I was drafted (although I prefer the word “invited” since it signifies a privilege rather than an obligation) to be a childminder (British for babysitter) for my grandchildren who live in the Chicago area. My son and his wife, psychologists, were sans babysitter and their schedules were chock-full with clients following their Florida beach getaway.
I was bound and determined this week would be full of adventures for our threesome (Maya- 3½, Rusty 1½, and me- 65). Day one found us at the Chicago Botanical Gardens. The gardens were brimming with stunning flowers with names such as the Plum Fantasy Rose and the tiny daylily, dubbed the “Countess Carrot”. A garden devoted to butterflies occupied the majority of our time. I really came to understand the origin of “butterfly kisses” as these delicate creatures flitted about brushing cheeks and hair.
A model railroad featuring miniature trains running on 1,600 feet of tracks through handcrafted vignettes of American scenes and icons took up the remainder of our time. I took the long way home down beautiful Sheridan Road flanked by gracious mansions allowing sleepy children to take postponed naps.
Day two found us at the Lincoln Park Zoo trying mightily to awaken sleeping lions and Howler monkeys napping during the noon-day sun. A flamingo painted on a little girl’s face followed seeing the real thing in the Waterfowl lagoon.
Then there were the exotic birds, one giraffe and two zebras. AND best of all– a cherry Italian ice that found more of itself on Maya’s dress than on her tongue.
4:30 found me pushing a stroller and negotiating our exit with a very determined and sticky three year old. We were one hot, tired, cranky bunch by the time we reached our car. I should have known when the remote would not open the doors we were in trouble. And yes, of course, the car would not start. Panic engulfed my solar plexus as one child restlessly ran after geese in the adjacent park and the other struggled to extract himself from the stroller.
The parents, in the middle of sessions were virtually unreachable. Triple A was two hours away and by that time my little ones were bound and determined to chase the water fowl down to the lake. HELP! Uber I need you! My female knight in shining armor arrived in her red Dodge Durango.
“I’ll buy you anything you want at Target if you stay put and watch Ruie” I pleaded with my granddaughter. Have you ever hoisted a car seat in recent history?! They weigh at least 25 pounds, are quite cumbersome, and disengaging them takes an engineering degree (as does reinstalling them). Millennial parents are total freaks about car seat safety so I felt incredible pressure to make sure they were bolted securely in the Durango. Fortunately my KISA (Knight in Shining armor) had experience with car seats. Although she would not allow the pound of whole wheat goldfish embedded in the car seat to enter her back seat ).
One hour later (because the Uber driver went south, not north, embroiling us in 5:00pm Chicago traffic) we arrived home. And of course, both children were sound asleep. Again, the panic. How do I lift my sleeping 45 pound granddaughter, her 25 pound brother, and two car seats out? Fortunately my KISA came to my rescue yet again, following me to the front porch with car seats in tow.
Needless to say I gave my savior a five star rating. And, as promised, Target treats for good behavior followed the next day.