watercolors
A picture for our wall.
I paint her fingernails
And carry her back home.
My sister insists I will spoil my children.

I’m paid for this, of course;
Extravagantly, too.
But my reward goes far beyond:
Four precious small lives
Impressing themselves on mine.
I would not trade today
For a week of fashionable fun.
Because this is real life,
Eternity-touching life.
Priceless.

And I will not spoil my children.
I will love them, love them, love them.
Love never spoiled anyone.

-Miss Darcy

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