It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Thanks, but…

questionExclamationMarksI have a doctor’s appointment coming up. Aiming to make everyone’s lives as smooth as possible, I schedule these things during naptime. If all goes well, I can leave and return, and no one any the wiser.

I have a friend, who, left at home alone for the first time with his newborn daughter, decided to work on a household project while she napped. Partway through the project, he realized he needed some item from the hardware store (OF COURSE. When does this NOT happen in a household project??) and he popped out to get it.

It was only when he was standing in the check-out line a few minutes later that the truth hit him like an icy sledgehammer, right in the pit of his stomach.

He was a father. He had a baby now. A baby which was at home.


I imagine his adrenaline rush was akin to the one I got when I wandered into the dining room from the kitchen and discovered that, in the intervening 84 seconds, my 3-month-old, non-crawling baby son had VANISHED! He’d been RIGHT THERE in the middle of the floor when I went into the kitchen.

The mind does funny things. As I stood there, scanning the (HOW CAN IT BE???) EMPTY dining room, the thought raced through my mind, “SOMEBODY SNUCK INTO MY HOME AND STOLE MY BABY!” In 84 seconds! While I was standing in the kitchen, from which I could see the front door, and from which the back door opened. But someone had SNUCK IN! Because, really. How else could he have VANISHED?? In 84 seconds? When he couldn’t crawl???

For about .94 seconds, I was CONVINCED that was what happened. And then I got slightly more rational.

He couldn’t crawl, see, but he could, by dint of lifting his torso up off the floor on his two pudgy hands, propel himself backward. I saw the glinting trail of drool and tracked the boy down, under the sideboard, covered in dustballs but otherwise unharmed. HE was fine. But, oh! My heart!

(You can see why my hardware-hunting friend reminded me of that story…) So, he got home, the baby was still sleeping, his wife was still out. No harm done, except perhaps the birth of his first half-dozen parental grey hairs. (His wife was not told this story until their second child was a toddler and everyone was thoroughly convinced of his parental competence…)

But me, I’m not like that. I am sneaking out during naptime, yes, but I have back-up!!

Emma will be tending to the tots. And, because I have a full house this week, just to be sure, I’ve hired another teen to come in for a three-hour window. (I expect to be gone an hour and a half.) So there will be two of them — AND I have the parents of the other teen (who live across the street, a teacher, off for the summer, and her police-officer husband) on the alert as back-ups to my back-up.

But really? All those back-ups and back-ups to back-ups? That’s just for optics, for parental reassurance. Emma, who is sixteen now, who grew up in a daycare… Emma, who has been babysitting for five years, who can manage four or five toddlers with aplomb, who tames tantrums, organizes food, kisses bo-bo’s and bundles babies with the best of them… Emma does not need back-up.

But she has it. Two layers of it. Because I am a professional, and because I am careful and cautious of the parents’ feelings.

So I lay this all out to the parents. Four sets of parents nod their heads. Sounds great. One set, parents of a 16-month-old, has the teeniest of reservations. After talking it over, they decide that they will arrange their schedules so that, if required, Emma can call on dad to come over and help out.

Which is very lovely, sweet and neurotic kind of them. A back-up for the back-ups of my back-up… Just to be sure! Because you never know!!!

It was kindly meant, and I took it in just that spirit. But you will forgive me if (privately, when they were safely gone home) I snickered just a little. Because you never know… when someone with ten (20? 30?) times the experience mightn’t need a little assistance… from a novice.


August 12, 2009 Posted by | daycare, health and safety, my kids, parents | | 4 Comments