Today I stood on the back steps at my dad’s house as my brother and his family arrived. I went to hug my nephew, Grant, and thought for a second that he was standing on a step above me…or I was standing on a step below him. But I slid my foot out and realized that I was on the porch. I looked down and HE was standing on the porch. How could this be? We were BOTH standing on the porch and that kid looked me straight in the eye! I gawped about how much he’s grown. Joe said, “Check out the hair on his legs!” Yeah, that wasn’t as impressive because I still have more.
Back in 1999, Grant gave me my first introduction to the demands of parenting. Specifically, that part of parenting that’s a lot like guerilla warfare–hour upon hour of mind numbing tedium interspersed with a few moments of blazing panic and chaos.
I wouldn’t babysit him for his first year–too tiny, too scary. Once he got to be about 18 months, though, I decided it was time. How hard could it be? Here’s some background about me–I was the baby of my family, so no experience taking care of younger siblings. My younger cousins weren’t that much younger so no experience there. I hadn’t really done any babysitting either because we lived way out in the country. So there I was past 30 and I had only changed about three diapers in my life. Here’s another piece of evidence as to how truly ignorant I was: I brought Fartbuster along to help.
We got our instructions about bedtime schedules and where supplies were located and numbers to call in emergency. Beth already had Grant’s dinner laid out, ready for us to serve. As they were walking out the door, she said, “Oh, if he eats all that and is still hungry, feed him a nectarine.” OK, no problem. She neglected to tell me that the kid hadn’t pooped in DAYS. As David Sedaris puts it, we were “packing a musket.”
Joe and Beth drove off like everything was cool. Fartbuster and I hovered in the foyer, not quite sure what to do. We both looked at our watches. Yep, five hours to go. Grant came toddling around the corner holding a book above his head. He sang, “Wead a bwook! Wead a bwook!” Thank you sweet Baby Jesus! We knew how to do that! For the first hour, we wed bwooks. And like all idiot novices, we got sucked right in to the whole “This is EASY. We should TOTALLY have a kid.”
Just like Donna Read, I got dinner on the table while Fartbuster followed Grant around the house, protecting his head from any jagged corners and keeping small objects out of his mouth. One hour down and we had really hit our stride! I fed the dear boy his dinner and he gobbled it right down. So I sliced a nectarine and he gobbled that down, too. Look at us–serving fresh fruit to a healthy baby boy! He asked for more and I understood his adorable baby talk. I sliced up another nectarine and fed him that one, too!
I like to think that at that very moment, Joe and Beth were clinking glasses at their fancy dinner when they sensed a change in The Force and they laughed. Oh, how they laughed. They laughed and miles away the musket went off.
About 20 minutes after dinner, I looked at Fartbuster and said, “Good GOD! Was that you?” He stood in the kitchen, a good 20 feet away. He denied it, but then the smell hit him and he grimaced. As we two idiots stood there agape the paint started to bubble up off the walls and the fumes made me light-headed. Then, in slo-mo, we both turned to spy Grant standing in the middle of the den with a 20lb diaper set to go off like a BOMB. Maximum capacity with rapid acceleration. Nowhere to go but…ARGH! He was pulling himself up onto the good couch. The fabric covered couch. I ran over and scooped him under the armpits then wheeled towards the kitchen. “HELP!!”
Fartbuster was nowhere to be seen. A few seconds later, he peeked up over the edge of the counter. That fool was tucked down behind the counter, hiding like he was in a foxhole and Grant was a grenade. Which…OK, so Fartbuster had a point. I’m dangling the grenade in the den and that diaper is getting bigger by the second. I hissed, “Get over here and HELP ME!” Fartbuster stood up with his hands in the air, full surrender pose, and said, “No way. This was all your idea!”
He stayed hunkered down in the kitchen. I must have used 35 wipes to change that diaper, but I got it done.
So next time I see Grant, I should look him straight in the eye and say “thank you” for that moment because it’s probably one of the reasons that Fartbuster and I never had a child together. Saved by a nectarine.
Now, if that made you laugh, share it with your friends!