Thursday, December 22, 2005

Adventures In Babysitting

Were you adventurous as a child? I was. One of my first memories as a toddler is of a day my Papa was babysitting me while my parents were working. I must have been around 3 because I could walk very well and could carry a conversation. I seem to remember that I was wearing a pair of burnt orange corduroys and a yellow mock turtleneck shirt...ah, yes, the wonderfully stylish 70's.

My Papa was a marvelous man. He was vibrant and silly and always had a smile in his eyes. He was very mischievous and loved playing jokes on people. He was a great friend to any toddler and I wanted to play.

But Papa had work to do. I remember standing on the red brick patio under the worn vinyl awning tapping my foot impatiently.

"Papaaaaaaa! I wanna pway wif you!"

"Papa has work to do Maggie. Go play with your dolly"

"No Papa! Pway wif me!"

"Mags, I will play with you later. Go play with your dolly and let me finish. Then we'll play."

Sadly, I imagine, I turned and walked to the door and went inside where I sat on the brown couch with big yellow flowers talking to my dolly, Baby Beth. (Who I still have, by the way) In my mind I waited hours, perhaps days, for my Papa to come back inside so I could play horsey, or hide and seek or some other fantastic game in which I was the apple of his eye. The only thing I heard was his hammer-he was still working.

Because I still had my shoes on (it was a sin to go outside without shoes on) I went back outside.

"Papa?"

"Yes Maggie..."

"I wanna go home."

He laughed his chuckly laugh. The one that he used when something amused him, but in a loving way.

"Go ahead Mags." And he kept hammering.

It's important to note here that Papa has 6 children, and all of them lived past their childhood. I am, however, the first grandchild. The next only came 6 six years later, and so it seems he was a bit out of practice on his "What not to say to children under 10" laws.

So, my Papa told me I could go home. And that's what I did. Or...I tried.

The neighborhoods in New York back then were safe. We knew the names of every family on the street from start to finish, and they knew ours. It extended out past our blocks and so we had a tiny little community of people who were a part of our lives, however indirect it may have been.

I wandered. Houses looked the same, streets became mazes. I do not remember much about the trek, but I remember one house was very large and dark, and the grass seemed spikey. I avoided that house.

I am uncertain how long I was gone, but it was long enough to get about 2 blocks up from my Nana and Papa's house. It must have been a long time-remember I was only 3. Little legs don't walk very fast. I apparently knocked on several doors asking the inhabitants, "Is my mommy home?" and when they said "No" I would leave and continue to the next house.

Luckily someone recognized me and called my Papa before anything happened to me. My mother, needless to say, recruited my Aunts and Uncles to babysit me from then on.

But Papa always let me have the bestest adventures in all of New York.

1 comment:

aka_monty said...

As a mother, I'm scared to death for you! lol

I remember when it was safe for us to go places, to ride bikes all over town...*sigh*
I remember being 7 and walking to the corner grocery to get some candy and get my grandma some cigarettes (I can't imagine sending my daughter in to buy me some smokes now). I remember walking down the median of a street for three blocks and going to Safeway to get my mom some bread when I was in 3rd or 4th grade.
Man, those were the days. :)
Now I shudder at the thought of my kids being out of my sight. :(