Adventures in Babysitting

10 Nov

It’s a cool Fall afternoon in Philly – threatening to act like winter.  Once again we had another prediction of a great storm this week and once again Philadelphia was left practically untouched.  We had just a few snow flurries earlier this week on Wednesday and by Thursday, while it was still chilly outside, the weather had us wondering what all the fuss was about.  And so, no snow and no great winter storm for the Philadelphia area.

It’s felt like a busy week for me.  This is a high energy household and often it feels like once I climb on board the wave of  activities for the day, it’s a wild ride.  I continue my new-found happiness… much to my surprise… in cooking and preparing evening meals for the family.  Last night I made homemade burritos served with fresh guacamole with organic cooked carrots on the side.  I have to say it was all really yummy!

I had some new adventures in babysitting earlier this week with the four-year-old, the  youngest of the two boys here.  He had the day off from school on election day so he and I took off for the afternoon to give the work-from-home parents some refuge to get their work done.  We went to what must be the “latest” in parenting… a cafe-like place set up just for kids and parents (or parent-like folks).  You enter with a simple entrance fee and once inside the “gate” there is an indoor playground with an amazing spread of toys and indoor activities.. a slide, a clubhouse, and toy grocery store… you get the picture.  The other half of the place is a parent friendly cafe where one can lounge, do a little reading or computer work while the kids happily make a mess in the room created for the purpose of making messes!  Ah what a difference that makes!  Additionally they have kid-friendly meals and organic and healthy snacks.  You run a “tab” while you are there… so both child and in my case babysitter are free to snack and play and work and then pay the bill on the way out.

I have been somewhat hesitant with taking on childcare in the ensemble of services I offer within the agreement of my exchange here.  But I know full well that often this household really just needs someone willing to take the kids out of the house and give them some space to have a little fun.  The youngest when out of the house and on his own is really quite good and I know he gets a kick out the time and attention.  We had a fair amount of fun at our cafe outing.  I watched him play and when he seemed a bit sheepish on his own I joined him in playing.  We read a book together in the clubhouse and played tag in the tumbling room downstairs filled with mats and basic gymnastic equipment –  a room that it seems no matter how old you are invites you to play! At the very least I got to be a voyeur into contemporary motherhood for an afternoon and my hosts got a quiet afternoon to work.

The youngest and I took another little outing yesterday afternoon.  After the threat of the storm it was a gift to have a bright sunny blue-skied day that was brisk but still inviting to be outdoors.  The youngest gets home early from school on Fridays so I took him for a little outing that was a real treat – a trip to the Morris Arboretum.  It’s just up the street from their home and a favorite of the family’s to visit.  This was my first trip there.

The little one was my enthusiastic tour guide giving me clear directions once we pulled in past the ticket guard.  He let me know to follow the cars in front of me, that the cow-shaped creatures off in the hills were in fact not REAL cows, and led me safely to the parking lot.  It was such a beautiful day the hills just called to us.  He was off and I was not far behind him.

First stop was the tree house.  Wow, what a magical construction with fun inviting places to visit – like a giant bird’s nest and netted pavilion high up in trees.  Of course I did feel the panic of my fear of heights which I greeted lightly and tried not to take too seriously.  Luckily for me he didn’t want to stay up there too long and soon we were off.  We wandered next to the fernery, a steamy room filled with lush plants and fish.  Then to the log cabin and playing and visiting with the nearby stream.  His enthusiasm to be there leapt and peaked until… it was gone and the next question from him was… “can we go home now?”  Of course we can… although my spirit could have wandered through the Arboretum for hours!  Still, my first visit would not have been the same without him as my guide!

I stopped in on a little neighborhood Kirtan chanting session last night.  Led by a local man at the near-by Unitarian Church, it was a cozy and intimate event with just a few of us there to sing and chant.  His chants were beautiful and simple and he had an assortment of instruments for us to use.  It was fun for me to grab the tambourine or the rattle and join in.  Kirtan is a call and response style singing… so the leader sings and then the group responds.  With such a small group my voice was often the only one I heard when it was time to respond.  Sometimes it was fun to actually hear my voice in the midst of singing with others and other times it was daunting and I was sure nothing was going to come out when I opened my mouth.

Today is a laid back Saturday.  I have had a lazy extended morning and have taken advantage of not having much to do.  Tonight we go to a lantern ceremony for the oldest son, age 7,  who goes to the local Waldorf school.  All the kids make their own lanterns in school and tonight they will light them and do a silent procession on the school grounds.

My Reiki teacher, Elizabeth Ohmer Pellegrin, will be arriving next week to teach a first degree Reiki class here in Philadelphia.  How excited I am!  My friend and mentor and great guide on my journey, it will be wonderful to see her!  I haven’t seen her or anyone else “familiar” to me since I left to travel a year and a half ago.  If you are interested in being in the class or have questions you can contact me.

And for now, more of an extended laid back Saturday.  “Thriller” by Michael Jackson has made it’s way onto my Pandora station. Perhaps in a bit I will take a walk in the park.  It’s good to have some time on my own and time to the enjoy the brisk fall air.

Photo of the ever energetic blue-hooded boy and youngest son here in the home where I stay, skipping blissfully through the Arboretum on a beautiful Fall day.

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