Between the Lines: Adventures in Babysitting

Full disclosure, I’m not sure if I want to be a father. That is possibly a controversial, and surely an unpopular thing to say in 2019, but there it is. Real honesty is important in these op-eds, right?

 There’s a lot of stress there, with the idea of a mini-you. And isn’t that the scariest part, a mini replica of you? God. 

Our mutual friend Eddie Sheerr dictated as much, delving deep into the drastic – albeit amazingly rewarding – life changes that come from child rearin’.

Apprehensive Dad  

There are plenty of things to be fearful of  when it comes to bringing a youth into the world in 2019-nearin-20. Outside of the obvious nuclear attack and modern ice age, there’s things like online predators, cyber bullying or your bundle of joy growing up to become a clan member or serial murderer. You love your kid through thick and thin, but I’ve always wondered if the bloom starts falling off the rose once your kiddo throws up the white-power sign or is put up on murder charges.

Anyways, these are worst case scenarios, but the day-to-day grind seems like no picnic either. I’ve seen strung out moms and dads, the I’ve-had-one-hour-of-sleep-in-seven-days-help-me-please kind. You know that look. Disheveled hair, clothes stained with unmentionable mess. A general lack of care for self that would have been unthinkable years prior. Selfie-moms turned paper-bag princesses in the span of a year. 

My wife teeter-totters in that same camp. Some days she’s firmly in no way Jose kid-having category, while others see her creeping across etsy for baby clothes  and books that may or not be shades of grey layered hints. These days though I think we both have come to the ‘not right now’ mutual conclusion. 

And who needs a kid right this minute when you’re an aunt or uncle, am I right? 

Recently we found ourselves responsible for our adorable 18 month old nephew. Mom and dad both found themselves under the weather, and who better to look after the little dude than auntie and unkie? (Side bar, uncle is an incredibly odd word isn’t it? Your kids first words are never going to be uncle, despite your best efforts.)

On paper, I’ve never been a kid person. They’re adorable, up to a certain age, but I’ve been tentative, at best, when it comes to how I am with them.  Tentative and unsure are good words, much more appealing than awkward, sheepish and downright embarrassing. 

A guarded Grinch

This kid, though, with his million dollar smile, obvious ‘energy’ turned into charisma and personality for years, would melt the heart of even the most guarded Grinch. 

This adventure in babysitting went better than expected. Kiddo slept through the night, though undeniably battling a cold and blowing snot bubbles with each breath. He didn’t jar until morning, which is as good as an early Christmas miracle as this guy could ask for. 

That morning the worlds’ best auntie brought him down to the living room where, after rubbing that never-grow-out-of-it sleepy dust from his eyes, the dude proceeded to pass me a puzzle book. The rest seemed to fall into place.

So while I may value my free time (or freedom), love and ability to jet-set across the world without finding a long-term sitter, and my seven (or twelve) hours of sleep on weekends, the role of uncle is one I think I’m easing into quite nicely.

And while this could-be father isn’t ready to take the Nestea plunge into changing diapers and turning my office into a nursery, he’s down for snotty sleepovers and puzzle-books any day of the week.

Dillon Collins, The Herald’s Staff Writer, can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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