Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adventures in Babysitting

Before I start this horribly embarrassing list, let’s get some background information out of the way. I have this friend, Wendy. She and I have only been friends for a few months, so there is still a lot for us to learn about each other’s lives. And houses. Recently, Wendy signed up to help with a local play. This required her services in the evenings, Tuesday through Friday for two weeks. Since she had to leave before her husband, Edward, could make it home from work, I stepped in to watch her sons - three year old Prince and one year old Simba - during the in-between time.

Dawson was home early the first night and therefore made looking after all three kids incredibly easy. The second night, I had a previous engagement and was unable to babysit. The third night, Edward showed up just as Wendy was dropping the boys off, so no one even made it inside my house. To avoid all of the running around for nothing, we decided I would babysit at Wendy’s house for the duration. You are about to see how all of these incidents and factors led me to be completely unprepared for the shit-show that was The Fourth Night. So here goes the list of things I wish I knew before babysitting for Wendy:

1. Prince’s language:  As kids learn to talk, they each tend to speak in their own little language, where only their parents are able to tell that ‘Manny Potah’ means Mary Poppins and ‘bapooter’ is actually a computer.  Prince is no exception, which wouldn’t be a problem except that I wasn’t fast enough to figure out what he was trying to say before he threw up all over the carpeted basement stairs. And don’t forget that there were two other children in the house. So while I was trying to deal with Prince, Simba and Thumper were trying to drown one another in the inflatable mini-ball pit. Nice.

2. Where the carpet cleaner is kept:  Not only would I need the carpet cleaner for the aforementioned incident, but I’d need it an hour later when Prince threw up even more all over the landing at the top of the second floor. I couldn’t find the appropriate cleaning products, and didn’t know if the ones I was looking for were even there to find. So I used soap and water, which sometimes can actually get a stain out. But not that day, because that would’ve made my life easy.

3. Where the pyjamas are kept:  Moments before Prince threw up the second time (and third, and fourth, consecutively), I was trying to put Simba to bed. I spent at least 15 minutes searching for pyjamas. I didn’t see PJs with footie’s, nor could I find any comfy looking pants. I eventually found a onesie, and just as I snapped the final button closed, I heard Prince on his way upstairs, with that familiar uncomfortable whimpering of a child who is about to be sick again. See the dilemma? In those particular 15 minutes I carelessly wasted looking for PJs, I could have had Simba already asleep, therefore freeing my arms to carry Prince to the bathroom before any mess was made. Instead, I ended up with Simba on one hip screaming as if I had just kicked a puppy, with my free hand helplessly holding Prince’s as he threw up on the steps. And himself. And me. And the baby gate that Thumper had knocked down seconds earlier. (Note: They don’t even have a puppy, so no dogs were harmed during this babysitting session.)

4. Where the pyjamas are kept: Again, this comes into play a half an hour later, after Simba was finally in bed and I was trying to dress Prince, who had patiently waited all that time in the bathroom in his underwear, hovering near the toilet. Now you might wonder why I didn’t deal with Prince first and put Simba to bed after all was settled, but see, I’m stupid and thought I could get Simba (who had been up in arms since the puking) to sleep rather quickly. I greatly underestimated. Or overestimated. Either way, I was wrong. So anyway, I finally got back to Prince, and again, I couldn’t find the freaking pyjamas. I figured that as a three year old, he could probably direct me to them, but in his distressed state, the poor little guy started crying and said he didn’t know. I pulled open the top drawers and found a T-shirt. Good Enough. Then I found a pair of swimming trunks, and for lack of other options, tried to put them on Prince. But he’s no dummy, and rather loudly explained that “those (sniffle) are for (sniffle) SWWIIIIIMMMMMMINNNNNG!” When I finally found a pair of comfy pants, he deemed them unacceptable as well and demanded to sleep without pants. I considered the possibility of him having an accident, as he is only recently potty trained, but hey, if the kid is gonna pee, he will pee with or without pants. So he climbed into bed with no pants on. Nice.

Now before continuing, I’ll mention that while all this is going on, I stashed my own kid on the main floor in a playpen full of toys. So while my little rabbit was playing away, blissfully unaware of the chaos upstairs, Edward came home. This was during the time that Prince was basically naked in the bathroom, and I was trying to get Simba to sleep. So in comes Edward to an eerily quiet house, with my daughter alone in a playpen and refusing to look at him, since she has entered a phase of being shy around men. He came upstairs and tentatively hopped over the massive heap of puke at the top of the stairs, and he peeked into Simba’s room to find me sitting in the rocking chair, holding the somewhat calm baby.

Edward: stares wide-eyed, blinking once, mouth open but no words coming out
Alice: Uh, it’s been a little crazy. You should probably go deal with Prince.
Edward: (blink) he?
Alice: Oh, just in the bathroom. In his underwear. (Weak smile)

So then we kind of awkwardly tag-teamed the situation for awhile, switching off between checking on all three kids and cleaning up puke. Keep in mind, this was the second time we’d ever met, and I was desperately trying and failing to look like a competent adult, and Edward was trying to decide whether to laugh or call Child Protective Services. Finally, things calmed down and I collected my daughter to go home for a shower. I went for a quick bathroom break and this is where I realized the fifth thing I wish I knew before babysitting for Wendy.

5. That my tank top was see-through:  Now, to my credit, my tank top was meant to be covered by a long sleeve shirt. But after the second puking, my left sleeve took a major hit. In my frenzy of taking off all of Prince’s stained clothing, I also discarded my top, leaving myself in a plain white tank. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so embarrassed if my bra didn’t have blue flowers all over it, or if, you know, we hadn’t basically just met. I tried to make light of the situation by saying nonchalantly, “Just so you know, I don’t normally parade around in see-through shirts, haha....but....your son puked on me...Ha...” He just nodded with a smirk and walked away. Nice.

So basically, this all adds up to one epic FAIL on my part. Luckily this happened after I started this blog, so I was able to find the humour in it quite quickly. And I think it actually made us better friends. The only thing that can bring you closer than puking on each other is getting puked on by each other’s kids. The next time I babysat for Wendy (which I’m surprised she let me do) I made sure to bring my own set of cleaning products. And an extra shirt.


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