Saturday, September 19, 2009
One of the challenges we get to face when we visit our daughter's is putting our three grandchildren to bed at night. The girls are 7 and 5, and the boy is 1 1/2. Tonight, our daughter and son-in-law went out to dinner, so our daughter asked us to babysit. Funny how that works. She actually volunteered us several days ago, when it seemed like such a benign request. "I am having you guys babysit the kids next weekend when Mitch and I go out to dinner with friends", she states nonchalantly, trying to make it sound as though she said we should pick up the newspaper on our way up the driveway. We reply, "Sure honey. No problem."
It really didn't seem like a problem 10 days ago, but now we are 20 minutes away from D-Day. I begin to freeze up, feel a tinge of a possible leg cramp developing, and pour a slightly larger scotch than my liver would have requested. My wife laughs nervously, snatches the scotch from my hands momentarily and swallows fast when our daughter's back is turned, and glances at the clock as if to will the time to be 8am the next morning. My daughter and her husband leave the house and drive away. The two older grandkids smile at us in a way that reminds me of Chucky in the Child's Play horror films. A cold chill runs up my back and I feel a bit weak in the knees. We both feel like one of the victims in those Jason slasher flicks, where it is so obvious who will be next. The victim walks into a meat locker, all alone, at night, as the background music intensifies. Can't that idiot hear that music? Get out of there! Ah geez. Too late. My wife's face is now devoid of color.
We start with the 1 1/2 year old. We carry him into his bedroom and he immediately points to his crib in the corner and says "doh-doh", which is his word for bed. We lay him down, and in about 90 seconds he is sound asleep. "Did you see that?", I say to my wife. Our own kids never did that. I wanted to wake him up and have him do that again, but my wife dissuaded me with a phrase I can not repeat here, except "dickhead" was about the 4th word in that sentence.
The dynamic duo then turned its attention to the older girls and headed down the hall to their room. I swear I heard the background music intensify. We got them to brush their teeth, go to the bathroom, and climb into bed. On weekends, they sleep in the same bed together. And then the 5-year old uttered the words that sends visceral fear through every babysitter who has ever heard them: "I want my blankie". Holy crap. We forgot to ask our daughter where the damn blankie might be. This kid has been attached to material with a certain feel since she was 1-year old, and these days it is this cotton fabric with a chamois-like, flannel feel to it. Nothing else will do, and she will not go to sleep until she has it. She begins to cry.
We go through every room up and down the hallway. We look under beds, in beds, in closets, under toys. The crying gets more insistent. I have trouble working under this kind of pressure, but I persist in searching with the left side of my brain while trying to console my sobbing granddaughter with the right side. I refuse to interrupt my daughter's dinner out with a stupid question about cotton cloth. I am 62 and have a Ph.D., and my wife was an ER nurse for 20 years, and this cry-baby is 5 years old and just started kindergarten. We have got to win this.
But then the game turns. The 7-year old comes to the rescue. She pulls her grandmother aside and points out that the pillow case on the 5-year old's pillow is the exact same fabric as the "blankie". They quickly change pillow cases, rumple up the material to make it appear like the real deal, and present it to the cry-baby. She stops whimpering, lies down, and all is well with the world. We win. We were not butchered like cattle. The background sound becomes elevator music.