Thank God I’m not alone in this babysitting thing. It’s true that most of the time I am actually on my own and have to fly solo with my two little passengers, but a good deal of the time my husband is home when the girls are here. That is because he works shift work and is often at home during the day. That’s good. Having him around has advantages and disadvantages but, on the whole, it’s great to have a little help now and then. Not that he is really all that much help when it comes right down to it. There are a lot of baby associated things that he just won’t do. He won't change diapers, give them a bath, pick the crust off a nose, or help Kiley use the potty, anything remotely gross is beyond his purview. So what good is he, you ask? Well, every now and then, when the stars are right, he keeps them occupied just long enough for me to get a break. And that alone is worth his weight in gold.
In spite of his utility as a babysitter’s helper, or lack thereof, both of the girls absolutely adore Uncle Tom. They don’t call him “Uncle Tom”, actually. I call him Uncle Tom when I am speaking to them about him, but they don’t. They just call him Tom, or “Pom” to be precise. Kiley started calling him “Pom” because she couldn’t pronounce “T’s” when she was learning to talk and it just sort of stuck. She still calls him “Pom” even though she is now capable of pronouncing the “T” sound and will occasionally call him “Tom”, though not often. Mackey calls him “Pom” as well, and I am not sure if that is because she can’t pronounce “T’s” or if she just picked it up from Kiley.
Regardless of what they call him, however, they totally idolize him. He has them fooled all right. To them, he is an absolute celebrity. When they arrive in the morning they immediately want to know where he is and the answer is always either “sleeping” or “at work”. If they know he is upstairs sleeping they are unnaturally attuned to every little creak of a board or tiny sound that might indicate that he has arisen. Any sound from upstairs brings everything to a halt and the single-word-query of “Pom?” from both of them. When he does haul himself out of bed he invariably tries to sneak downstairs so that he can surprise them and is often successful since they are usually quite loud and rambunctious in the morning.
If he is at work when they arrive in the morning they can’t wait for his arrival home, which occurs around 7:30 AM. When they hear the garage door open they run and hide and wait quietly for him to come in (with Mackey “hiding” usually entails merely covering her eyes with her hands). He of course has to play along and ask where they are and I play along by stating that they didn’t come that day. He then acts disappointed whereupon they leap out and surprise him, amid laughs and hugs and kisses all around.
Both of the girls love “Pom” but especially Kiley. She can’t get enough of him. She sits on his lap on the sofa. She wants to sit on his lap at breakfast but he usually doesn’t let her. She wants him to carry her around all day. Whenever she needs help with anything like putting her shoes on or her coat on she wants him to do it. She wants him to carry her out to the car when they are going home. She wants “Pom” to be close by at all times and when he isn’t she starts calling for him. That can get to be a pain because when he sneaks away to get some peace and quiet, (he can only take about twenty or thirty minutes of adulation at any one stretch) I have to deal with the constant calling and fretting about where “Pom” is.
All of this “Pom” adoration can be annoying, but it is actually my fault. I have always talked him up to both of the girls and made them think that he is special. Now they actually believe it. Well, most of is my fault, anyway. Some of it is him. Men are so different from little girls that the “strangeness” can be fascinating. “Pom” does things that I wouldn’t dream of doing like holding them upside down by their ankles, or throwing them up in the air. He climbs trees and helps them do it too, he pretends to be a gorilla and scares the crap out of them, and he belches as loud as he can when they're around, you know, that kind of stuff. All of these outlandish things somehow endear him to them. The upside of this is that they have someone special to break up the monotony of their daily routine. When “Pom” is there life is more interesting and all is right with the world as far as they are concerned. The downside is that he isn’t always there and even when he is he’s not always as attentive as they would like and that can make things actually harder for me as I try to placate and console them for their lack of “Pom”. Oh well, I guess in the final analysis, “Pom’s” presence is more of a positive than a negative when it comes to helping me with the girls, but not by much.