I’m going to categorize this post under life and writing, because the same is true for both.
A couple Mondays ago, I sent this spazzy sounding tweet into the world. It went a little something like this. .
Anyway, I was stoked!
A few days before, my dad told me he got a text from one of his friends from church saying they needed a babysitter Monday and Tuesday, and can Rebekah do it? . . I’ve never babysat a day in my life. Never changed a diaper (obviously). Never even held a baby.
They said I was hired.
My mom and I were trying to lighten the mood. She was laughing, “wow, you must be desperate if you’re asking Rebekah.” I laughed too, I was thinking the same thing I won’t lie.
Their response basically was: “Yeah. We are.”
*two awkward blinks* Anyways. .
There are two reasons I agreed to this crazy plan. A.) I was kinda touched they’d think of me. Even after they told me, “well we don’t know anyone else.” (They’re super nice people. Do not get me wrong. Their honesty just cracked me up.) And I asked my mom if she’d stay with me a couple hours and show me what to do. They were desperate, after all. And B.) It’s always good to try something new. Especially as a writer, you should throw yourself into new experiences.
Trying something new is hard, and awkward even. But the best stories happen when you’re trying something you know nothing about.
I feel like I’m constantly saying, “well, it’d make a great story. .” I relish in the awkward (mostly), and in the strange and horrid things that happen in life. Why?? Do you need counseling? No. I just find awkward, strange, and horrid interesting. . Maybe not so great when you’re in the situation, but if you walk away with a GREAT story, doesn’t that make it worth it?
Happy, cute, and giggly happen all the time. It’s great. . But not exactly interesting. Catch my drift?
Back to babysitting. . They told me I was needed Monday and Tuesday from 7am-4pm. Which I didn’t think through; that there’s a seven am – in the morning – and I had no idea they lived 40 minutes away. Regardless, I forced myself out of bed at 5:30, *shudder*, had already packed my laptop, books, and notebooks (there are several), jerked on clothes that felt like they spent the night in the freezer, and managed to pack some form of breakfast (pop tart) and lunch (peanut butter sandwich and junk food) in my zombified state.
I slept in the car. Then collected my hair into a pony tail (they had warned she likes to pull hair), tried to recreate the optimistic “yeah, how hard can it be?” mood I had the night before, and went in.
The first couple minutes were spent with the baby’s mother explaining everything to me and my Mom; where the diapers were, what’s for lunch, where to find extra clothes, etc etc. She then took us into the dark nursery, right next to the kitchen, where I met, truly met for the first time, 10 month old, baby Katelyn. She was wearing a blue and white polka dot onesy with a gray mouse on the side and was just waking up. Her mother said she thought it best if Katelyn started the day with me, so she said Katelyn can have breakfast and then we can put her little outfit on her and change her diaper. Her mother must’ve seen my horror at the mention of diaper because she turned to my mom and said, “you can show her how that all works.”
Breakfast was the first challenge. It was a good sized bowl of what looked like oatmeal and Katie did NOT want it. I was given this elementary task as the two mothers conversed in the nursery about what to do if a pacifier lands on the floor. We were sitting at the kitchen table, with Katie strapped into her little blue seat and me in front of her with a spoon, trying to communicate telepathically, pleading with her to just please eat the darn oatmeal, you’re making me look bad. .
Soon her mother left to work and my mom and I tried different techniques of feeding. We had to hold her left hand, to keep it from slapping the spoon and getting it into her hair or eyebrow or clothes, she would fuss and fuss, then there’d be a millisecond where she’d open her mouth for the spoon in which we better get the spoon in, or else we’d have to start the process all over again.
After breakfast, I got baby-lessons. How to hold a baby (which made my mom laugh, I guess I look really awkward). How to dress a baby. And finally, how to change a diaper. My mom showed how to hold both ankles with one hand, how I need to clean front to back, and how to put on the diaper. Then we put a cute little pink outfit on her, played for a bit, and put her down for her first nap. It was then that my mom left me alone.
I was a little worried. But I told myself how I literally just went over all I need to know. Feeding, changing, and playtime. So I sat down to my breakfast and read.
Lunchtime came around and I strapped her into her seat yet again, put a pink bib on her, and told her in singsong that we’re going to have some yummy carrots. Yummy, yummy carrots. Have you ever thought of how deranged you sound when you talk to a baby? Yet, all anyone needs to see is that you are talking to a baby and that makes everything okay. “Orange is my favorite color, mmm, you like that?? It’s good, huh? Yumm. .” I also sang every Disney, Doris Day, and peppy kid song I have ever memorized, to Katie. My voice was so tired after each day of work. Singing was one of the few ways I got her to eat without much fuss. Her favorite is “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella.
We were having a sweet little moment, her and I. I was singing a tune as she watched me blankly and wide-eyed, opening her mouth when she was ready for another spoonful — when an explosion happened. She sneezed. Orange carrot juice sprayed everywhere. Over the chair, over my jeans, and ALL over her fresh pink pants. I even jumped back, it was so powerful it startled me. It was then I understood why her mother had stressed to tell us where the clean clothes were put away.
But before lunchtime, the unthinkable happened: I changed my very first diaper. Times 5. I probably changed too many diapers the first day, to be honest, but I rathered her clean than dirty, and I was probably overly excited to have overcome this hurtle in my life.
I learned a lot about Katie. How she loves music, and if something has a peppy beat, she will jerk forward and back and all around, grinning her wide baby-grin as she dances. She loves making noise, learned that if she threw her toys under the crib, I had to go get the broom to fish them out, and thought that was super entertaining. And has an excellent sense of humor.
*feeding the baby spoonfuls of food as she laughs and clicks her tongue* “Yeah you’re such a happy baby aren’t you? Yes you are, yes you are. You’re going to make so many friends when you’re older. People like people who laugh easily. Yes. You’re going to be so popular!”
(Minutes later, carrot surprise happened, followed by giggles, wide grins, and tongue clicks.)
She thinks clicking your tongue is the most hilarious thing. But I finally found someone who gets my jokes!. . . As long as I click my tongue right after.
It was a good experience, babysitting Katie. I learned a lot. And she was a super easy baby since she still doesn’t crawl. But yeah. I just wanted to encourage you. Go out and try something new. You might like it. You might hate it. But either way. You’ll get a story. Even if it has to do with mashed carrots splattered across your jeans.