I’d like to think I’m fairly child-savvy. I’m 10 years older than my baby brother and acted like a second mom to him. I have two nieces that I kick it with on the regular. I was one of the founding members of the Best Friends Club (a total rip-off of Ann M. Martin’s books, The Baby-sitters Club). Despite my experience with children, I learned a valuable lesson over the weekend: parenting is tough work.
Our online editor, Kristy Woudstra, went out of town for the weekend handing me the reins for her apartment and seven-year-old daughter, Rory. “Sure,” I said. “No problem, piece of cake.” I was looking forward to a girl’s weekend filled with PJs, chick flicks and blowing on freshly painted nails.
I arrived at Kristy’s on Friday morning in a semi-zombie state. She had to leave at 6 a.m. to catch an early flight to Austin. My plan was to siesta until Rory woke up at 7:30, get her ready for school and then head to work. Ha! Yeah right! Rory woke up at exactly 6 a.m., gave a sweet goodbye hug to her mom then looked at me and said, “Can we watch a movie?”
“We,” I thought. “What’s this we?” My plan was to go back to sleep. I’d gone to watch a friend's band the night before and didn’t get to bed until 1:30 in the morning. I was sleepy and not accustomed to waking up more than 20 minutes prior to leaving the house in the morning.
We watched some cheesy, feel-good Disney film filled with cringe-worthy, questionably funny jokes — twice. I prepared a legit breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. We had a fashion show, coloured and watched the sun come up.
Nine finally rolled around and I exhaustedly dropped off an energetic Rory in a school yard filled with fashion-forward children — sort of like a modern Beverly Hills 90210 kid edition.
Having no time for a shower or to even put mascara on my puffy, tired eyes, I begrudgingly made my way to work — an extra large coffee in hand. The whole time I was there I felt like I was living outside of my body. Four hours later I had to head back to pick up Rory from school. She was excited to see me. On our walk home she jumped around, stopped to look at cracks in the sidewalk and pick up leaves. My patience was dwindling. “Rorrrrrryyyyyyy,” I sighed. “Can we please just get home?”
Despite my tiredness, our night was awesome: another movie, reading Archie comics, giggling and talking. Did I mention that Rory is seven going on 30? I went to bed shortly after she fell asleep and was awakened by her steamrolling me at 6 a.m. the following morning.
The rest of the weekend was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun, between bubble baths, nail painting, brunch, a candy run, hair braiding, One Direction sing-a-longs and a light makeup tutorial. We were both exhausted but fulfilled.
Even though Rory is maybe the easiest kid to look after, it was still draining. I’m nursing a cold from the exhaustion, but I have gained a huge appreciation for parents. The lunches you pack, the boogers you wipe, the lessons you teach, the laundry you do, the energy you spend at the park or constructing Lego and the patience and love you exude.
It’s a 24-7 job. This weekend I gained an understanding of why parents do it — it’s the way she’d grab my hand on the street or snuggle up to me on the couch, and the way she’d say, “I wish you were my sister”, or, my favourite, “I love you, but not like a boyfriend.” That makes it all worth it.