Thursday, March 1, 2012

Adventures in babysitting

When I was about 6 years old or so, my family moved here

Look closely and tell me what you see...

...

...Switch to satellite or Google Earth view. You'll see it better...

...

Do you see it? That's right. A whole lot of wide open space. You gotta zoom in real close to see buildings.

When I lived there, you could count 14 houses, a railroad track, a curling rink and 2 grain elevators (one of which my father managed which is how we came to live is such a tiny prairie hamlet). In other words, really 'effin small...

I am sure that you are asking yourselves - and rightfully so - what the hell is my point.

Well, in this town of 14 households - as well as in the surrounding farmsteads - there were many families with young children. And when I hit the age of 12, I became a very in demand babysitter. Not particularly because I was very good at it (although I did take a "Babysitter Safety" course to learn how to give kids CPR and the Heimlich maneuver). But because I was the only kid old enough to babysit all the others. And so it was that every single weekend and entire summer vacation days, I was at someone's place watching their kids. For the low, low price of $1/hour.

And then we moved away to a booming prairie metropolis of 1,000 people when I was 15, where I knew absolutely no one and where there was already a booming babysitting industry. So I hung up my babysitting hat and went to work in a raspberry orchard.

Seriously.

Anyway... back to the part about babysitting. With the exception of the odd time that my sister has left her children with me while she runs errands, I haven't looked after kids in a long while. No one asks me. Probably because I am infamously known as that weird lady that doesn't want kids. And truth be told, if someone did ask me to watch their child, I'd probably freeze up a little and stutter my way through some excuse as to why I couldn't possibly take time away from my busy, er, um... stew-cooking day or something equally lame...

I do get asked, often enough though, to look after people's pets. And I always say yes. I don't have a huge client base, but it's consistent. There is my brother, who leaves his dog Toby with me from time to time. There is my friend Ali who once left her two cats with Hubby and I for almost a year (and I am pretty sure she will never leave them with us again because we threatened to never give them back to her). And recently, I got a new client; my friend JJ and her darling 6-month old kitten, who I will affectionately refer to in this blog as Princess Kitty (or PK for short).

The difference between this babysitting job and previous ones is that it is the first time that I had an eager helper (other than Hubby, of course). In the furry, four-legged, half-pricked-eared shape of the Beast.

I forgive all of you who know the Beast and/or who read this blog for the collective gasp, followed by the "Are you crazy?!??!?" Given my descriptions of my overly-sensitive, high-strung, excitable, loud monster of a dog - whom some of you have witnessed - how could you not wonder what on earth I was thinking when I told JJ that I would gladly take PK off her hands for a few days. Hell, even I'll admit that as I was making the offer, I was nervous as hell that she would say yes, because, well, the Beast is bat-shit crazy most of the time!

But it was too late - the offer was made and JJ was in a bind. And so take her we did (after a 24 hour trial run to make sure that no one would die).

And...

...

...well

...

...no one died! Yay!!!!

In fact, the Beast fell head over in heels in love with PK. I now have a deeper appreciation of the term "puppy love" after watching the Beast devotedly follow her around everywhere that she went...

The more I think about it, it was kind of like watching an episode of Pepe Le Pew. You remember that skunk, right? Pepe would try to woe that silly cat with the white stripe down her back. Convinced of his charm and of her inability to resist him, he just kept going back, never quite able to understand why she ran away and always fooling himself into believing that she was simply playing hard to get. God I loved that cartoon!

Well, that pretty much sums up the Beast and PK. He pulled out every single one of his best moves to charm her and to get her attention: he sniffed her bum, he bowed to her to invite her to play, he lay down beside her to watch her play with a piece of string, he pricked up his ears in his most attractive of poses, he softly barked or whimpered - only once - to get her attention, and he let her drink from his water dish.

And what did she do?

She batted his nose. Which is how I know that he really loves her. Because if a dog at the dog park did that to him, there would be teeth and growling. But not with PK. No, he just stood there stoically and accepted her smacks, as though he was convincing himself that they were taps of love. Then he'd follow her off to the next room and repeat his professions of love.

For seven days straight. We really thought that at one point he'd tire of her and just say to himself that she wasn't worth all of this effort. But no. He remained utterly devoted to her the entire time that she was here, following her from room to room to room and waking up the entire household in the middle of the night as he frantically searched for his girlfriend.

And now that she's gone? Well, I won't say that the Beast is sad, because there are too many things to love about life to make him sad. But he is looking for her. I catch him sniffing around in all of her favourite places in our house. Like under the ironing board where she would play with that little piece of dangling string. Or in the spare bedroom where she would sit right in the middle of the bed so he couldn't get to her (I think she figured out that he is not allowed on furniture, and placed herself j-u-u-u-u-st out of his reach to taunt him). Or in the laundry room, where she couldn't get any private kitty litter time without the Beast sitting there watching her.

And so, dear readers, I was sure that my week-long adventure in babysitting would end up being a gong-show, which would in turn generate some hilarious stories for all of you. But alas, all I have to tell you is a love story, complete with that epic theme of unrequited love...

It's a good thing that Beasty is so handsome. Surely there will be another girl out there who will fall for him as hard as he fell for PK.

And now, some pictures of this too short love affair...
Day 1 - Please play with me
You can't resist me up close. Look at how handsome I am!
Sun-bathing together
Watching t.v. together. Why won't she cuddle with me on my bed?
Please look at me?
Why does that string mean more to you than I do?
I'll give you anything, even my water.

Please come back soon, PK.