Is it okay to babysit your metamour’s kids?
It’s a Thursday night in 2009. My metamour has a date with my partner, but her husband gets called in to work.
“Well, that sucks,” my partner says. “I haven’t seen her for a while.”
And it’s true. Forget about ships passing in the night. Sometimes watching the two of them try to date is like watching two people leap from one moving to train to another. There’s always something going on that can’t wait. Work of course. But also doctor’s appointments. School. Not to mention that my metamour and her husband both volunteer.
And of course, my metamour’s children. The boy is a few years older than the girl. They’re both adorable.
“They don’t have a sitter for tonight,” my partner explains. Their usual one is watching kids at another house.
“Aw, that’s too bad,” I say.
When I first started dating polyamorously, I was more than a little leery about dating someone with kids. Mostly because I had never done it (and don’t spend that much time around kids, since I don’t have any of my own). But I did eventually see someone with kids. And it had gone fine.
I was nervous at first, but once I tried it, I found I’m pretty comfortable playing a supportive role that way. Not as another parent or anything quite as intensive as that, but as another positive adult figure. And extra emotional support for partners and another set of hands to help out.
“You know,” I say to my partner. “I could watch the kids.”
He thinks I’m just being nice. He tries to argue with me. But I’m stubborn. I insist.
My metamour also gives me an out when I show up at her house.
“Seriously, it’s no big deal,” I say. “Pay it forward.”
After my partner and metamour leave for their date, I sit down on the couch. Hoodwinked is playing on the TV. Both kids are all smiles. They keep calling out random lines from the movie, which I suspect they have seen dozens of times.
I’ve never seen the movie, but they don’t know that. “Auntie Page,” they say over and over again. “You do the lines, too.”
Or at least I think that’s what they say. I’m not the best at deciphering what little kids are saying, generally speaking, a reality which causes my metamour’s son consternation all evening as he continues to point at things and call out his unique names for them. And I stand there glassy-eyed wondering what he’s talking about.
One time he brings me a storybook. Sets it in my lap. It’s about a bear who wants to go to the moon. He keeps pointing to it and saying what sounds like, “Passing kin.”
“No, that’s a bear,” I say.
He shakes his head vigorously. “Passing kin, passing kin.”
Right. Okay, I think. Passing kin. Move over, Tony Hoagland. This kid’s gonna be a poet.
He keeps repeating the phrase, getting more and more visibly frustrated. Eventually, the little boy gets up and grabs my arm. He tugs on it with all his might, trying to drag me off somewhere. I resist at first. It’s not hard since he’s so tiny. And my resistance makes him laugh. But after a bit of play struggle I concede to being led, and he directs me over to where the rest of his books are. Pointing to the one on the top
“Oh,” I say. “Passing kin. Paddington. Paddington Bear. Of course.”
The girl meanwhile is following us around repeating everything we say.
The three of us sit on the floor next to their collection of story books. The kids become book jockeys, suggesting one story after another. When I read too slowly, they flip the page forward, sometimes in mid sentence. When I read too quickly, they turn the page back. Again in mid sentence.
“Do the voice. Do the voice,” they say. (Or at least I think that’s what they’re saying, again I’m only half-fluent in kid.)
It’s a wild time. They are transfixed for hours.
The evening goes by so quickly that it’s almost a surprise when my metamour and partner return at the end of the night.
“Oh no,” my metamour says. “They’re still awake? I hope they didn’t give you too much trouble.”
“Well,” I say. “If it was trouble, it was the good kind.”
Is It Okay to Babysit Your Metamour’s Kids?
I started out life as a rather monogamous person. And these days, I consider myself ambiamorous (essentially, I’m a person who can be happy in a monogamous relationship or a polyamorous one, it really all depends on the situation and the people who are involved). One of the most difficult aspects for me when I was adjusting to polyamory was the fact that we don’t always have good cultural models for the situations we find ourselves in.
Babysitting my metamour’s kids was one of those times. But you know, it really wasn’t all that different from my experiences babysitting the neighbor’s children when I was a teenager. Or the times where I’d be hanging out with a friend with a young child and my friend had to run to the bathroom and they asked if I could watch the kid and make sure they didn’t stick a fork into an outlet or something.
And I have one polyamorous friend who says that babysitting her metamour’s kids was an experience that actually prepared her for when she later became a step-parent. It gave her practice in that situation where you’re a positive adult influence with some responsibility — but not an actual parent-parent.
So I would say, absolutely, yes, if you’re comfortable doing it, you can babysit your metamour’s kids.
Not only is it okay, but at times it can be wonderful.