Lola and Oatmeal Babysit

My friend Johanna recently celebrated a birthday.  I thought and thought about what I could do for Johanna to celebrate, and could not think of anything other than giving her an afternoon of free babysitting.  I told her last week that I would make this one-time birthday offer, but that she had to hurry up and cash it in before I had my own kid.  So, she and her husband James decided that this Saturday was the day.

Now mind you, Johanna and I are very close.  I talk to her an average of once a day, sometimes more, and I feel very comfortable with her kids.  Also, she is very well aware of my experience (or really lack thereof) with small kids.  But, at the end of the day, her request is simple:  Return the kids in one piece, and please try to feed them paleo foods.  (Yes, Johanna’s family has also gone primal/paleo, especially her kiddos.) 

I’ve always been told that kids are durable, and I know how to make paleo food, so I felt like I would survive and the kids would, too.

I drove to her house on Saturday morning and borrowed her car to drive the tots back to our house, so as to not have to move the carseats into my car for the day.  I decided to see what type of CD was in her player.  I was not disappointed – Yo Gabba Gabba was our soundtrack for the 1 hour drive to Casa de Griffin.

Has anyone NOT heard the song “Party in My Tummy?”  If so, please click the link and enlighten yourselves.  Freaking hilarious.  My favorite part is when the carrots start to cry.

Now some people may have planned an entire afternoon of kid-friendly activities if they knew they were going to be entertaining two very small children all day.  But, Oatmeal and I pretty much just went along as if it were any other Saturday.

I went to the grocery store…

By the way, if you are appalled that Watson is barefoot in the grocery store, I suggest you stop reading here.  It only gets worse.  But, for the record, I carried him all the way to the buggy so his little feet never touched the floor.

At home, they just started running around and pretty much entertaining themselves.  We don’t have a single toy, nor do we play any “games” or organize any type of activity.  And Oatmeal and I may just be overly optimistic, but we really don’t ever tell kids to “Stop it” or “Don’t do that” or “Be careful!”  We just sort of keep an eye on things and let kids explore and experiment.  (One day I’m sure that’s going to come back to bite us.)

So we let them climb all over the roping dummy. 

Meanwhile, Oatmeal gave Goose a much needed haircut.

And we quietly watched from afar while they explored a giant pile of wood and tires behind the barn.

One thing I couldn’t help but smile at was how friendly they were with one another when they thought they were completely alone and out of earshot.  Lots of comaraderie here. 

And… I laughed at how entertained they stayed with just sticks and dirt.  And Tough Puppy.  (By the way, I’ll babysit just about anyone’s kids… unless the kids are afraid of dogs.  These kids are not even remotely concerned with the dogs and it’s so great!)

And, well, this obviously was something that Oatmeal put an end to, but not before I snapped this picture.  No, even we do not allow 20 month olds to play with electrical outlets.

But, we do allow them to stuff their mouths full of bananas and rub their faces all over the window panes (that my dogs rub their noses on) at each other. 

At about 2pm, I remembered that Johanna had mentioned that Watson usually naps at 1pm.  At that moment he was running around the back porch, squealing with delight at the number of black hairballs floating around (remember Goose was getting a haircut) and he honestly did not appear one bit tired.  But I scooped him up, took him to my bedroom and pulled his little shirt off.  I put his head on my pillows and told him we were going to be quiet for a while and take a nap.  I fully expected a lot of rolling around, disputing, or just wide-eyed stares.   But, I wanted to be able to say, “I tried” so I figured it was worth a shot.  Wow was I surprised, he literally DID NOT MOVE from the exact space I put him.  I covered him up with a blanket and laid on the foot of the bed, not touching him at all, and found a youtube video that played a 10 minute clip of nursery rhyme sleeping music.  By the time that 10 minute clip was over, this was what I had.

Seriously, I knew Johanna’s kids were good sleepers, but that is just amazing.  I am not joking when I say that all I did was put him in the bed and put the blanket on him.  That is really all it took.  He slept for a good hour and 45 minutes. 

Meanwhile, Addison and I worked out.  I did thrusters, and she did some abdominal work.  You know, because she told me she has been working on her six-pack.

And after Watson woke up, we did a quick horseback riding lesson.  I took this picture right after Watson jumped a few hurdles and raced a few barrels. 

At some point after this, we had a little lapse in our day.  Everything had been going so well, but I suspected the kids were thirsty and decided to get them some water.  Not knowing that Johanna had packed their special cups, I gave one sippy cup full of water (a sippy cup had been left behind at our house after a previous visit) to Watson.  For Addison, I planned to give her my “grownup” plastic cup with a straw.  Oh wow, I did not know then what I know now.  Addison apparently has a very strong preference when it comes to cups.  Now again, I did not realize that Jo had packed their cups, so this all could have been avoided.  But instead, I was under the impression that I had only 1 sippy cup under my roof, and it seemed only logical that it go to the 20 month old.  Well, three year olds are not logical.  Addison had a total meltdown.  There was crying.  There was rejecting of just about every cup in my kitchen.  There were many blocked attempts to snatch the prized sippy cup away from her little brother. Finally, after she started sobbing, “I WANT MY MOMMY” repeatedly, I did what any normal person would do. 

