My husband Nathan and I looked after our friends’ two-year old son last night while they attended a Friday evening wedding. I consider this a huge step forward. I haven’t looked after a child since I was in high school. Nathan and I have never looked after a child together.
When Marla first approached Nathan with the babysitting gig, he mistakenly thought she was asking him if we’d be willing to watch their German Shorthair, Riley, for the evening.
“I think Riley can take care of himself, Nathan. We’d like you to watch Ray.”
I have to admit to being a little nervous about watching Ray. Nathan has three nephews and one niece, all of whom live an hour away. Up until recently, we never had sufficient room for them to stay the night and we just weren’t close enough for short-term babysitting assignments. After being together for nine years, we knew each other’s likes and dislikes but had no idea on how to make a child happy.
“What do you do with a two year old?” I asked Brenda, a co-worker. We were out at a local restaurant with the rest of the work crew celebrating Courtney’s last day in our office. Through some scheduling snafu Brenda showed up with her 16 month-old son, Jaime. “I don’t know,” she said, “I don’t have a two year old.” I looked at Jaime who was happily playing with Courtney’s keys, his attention focused on the university keychain the Big Cheese had handed out to us a few days earlier. I had given my keychain to Nathan and didn’t think I’d have much success wrangling it away from him. He thought it was pretty cool, too.
About 7:00pm Marla arrived with her husband Ryan and sister Melissa. Our dog Molly absolutely loves company and ran down to the door to greet the guests. I could hear Ray’s little feet on the concrete as he bounded towards the door. “Hi Molly!” he shouted.
Melissa made it a point to inform us that Ray already had a “stinky poopy” and shouldn’t have another one. Isn’t it funny how people become comfortable talking about these things when a child is involved? You never hear many adults talk about their bathroom habits, that is unless you’re talking to my grandmother. Grandma doesn’t use the words “stinky poopy” though.
After Marla, Ryan and Melissa left we took Ray for a walk around the block. He spotted a cat in someone’s driveway and let out a roar. “Rawr!” he growled. Nathan thought it was hilarious. “You so want a boy, don’t you?” I asked. “Yes, I do,” he replied.
When we got back home, Ray made a beeline for the X-Box. He can’t play anything yet but loves to hold the controller in his hands while someone else plays. “No, Ray,” Nathan said, “were going to watch a movie.” We put in Beauty and the Beast and Ray was content to sit on the couch and watch, all the while pushing the buttons on the X-Box controller still in his hands. He growled at the Beast and let out a big “wow” during the scene where the Beast reveals the library to Belle. I thought, “alright, the kid loves books!” His mom will be so proud, English major that she is.
I really didn’t want the movie to end, not because Ray was being so good, but because I knew I’d be obligated to check his diaper. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find in spite of Melissa’s reassurances, and was not going to send the boy home to his mother with wet drawers.
He was pretty good about the whole thing, though he did try to lock his knees together, a stunt he apparently pulls on his parents as well. “C’mon work with me,” I said as Nathan sat on the couch calmly observing. I finally was able to get the diaper on and get the pants back on shortly before his parents came back.
I told Marla she’d have to give me a report card on the diaper job. Melissa said, “This was a piece of cake. Just wait until next time.”
“Is that a threat?” I asked. “Next time are you going to feed him fruit all day?”
They just laughed and didn’t really answer the question.