Szyperski: Junk food and real estateWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I actually enjoy growing older. Life no doubt goes by way too quickly, but the wisdom uncovered is totally worth the fast, crazy ride. Not a year passes that I don’t have a “huh, so THAT’S how that works” moment. Apparently we spend the first 30 years of our lives getting the wrong impression about nearly everything and then spend the next several decades realizing it.
I’ve been a babysitter on and off for approximately 25 years. Yet, it wasn’t until I started employing babysitters for my own children on occasion that a whole bunch of ill-conceived notions frantically began to unravel. Take food, for instance. As I moved through the babysitting ranks, I created and then ingrained a solid personal catalog of unspoken babysitter rules in my head: the parents’ instructions stand above all else, do everything in your power to stay awake until the parents come home and never, ever breach an unopened bag/box/container of food.
As I started hiring babysitters and making even meager attempts to please the invaluable teens I was leaving to care for my precious children, I started trying to guess what they’d want to eat and then buying it on babysitter days. OK, truth be told, it was probably only once or twice before my eagerness to please disappeared under the weight of everyday chaos. Still, there was that one night or two I actually used foresight and left some sort of teen-tempting item in the pantry.
As I placed the adolescent palette-friendly items in clear sight, it finally occurred to me that all of those delicious, unopened treats I spotted but turned away from during late night babysitting cupboard raiding might have actually been 100 percent intended for me. The missed-out-on Oreos, Doritos, ice cream and 2-liters of Coke — woe is me! All of those nights I hunted for something yummy to keep me awake just another hour or two only to find unopened, what-I-thought-were-off-limits treasures, I could have been merrily chomping and slurping away!
Oh, and the money. All of those parents I thought were methodically calculating my pay by sitting up late the night before with an accounting calculator were actually just winging it on the way home. Perhaps parents of yesteryear did have to plan more in advance due to the pre-ATM era, but I’m guessing there were at least a few utilizing my modern “How much did we give her last time?” and “I don’t know – 50 bucks?” techniques. Alas, there is no concrete method to the “I hope this is enough” process.
Selling a house
Even as we recently began the home-buying process for the third time in our married lives, my husband and I started out overly critical of the homeowners opening their homes for us to peek inside. “Geez, why didn’t they fix this?” “It’s kind of dirty. Didn’t they know we were coming over?” Even as perfectionistic home sellers, it soon becomes apparent that flawlessly showcasing a home with three kids, a dog and a cat with four to 24 hours notice is basically one of the world’s impossibilities.
No matter what level of ongoing clean and de-cluttered appearance you have managed to achieve before listing becomes glaringly ineffective in the minutes leading up to presenting your house to strangers. In addition to noticing small, could-be-better areas, life doesn’t stop for home showings. The kids are still being kids and the pets are still being pets, yet you are faced with the time-critical task of making it look like none of them even exist in the home.
You have to close your eyes, take a deep breath and leap across that imaginary finish line hoping against hope that there are no crucial surprises/oversights lurking in some unnoticed corner of the house. It takes just one showing of your house to realize that you can’t fix everything and only one no-show buyer to declare the next time that everything is “clean enough.”
As I grow to recognize all of life’s misconceptions as such, I can’t help but appreciate the little positives. I may have missed out on cases of enticing snacks as a principled, yet confused teenage babysitter, but now I also see all of the happy midnight moments I created for the parents coming home to joyously partake in the unopened junk food paradise with their children blissfully unaware in bed.
I also can’t help but smile knowing that, at any given time, I’m not the only one in the world driving around with a car full of kids, pets, litter boxes, garbage cans and dirty clothing as someone treks through my fake clean house wondering why it isn’t cleaner.
Shannon Szyperski and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.