I picked up her little brother and walked out of the house.

Roughly ten minutes later, the sobbing subsided and Addison reappeared on the porch.  Just as quickly as she’d been upset, she’d forgotten why!  Oh, to be 3 years old again and have the ability to forget problems so fast!  She had actually become so fond of my straw/cup combo (the exact cup that she’d so urgently rejected earlier) that she made up a game of running back and forth from the dog bowl to the potted plants.  She said she was “watering the plants” which was just fine with me. I went into the kitchen and started making snacks while I listened to pitter-patter and laughter for the next 10 minutes or so.  I thought Oatmeal was supervising, but then I came around the corner and found that pretty much my entire living area was soaked with spilled water.  There were small puddles and big puddles, but there were puddles everywhere.

Now of course it was just water, and I wasn’t actually upset.  But I did say, “Addison!  Look at this mess!  Do you think it’s okay to come over to someone else’s house and pour water all over their floor?” 

Addison FROZE in her tracks.  She looked at the various puddles in my living room as if she’d never seen them before.  It was really funny, because for a split second it looked like she was going to deny having any part of the puddle-making, but she looked at her own hand which was holding a drippy cup of half-filled water.  She thought about it for a minute.  Then she shrugged her shoulders.  I wanted to laugh. Instead I asked again, “Addison, when you make a mess at someone’s house, should you clean it up?

She thought about this long and hard as well.  And then she said, “No.”

Well I may be a slave driver, but I gave her a towel and told her to wipe up the puddles.  And when she came into the kitchen to tell me she was done, I gave her a fresh towel and told her to keep wiping.  I know, I know, I’m going to be lucky if I’m never visited by Child Protective Services one day for subjecting a child to this kind of slavery.

Yep, between the picture of the 20 month old playing with an electrical outlet, and the little girl scrubbing my floor, I’m sure you’re all really impressed with my compassion and maturity when it comes to babysitting.  I’m sure you’re all getting your checkbooks out and lining up to hire me to take care of your kids while you go on that week long vacation.

At some point the kids managed to completely soak themselves with water (probably from the dog water dish) and it seemed the right thing to do to give them a bath.  I have always loved giving little kids a bath.  They are so entertained to wallow around in the water and they rarely try to escape.  I mean how else can you keep such small kids in such a tiny space for so long with no arguing? 

Once they were clean, I started to make them a paleo dinner and left Oatmeal in charge of drying/dressing.

It cracked me up to come into the living room and see that Oatmeal had combed Watson’s hair.  You have to appreciate how distinguished a side-part can make a little kid look.

By this time, 7 hours had passed! Holy cow!  We tossed the kids in the car and let them snack on (what else) bacon and fruit-avocado-kale smoothies on the way home. Addison was asleep about mid-way through her last bite of bacon. 

Now, about 20 miles from Johanna’s exit, Addison woke up and just started wailing.  Unsure of what to do, I looked in the rearview mirror at her and asked her what was wrong. 

“I have to tee-tee!”

Uh-oh.  I was a good 20 minutes from Johanna’s house, and I had a full bladder on my hands.  I realized I had no idea how long such a young bladder could hold it.  I knew that Addison was potty trained, but 20 miles?  She whimpered a little bit and clutched her legs.  I started to feel really bad for her and began to consider my options.

(1) Pull over, carry Watson (who was wearing only a shirt and diaper) into a McDonald’s so that Addison could use the restroom on a disgusting public toilet

(2) Ask her to hold it

So, I went with option 2.  I said, “Addison, do you think you can hold it for a few minutes?  How about you tell me how you are feeling in 5 minutes?“  She was already starting to look sleepy again so I figured I had made the right choice.

19 miles later, I was making the exit to go to Jo’s house.  Addison woke up and resumed whimpering.  I kept apologizing, telling her how great she was doing and how “if you just wait until we get home, you can go potty first thing!” I was feeling really guilty for not just stopping at McDonald’s.  Making a kid wipe a floor is one thing.  Making them hold it for that long seemed like child torture.

We screeched into the driveway, I ripped open the door, pulled Addison out of her seat and told her to run for the front door while I got Watson.  I grabbed him and met her at the door, which…. was…. LOCKED!  We banged and banged and banged.  It looked dark inside.  Oh dear.  Poor Addison.  I checked my phone.  “Gone to neighbors house.  Text me when you’re close.”  Oh geezus.  Addison was doing the crazy dance by now, her hands were between her little legs and her face was all contorted.  She was moaning and little tears were coming out of the corners of her eyes.  Man, she really was a trooper, I could tell she was truly trying.  I flashed back to my moment in the storage facility last week when I almost went in a box.  I texted Johanna quickly and began telling Addison to just go in the bushes.  Only seconds later, her dad James came around the corner.  He scooped her up to say hello…. and she burst.  Poor child.  She peed all over herself and all over poor unsuspecting James.  So much for returning 2 clean and fed kids to my friend! 

But hey, all in all, it was a fun day.  And I did satisfy Johanna’s two requirements… the kids were still breathing when they were returned, and I fed them only meat, plants and water in my presence.  Maybe I’ll survive with my own kid!

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