When I was 11, I was so caught up in that series of books The Babysitters' Club, that I started my own babysitting service, although it was several years before I had my first client. Then there were a few years there, mostly in junior high and high school, when I spent the better part of every weekend babysitting, but by college, it had sort of lost its allure. Last week, though, I started babysitting again -- this time with my own baby in tow.
In chatting with a friend from my New Moms' class, I discovered that she faced the same dilemma I did: neither of us had any family in town, nor did we feel that we were ready to trust high school babysitters with our precious progeny. (Having been a high school babysitter myself, I know high schoolers have no clue what to do with newborns.) So I decided to revive my old babysitting business and offer to watch her daughter, Crysta, on occasion and free of charge if she would do the same thing for Colin and me.
Last week was our first exchange, and much to my surprise, babysitting two under-six-month-old infants was not nearly as hard as I had thought it would be. For one thing, I know my own son like that back of my hand, so I know when to expect a minor irritation to turn in to a major meltdown, and usually I can avert it. But mainly, my friend's daughter is the world's most laid-back baby and was a pleasure to babysit. I once asked her if Crysta ever fussed, and she insisted that she did: "There was this one time when we'd been in the car for three hours..." You get the idea.
And Crysta's good manners even seemed to rub off on Colin, and he was almost as chill as Crysta that evening. He sat quietly in her wind-up swing while I gave Crysta her bottle and put her to bed. (That was another "first" for me: I don't think I've given a baby a bottle since I was in high school; I had almost forgotten how!)
So when my friend came home at ten o'clock to a dark, quiet house, she said she feared something must have gone horribly, horribly wrong. Instead she found her daughter quietly asleep in her crib, and Colin and me asleep on the couch. Tonight she's returning the favor, and bringing Crysta to our house while Kevin and I go out to celebrate my 28th birthday. He's treating me to dinner and a movie. But the best birthday present of all would be to return home to a baby already asleep in his crib.