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Commentary: You know you're getting older when your baby-sitter has a baby

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Commentary: You know you're getting older when your baby-sitter has a baby
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

It's true. I kept looking at Amy all through this weekend's baby shower at our house and I wondered where the time has gone. I also wished I had paid more attention along the way.

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Amy became our baby-sitter when we moved to Hudson 17 years ago. She was 15, I was 37 and the twins were just about 2. I remember the day we met clearly. It was a sublime ambush engineered by her mother and my now close friend, JoAnn.

It was the morning of May 5, 1990, the kids' second birthday. I had sent Kevin off to pick up the balloons and other party junk and I put the kids in the stroller hoping to tire them out for a nap before the big party. Our stroller was a double-wide, of course. My mother-in-law bought a side-by-side model, believing it wasn't fair for one of the kids to always be staring at the back of the other one's head. I had made the rounds of the neighborhood before but hadn't really met many of the neighbors. The only one I did meet stopped by the yard one day to warn me that Hudson was kind of a "clique-y" town and that her daughter was having trouble with the "girl gangs" in town. I never have quite figured out what she meant. So far Katie hasn't mentioned any female rumbles or smackdowns.

But back to Amy. We were headed up the Valley View hill (I was lighter and in better shape back then but still puffing) when this pretty, dark-haired girl and a smiling woman came down their driveway to greet us. Anyone who has had twins can attest to the fact that they seem to draw people like magnets, at least when they are little. I admit I enjoyed the attention. They would invariably say how lucky we were to get a boy and a girl and more times than not, the very next question would be: "Are they identical?" Kevin's response was always the same, "Not from the neck down."

But Amy and JoAnn didn't say that. They had heard they were twins and just wanted to meet us. It was a while later that I heard the real story. According to Amy, she was inside the house when JoAnn called her and said, "That woman with the twins is coming up the hill. Get out here so you can meet them!"

I understand JoAnn's thinking. If nothing else, we might be a good baby-sitting job. We talked easily for a while and I told them it was the kids' birthday. I asked Amy about baby-sitting and she seemed interested. That was the down side of twins. Baby-sitters weren't exactly lining up at the door. I said I'd call, and we went on our way. I remember Kevin came driving up while I was walking back home and I was so excited to tell him about meeting a potential baby-sitter that I pulled open the door when he stopped, and all the balloons escaped.

I didn't need to worry. Just a couple of hours later there was a knock on the door and there were Amy and JoAnn with balloons and cards for the kids' birthday. It was, as they say, the beginning of a beautiful thing.

Amy was and is the standard by which all other baby-sitters are measured. There were others down the road when Amy got older and went off to college and got married. But they were just substitutes. Nobody sang the "boyfriend" song like Amy. Nobody made peanut butter cookies as well and nobody else came in a package deal that included an all-knowing, cool-under-pressure mother, the sister who loved to read to them, and "The Phil," as Amy's dad was known, who played like he was one of them.

The kids haven't needed a sitter in quite a while but there are still days when Katie says something particularly dismissive to Kevin or rolls her eyes a certain way that he invariably says, "You got that from Amy, didn't you?"

Now she and her husband, Aaron, are about to be parents themselves. It makes me realize why they call having kids "a blessing." They are, of course, a blessing in themselves, but they also attract a whole slew of other blessings you never would come across otherwise.

That's what Amy and her family are to us. Just like Gloria, our daycare provider, and her family were. Just like their teachers and their tutor, Jean Marie, have been, along with so many of their friends and their families and all of you who don't know me personally but come up to me in County Market and say they know exactly what I mean after reading some column.

It won't be long before Amy and Aaron will be holding onto to their own, best blessing. And the best part is, it's only the beginning.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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