Adventures in Babysitting

God, you don’t know how long I’ve been wanting to use that post title and mean it… Yes, I officially babysat my niece and nephew on Friday. (Full disclosure before anyone calls the child abuse hotline: my parents were in and out of the house, so there was back-up in the event of a diaper disaster, but more on that later.)

I’ve been left alone with them before, while my brother ran a few errands, but they mostly slept through it, so I really thought it was going to be a cakewalk. I had babysitting visions of sitting idly on the couch finishing a book, writing a few letters, lazily changing the TV channel, throwing a few Cheerios their way and calling it a day. That’s not the way it works.

At fifteen months they can walk. And they do. Especially where they’re not supposed to walk. They can also see. Everything – especially what you’re trying to hide from drool-spewed hands, i.e. a camera. Whatever happened to the rumor that babies couldn’t see beyond ten feet or something? Didn’t I read that somewhere? Anyway, total bullshit.

And speaking of shit, let’s just get the diaper issue out of the way. I thought I might be able to get out of it. 9 AM to 2 PM is, granted, a decent amount of time, but I figured if they were changed right before I got there, and if we could limit the intake of food and drink, then maybe I could get away without one. Go ahead and laugh.

I’d seen my brother change Noah before – but he was only wet. At first I honestly thought it would be all right, but then everyone started to warn me about “surprises”, and God knows I don’t like being surprised, so I started to worry. I had a genius idea of partaking in some outside summer fun when and if the diaper-change moment came up – simply hosing them down and not getting near the disaster area – but other parents I spoke to poo-pooed that idea (thank you Sherri and Skip). Apparently babies don’t like icy water shot at them with a garden hose. I thought it could be a fun summer-splash kind of moment, but no one agreed. Fine.

My Mom helped out with the first one. (Yes, by ‘first’ I mean to imply that there would be a second…) She showed me how to lay the new diaper out under the old one, then quickly take the old one off, wipe everything down and fasten the new one. It all went so fast I was mildly disoriented. The fact that babies don’t sit still didn’t help. So, the clock is ticking, the baby is squirming, and my Mom is mentioning something about a “surprise” again. She finishes with Emi before I can even undo Noah’s belt buckle.

Now, I love my nephew, but at this point I am just praying that he knows how much I don’t like surprises. He must have, because I swear at that moment he gave me a mischievous little smile, and when I unfastened his diaper – “Surprise!!”

I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to paint myself as the diaper-changing champ some people thought I would be. And it pains me to say it because I can do just about anything I set my mind on doing. This just wasn’t it. Not yet. I reared my head back and told Mom there was a surprise. She quickly started wiping and just had me hold his legs up. And I have to say, it wasn’t that bad. But again, no cakewalk.

I thought for sure that was it. We were halfway through the day, I got through a diaper change, I took the twins out for a ride in their Radio Flyer, and they finally settled in for a long nap.

I don’t know about you, but when I wake up the first thing I do is hit the snooze button. About ten times. Then I slowly begin to adjust my eyes to the world around me, taking the time to reacclimate myself to what is going on, letting things register bit by bit. I might even go back to sleep if the day allows. These babies weren’t like that. As soon as Noah opened his eyes he was back to climbing up on the couch to find the remote control I didn’t even realize was there. As soon as Emi opened her eyes she started crying. It was like there was a switch that went on – at the same time – and there was no need for a gradual adjustment. It was as if there wasn’t a nap at all, and we jumped right back into the races without a skipped beat. Which meant another diaper change.

It came out of the blue, and my Mom was so nonchalant about it she just started changing Emi and said I could change Noah. At first I was confused – we just did this, didn’t we? But then I thought it should be easy – at the worst there might be a little wetness. All they were doing was napping. The pants came down a little easier this time, the diaper unfastened without a hitch, and – as is karmic retribution for things I didn’t even knew I did – there it was – SURPRISE!

Who takes a shit in their sleep? I mean, who does that? This is the stuff of out-of-control drug-and-alcohol-ravaged rock stars. This is the stuff of Charlie Sheen. And apparently it’s the stuff of my nephew. But this time I didn’t have help. Someone threw a wipe in my direction and that was it. I went to work. Again, it went so fast that it was all kind of a blur – but it really wasn’t that bad. (And Paul and Erin, I apologize if at the next diaper change you wonder what kind of animal put that one on – it was me.) But I did it, and as soon as his pants were back on he was off and running, so at least it didn’t fall off.

That was it – my first attempt at babysitting. We all survived. I’m a little bit wiser now, and they got to know their Uncle a little better. I learned that babysitting wasn’t a cakewalk. I learned that twins are relentless. I learned that you have to watch them ALL THE TIME. I learned you have to be quick. Above all else, I learned that I loved it and can’t wait to do it again.

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