Tag Archives: babysitting

A Grown Up Kind of Boo Boo

Yesterday I reminisced about babysitting my nephew Grant with less than a little help from Fartbuster.  Good times, good times.  Well, life moved on as it would and a few years later I found myself back babysitting Grant when I was learning to be single again.  Fartbuster and I had been separated for several months.  I didn’t have many weekend plans back then (apart from singing “Landslide” into a hairbrush) so I volunteered to keep Grant one Saturday night.

As I drove up the interstate towards their house–going 75 in the slow lane–I saw a familiar car pull up beside me then sail past.  The color and the make rang a bell.  As it pulled in front of me, I noticed the Auburn bumper stickers and the National Guard tag.  I hit the gas and pulled alongside the car–it was Fartbuster’s dad and stepmother!  I honked the horn and waved.  They seemed just as startled to see me as I was to see them, speeding up the highway.  They waved then drove on ahead.  That’s when my heart broke, right there in the slow lane because I realized that in the split second I had made eye contact with them, my heart had entertained the idea that they too were headed to my brother’s house, where the whole babysitting gig would prove to be a ruse.  Maybe, I was heading towards a surprise party where Fartbuster had assembled our families to announce that he had been an idiot and everything would be going back to normal.  That idea flitted through my head just long enough to break my heart because no, it was Saturday night and I was on my way to babysit because I didn’t have a child of my own to tend to.  And I probably wouldn’t because I was 31 and no one loved me.

Even around that adorable kid, who called me “Aunt Ashwee,” my heart was heavy.  Grant and I played games and read books and put on jammies and I put him in his bed.  Joe and Beth had instructed me to stick with the routine and in the event that he cried at bedtime, I was supposed to let him cry it out.  He fussed a little when I put him down, but nothing too bad.  Then he was out.  I sat in the den and cried for a while, until I had cried it out.  Alone in someone else’s home, on a Saturday night, spurned and unloved while people who had been my family a year ago drove off to who knows where.

At eleven pm, the phone rang and woke Grant up.  He began to fuss, then to cry then to wail.  I didn’t know what to do–my instructions said to let him cry…they didn’t say for how long.  It was awful, sitting there alone in the hall, listening to him cry when I could have used a hug myself.  My brother called at 11:30 to give me an ETA and heard Grant crying in the background.  He said, “What’s going on?” and when I explained that he had been crying for 30 minutes, he said, “Oh good grief, go pick him up!”

I went into the dark nursery clucking and cooing but Grant was beside himself by this point.  I felt like a monstrous idiot.  I got him calmed down quickly.  His little curls were wet with sweat.   He sobbed, “Weeeeeead a BWOOOOOOK!”  I stuttered, “Ummm…I’m not allowed to turn the light on, Sweetie, so we can’t read a book.”  He hiccuped again and asked, “Sing a song?”  With relief, I sank down into the rocking chair….but couldn’t think of a single song.  I started on “Rock a Bye Baby” and he shrieked, “NOT DAT ONE!!!!!” Okaaaaaay.  So I sang “Jingle Bells.”  Over and over and over until he fell asleep.

I collapsed on the couch in the living room and was out cold by the time Joe and Beth got home.  At the crack of dawn, Grant toddled out of his room and wished me a good morning by poking me in the eye.  Oh, he had the best giggle and the twinkling brown eyes!  Regardless, I felt like shit on a cracker.  I had a no-sleep headache and a gigantic zit throbbing on my chin.  But children don’t put their needs on hold when you aren’t feeling up to it.  They still have to be fed.

boo booHe led me into the kitchen, pointed to the fridge and asked for milk.  In the middle of finding a sippy cup and a lid, he started hollering to be picked up.  There I was, a novice, trying to balance a toddler on one hip and a gallon of milk in the opposite hand while pouring it into a thin plastic cup without knocking the whole mess over.  I was feeling lower than a snake belly…so OF COURSE that’s the moment my darling nephew pokes the massive zit on my chin and chirps, “Waz dis?”  I swallowed my tears and sighed, “It’s a zit, Grant.”  He said, “Waz dat?”  I thought for a second and answered, “It’s a grown up kind of boo boo.”  I turned back to the counter and focused on pouring the milk.

That’s when I felt the brush of his curls on my cheek as he leaned in and placed the gentlest little kiss right on my big fat zit.

Because when someone you love has a boo boo, grown up kind or not, you give it a little kiss to make it better.

Saved By a Nectarine

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.  

incoming-baby-army-helmetAbout 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!