Loss of energy, Gain of perspective.

This is my reward for taking a quiz.  I get to blog.  My secondary reward is getting to eat the second half of my dinner, and then I might open my backpack again to see what else must be done.

I’ve made some observations today about kids.  I’m (obviously) not a parent, but as a frequent babysitter, sometimes I feel like one.  I’m just a temporary parent with a smaller amount of authority, sometimes considered a novelty in households with small children.  I also have less experience and get paid for my parenting.  Parents really do expect parent-like behavior from a babysitter – at least, some do.  They’ll ask me to not just make the kids finish their homework before they play video games, but ask me to sit with them as they do it, reminding them that the more they do now, the less they have to do tomorrow.  I’ve helped kids clean their rooms before, on the desperate petition of a tired parent who just needs to do some grocery shopping.  I obviously don’t mind.  If I could tally up all the hours I’ve spent babysitting from age 11 (I really have no idea why parents felt comfortable hiring me to watch their young’uns at that age, but they did) until now, the number would be significant.  If I could count up all the diapers I’ve changed, screaming children I’ve comforted, strange questions (usually from 4-year-olds) about life I’ve been asked, or times I’ve wanted to keep the child who fell asleep on my lap while I read them a story and started snoring, the stats would be pretty impressive… for a 17-year-old, that is.

But then I remember that I’m not a parent, that I don’t spend weeks, months, or years with these kids.  Sure, some of them I see at least once a week, and many of them treat me like a surrogate parent, but who am I kidding? I’m no where near parent level.  I have to think about the same things, accomplish some of the same tasks, but on a limited level, a temporary basis.

So, about what I realized today while watching four boys – triplets, plus one more – that they have way too much energy.  Maybe that’s just little boys, but as I watched these kids run around  (three more came over midway through for a short playdate… with some quick addition you will realize that we’re at 7 kids now), the constant movement was astonishing.  When there was no Wii action going on, they’d be jumping up and down in place, like they just really needed to be expelling energy.  They’d chase each other in a big circle around the sofas, and if no one was chasing them, they’d run in circles anyway.  hmmm, nothing else to do, I guess I’ll just run around in circles!

I really wonder where that energy went.  As I sat on the couch, watching for injuries and making sure that no one got the bright idea of driving the mini police car down the stairs (who let them have motorized vehicles inside, anyway??), I was feeling that 3:30 coma, the mid afternoon urge to take a nap that usually hits around then. I don’t have that boundless energy.  If someone asked me to play tag with them, I’d do it – but not for 45 minutes.  Then I’d go take a break, rest a little.  Not jump up and down, awaiting the next big expulsion of energy.

Maybe I was more energetic as a 5-year-old.  Maybe the years of sitting in a desk at school drained out my pizzazz and replaced it with focus.  I wonder if I should mourn the loss.  If I should be regretting the loss of this amazing desire to move constantly.

I think my conclusion is that I’m in a different phase.  Theirs is the experiential one, the part of life where everything must be experienced for the first time and reveled in.  Mine is a more reflective one, where I wonder about those first experiences, whether or not my impressions of them were true.  And I wonder what impressions I give.  Less movement, more thought.

I’m all right with that.  And I think I have to be.

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