An evening with the wee ones

Paula Tessier
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All it took was one phone call to make my mother-in-law the happiest woman on the planet.
It was earlier this year when her youngest son, and the father of three of her small grandchildren, called to inform her that he and his family were leaving work-based Calgary and returning to the motherland.

Joy, elation and disbelief! Hubby and I were particularly excited, because our own offspring are nearly all adults and it’s been a long time since we’ve had young children around.

So last week, my newly returned brother-in-law was looking for an evening babysitter so he and his wife could have a well-deserved night out. Before the fear of taking care of three children under four could take over, I stepped up.

By “I” I really meant “we.” Being outnumbered three wee children to one adult — never having been through their supper, bath and bedtime routine — there was absolutely no way I was attempting this without reinforcements; hubby was voluntold that he would be there as well.

We arrived early in the evening with the intention of letting the parents go out for supper before heading to a Christmas concert. Turns out they were not long home themselves. The four-year-old started to softly cry at the thought of his parents going out, and the two-year-old twins had fallen asleep in the car on the way home and were snuggled warmly in their beds for a late afternoon nap.

Actually, it was more of an early evening nap, and for a babysitter nothing good comes of that!

Our bigger nephew was quick to settle though, and before long he was ready to step up as my helper for the evening. He had the supper, bath and bedtime routine down to a science and was instantly my best friend. I think they may have his birthday year mixed up because when his sleepy brother awoke feeling a little fussy, this pre-schooler turned to me and exasperatedly said, “Now what are we going to do with that kid?”

While I was asked to take care of three children, in reality I ended up taking care of four. Hubby instantly turned into a big kid, playing “Monster” and chasing the delighted kids around the house until they were completely weak with laughter.

I found myself shooting him looks of “Settle down or they will never be able to sleep tonight!” I don’t think he took me very seriously, though, because it continued well into the evening. It’s slightly possible I may have gotten into it myself.

The supper routine was pretty easy but bath time had the potential to put the house on rails. Well, it seems that bubbles and tub toys haven’t lost their charm as the babes weren’t ready to get out of the water until their little toes were as wrinkled as prunes.

Bedtime was next, but here’s the weird thing — I wasn’t quite ready for them to go to bed. I had forgotten the charm of clean smelling, cartoon-pyjama-clad snuggly children. But we stuck close to the schedule — somewhat. That’s how you know you’re a good family babysitter, when you develop the ability to fib just a bit, to make sure you’re invited back.

Email Paula Tessier at

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