If I ever retire — with the way things are going, I’ll be working posthumously — I will use my newfound freedom and heretofore undiscovered talent to do what I was apparently born to do: I’ll be a full-time babysitter for my three grandchildren.
I know this is my true calling because I recently got a ringing endorsement from my younger daughter, Lauren, who is the mommy of my two granddaughters, Chloe, 4, and Lilly, 6 months, whom I have babysat many times without mess, mayhem or mishap. Or at least without anything that couldn’t be cleaned up with some sort of disinfectant.
“I vouched for you,” Lauren told me after she got a call from my older daughter, Katie, the mommy of my new grandson, Xavier. My wife, Sue, and I were about to embark on a road trip to meet the little guy and Katie wanted to know if I could be trusted to care for Xavier by myself in case she and Sue went out to shop for food, diapers or, as a perk for being a new mother, wine.
“If I could hire Dad full time, I would,” Lauren told Katie. “But I can’t afford him.”
I was so flattered that I offered to work for nothing, which is exactly what I am worth in my present job.
But I proved my value during the week Sue and I spent with Katie, daddy Dave and, of course, Xavier, who is beautiful, just like Chloe and Lilly.
Aside from Dave; Lauren’s husband, Guillaume; and yours truly, Xavier is the only male in the immediate family, which otherwise consists of Sue, Katie, Lauren, Chloe, Lilly and Maggie the dog, the sole surviving member of a pet population that once consisted of another dog (Lizzie) and four cats (Ramona, Kitty, Bernice and, the only male, Henry, with whom I never really bonded).
But I more than made up for it with Xavier. Our male bonding included 2 a.m. feedings. I fed Xavier, too.
These sessions sometimes began as early as midnight and as late as 4 a.m. because Xavier hadn’t developed a regular sleeping pattern, which means his parents and grandparents hadn’t, either.
But it was my pleasure to stay up with him. There was giggling, snoring, burping, hiccuping, drooling, sneezing, tooting and other bodily functions common to guys of a certain age, be it 3 weeks or 63 years.
Speaking of bodily functions, you novice babysitters should know that, while boys and girls should never be treated differently as far as love and attention are concerned, there is a distinct difference when it comes to changing their diapers.
That’s because boys have an apparatus that is not unlike a water cannon or, considering the oscillation, an in-ground sprinkler system. After the first two changes, for which I should have worn a raincoat and a pair of goggles, I was convinced that Xavier will grow up to be a firefighter.
It was a geyser on a geezer.
But I didn’t mind at all. Eventually I learned to put a towel over the aforementioned anatomical feature while attending to the No. 2 concern.
After one changing, Katie said to me, “Put Xavier’s pants on.”
I replied, “I don’t think they’ll fit me.”
Xavier, I swear to God, smiled.
“Did Poppie make a joke?” Katie asked Xavier.
He smiled again. Then he burped. That’s my boy!
Sue also pitched in, of course. She took some of the feedings, but mainly she prepared meals, something I couldn’t do without having to call 911. Our main job, aside from enjoying our grandson, was to give some relief to Katie and Dave, who are wonderful parents, just like Lauren and Guillaume.
The day we left, I asked Katie, “How did I do? Was Lauren right?”
“You were good,” Katie said. “You were really good. In fact, you were fantastic. Forget a nanny. You could be a manny. I’d hire you. If you ever retire,” she added, “give me a call.”
— 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.