When I became a grandfather almost four years ago, I learned that babysitting is child’s play: As long as you play with the child, are willing to do diaper duty and don’t confuse the kid’s bottle with your own, you can be a great grandfather.
But what would happen if you had two grandchildren — one preschooler and one infant — to babysit?
That’s the situation in which I found myself on a recent Friday, when Chloe and Lilly’s mommy, Lauren; their daddy, Guillaume; and their grandmother, who also happens to be my wife, Sue, all went out of town and left me, for the first time, to watch both girls.
Here is a record of the marathon.
5:30 a.m.: The alarm clock goes off and I bound out of bed, stubbing my toe on the radiator. I am off and limping.
5:45: Sue and Lauren finish packing. They won’t be back until Sunday. Guillaume, who already has been gone for three days, isn’t scheduled to return for another 12 hours. To show how challenging child care is, I am the only alternative. At least my services don’t cost anything.
6:15: Chloe gets up. We immediately start playing. This will go on all day.
6:40: Sue and Lauren leave for the airport. Bon voyage!
6:45: Lilly wakes up. I bring her downstairs in her Rock ’n Play Sleeper and wish there was something like that for adults. It would be great to drink beer in.
7:00: Chloe and I make a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausage without burning the house down.
7:45: I give Lilly a bottle. It contains formula. (See 6:45 entry.)
8:30: Sue calls from the airport to make sure everything is OK. “I have to go,” I tell her. “The first responders are here.” Sue sighs and hangs up.
9:15: Lilly poops! She hadn’t done so for three days and her deposit is, to put it mildly, breathtaking. Not to be outdone, Chloe announces she has to go potty. Then Maggie the dog has to go out. The girls are firing on all cylinders.
9:30: While Lilly naps, Chloe and I amuse ourselves by running around the house and generally acting silly. It would be hard to tell who is babysitting whom.
11:00: I dress the girls, Chloe in a nice outfit Lauren picked out and Lilly in a onesie. I get dressed in a twosie (sweatshirt and sweatpants) but forget, I realize later that night, to brush my teeth.
11:45: Lilly has another bottle. This kid is starting to rival me in my college days.
12:30 p.m.: Chloe and I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. Chloe gets some on her new white sweater. I try to get it off with dishwashing liquid. Then I stick the sweater in the bottom of the girls’ laundry pile and hope nobody notices.
1:30: Since it is a beautiful day, all of us go outside. Chloe blows bubbles, Lilly enjoys the fresh air and Maggie marks her territory. Miraculously, nobody steps in it.
2:30: We go back inside and continue playing.
3:15: Lilly has yet another bottle.
3:30: Lauren calls to say she and Sue have landed and to see if we are still alive. I tell her that I am burping Lilly. I also tell her not to worry because I have everything under control. Then I burp. Lauren sighs and hangs up.
4:30: I put on Chloe’s favorite TV program, “The Mr. Men Show,” which is now my favorite, too.
6:15: Lilly gulps down her fourth bottle. Afterward, I change her diaper, which is wet enough to fill a kiddie pool.
7:00: Guillaume returns from his overseas trip but is too tired to eat and falls asleep in a chair. Chloe and I have leftover stuffed peppers for dinner. Then I give her a bath and put her to bed.
8:00: I put Guillaume to bed (he can take his own bath) and stay up with Lilly.
11:45: Lilly has a fifth. I have a glass of wine. Then we both hit the sack. It’s been a great day. Guillaume is impressed the following morning. So are Sue and Lauren when they get back on Sunday.
“The girls were as good as gold,” I tell them. “And I’m twice as great a grandfather as I was before.”
— Jerry Zezima
Jerry Zezima, who served on the faculty at the 2010 EBWW, writes a humor column for the Stamford Advocate that is nationally syndicated through the Tribune News Service and regularly appears in the Huffington Post. He’s written three books, Grandfather Knows Best, Leave it to Boomer and The Empty Nest Chronicles. He has won six humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month twice. He is the past president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.