Would you think about minding my daughter?
A simple question,
asked by an acquaintance,
twenty years ago.
My answer “Yes”,
was the best decision I ever made.
For that was the beginning.
The start of my relationship,
with a very charming two year old,
and another little lady yet to appear.
Their mum worked full time,
Monday to Friday.
I already had a two year old girl,
so these two very quickly became friends.
My best friend also had a two year old girl,
and a four year old boy,
so the house was regularly full.
Then this little lady,
became a big sister,
and in time this little one joined the crew.
I added to the numbers,
with my son and two more daughters.
We became quite a crowd.
At one time there were in the house,
at least five young children under seven,
but often as many as eight.
Life was noisy and busy.
I went to see the eldest of my “charges”.
She was gigging with her new band.
As I sat back and watched her,
I began to travel back in time.
Whilst her beautiful voice echoed round the room,
I saw the small girl,
who first stepped into my home over twenty years ago.
The little face,
with the big eyes,
dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown,
clutching her two soothers.
So different to the dark haired beauty I saw last night.
Only the big dark eyes a reminder.
Whilst she continued to perform,
I saw clearly in my minds eye,
a replay of the past twenty years.
It was like watching a DVD,
with her bands music as accompaniment.
I watched the gang of little ones,
chattering around me as we went shopping.
I could hear clearly the noise as they played,
running wild around the house.
Generating chaos everywhere,
whilst insisting the mess was,
“part of the game”.
I remember the toys making their way outside,
so that soon the front and back of the house,
looked like some sort of dump.
Dolls, buggies, trucks, and blankets,
littering the ground.
The swing set and slide never idle.
Then there were mealtimes.
So many children,
of all ages gathered around the table.
In fact at one stage,
with three small two year olds,
it was safer to let them eat on the floor.
So a blanket was laid out,
and they “picniced” in the kitchen.
As they all grew up,
the never ending concerts began.
Plays which had been rehearsed for entire afternoons,
were acted as seriously as if they were on broadway.
Singing and dancing,
was commonplace after dinner,
and on occasions despite my protests,
It was here,
the first beginnings of performing,
began for this young lady.
I would listen to “experts” on the radio,
discuss children’s education.
They would speak of homework and studying,
and the importance of quiet,
and no distractions.
I would look at the five or six children,
sitting at the one table,
mostly in different classes,
and different schools.
One would be reading Irish aloud,
One or two might be doing maths,
and others reciting spellings,
and I would think,
“I do hope that expert is wrong!”.
The song ended,
and I returned to the present.
I sat in wonder.
Where had the time gone?
How is it, that that wee small girl,
had grown up to be the confident performer I saw before me.
I was filled with a feeling of contentment.
By becoming a childminder,
I had so greatly enriched my own experience as a mother,
and also my own children’s lives.
Now twenty years later,
the friendships of childhood have stayed strong.
This group of children,
have still a great bond between them.
There is but three months,
between the second of these two little ladies,
and my own son.
Such is the bond between those two,
that last week,
she went to his grads night with him.
I cannot begin to explain the emotion I felt,
as I saw them all dressed up.
The photo taken that night,
of my six charges and myself,
is one I will greatly treasure.
I know many of you wonder,
what sort of childcare is right for your child.
I can only speak from my own experience.
Opening my home to these girls,
and becoming their “minder”,
was the best thing I have ever done.
Their mom and I have gone on to be great friends.
Those two small girls,
who entered my home so long ago,
also entered my heart,
and have remained there ever since.
Yet despite all my love and affection,
these two little ladies,
always knew who their real mom was.
They understood I was their “second best” mom.
A place I was delighted to be.
A place I am still delighted to be.