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Adventures in single parenting: From a single pretending to parent

As a favour to my sister – who is a single parent – I’m taking care of her two boys for a good portion of the summer. These little trouble-makers are 7 and 10. 

I’ve done this before. Taken care of kids, that is. These kids, in fact. For a good portion of last summer. And the one before.

Why is this year special? You may ask. This year they’re actually living with me all week. Sleeping and waking, they’re all mine until their return home on Fridays.

For any single thinking of eventually becoming a parent, pay heed to what I’m about to say. It’s important. It could affect your life-altering decision. And it will most likely be biased because, most people who know me know that, I have no intention of ever becoming a parent.

Lessons learned:

  1. There is no such thing as privacy. Even if you lock yourself in the bathroom with the fan on and the shower running, this is still considered by children to be an acceptable moment to tattle on their sibling. The knocking on the door will not stop until you’ve responded.
  2. Imagination like we knew growing up no longer exists. While most of my memories of summers long gone involve the hot sun, neighbour kids, and nothing to play with but old sheets, modern kids find it difficult to function without a screen. Limiting screen time might help, but that doesn’t mean they won’t stop asking for it.
  3. “Please stop”, “find something else to do”, “no”, “don’t throw in the house” and many other phrases mean nothing to anyone but you. While they make up the majority of your vocabulary, children forget you said it the moment your mouth stops moving.
  4. Food disappears. Apparently children are, as they are often speculated to be, bottomless pits. Like the knocking on the bathroom door, don’t expect children to cease asking for food.
  5. While I myself have been known to have a good laugh over a fart story, kids – boys especially – will take it to a whole new level. They don’t even need to hear the word, only think they heard it and hysterics will follow. “Potty talk” goes way beyond the age of potty training.
  6. You will never be taken seriously again. Even if you say, “I’m serious.”
  7. Don’t ever tell a kid what you don’t want them to do. They’ll do it just to find out what you’ll do if they do it.
  8. You’re idea of a fun thing to do usually isn’t fun. At all. Mumbling to each other, thumping each other and sitting on each other is fun. Apparently.

I don’t know how my sister does it. I’m convinced she has a super hero costume under her blouse and skirt. The kicker here is that these are good kids. I love these boys. I love all of my nieces and nephews. But I’m glad they’re my nieces and nephews. I can pretend to be a parent, but at the end of the week, they’re going home and I get my peace and quiet back.