Sunday, May 30, 2010

The babysitter can touch the lights

It's Memorial Day Weekend. Tomorrow marks the official start of tourist season, with its traffic jams, mini-golf, crowded ice cream stands, traffic jams, bike races and 5Ks on the street, half-naked pedestrians in big hats, traffic jams, weekend fishermen, lost flip flops, and traffic jams.

It's the day when locals start thinking about Labor Day.

It's the day when the newspaper editorial says, "This is supposed to be about our fallen vets, not beer and cookouts!" to be hardly glanced at by thousands of beer-drinking backyard partygoers.

Today we've decided to keep our plans low-key, in case of traffic jams. We went to church, where I talked briefly to our new babysitter's father. Our babysitter is a 13-year-old boy adopted from China - not that AwesomeCloud cares right now. But we the parents care. Anyhow, the boy had never had a babysitting job before - he just got his certification last month or so - so we were his first clients. It was an easy job - we got Cloud ready for bed ahead of time, so all the boy had to do was play with him for a while, then put him in the crib and entertain himself for 3 hours.

His father asked, "You you have any suggestions for improvement? Anything he could have done better?"

Well, the boy hadn't actually done much of anything. He might have petted Riley and he might have sat on the sofa under the one lamp we'd left on. The house was so exactly as we'd left it that the only way I'd have known he was there was that he was still there when we got home.

"He can turn on the lights," I said. "He can eat the snacks, listen to the radio, and adjust the lights however he wants them. He was using them; not us."

"Oh," said the father. "Okay."

Then we went to a flea market, where Cloud tagged along willingly, but didn't start having a good time until we gave him a cup of frozen lemonade. With a straw. He spent the rest of our flea market time dragging his feet, playing with his straw and cup. He loves those things.

Now is naptime. Then, at 5:00 PM we'll all go to Audubon and release some captive-bred spadefoot toads into the wild. Spadefoot toads are very, very rare. They live near salt marshes, and, well, there just aren't that many salt marshes along the East Coast anymore. Humans keep building stuff on them. The few salt marshes that are left are badly polluted, because by nature salt marshes act as repositories for all sorts of pollutants. We have no idea unless we go out and study the polluted salt marsh phenomenon.

APCC, a different organization that my husband and I have done work with in the past, has made great strides in improving the conditions of certain salt marshes around here. So who knows; maybe the tiny young spadefoot toads will have a fighting chance this time around.

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