Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Queen for a Day

Do you remember that TV show "Queen for a Day"?   An array of "ordinary" women told their story to the studio audience who then voted on which woman would be awarded queenly status for the day and given a great prize--often a new washing machine or other household appliance that would make their life easier.  (It's actually pretty crazy to read about the show.  You can check it out at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_for_a_Day.)   After taking over for my sister Suzanne for a few days while she took her oldest child to college, I have a much greater appreciation for motherhood, and I would like to award all of you the status of "Queen," not for a day, but for a lifetime!

The child starting college is my nephew TJ, and he is off to study communications at NYU.  The typical stress and other emotions associated with bringing your first child to college were exacerbated by the threat of Hurricane Irene overpowering NYC.  Official move-in day for the kids was changed from Sunday to Monday in light of the storm, but my sister, brother-in-law and TJ headed to NY on Friday as originally planned.   What a strange experience it must have been to be in NY with public transportation shut down and most stores and restaurants closed since the bulk of the population can't get to work without access to subways, buses and trains.  On Sunday elevators were ordered to be shut down as well, leaving the fam stranded in their 12th floor hotel room until the all-clear sign was given.  (Tim actually ventured down the stairs to forage for some breakfast for them, trudging back up the 12 flights with NYC bagels in hand.)   With the storm being more or less a non-event in NYC, TJ is now ensconced in his dorm room and is set to take on college life.  Hopefully my sister is ready as well!

Back at the ranch (OK, it's actually a beautiful home in a lovely subdivision), I have been tending to their 16 year old daughter Elizabeth and their nine year old son Andrew.  As far as I can tell, being a parent these days consists primarily of driving kids places or waiting to drive them places.  How a mother finds time to exercise or get work done (especially on the week-ends) is totally beyond me.  Elizabeth started school on Monday, but this didn't mean that she had a light schedule over the week-end.  School of Rock, Drama Club, SAT prep and a visit from the boyfriend took up most of her time.  (I broke the "read on" rule in my sister's instructions and only realized on Sunday that she was actually supposed to be reading "1984" for school.  My bad.)   Drew's week-end included a sleepover (at a friend's house--way too much for this novice caretaker to handle!), a play date and a baseball practice.  His schedule got in full swing on Monday, though, when he had school plus a baseball game followed by football practice.  (He hit a grand slam in the baseball game--his first kid pitch game ever--and it was pretty darn exciting.) 

After four days (and nights!) of babysitting, I am thoroughly exhausted and a bit wired.  I had no sandwich meat for Drew for his lunch so today he is a vegetarian.  (I figure a kid can survive for one day on fruit, yogurt, a slice of cheese and chips, can't he?)  For some reason, the guard house no longer had my name on the "approved visitor" list this morning when I came back from my school drop off.  I have to admit that after telling the guards in a firm voice (OK, there might have been some yelling involved)  that I had been taking care of the kids for four days and my name had been on the list and it was certainly still there, I got in my car and drove the wrong way down the road so that I didn't have to crash through the gate to get back to their house.  My car is now hidden in their garage and I am envisioning helicopters circling the development looking for this rogue babysitter.   If you don't hear from me for awhile, you'll know that I am in the custody of rent-a-cops, waiting for my lawyer to come and bail me out.   Somehow I don't think that studio audience would choose me from the line-up as queen for the day, so I will happily relinquish the role to my sister upon her return. 

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