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Auxiliary parent

I agreed to be (briefly) an auxiliary parent yesterday. (I still mostly stick to my "I don't babysit" position established when my brother's family bought the house next door, though it's been relaxed a little over time and for special circumstances.) Brother and sister-in-law both wanted to go to curriculum night at Westminster, the private school where my older niece just started 6th grade. But my nephew had his first night of soccer practice for the season and the timing was such that they couldn't do both.

So, s-i-l, nephew, and I set off a little before 5, drove to the soccer field, s-i-l met the coach, and I established myself in my folding chair in the shade, book and water bottles for me and nephew at hand. Shortly thereafter my brother arrived and picked up s-i-l, and they headed off into the worst of rush-hour traffic to drive cross-town to Westminster. I watched the group of 6 kids (age range 4-6, nephew just turned 6) play various games intended to teach them soccer skills, then the scrimmage, and provided nephew with the water bottle (and urged him to drink) at each break. At the end of the hour I packed up and delivered nephew to his home and the babysitter who was already there with the two nieces.

Nephew instructed his mother to tell me how to get to the soccer field on the way there, and then as we left he asked me if I knew how to get home. Checking up on things, I guess. I recited the first couple of turns, and he was satisfied. But he was still watching: at the first turn he asked "How does the car know which way you're going to go?" So we discussed turn signals and letting others know what you are going to do, and expanded this to signaling lane changes when he noticed that, too.

I've never noticed him paying much attention to his parents' driving: don't know if this close observation of mine was due to uncertainty that I really did know the way home, or the lack of other distractions like his siblings or kid music on the radio or a CD...


Nancy Barber

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November 2018


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