Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tuesdays with Nieces

My sister works on Tuesdays, so that's my day with my three nieces. They are seven, nine, and eleven now. In the summer I have them all day. During the school year, I pick them up at school, take them to eat, go to their house to do homework, then off to gymnastics at 5:30. I've been doing this for three years now. So when I started, they were four, six, and eight. At that age, they always wanted to stop at McDonald's for "Happy Meals". I think it was more for the toys than for the food! (Smart, McDonald's!) According to Mommy's rules, they could have chicken nuggets, but they had to have apple dippers and milk, instead of fries and soda. Of course, they always tried to talk me into breaking the rules and ordering fries and soda. The younger one would argue... "but Daddy lets us have fries and soda". The older one was the stickler for rules... "but Mommy said... "

The middle child has an aversion to fruits and vegetables. We soon discovered that she would eat the chicken nuggets but leave the unopened apple dippers in her little backseat trash bag. So, the rule became to withhold her chicken nuggets until she had eaten the apples. Big sister never failed to remind me of the rule... still, she checked her sister's box before passing it back to her... "big sister, the rule enforcer"! Also, big sister always checked the expiration date on the apples. If it was one day past, we would have to go back and exchange them for fresh ones. (That only happened once, McDonald's!)

Big sister outgrew Happy Meals last year. We had to order her "adult food". But she still wanted to know what the toy was... if it was good enough, she might want it! This year, I had three of them having three different opinions on where to eat after school. Of course, they never agreed. I had a brilliant idea (if I do say so myself!). I had them draw numbers out of a bag... number one got to pick where we went that very day... number two next week, and number three the week after that... and the same rotation every subsequent week. They loved that idea! No complaints at all! It seems kids like things to be spelled out in a clear, definitive way.

That's just one issue that we have faced together. We have also dealt with cleaning up toys, picking up clothes, eating snacks, doing homework, watching television, shopping, and fighting. Of course, all of you who are moms have dealt with these issues all along. I have never had a child before... I am learning on the job!


Jenny Jill said...

Judy, I am reminded of working with parents in divorced families. The non-custodial parents would tnd to spoil the child. Some parents of special needs kids spoil them in an attempt to assuage guilt. There is a high divorce rate for families with special needs kids. It is not an easy role.

Once you care for kids on a regular basis it is difficult being the disciplinarian. No longer can you follow no rules, but you have to interpret that family's rules as you become a caregiver.

My late ex-mother-in-law; She looked after my niece and tried to balance being grandma with being caregiver. You are balancing 'aunt' with being caregiver. Not an easy task!

I wish you well and laud you on your journey. I am anticipating being a caregiver after a teaching career, 3 children, and non being retired. I am used to crowd control with 25 - 35 kids in one room. I will likely have just two kids. (It will help our finances.)

I appreciate your blog post!

judy in ky said...

Hi Jenny Jill,
I enjoy your comments. Thanks for the encouragement!