Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Sally's Adventures In Baby-Sitting

There was a movie on TV not long ago called “Adventures in Babysitting.” Everything short of a nuclear explosion happened to the poor babysitter in the movie. I wouldn’t even have trusted the girl with my goldfish.

I guess I shouldn’t pass judgment, however. Back when I was 15, my entire summer was spent babysitting. In fact, I baby-sat for four different families on my street.

All I can say is those poor people really must have been hard up for a baby sitter.

For one thing, because I had no brothers or sisters, I’d never had any experience taking care of kids or changing diapers. Not only did I know nothing about how to handle a baby, I had the weakest stomach on earth when it came to things like spit-up or the other smelly stuff that babies do. Still, I was desperate for some spending money, and the people in my neighborhood were desperate for a baby sitter, so I booked as many jobs as I could get.

I’ll never forget the first diaper I changed. I was taking care of two brothers at the time. Billy was four, going on 30, and his little brother, Greg, was almost two. Things went pretty smoothly…at first.

“Greggy stinks,” Billy, who was drawing a picture of something that resembled the Eiffel Tower, said after I had been there about 45 minutes.

I had been trying to ignore the smell for a good 20 minutes, to avoid having to deal with a dirty diaper, but it was getting to the point where I was ready to open a window and stick Greg’s bottom half out there, just to air him out.

Finally, I knew I had no choice other than to deal with the inevitable. “OK, where are the diapers?”

Billy led me to a changing table where a stack of cloth diapers and a container of safety pins with yellow plastic duck heads on them awaited. There were no Pampers back then, just flat, square cloth diapers.

I managed, while holding my breath, to remove the offending diaper and toss it onto the floor. Then I quickly grabbed a clean diaper and tried to figure out how to fold it. When I put it on Greg, it came up to his armpits, and the bottom was wide open, like a skirt.

Billy, who had been watching my every move, dissolved into giggles. “That’s not how you do it!” he said, as if I hadn’t already figured that much out for myself. “Want me to fold it?”

I handed the diaper to him and he made a neat triangle out of it, then showed me where to put the pins. I carefully took the folded diaper from him and was about to try to slide it underneath Greg, when I realized that sliding might ruin the folds and mess up things. So I grabbed Greg, stood him up on the changing table, and said, “OK, kid, spread your legs,” and diapered him while he was standing up.

Again, Billy cracked up laughing. When he finally stopped, he said, “You forgot the powder.”

Even if someone had told me there was a nugget of pure gold in that diaper, I wasn’t about to take it off. “Greg can live without powder this one time,” I said. “Now what do I do with this dirty diaper?” I frowned at the smelly heap on the floor.

“I’ll show you,” Billy said. I followed him into the bathroom, where he pointed at the toilet. “You hold the diaper real tight and put it in there and then flush to get rid of all the stinkies. Then you put it in the yellow pail right there.”

I stared at him as if had just grown a second head. “You want me to stick the diaper in the toilet…uh, potty?”

He nodded.

I didn’t know whether the kid was pulling my leg or not, but I had no other source of information handy, so I had to trust him. I went out to the kitchen and searched through the drawers until I found a set of spaghetti tongs, then used them to pick up the offending diaper.

I brought the diaper into the bathroom, and still holding it with the tongs, stuck it into the toilet and flushed. The toilet sucked the diaper right out of the tongs and it disappeared…except for about two inches of cloth sticking out of the hole. I was smart enough to know that the next flush would result in a burst of water that would rival Old Faithful’s.

“You have to reach down and get it!” Billy practically had his head in the toilet as he searched for the diaper.

I tried to grab it with the tongs, but they couldn’t clamp on tightly enough, especially since the diaper now was saturated with about five pounds of toilet water.

“Use your hand!” Billy urged.

I cast him a glance that told him I rather would tie a roast around my neck and leap into a pen of hungry pit bulls than ever stick my hand into that toilet. The diaper stayed right where it was.

By the time their mother arrived back home, both boys were peacefully asleep…and the diaper still was stuck in the toilet. I graciously accepted my money…and then bolted home so fast, I’m pretty sure I broke an Olympic speed record.

No one was more shocked than I was when Billy and Greg’s mom called me three days later and asked me to baby-sit again, especially since I had seen a plumber’s truck parked in front of the house the morning after I’d baby-sat. In fact, when I first heard her voice on the phone, I was terrified she was calling to demand reimbursement.

I later found out that Billy had told her he’d never had more fun with a baby sitter.