Expert Babysitter for Hire

When the little ones came for a sleepover the other night, all it took to get the older one down was 1,000 or so words of Harry Potter. As for the little one, remember the baby-sitting scene from “Tootsie” where Jessica Lange comes home from her date to find the baby still up, an apartment that looks like it’s been tossed by robbers and Dustin-Hoffman-as-Dorothy splayed in dazed disarray on the floor? That was me.

He said he wanted ‘Papa’ to tuck him in and I could hear stories being read aloud from the tiny third floor room with the crib in it. Alas, Papa was just the appetizers in his baby mind, the main dish being old ‘TT’ which is what he and his brother both call me.  “Read dese books!” he joyfully cried as I entered the nursery. And so I did: dese books and dose books and other books still until at last we came to the crib moment, which brought real tears to his little eyes along with several declarations: that he would sleep sitting up, that his blankie must not actually touch his body, and that what he really needed was a some bacon. “Uh, how ’bout a little applesauce?” I asked and descended two flights of stairs to get some, which he ate all wreathed in smiles while standing in the crib.

Once done, he still wouldn’t lie down, so I tried a different tack. “I’m just going to lie on this little bed over here under the eaves.” I said and went and did that.

Then, from the shadows, more bulletins, issued over several minutes’ time and explaining that (a) he was sweating, (b) he was cold, (c) it was really morning, TT, and, (d) he was still hungry.  I chose the last statement to respond to. “Well, let’s see what happens when the applesauce really goes down.”

“Ok” he said miserably. Then there was silence for 90 seconds, followed by a swaying-and-chanting combination right out of “The Exorcist.” Lulled by its eerie rhythms, I began to dream.

Then “TT?”

“Yes honey?”

“The applesauce already GOED down.”

“Ahh!” (Me. Ambiguously.)

Next, there was more chanting, along with some rocking and head banging, the combined sounds of which propelled me back into dreamland. Then, “TT?,” this in a strangled voice.

“Yes?” “I need you TT!” So up I got and lurched toward the crib: “What is it, sweetheart?”

“Dis came from my nose,” he said, and handed me….. something, it was too dark to see, but I took it anyway because that’s what grownups do.

“O-KAY! Great! Now we’re set” I cooed inanely, at a loss as to what the proper response might be in such cases.

“Yup” he sighed, and finally, finally, finally whumped down onto the crib mattress like a bagful of laundry and was snoring before I had the door shut, leaving me to wonder, “Didn’t I used to be sort of good at this?”

My Bra is Your Playground

braI just took a 4-hour journey wedged into a 12-inch-wide span of space between two little ones in car-seats, and SO GREAT was the love of these two for each other that all they wanted to do was clasp hands in a show of kinship – which they accomplished by having the one reach his hand under the left straps of my bra and sundress while the other reached his hand under the right two straps until – success! – they could touch at last, cutting off my airway only a little.

Then, because I’m routinely forced by the older tyke into making Stalinist-style confessions on the theme of Naughty Things I Did as a Child with an emphasis on Acts of Peeing in Strange Locations, I was thinking hard for the full 120 minutes – during which time the littler child gently patted me on shoulder, arm and torso with hands painted in the fresh juice of the berries I had been foolish enough to pack for the journey. Then, as I struggled to free-associate, pulling forth this and that bright scrap from the costume trunk of memory, my chief listener, now riveted by my talk, dreamily pulled the UPC labels from the small toys I had also brought along, affixing them to various places on my body.

‘Who’s the old lady in the stickers?”  I told him people would say when we got to our destination and they saw my many bar codes. I was  wrong though. When we got there and I toppled from the car so  red-skinned with touching and berry-mash that I looked like I had been molested by angry seagulls what they really said was ….

“Who’s the slasher victim and why is she on sale?”

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The painter:May 2009 320

The collage artist:May 2009 366-1

Balls

I have to say, this new baby in the family is one tough kid. He falls down just all the time. He steps across a threshold and falls; walks and falls; just plain stands there and falls. He walks all crazy too, come to think of it. Kind of like Nathan Lane in “The Birdcage” with that little arms-up waddle. Kind of like the way kids in the old Peanuts comic strip walked – like  Charlie Brown’s little sister Sally seen here on the right.

Soooo he gets banged up, gets scabs on his giant head, then rubs the scabs off in his sleep by rooting around the way babies do and so has to start healing all over again

And the thing is each time he falls I’ve noticed two things: (a) a ball is involved and (b) he doesn’t mind a bit. It’s worth it to him to fall because he just loves balls, any kind you got going. He’ll try throwing ’em, kicking ’em, coming at ’em with a stuffed animal or a slotted spoon and whatever and just sort of whang away at them so maybe he’s a natural athlete I don’t know. Maybe he takes after his grandpa, my cute old Mate For Life Dave, that MVP all through high school, that darn guy who never even tried tennis ’til he was 20, never tried golf ’til he was 30 AND IS REALLY GOOD AT BOTH the son of a gun.

Well it’s this really gorgeous 72-degree day here with the so clear and sharp it looks like an ad for Kodak so let’s make this a short one and say that my newest little grandbaby has two mottoes, the first:

You Should See the Other Guy