On Monday night as I was driving home my brother Jessen called me and asked me if I could babysit his kids for four hours the following day. Jessen and Laura have three kids: Bowen, age six, Boyd, age five, and Ryan, age 14 months. I responded by saying, “I can watch babies, but I don’t know how to take care of babies.” I was hoping he’d say something like, “You’re right, you’re not qualified for this. I’ll ask someone else,” but he didn’t. When I told him that I’d never changed a diaper he told me that it was easy and I had to learn eventually anyway. I gave some other examples of things that I didn’t how to do and he said, “Just ask Bowen, he knows what to do.” Of course, direct all questions to the six year old.
When I got to the house on Tuesday morning Laura showed me some things that I’d have to do. For example, before putting Ryan down for a nap I should say something like, “Ryan, it’s night-night time,” and read him a book or two. I said, “Read him TWO books?!” and she said, “they’re baby books, they’re short.”
I had told Jessen that I don’t know how to entertain children for four hours and he said, “Just ask the boys what they want to do and do that.” I did just that. The boys wanted to play hide-and-seek, make things out of paper, jump on the trampoline and watch Kung Fu Panda so we did all of those things. I had never put a baby down for a nap before so Bowen offered to help. He read Ryan a story and then explained to me that I needed to give him his binky, lay him down and tuck him in. I did all this and Ryan started crying like crazy. Bowen said, “Don’t worry, he’ll stop in a minute.” Bowen and I left the room and closed the door and 60 seconds later Ryan had stopped crying. I’m now convinced that Bowen is a genius.
While watching Kung Fu Panda I texted a few people. I know, how neglectful of me, right? Every time I pulled out my phone Boyd would say, “Ben, this part is so funny. You’re missing it!” He really wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. It was adorable. I was sitting with Ryan during the movie and at one point he decided to jump off the couch. Seeing this happen out of the corner of my eye I quickly stuck out my arm to block his jump. He had jumped with more force than I had expected and instead of stopping him, my arm made him do an artful flip towards the floor. He landed on his back on the carpet and gave me a startled look as he realized what he’d just done. Sensing that I had roughly one second before he started to cry I scooped him up and said, “Wow, Ryan, you’re pretty tough,” and he just smiled and forgot that he should have been crying.
Laura called me to tell me that she’d be home by two. Bowen asked me when his mom would be home and I said that she’d be home by two. He said in his cute six year old voice, “She’ll be home at 2:03 then.” I responded with, “Oh really?” and he said, “She’s always late.” Sure enough, Laura pulled in at exactly 2:03. That kid knows his stuff.
While I didn’t have to change a diaper, I still learned a lot from watching my nephews for five hours. And I didn’t even mind that it lasted for an extra hour. I kind of felt like Uncle Jesse and Uncle Joey the first time they watched baby Michelle by themselves. Click here for the clip. I don’t know much about caring for children, but I think I can learn. Especially when there’s a six year old who knows the ropes.