On Friday night, I babysat (another person’s baby) for the first time in over ten years.
When my momfriend, Julie, called to explain what was going to happen and started to go through their pre-bedtime routine, it occurred to me that she wanted me to put Sophia to bed. A mild panic attack set in. Put another person’s child to bed?! I thought about all the babies and children I’d put to bed back in the babysitting days and how for the most part, a) a lot of the time, when I arrived to babysit, that was the very first time the kids (and sometimes even the parents) had ever met me, b) I never thought twice about the fact that I had to put the kids to bed. But this time, I was struck down with: but, but, that’s so intimate, so complicated! How can I possibly do that?!
Sophia was all dressed in her footed pyjamas when I arrived. She dutifully drank her bottle of milk and sat on my lap as I read her some stories, as per Julie’s description. Her mom said “bye bye, sweetpea” and gave her a kiss and that was it – no complaints, no tears, no nothin’. A tangled mess of nerves began to form in the pit of my stomach. Was she really going to do everything Julie said? The next step was for her to get in her grobag, but the requests for stories kept coming. She’s not going to get in the grobag. Yogic breathing. Calm, calm. Next thing, I saw tiredeness descend on her face and she got into the grobag, without any presuasion from me. “Where do we go now?”, I asked. “Upstairs,” she said, sweetly, with that baby ‘r’ that kills me.
Once in her room, I asked if she wanted to sit in the chair a while (this was one of the steps) or go to bed. She said “bed.” I put her into the cot and she, wait for it, lay down. And asked for more blankets. Feeling useless, I asked if she wanted me to stay until she fell asleep and she said “yeah” but only in the most non-committal way, as in “stay if you want, I don’t mind, I’m just going to go to sleep now.” And then I heard those unmistakable little settling down noises and she was asleep. I crept out of the room, despite the fact that there was no need, and was back downstairs to do nothing but watch a double dose of Coronation Street and be stupified by what had just happened.
Because, well, that’s not how Boone goes to sleep. These days our routine is: pyjamas, books, mamma milk (sometimes), kisses and hugs night night, then he kicks me out so that Joseph can rock him to sleep to the songs on our sleepytime playlist. On a good night, it’ll take only two songs before he’s asleep, on others, considerably more. This has worked for us but he’s getting a bit big for the rocking now and as of today, he’s thoroughly sick of the playlist. We’re heading for another transition period, one where, who knows, he may just lay down by himeself and go to sleep and become one of those “easy babies” who can be babysat and put to bed by anyone. But oh, hum, there’s no point comparing him to other babies.
For now, we’ll just rock him a little more.