When John was a tiny baby, I always knew that he’d had a good day when Nikki, one of the part time teachers, was in the baby room. Invariably, his “report” would say that he had been happy as a lark because Nikki had been holding him all day, awake and sleeping. They were pals from the start.
When John got a little bit bigger, Nikki became a regular babysitter at our house as well. She was willing to play pretend for longer than just about anyone, and could be counted on to get John to sleep in an instant, which was no small feat. She was one of only two babysitters with whom I didn’t even bother to keep my cell phone glued to my body. I knew there was not going an emergency with Nikki on the scene.
Last year, when John started Kindergarten, I was a bit of a wreck. I’d always pictured myself being at home after school like my mom was, and it was hard to come to terms with the fact that my life (and his) weren’t going to look like that. Guess who saved me? Nikki. She became our after school babysitter. We would pick John up from school, hear his news and give him a snack, and then put him in Nikki’s delightfully fun and capable hands for some play time. I was spoiled.
When my job fell apart a little bit last year, I had to worry about a lot of things, but John’s care and happiness were not among them. When we were navigating the crazy summer this year, I had a lot of plans to make, but I didn’t have to worry about first grade afternoons. I have relied on Nikki one hundred percent.
Nikki’s not just fun (although she certainly is that): she’s sweet but she can’t be taken advantage of, she sets limits and she follows through on them, she’s thoughtful about what’s right for John and not just what’s easy for her. She’s patient and she’s up for anything. She’s been a true partner.
Sadly, she now has to leave us. She’s got a job that doesn’t leave her enough time to be with us after school. I fully support the decision she’s making, but it’s a sad, sad day. We have other good babysitters, of course, and will find others in the future. In fact, Nikki is helping me find her replacement. But in truth, there will be no replacing her. It’s the end of a wonderful era. I’m just glad she was able to get us this far.