Thursday, May 10, 2012

27 of 30: (Mis)Adventures in Babysitting

So the decision to babysit did not necessarily come from the desire to be – as our little friend from Jerry Maguire calls it – a child technician, but rather – from an innate curiosity.
I always see 12 or 13 year old babysitters in movies and I could hardly believe it. Babies are so fragile! They need feeding, changing, entertaining and attention constantly! I guess I thought – if a 12 year old could do it, then dude. It should be a freaking piece of cake for me! I have a degree!

So while I was visiting with my friends A (Mom) and K (Dad) in Cardiff during my birthday trip, I took the initiative to kick them out of the house so they could go on a proper date. I would then be in charge of their 2 kids, Tristan (7 months) and Trinity (11 years).
I had a few days to observe Mom’s ‘system’ with Tristan. Feed him when he’s hungry (which is literally, ALL THE TIME), change him when he poops, and put him to bed when he’s sleepy. I’ve also picked up some really cute tell tales… like, when he gets sleepy, he makes “A-a-ahhhh… A-a-aahhhh…” noises that sound exactly like The Little Mermaid when the sea witch tries to take her voice from her. :) 

This was going to be Ace of Cakes!

Mom prepared a sumptuous dinner for all three of us that were going to be left behind. And when everything was in order, I kicked them out of the house, and ordered them to have a great time!

Finally, it was just me and the kiddies.
In the first hour, we were all just chilling. Hanging out. At one point, Trinity yelled something like – “Yay! No parents!”

Yay indeed.

Then it was time to eat! I had to feed Tristan while Trinity and I were eating… which, when you think about it, doesn’t really sound that bad.
But you haven’t seen the anomaly that is a hungry Tristan.

That boy is the most DEMANDING eater I have ever encountered. He starts banging his fists and makes loud growls right after the spoon leaves his mouth. I swear – his internal monologue probably sounded like a Scottish Viking, saying – “FEED me, ya big lass! Get in ma belly!!!”
He may be the cutest baby in the world, but that kid petrifies me when he’s hungry.
So you can imagine how I had to stuff my food in my mouth faster than you can say “Fat Bastard” just to appease Tristan’s growing boy demands. Nevertheless, a hungry baby is always better than a baby you have to force-feed. As far as I could tell, everything was still going smoothly… up until I realized I had no idea what to do with him after. I turned to my trusty partner and said – “Uh… so what should we do now, Trin?”

“We need to give him a bath.” – she said, matter-of-factly, with an air of authority.

“Great!” I said with equal confidence, ignoring the fact that I was taking babysitting cues from an 11 year old girl.
A bath! That was a good plan.
My poise was quickly deflated though upon the realization that Mom never taught me how to give Tristan a bath. What should the temperature be? Which one is his soap? His shampoo? How long should he splash about? Does he have a basin?

Slight panic.

“So… you’ve given him baths before, right Trin?”

“Yah.” – and there again, with authority. Clearly, Trinity was going to take the lead on this one. Thank God.
Bathing him only took a few minutes. The difficulties he gave me while feeding him, he made up for when he bathed. He LOVES water! No fuss, no crying, just happily splashed about! I felt really silly for panicking. This was easy!

Happy Baby in the Bath

I took him out of the bath, rubbed him dry, and plopped him down on his changing table to clothe him. I put his nappy on, turned around to get his onesie, and then...
I froze.

In the 2 seconds it took for me to get his clothes, Tristan managed to grab the hand sanitizer and put it in his mouth. It was one of those bottles that had a pump. And the pump was far down his tonsil.

This is what goes down in the next few minutes…

I Yank the sanitizer out of his mouth.
I put my finger in his mouth to check if he had pumped anything.
I pull my finger out. It was wet. I could not determine whether the liquid was sanitizer or just Tristan’s saliva.
I check the sanitizer and pump it to see if it was easily pumpable.
It was easily pumpable.
Trinity comes in and asks calmly, in a British accent – “Izzee gonna get poisoned?”
My eyes grow wide. “SHUSH TRIN!”
My heart beats even faster.
One teardrop falls.
I pick Tristan up, wipe his mouth, and give him water.
I grab my phone and Google the following: “are hand sanitizers organic?” “can babies eat hand sanitizers?” “hand sanitizer poisoning” “my baby ate hand sanitizer” “how to replace a friend’s baby”

I think Googling those things were my lowest point that evening.

