I was asked to babysit.
I know, I know, who in their right mind, aside from Clifford Olsen maybe, would ask me of all people to tend a small child. They were clearly desperate.
Not last summer but the summer before, we were of course in Portland, Maine for a hockey tournament. The coach's wife was celebrating her 40th birthday and to make a long story short, there was a Mexican restaurant within stumbling distance and margaritas and of course Catherine and I somehow ended up hitch hiking downtown wearing sombreros... anyway.... we both felt frightful the following day but she felt really, really dreadful. Seems she was pregnant. How's that for a birthday surprise?
So that tequila-soaked fajita, now walking, was the little creature who needed someone to watch over his precious life for three hours. Three hours. That was the time I had to kill the child, between the boys leaving for Quebec and Catherine's nursing work shift to be over.
I hated babysitting when I was a kid. I could never stay awake like you're supposed to, and I always found other people's houses really creepy after dark. The snacks were never like they were on TV, plus I hated small children. I baby sat for this family once and the Mom, in hindsight, was a bit of a boozer and she'd come home with that neon peach lipstick smeared, all pissed up on Gimlets, waving her cigarette holder with promises to pay me the next day. No wait, that was me, never mind.
When Jack was born I knew nothing. I didn't attend any childbirth classes or go on any of those freak show tours to the hospital to see the birthing rooms. I was already lying awake at night wondering how I was ever going to get that massive watermelon out of what used to be a fairly small hole. Like shitting a rocking chair. No thanks, it felt safer being ignorant.
I had also never dealt with diapers. Jack peed all over his tummy for the first few weeks because I didn't know you had to tuck the penis into the down position. And, back to babysitting, what if the Mexican had, vomit, cloth diapers! Those piss-soaked enviro-friendly poo catchers are apparently back, big time. In fact there's a really nice new store called Nutured on Robie Street that almost makes me want to be nice and buy something for one of Jack's new cousins that seem to be popping up like middle-aged zits at tampon time.
So, needless to say not only was I afraid the little Mexican would fall down the stairs, or get electrocuted, or escape out into the street. What if he shit his pants? I can only hold my breath for so long, and without much practice my gag reflexes are not what they used to be. I told Steve to give him lots off cheese (to bung him up) then I'd bring some Nyquil so he get all drowsy and fall asleep. Never wake a sleeping baby... or is that a dog.
Once, Jack and I were watching the Simpsons, and Homer had a flashback about his Dad skipping pages at bed/storytime, then whipping out the Nyquil when Homer caught on. Jack said, "Mom, that's just like you!"
Maybe it was the Nyquil threat, or me asking for a baby seat so I could at least drive to a local tavern to feed the kid, but they asked Catherine's mom to babysit.
I haven't been that thankful since the handsome businessman in the Frankfurt airport said something along the lines of "Christ you are beautiful for a big, old Canadian backpacking broad of Germanic descent", even though Jack said the man was merely clearing his throat and quite possibly choking. I could swear he wanted me.
After it was clear I had dodged the babysitting bullet I bought Steve a case of beer and tucked it in among the hockey bags, then waved goodbye to my smelly, little bundle of joy.
I hope I live long enough to kill my grandchildren.
April MacKinnon, the owner of Nurtured, won the Savvy Mom Entrepreneur of the Year award last year. Big bucks for the winner, so I signed myself up. You can vote for me (or not) at: