Friday, October 28, 2011

Mighty Neighbourly

My neighbours asked me to watch their baby so Mr. Neighbour could take Mrs. Neighbour out for her [undisclosed]th birthday - their first date night since Neighbour Baby was born.

Oh. My. Gawd. It's so cute to see couples who actually like each other! I said yes.

Thursday night I put on my most spit-up friendly outfit, tucked my laptop under my arm, and headed across the lawn to my first babysitting job in nigh on fifteen years.

Huh. New job. Fifteen years. Small human life. Man, that's... that's kindof intimidating... I knocked on the door.

Mr. Neighbour said, "Hello."

I said, "I brought my homework," and sortof flailed my laptop at him.

Mr. Neighbour gave me an odd look, conducted a brief risk assessment, then invited me in anyway. "Thanks so much for coming over, we really appreciate it."

I felt... strangely compelled to state my credentials. "Both my kids are still alive."

Somehow, in the seven metres from my door to the Neighbourses, I had regressed from being a competent, decidedly grown-up, thirty-something woman who had just finished feeding and bathing and tucking in her own two children, to a timid, tongue-tied, tit of a teenager.

Sensing a possible upside to the situation, I looked down.

Dang. Couldn't I have at least gotten my old body back while we were regressing my shit? Worst of both worlds.

The Neighbourses toured me around the house, demonstrating how to warm bottles and latch baby gates; describing Neighbour Baby's routine; setting up monitors in case he cried. All very standard items, yet somehow the spiel only succeeded in shoving me further back down my personal evolutionary progression:

"Then you test it on the inside of your elbow." ...17...
"Here's a sanitized soother in case you drop the other one." ...16...
"I'll put it right by the couch so you're sure to hear him." ...15...

The final blow came as they were walking out the door: "Help yourself to some snacks!"

Boom. Rock bottom. 

Oh my gawd, I thought. I feel twelve years old. This is terrifying. What am I going to do if that kid actually wakes up?

Okay. Ridiculous. You're thirty-three. You've done this before. For Pete's sake, they just showed you how to work the baby gate that you gave to them after Small Fry outsmarted it. 

Yep. You're right. I'm just feeling like this because I'm associating a new babysitting job with the way I used to feel with all my new babysitting jobs. This is all in my head. Maybe.

Hmm, I wonder what else is left over in my head from when I used to do lots of babysitting? I'll bet some snacks would help you remember. Oh yeah, that's right. You loooooove snacks. Too bad I don't have a boyfriend I could call to come over... hey, let's see if there's anything on TV that I'm not allowed to watch at home...

Just as I was getting settled in with some solid PG-13 viewing and all seven varieties of available snack food, Neighbour Baby woke up. 

Ohmygod. Ohmygod. Shit. Okay, think. Think. What should I do now? I can't just ignore him for four hours until his parents come home... I can't call DH, 'cause then he'd want a cut of the snacks... I can't call the Neighbourses because then they'd know that I don't know what I'm doing and I really need this job so I can buy a new t-shirt for that party tomorrow night. Okay, that settles it. I'm just going to have to go in there and deal with Neighbour Baby by myself.

I went in.

I looked at Neighbour Baby. He looked at me. I said, "Luke, I am not your father." He vocalized his lack of amusement. I picked him up. He went totally berserkers. And then - ah. Suddenly, all my trepidation was washed away in a surge of oxytocin and muscle memory, and I was once again the world champion baby bouncer and shusher I had become in real time.

Five minutes later, Neighbour Baby was asleep again. Success.

Yet another still-alive child to add to my babysitting resume. I'm going to need a raise.