(read Part 1: 1919)
Watching and preventing are not equivalents; preventing and caring are very different.
I do care for them. Fun is a perk but it’s one that I aim to achieve. I care for them enough to want them to know a fun, safe but realistic world that does not revolve around them.
My “to be continued” at the end of the ‘1919’ post took over a year off and I still don’t have an answer as to what exactly my role entailed as a full time babysitter.
The eight year old girl screamed at me yesterday that it was my job, essentially my main goal of the summer, the ultimate priority of the 50 hours I spend with her each week, to make sure she had fun. Oh my dear you are sorely mistaken.
I am watching those same children this evening, along with their now three year old sister. I’m excited- it’s been a while. We’ll have fun, no doubt.
Still that’s not my primary goal, responsibility; that’s not the reason I, or someone older than eleven, needs to be there. They could have fun without me- a mediator is helpful to lighten things up when it goes inevitably sour (they would certainly disagree over what fun is supposed to look like), but they could have tons of fun making homemade concoctions and jumping — oh my. What pops to mind is the time another mother just laughed at the thought of her hyper eight year old and large (new) dog spending the weekend home alone. “My house would be destroyed” – said very matter-of-factly.
I think they can tell I care- enough to want them to laugh but also enough to expect respect and insist that it be shown not just to me but to each other because I know they are capable of it.
I’m looking forward to seeing them again; it’ll be a good night. & then tomorrow, early morning, like 2 am tomorrow, I’m telling my little world that it’s not that I don’t care, but that I’m skipping out on them. Just for a week. They are important- I enjoy my studies and extremely part time job (Allstate); friends and fam are much appreciated, but I won’t be available next week.
I’m hopping a train to Chicago and then onto Montana for a few days and then hopping a train back. Someone I barely know but care for deeply (my mom’s best friend) has been showering me with gifts and prayers for as long as I remember and I finally am able to take up her offer to come visit.
Maybe that’s what it means to care. Carving out time to focus on whoever is before you; alerting the others that for this moment in time, I am unavailable because I care too much about my host to fight for cell service, even if it is to walk another dear friend through a painful moment.
Maybe caring has a lot to do with planning ahead- we plan to be fully involved elsewhere so we don’t want to be relied on too drastically here because we know that things happen, that even the most trustworthy human is human and cannot give a 100% guarantee on anything. We can promise to be somewhere, but cannot guarantee that the path won’t be blocked, that circumstances outside our control won’t ruin our best laid plans.
My parents have been putting together wills and telling me who to call if… and who’d be in charge of the estate and how to get a hold of the lawyer who’d walk us through some tough processes. Mom’s written out which bills are due when and I know it’s not a fun thought but I am incredibly grateful that they care enough to make sure I know how to keep going in their absence.
It’s like finding a good babysitter, knowing they cannot be you, but that you can rest assured that your kid has someone with them that is enough like you that they can act on your behalf.
So a child left at daycare may not feel cared for at first, but what if you take the time before leaving to introduce them to the fantastic sweet and very fun workers who are determined to invite them into a fun, safe but realistic world that does not revolve around them.
A fantastic leader makes sure that those around them know how to act on their behalf in their absence. Their subordinates know them well enough to care out their desires without constant oversight and supervision. The unexpected does not catch them off guard.
And then, like parents desperate for a date night or a girl eager for a day and a half train ride to be alone with her God, they lovingly ignore any protests or do not bemoan their lack. Even if no one begs them to stay, they know they are loved and needed and that their return will be welcome, expected and very much appreciated.
They feel cared for by letting others handle their cares. Then they come back refreshed, ready to do the same for someone else.