Adventures in Baby-Sitting

I didn’t think it would be that bad. And I knew it had to happen.

Still, Sunday night, there I was, sitting contentedly, reading the Internet, happily oblivious to the conversation going on around me.

“Umm. Monday night.” My son was saying. “Actually, we’re going to need a babysitter Monday and Tuesday…”

“I want him. Both nights!” My daughter quickly replied. “Ryan” she added. “You can stop working on the house for an hour …while I go dancing…right?”

I frowned. “Can’t your father baby-sit on Monday night?”

“No, Mom.” Tracy corrected me. “Dad’s my dance partner. Monday nights we’ll practicing for the father-daughter wedding dance.”

“Oh. OK.” That taken care of, I resumed my Scramble Games With Friends.

“Of course, Babe,” Ryan replied off-handedly to Tracy. “I’ll baby-sit. No problem. I’ll just hoist Abel up on the dry wall rig.”

I continued to concentrate on my scramble game. All I needed was a 5-letter work that ended with “j”. But suddenly I had this odd sensation. Like everyone in the room was staring at me.

“What?” I asked, suddenly fearful. “Do you…um…umm…want ME to baby-sit?!”

My son frowned and looked at his wife “I don’t know. What’s worse? Ryan’s hoist or Mom’s using her knitted scarf as a baby sling?”

I had thought that settled the argument…until I arrived home from work on Monday night, and contentedly checked Facebook.

“You know, you might want to eat before Abel gets here.” My husband warned me.

“What?” I asked panicking. “But…but…I’m a working grandmother…I can’t…”

Then I breathed. How hard could it be? I asked myself. After all, my husband does it all the time.

And it was fine when they arrived. “He’s asleep right now.” My daughter-in-law told me. “You can just leave him in his car seat.”

‘OK.’ I thought. I read through Yahoo News and started on the New York Times.

Then the baby’s eyes opened.

“Oh….Hi…” I said worriedly. “Umm…Do you know how to undue those car straps?…You know, I bet you’d just love some batting practice…”

And it was fine. I got him from his car seat to the baby mat. The baby mat is an educational thing where babies are supposed to lay on their back and bat at rings. It helps them with hand-eye co-ordination.

But Abel did not seem to want to practice hand-eye co-ordination. He kept hitting himself in the eyes and making unhappy noises.

I frowned. “Umm….Maybe I should change your diaper?”

Abel smiled.

OK. This isn’t too bad, I thought, after I located a diaper, and diaper wipe. This time I didn’t even put the diaper on backwards. Meanwhile Able gurgled happily. I went back to reading the NY Times.

All was well. For approximately five minutes. Then Abel’s gurgling took a slightly querulous tone.

I frowned. “Maybe I need to feed you?”

Abel thrashed his arms, and, his mouth started did odd things.

I quickly took his bottle out of the refrigerator, and put it in hot water.

“It’s OK. It’s OK Buddy.” I said anxiously. “It’s coming.” Then I sat on the floor and tried to make goo-goo noises. That always seems to work for my husband.

This time, Abel was not mollified. I was impressed by the strength of my grandson’s wail, and hurried into the kitchen.

And I couldn’t find the nipple. With my hands over my ears, I winced and considered my options. My daughter and husband were waltzing. I couldn’t run to the store. I didn’t think feeding him with a spoon would work well. I had to face it; it was my first solo baby-sit, and just half an hour in, I had to call the parents.

“Where his nipple?” I asked desperately.

“Umm…. Ah.” My son replied. “Ellen thinks she forgot it. We’re actually in Dedham in Babies R Us. We’ll be there in twenty minutes. You’ll be OK. Just hang in there.”

I looked at Abel, and then longingly at my computer. I sighed and turned back to Abel, “Maybe I should pick you up? Want to want to try out my knitted scarf sling thing?”

It’s probably a good thing that babies don’t remember well.

This story does has a happy ending. My knitted scarf sling didn’t break. My son did arrive, with nipple, and he knew how to put it on the bottle. As he left, he promised me that he would lie to his wife, and tell her Abel and I were doing just fine. The warm milk muffled Abel’s wails. And, afterwards, after he threw up on my shoulder, and after I changed his once diaper again, Abel wiggled. Then, he gave me one more of those melting, whole body, whole soul, whole baby smiles.

I was almost charmed. “Well… ahhh…oooh….goo…” I cooed… “maybe…maybe we’ll do this again….someday…umm…goo..umm..”

But then Grampa walked into the house and Abel stopped paying any attention to me.

I sighed and went back to the NY Times. I was right, babysitting isn’t that bad at all.

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