Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Mona Lisa smile

I babysat for a new family last night. Not that I want to start babysitting as a career...I think everyone who knows me (and doesn't live in Florence) would agree that I am not a modern day version of Mary Poppins. I'm not prepared for every eventuality. I'm easily distracted by playing and often miss the routine stuff. Fully expect that when I return from the park with any child, we will both be dirty and sweaty and hungry....and immensely happy. Mary had a bag with everything in it. I have a single Band-aid and sometimes colored pencils. Mary was a very proper lady. I doubt that anyone would describe me as proper. I certainly wouldn't.

I appreciate the referrals I've been getting. In fact, I've been told that they are glowing and that I am described as unflappable. Apparently this is a quality that every American parent in Florence is looking for...unflappability combined with mother tongue English. Throw in the fact that I have two grown children and I start to understand why suddenly I'm getting lots of calls about watching kids here. That these qualities are the figment of one woman's imagination (except for the two grown children, they're real) and probably not based in fact is beside the point.

The kids last night were a boy 3-1/2 years and a girl 11 months old. Both parents are American, kind of a rarity here. I had the best part of the day, in my opinion. I fed them dinner and put them to bed. I love the bedtime ritual: changing into jammies, brushing the teeth, reading books, talking about the day, tucking everyone in and then those last soft kisses goodnight. Even the ones who cry aren't a bother. Then I get to snuggle with them a little while. Win-win.

As I said earlier, I'm grateful for the referrals I've been getting, but honestly, every time a new parent says that they like that I'm unflappable I have to stop myself from laughing out loud. It would be bad for business. I can't imagine what I'm doing or saying that seems so calm and zen. I must be exuding some kind of Mona Lisa-like aura visible only to parents of small children. So far no one has said "You seem a little frazzled today," so my reputation is intact for now. Maybe I should have business cards made..

Babysitting by Michele Karlsson
Mother-tongue English*reasonable rates

 ...but then there would be all this pressure to actually be unflappable whereas right now it's really just a rumor that people are spreading.

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