Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Do You Thank Friends Like That?

As I was getting ready for my trip last week, I started to have an odd sensation. It felt like nervousness, but I couldn't place why I was feeling it. Then, suddenly, it hit me: I had never left all my children overnight with nonfamily. Now I was leaving them and going over 2 hours away. My children are pretty independent, but there was no way to judge how they would react to a complete disruption of routine and normalcy. In honesty, I was more worried about what that would mean for my friends (who had graciously offered to take the kids) than to my children. Because I know what it is like for me when my children have a break down. It is not a pleasant experience!

So we dropped off the youngest, leaving the other children to be picked up after school, and headed to New York. Then I forgot to call. All evening. It wasn't till half way through dinner (way past bedtimes) that it occurred to me I hadn't checked in with anyone. I made a couple of quick calls and talked to one of my friends, who assured me all was well. The next morning I finally talked to the same batch of kids. My phone somehow missed my other friend calling me back, even though I was holding the phone in my hand at the time it should have been ringing.

So after the play, as I headed home, I finally got ahold of everyone and made my plans for regathering the kids. I reached the first house (the one where I hadn't spoken to the kids for 2 entire days). The reaction was luke warm from Ethan and Kirsti, until Matthew saw me. Then it turned downright acidic. So I loaded up the kids, my 3 year old screaming that he didn't want to leave yet, and begging me to let him move there. I arrived home to meet my second group. Ryan had fallen asleep, Joseph was enjoying cuddle time with my friend, and Elise was in the bath. Glad to know I was missed.

Actually, I was relieved my children had fun. But I was left in a quandary. How do you thank friends who watch your children overnight, make special trips into town to drop and pick them up from school, are kind enough that your children are comfortable staying there, and then insist that your children were delightful? How? It is the last part that left me totally stumped. I love my children fiercely, but am perfectly aware that they can be a bit difficult. Granted Elise no longer dumps flour all over the cupboards, Ryan doesn't take apart electrical outlets, and even Joseph is beginning to calm down a bit, but still I get nervous that after watching my kids people might question their sanity for having offered. Even if they did, they didn't let on to me at all. That is true kindness.

I was thinking proper thanks might include kidney donation or indentured servitude, but settled on more standard chocolate and a gift card from Chili's. Oh, and undying gratitude. Thanks guys!


  1. If it would make you feel better I could say that I drugged Ryan, threatened Elise and staged the cuddle time but it would be a lie...besides, you saw how I shoved the little cuddler off my lap when he passed gas on me (shoved with love of course.) And don't you know that kids are always pleasant for the first 48 hours with someone else until the new/cool/fun wears off? I am always stumped when babysitters say the same thing, "they were great!". I want to know who's children they were actually watching. Your kids really did miss you, honestly. And truffles and an excuse to eat out are the surest way to my heart...besides, there just might be a need for your babysitting services yet...although you did already pay me in food.

  2. What great friends you have! The only way to thank a friend like that is to be one.

  3. That's AT&T for you. Crappiest service ever.

  4. I love good friends! I haven't made an overnight trip yet and am terrified to! I think your gift ideas are great. Indentured servitude sounds about perfect to me.

  5. It is always nice to have people close by that you can trust your children with. I'll babysit for you anytime you want, just bring the kids on over!

  6. You're so sweet -- chocolate, Chili's and a tribute! I feel overwhelminingly thanked! I'd take your kids again any day. They went to bed when asked, entertained my children and were just as sweet as could be. It was a very pleasant experience. I'd do it again and again.

  7. I would have totally loved spending the time with your kids. I bet your friends really did love it. You have great kids and I really miss them.

  8. emma jo- paying you for the food my children devoured hardly counts.

    Claudia- I know, the pressure is on now.

    Gordon- And yet I replaced my malfunctioning iPhone with a new one today.

    Ambrosia- It was a little nerve wracking. I liked the idea, but for some reason my husband wanted didn't.

  9. Kim- It would be more convenient if you came over here. You can just swing by anytime you want. I'll even watch your kids for you.

    Darcy- Thanks. The kids did confess about the little tiff they got into. Spent the car ride home with Kirsti and Matthew saying "Did, too!" "Did not!"

    Tucker Mom- not that you're biased or anything...

  10. I think I should get chocolate and a chili's card just for being willing to watch your least the chocolate? Ok, maybe not. Glad you have great friends and lots of fun.

  11. Ditto to Emma Jo. Kids are always well-behaved for the first few days while they are still figuring out how to be in someone else's routine. The trick is to pick them up before they find the new caregiver's psychological buttons.

    My problem is that I'm headed out of town today, and my kids will be with their dad. No new politeness required there. I'm a little worried how that will work out. I hope he survives the one night okay. At least his mom will be on call to help if needed!

  12. Oh the day we can find people who care enough/we trust enough to watch our kids!
    I know, my son has done that when he's having fun doing something (church class). It's weird but good I guess that they feel safe in other scenarios.
    I'm glad you got to go!