I don’t know why I did it, but I checked Tristan’s eyes to check if they were dilated. It seemed like the most medical thing to do! I see people do it on TV all the time! I just didn't really know what a dilated pupil looked like, or what it meant! But as far as I could tell, they were fine. He stopped crying when I picked him up, and he wasn’t showing any signs of hand sanitizer poisoning.


After I’d had a moment to breathe, I realized he probably just cried from the initial shock of me grabbing the sanitizer from his mouth, and he probably didn’t even have the mouth strength to pump that bottle.
But Jeez that was one of the biggest scares of my life. So much could have gone wrong in 2 seconds! And in my deranged state, thoughts of making myself pregnant to replace Mom’s baby ACTUALLY crossed my mind.

Like I said – lowest point.

Anyway… a few minutes later, I hear it. Ariel’s song.

“A-a-ahhhh… A-a-aahhhh…”

“Keeep singing!!!” I said, silently giggling to myself.

The baby was ready for bed.

I don’t know if it was from the excitement of the hand-sanitizer-almost-mishap, or that I was just really really lucky that night, but Tristan fell asleep in my arms pretty quickly.
I placed him on Mom and Dad’s bed, using Ros Gellar’s “Hug and Roll” trick from Friends (“… just as she’s about to drift off, you HUG her, and roll her back on to her side of the bed.") Worked like a charm!

With the baby out of the way, I had time to do everything else, like clean up, do the dishes, put "Hugo" on for Trinity to watch, finish Trinity’s Easter Hat project which was due the next day, and send Trinity off to take a shower so that I could braid her hair to make it curly in the morning.

In the middle of all of this, I kept checking up on Tristan every 5 minutes to make sure he was breathing.

And finally, after what seemed like hours of “Cinderella” time, the dishes were washed, the dining table cleaned, Trinity’s hat Easterized, Trinity’s hair braided like Alicia Keys, and the baby – still asleep like a… well, like a baby.

I sat down to finish the remainder of Hugo. I had a good cry… which could possibly have come from exhaustion, not the movie. Trinity wanted to return the favor by braiding my hair, and so I let her… And that’s what Mom and Dad came to find when they returned.

When they walked in, I gave them the “shush” sign, signalling that Tristan was upstairs and sound asleep. I’m sure I looked quite impressive, sitting calmly on the couch as their daughter braided my hair, shushing them in the middle of their sparkling clean house, with their baby sound asleep in their room… But inside, I was soooo glad they were home.

How could 12 year olds handle babysitting jobs??? It takes SO MUCH responsibiltiy! That hand sanitizer incident was enough to teach me that ANYTHING could happen, even if you’re the most responsible ADULT in the world! How could kids handle that kind of pressure?

Oh I dunno. I may be overreacting. In hindsight, I did everything I was supposed to. I didn’t burn anything or break anything (or anyone!)
Although, I couldn’t have done it without Trinity’s help, that’s for sure. And did I mention she’s 11?

Mom and Dad seemed pretty happy to have had their little time off. It’s tough, being parents. It's literally a 24 hour job!
I had about 3.5 hours with the kids, and I was ready to throw the towel in. It’s nuts!

I think I was pretty good about keeping my composure though. As far as they could tell, I was as cool as a cucumber.
But at the end of the night, when the movie was done and Trinity was off to bed, Mom asked – “Hey Earth do you want some alcoho—“


I don’t know why, but my body gave an involuntary jerk when I said that.

Mom smiled, and she poured me a glass of my favorite hard pear cider.

“You deserve it.”

Tristan and Trinity ♥