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When I was a sophomore in college, I was desperate to make extra cash. Books, gas, and any semblance of a social life demanded it. There were probably easier ways to earn a buck, but I walked myself down to the Career Development Center, flipped through the 4″ binders brimming with families wanting a babysitter, and let my finger drop down onto one ad in particular: A family of an 18 month old boy. Lovely. With newborn triplet brothers on the way. It was a perfect match, obviously. 

Looking back, I honestly do not know what I was thinking. Growing up with my mother doing at-home daycare, I had no delusions about multiple babies being a walk in the park. They are so not. Still, I called the number immediately. It felt right. A couple of weeks later, I was sterilizing baby bottles and changing no less than a million diapers for these wee three gentlemen:

9 days old

All the while accompanied by this sweet big brother, who was still very little as well:

Jack being sweet to Sam

I learned lessons quickly – rip off the diaper too quickly at the peril of being peed on, dole out the wrong sippy cup and risk the apocalypse. You can melt in the relief of some stolen quiet moments if you wish, but a more appropriate emotion is tense fear: something is being destroyed, dismantled, or “improved upon.” I’ve taken little fingers out of brothers’ clenched teeth, looked on in horror at black marker traced artistically across two flights of walls, and wrapped tiny fingers with Sesame Street Bandaids, Blues Clues Bandaids, Cars Bandaids, and Batman Bandaids. Still, I never got tired of walking through the front door to hear the stampede of four clomping pairs of feet, forty fingers stretched in my direction, and my name shouted in chorus. I learned that tantrums only seem like the end of the world and that little lips spontaneously pressed against your cheek is one of the sweetest feelings out there.

Over Memorial Day weekend I stopped by the Burrus’ house to see everyone. It had been a full three months since I’d last played with the boys – the longest gap I think there’s ever been – and they were a little shy when I walked in. There was no stampede to greet me at the door, but they each quietly hugged my leg at some point during my visit (except Jack – who is seven and now tall enough to reach my waist). They enthusiastically showed me their newest fascination, Legos. Not the massive baby block kind, but the real Legos: piles of miniature plastic pegs and bits that can be built into castles and cities and cars. Gummy gaps where missing baby teeth had once been were proudly displayed to me, and there was READING, which perhaps made me the happiest of all. It was apparent all of the boys had entered a new chapter in their lives since I’d left; but then, so have I. Looking back on my college years (and a few more beyond), I learned a lot of lessons. But all of my favorites involved watching four little babies turn into four little boys who can talk and read and think and play. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I signed up for babysitting these four boys six years ago; but had I known, I’d do it all over again.

A Few Rugrat Archives:

The Last T-Rex Left

Manipulation

Beauty and the Beautician

Next Time, Let’s Read a Story

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