I love babies. I love toddlers. I pretty much love all children unless they’re going through one of those sullen, mouthy stages. Both of my boys skipped that stage because they already knew they wanted to live to adulthood. Well, I got an opportunity the other day to babysit for my friend’s grandson, little Anthony Davis. That’s not his real name, but that what my friend, a huge UK fan, wanted her daughter to name him, so we’ll go with that. Anthony Davis is at what I personally consider the perfect age. He can sit up, but not for long. And he can’t get around by himself. It’s a very brief, magical age, and I remember actually being able to take Aaron to the pool once during that stage. I think John skipped it entirely.
Anyway, Anthony Davis’s momma, who I also consider a good friend even though I’ve watched her grow up, had left me neatly written, precise instructions on what to do when as far as bottles and food and so forth. I must admit I was a bit relieved when she produced actual mushy baby food from the fridge. They were pears and peas, so she may well have mushed them herself, but that’s beside the point. I think this whole baby-lead weaning trend is fabulous, but not for a babysitter. I didn’t want to open the fridge and wonder what the little fella would like to try that evening. The closest I ever tried to baby-led weaning was when I was busy and cut up a banana and put it on Aaron’s highchair. He promptly put it all in his hair. I have a picture to prove it.
So we did great with the meal portion of the evening. There are some other aspects in which I may have fallen a bit short. This, for instance:
This is a device into which you pour a measured amount of water, then pop in a refrigerated bottle of breast milk, and push a button. It heats the milk to the proper temperature. Kinda like when we used to put them in a big cup of hot tap water, only more alarming. Because it spews steam like a volcano about to erupt. And when I pulled it out it was really hot at the bottom, causing me to swear, the baby to cry, and the dog (have I mentioned the dog) to squeak his Aflack duck in disgust at my pitiful babysitting skills.
I was later to find, however, that the dog (who absolutely loves little Anthony Davis and could probably babysit on his own if he had opposable thumbs) just really likes that toy. And wanted me to throw if for him while the bottle was heating. Lesson learned. I was excessively proud of myself when I got multiple burps up (there’s a secret Ballard family technique I’m not allowed to share) and when I realized that disposable diapers haven’t really changed at all. That was quite a relief!
Actually, the only real scare of the evening was when I thought the house was haunted and they hadn’t told me. We were all three lounging on the floor, having a great time, when a heard a sinister voice in my ear say, “I love you, Anthony Davis.” Holy hell! My first response was anger, because I truly would not mind babysitting in a haunted house, but be up front with me about it, m’kay? Then I found this green dog-bear sort of thing with symbols on its paws. They were not Satanic. In fact, I recognized one as the on/off button on my computer. One of his ears said Leap-something, and that’s when I knew it was one of those “learning toys” designed to drive parents bonkers. He sat in the corner the rest of the night.
I did have a frustrating few minutes trying to get the swing to work (the controls were hidden under a blankie and are more complicated than my car’s dashboard)
But once I found them and got it set to slow-rock and play a medley of night sounds Anthony Davis was quite happy. I have to admit I was a little jealous. Yes, I have a Sleep Number bed, but it doesn’t rock me or play soothing night sounds. And about the time Anthony Davis went down the dog decided it was his turn for some attention. And me not responding promptly was not an option, as I soon found out when he decided my toes were chew toys. I’ll be prepared for that next time, so little Anthony Davis doesn’t learn any new vocabulary words! But let me tell you – any time you’re feeling stressed go borrow a baby. There is simply no substitute for that smell, that warm weight in your arms, those gorgeous rolls of fat and super-long eyelashes. It gets me every time.
And if you have a little one don’t hesitate to ask for help. If your kids are good people will stand in line to spend time with them. If they’re not . . . hang in there. I couldn’t get anyone to watch John, either, and he’s turned out wonderfully!