I come from a rather large family but my experience with kids is relatively limited. I am #6 in a line of 7 kids. My little brother is just 2 years younger than me so, thankfully, I didn’t get roped into doing a bunch of free babysitting like my older siblings. I did do some babysitting here and there through junior high and high school – I even took a babysitting safety/CPR class that focused heavily on dislodging esophagus-shaped foods from the throats of little ones. Hot dog circles and grapes? Rookie mistake. But, it’s been a while so I was a little nervous when we recently went to stay with my sister (T), her husband (R), and their two girls (ages 2.5 years [r] and 2.5 weeks[p]) to help out around the house and maybe give them some time sans-children.
Given my limited experience – I figured it best to help out by cooking, cleaning, and distracting the toddler. I started making a list of meals we could prepare and came up with, what I considered to be, some pretty good ideas. Martha’s Baked Ziti was a must – I’ve made it many times and it’s always very tasty. I also thought I could try the overnight oatmeal recipe from Evolving Mommy that is all over Pinterest but, after we arrived, I quickly learned that breakfast, like everything else, was completely unpredictable so making it the night before would be, how you say: a fool’s game.
The weekend was fabulous and exhausting. During the day, we spent a lot of time playing with r – we ran around in their yard, went up and down the slide, blew bubbles, pushed her in the swing, colored, painted, and played “r, up high” which involves throwing all 30-some-odd pounds of her in the air as high as you can over and over and over. One day, we even took her to the park where, my husband (J) and I got a little taste of just how terrifying kids can be. r was a delight, of course, but the other children – my god, the other children! Hauling ass to and fro, not looking where they are going, screaming, swinging large sticks in the air paying no attention to the adorable 2.5-year-old in their immediate stick-swinging-radius! One even ran off to the parking lot alone, screaming. J brought him back no harm no foul, but holy shit! At night, we would sit out on the patio with T, R, and p, who was in a marathon nursing phase, and drink wine, eat cookies, and chat. T and I managed to get away just the two of us (and p, obviously) for a little while. We made a run to the store where I ran inside and did the shopping while T sat outside nursing p. It was nice, though, even if we did just get to sit outside a Whole Foods and chat for a while before p ralphed on my sister’s shoulder. Of the seven kids, she and I are the only girls and time spent just the two of us has always been hard to come by.
I feel like it was a successful weekend. I even learned how to swaddle a wriggling baby. Whether or not I will ever actually use this skill remains to be seen.