I have felt this way about babysitting for as long as I can remember, and "as long as I can remember" dates back to when I was about 12 and began my now very long babysitting career. (Though I will say this about career length: The "long" refers in this case as it does to my lackluster grocery-bagging career which is to measure not the quantity of work but rather the time elapsed between the first incidence and the most recent. In the case of the grocery-bagging, the career lasted seventeen days, four of which I actually reported for duty. The babysitting career began 22 years ago, but I started resisting pretty much immediately, so I haven't actually done it that much. Just to give you a little perspective.)
[I feel I'd be remiss at this point if I weren't to apologize for the sentence structure in my last paragraph, if you could call it a paragraph. I used to do battle almost daily with my 11th grade American literature teacher so exasperated was I by the carryings on of Henry James. Only recently has it occurred to me that perhaps H. James inspired such volatility in my 15 year-old self not because I was irritated by how all we ever got to talk about when we read him was sex but rather because I thought it wasn't fair that he could write a sentence as long as he ever pleased and I didn't get such license. OK, actually it was probably both. In any case, though, I may be taking it out on you, patient reader.]
In the beginning, it was the scary creaky old New England houses that turned me off to the occupation. I'd tuck children into their little rooms under the eaves and creep reluctantly downstairs, trying not to look out the windows for fear there'd be something lurking, find the room with the most curtains and the couch against the wall, and make myself as small as I could for the long hours ahead. Of course, I wasn't blessed with the kind of inner peace that might have allowed me to assume that unless I had reason to believe otherwise, things were OK with my upstairs charges, so every so often I'd gather up the courage to make the trip back up to make sure they were still a) there, b) in one piece, and c) breathing, if they happened to be of the age at which I had to worry about that. Because I assure you, worry I did.
But what about later, once I was no longer terrified of everything that moved in the dark? Why can't I be like my friends who not only love children but also love the downright racket of spending an hour or two with a child, playing and reading and singing and watching them make a mess you aren't really responsible for cleaning up, putting said child to bed, and then having a few more PAID hours to just hang out and watch TV or read or do NOTHING without the chores and other distracting responsibilities of home? It's like free freaking money!
I've been reading in the past day or two about the potential physical, spiritual, and emotional costs of forcing yourself to do things that suck the life out of you, which I suppose is why I'm carrying on so about this. It's just that it doesn't baffle me so when I find that I hate things like going to bars, sitting in cubicles without windows, or, I don't know, cooking. It's just this one that doesn't seem to make sense, given the way I enthusiastically spend the rest of my time.
But still, you're probably wondering. Why bother to even think about it? There are plenty of babysitters out there who'd love to take advantage of the opportunity. Well, the thing is, we've got this new family member, my cousin's daughter, and in just a few months, 8 or 10 I'm told, they'll be moving very very very far away, and I don't want to miss her while she's here. So here I am, on a Thursday night, having survived the mere 60 minutes of kid time that felt more like 4 hours, getting paid to sit here by myself at the computer, which we all know is one of my favorite places to be, and resenting the hell out of it. What on earth is WRONG with me?