Last weekend at my cousin Andrew and his wife Erin had their second child, Elijah. He was born on Saturday morning and they were due to come home on Sunday evening. Andrew asked me if I could come over and watch their first child, Alexander, for a few hours on Sunday afternoon while he went to the hospital to pick up Erin and the baby.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I openly and blatantly hate children. So to ask me to watch my 22 month-old little cousin for 5 hours sounds like a form of torture. He’s actually a pretty good kid and Andrew assured me that he came with a “user manual.” I went to their house at the appointed time and Andrew showed me what Alexander eats, his schedule, and some suggestions for keeping him occupied because as a morning napper, this kid was can it be awake the entire time I was there. And yes, there was a 3-page “manual” in case I needed extra help.
One of the good things about watching a small child is certain things take longer – like eating. It probably took that kid 20 minutes to eat half a cup of yogurt and a few slices of avocado cut up into squares with me feeding him each bite. I’ve only been around Alexander handful of times so I think he was still a bit leery of me. Having me as the great feeder-person probably earned me some brownie points in his book.
After snack, we headed out to the backyard so he could “kick the ball.” I set up his little soccer goal and kicked the ball around on the grass. It seemed like we’d been doing that for at least 30 minutes but when I checked my phone it had only been 5! How do parents not to go crazy? Taking care of children can be so boring! (Don’t get mad at me for pointing out the truth. When Erin and Andrew got home with the baby they validated this.)
Alexander is at the point of verbal development where he repeats everything you say. I had no idea how often I use non-word sound effect noises with my actions until I heard him repeating each one. He thought it was pretty funny. No, I didn’t start swearing just to see if he would repeat it but I did randomly bust out some $5 words to hear him try to say them.
Thankfully “Elf” was on TV that day. I settled onto the couch to watch it and Alexander bounced between watching TV, playing with his kitchen set, and looking at books. At one point Alexander stopped playing with his toys, sat himself down on the couch right next to me, and started playing with my hand. It was really sweet. I wanted to get a picture of my hand nestled between his but he was distracted by the flash on my camera. So we started taking selfies instead and shot a quick video.
Andrew asked me to feed the little guy and had I brought over homemade chili and rice for the family. I got out two red oven mitts and put them on the counter. When I turned to put Alexander’s plate in the microwave, Alexander grabbed the mitts, put them on his hands, and walked away saying, “hot mittens.” He looked like a little lobster with those giant oven mitts covering his hands and arms.
Just about the time I was reaching my kid limit and Alexander was starting to get fussy- tired, his parents came home with baby Elijah. That baby was so cute with his red scrunched up face. I think I’m going to call him Mr. Grump because he looked like a little grumpy old man. When Andrew went to carry Alexander up to bed, Alexander reached out and gave me a hug good night. (Awh…)
And yes, I got to change diapers during this adventure, including a really gross poopy one – another reason why I’m glad I am not apparent in have no desire to become one.
Disclaimer: This post was written with the consent of the parents.