I've had a kid in my care for more than five years now.
Not necessarily all the time, but for the most part i've got it down.
But this week i did something i have not really done since i was much younger than i am now:
Watched other people's kids.
Without my own kiddo to play ringleader and parade the group around the house. Or at least without her mixed in with the other people's kids.
We went for a walk in a quiet, carless Northeast Portland neighborhood, gradeschooler girl skipping a little ahead, preschooler boy bobbing a thin plastic basketball as he walked alongside me. There were no cars, barely any bikes; the pall of clouds was just its long grey self -- nothing moved except us. But i was terrified. Terrified of one of them darting out into the street and colliding with a very quiet and very fast car, terrified a tree would choose that moment to fall. And i would be in charge of someone else's kids when that thing happened.
I don't remember feeling like this back when i would babysit the kids down the street, long before i had one of my own. So is this just the mama in me, or is it that i am no longer a teenager and now have some conception of mortality?
I can let go and not dwell on the fact that my child and i could be taken from one another at any time. But somehow taking on another mother's pain is just too much to bear.
They played on the playground while i darted my head around to keep my eye on both of them. I wondered how the teachers milling around the nearby schoolyard could bear being in charge of 28 young ones at the same time, all of them careening in a thousand different directions, skinning their knees, learning swear words, creeping scarily close to the unlocked gates where any old perv could wander in and do the unspeakable.
The playground trip was short -- begged off by impending rain. Next time i watch someone elses kids, hopefully i will have the rebelangel as wingwoman to somehow put things in perspective. Otherwise, i might end up with no hair.