The IT boom saw many a cousin brother and sister from Kerala making a beeline to Bangalore, settling into careers, marrying and then having their babies. After the arrival of the baby and mom from mom’s hometown the proud parents decide that it is time they got back to the carefree days during weekends. Now this leaves poor baby out in the cold. Out of profound guilt, the new parents decide that their own kith and kin* should look after the baby so that he/she does not feel left out and grow up to become a psychopath or HR.
There fore during weekends we would get a gaggle of babies, toddlers and brats into our house for ‘safekeeping’ so that new mom and dads and the not so new mom and dads could have a night out in town. (Little did they realize that it was us that needed to be kept safe from them.)
(*‘Kin’ is defined as my mom and me.)
Here are some lessons I have learnt after years of baby-sitting, which may prove useful to new parents and masochists in search of newer and better methods of receiving punishments.
1. The smaller the baby, the easier they are to take care. The bigger they are the better if you are away on a vacation when they are visiting.
2. The age of the baby/kid in months is directly proportional to the BDA plots that your Doctor will buy from the consultation fees you pay him for treating your ulcers, fast graying hair, nervous breakdowns etc.
3. Babies prefer that the babysitter sit, while they crawl around, chewing slippers, licking shoes and gnawing the dog. ( My dogs will actually put their tails between their legs and slink out of the house when they hear my mom say on the phone "Sure we will take care of Rohan" )
4. The smallest speck on the floor is immediately spotted, minutely scrutinized and eaten. This includes ants, cockroaches and other miscellaneous life forms that are bite sized. Baby food is for woosies. No self-respecting baby will eat it. (The modern art on our walls is dried baby food by the way, in case you think we are art connoisseurs.)
5. When baby takes your finger and chews on it appreciatively it does not mean she is hungry. It means you did not wash your hands after dusting the sofa/bathing the dog/gardening etc.
6. Babies have internal radar that tells them if you are within 5 feet of their crib. So it is advised to leave the TV ‘ON’ when you need to go out of the room. The noise won’t fool them but they know that you will definitely be back after the commercials.
7. Water in the dogs bowl tastes much better than the boiled water served in sterile bottles. Ditto with the dogs food. Ditto with the dog. ( Cerelac/babyfood is for dogs)
8. Kids know immediately when they look at you that they have a sucker in their hands.
My mom said I could shave my legs (a 7 year old)
Daddy said I could use your lipstick (a 5 year old)
My mom said that I could watch Desperate Housewives (an 8 year old)
and my favorite
Brat: If you let me play in water I won’t tell Mummy that I fell down from the swing ok?”
Me: But you didn’t fall down the swing!!!
Brat: I know.
9. Answer all their questions patiently or the consequences can be unpleasant.
Brat: What are you reading?
Me: A book.
My Mom to brat: What is the chechi doing?
Brat: She is reading a book.
Mom: What book?
Brat: Aunty lying on top of uncle.
Mom’s reactions withheld but she was in my room before I could say “Charge of the Moral Brigade”. (the book “ a romantic tragedy” had the cover picture of a young couple, the girl leaning on the man’s shoulder whilst they both looked at the sunset)
10. Be appropriately dressed when kids are around.
Brat to my Dad: Why are your boobs so small?
Dad: Huh ?!?!?!.... I think I hear the phone ringing!
11. Be prepared for embarrassing questions.
Brat: What is adultery?
Me: er...where did you get that word?
Brat: We are learning Ten Commandments in Catechism Class…
Me: um..er...mmmm...ahem...it is some sort of sin.
Brat: Wrong!! You commit adultery if you run away with that uncle next door.
Me: %$@&*# If you know the answer then why did you ask me the question?
Brat: I was just checking.
(I pity Primary School Catechism teachers)
12. Be prepared for mental battles.
Me to mom: Arun’s mom says we should not give him E.G.G.
(spelling it out so 4 year old Arun will not catch on)
Mom: So Arun what would you like to eat?
Same kid had a cold and was thus forbidden to eat Ice Cream. But he kept bugging me and finally exasperated I said: Read my mouth NO!
Arun: Read my mouth “YES!”
13. And lastly they are uncomplicated.
Me to my friend: What will happen if you put a Blue Elephant into a Red sea?
Friend 1: The elephant will become red?!
Friend 2: It will become a bluish red?
Friend 3: hmmm..it will become purple as blue+ red is purple.
Brat: It will drown.
Brat got it right.
( The youngest baby we babysat was a two month old infant whose mommy had to air dash to London for some examination. When she got back we had to conduct an induction programme to reacquaint her with her baby. After the induction I gave her a 60/100. My mom gave her a 10/100. Thank god for the Law of Averages she got to take the baby home!!)