The Babysitters' Club - Mark Two
‘NO is a lovely little word Our Lord gave us to use when we don’t want any cake’ so said Mrs Doyle in an episode of Fr Ted.
Yet somehow I can’t seem to take her advice which is why I always end up gorging on cake (hence the size of this ass) and why I agreed to spend the entire weekend babysitting my other niece.
I know, you’d think I would have learned after the last time, but when my brother asked me to do some rug-rat watching while he and sis-in-law went overseas, instead of saying “ha, not on your nelly” I found myself breezily saying “suuuuuuure, no problem, I’d be happy to”.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Niece Number Two is a little dote. Four-years-old, cute as a button and sharp as a tack (with a fabulous wardrobe from Baby Gap) and simply a joy to be around. But only for short periods of time.
Not anything to do with her you understand, it’s me, I’m about as patient and tolerant as Michael McDowell faced with a roomful of asylum seekers. So three days catering to her every whim was sure to be a shock to my system. (Does anyone else have a problem with the endless ‘you be the Daddy, I’ll be the Mammy’ games that youngsters play?)
I know it was wrong, I know I shouldn’t have done it, but I want to publicly thank whoever it was who invented cable television and Smarties, cos they’re the only things that kept me sane over the weekend.
Any impending trauma (a teeny cut on her finger, the injustice of not being allowed out to play when it was pissing down) could be solved by switching on the Cartoon Network and making with the sweeties.
Ah, I have to say though, minding her was a lot less worry than minding Niece Number One as this one didn’t require endless feeding, changing and rocking and was happy enough to play in the front garden with her friends, help one of the neighbours dig up her flower bed and eat whatever dinner I put in front of her. (It also helped that I’d dragged a mate down to the wilds of County Wicklow to help me, so there was always someone on Operation Keep The Child Alive watch.)
The other mothers in the neighbourhood were great too, gladly accepting her into their houses to play with their offspring, thus giving me a bit of a break and not seeming to mind in the slightest when she stood outside their sitting room windows pressing her face up against the glass, like a homeless person desperate for a good meal.
There was only one moment over the whole weekend when I caved and she got the better of me, feeling ever so slightly afraid:
We were eating breakfast (porridge) both in our pjs with me wearing my brother’s (her Daddy’s) dressing gown when I dropped a gloop of oats on the sleeve of said robe, wiping it quickly away.
She immediately piped up in an innocent voice: Aunty Karen? Did my Daddy say you could wear his dressing gown?
Me: Yes pet, he said I could borrow it if I was cold.
Her (with furrowed brow and a self righteous tone of voice): And did he say you could get it DIRTY?!
Needless to say, her swift turnaround from innocent four-year-old to matronly harridan berating me for spilling my breakfast had me spluttering, unable to say anything except: