The Babysitter (ShoStoBloMo #11)
“Why are you so mean to Mr. Potato Head?” This is the question posed to me by my babysitter, a friendly lady who sometimes antagonizes me because, I imagine, she thinks I don’t understand what she’s saying.
I blink at her at couple of times and furrow my brow. She laughs and says to herself, “It’s like he really knows what I’m saying!”
Of course I know what she’s saying. Maybe I’m only 9 months old, but I’m not an idiot.
“Come on, you,” she says, lifting me by my armpits. “Let’s have some lunch.” She buckles me into the high chair. I duck and try to poke at her eyes when I see the bib she’s trying to snap around my neck. It’s covered in offensive whimsy and I will have none of it. I mean, really, just because I’m a boy I need a bib with trucks and cars on it? What about a bib with a platypus? Something interesting for God’s sake. My finger makes contact with her sclera. She hollers a satisfying “DAMMIT” and drops the bib.
Baby Jake 1, Babysitter 0.
“Ja-ake…” Her tone has switched from shouty to mellifluous as she smiles and waggles her fingers in the hair. I am suspicious, but I can’t help looking. Her silver rings dazzle me as the light arcs off the plating. “Gotcha, you little turd,” she says, and snaps the bib around my neck while I’m distracted.
Sonuva… Babysitter 1, Baby Jake 1.
She comes at me with a spoonful of organic pomegranate turkey souffle puree or some equally awful thing and I can already feel the stomachache that will ensue. I clamp my mouth shut. She tries the distraction thing again, but I’m not falling for it this time.
“Come on, dude,” she says in a faux-friendly voice. “Just take one bite. If you take one bite, I know you’ll love it!” She pretends to take a bite. She pretends to love it. I am not impressed. We play this little game for longer than either of us would like. I have pomegranate turkey souffle puree in my hair, eyelashes, ear holes and nostrils. She has it on her shirt, arm, knuckles and a splatter dangles from her bangs. I am hoping she will just sigh and give in to my irascible charm, as I grin at her and bat the spoon away for the thousandth time. Instead, she surprises me by grabbing my cheeks with one hand and squeezing open my mouth. I struggle, but she is a behemoth. Her giant paw grasps the spoon, and using my bottom gums as a fulcrum, she manages to dump a scoop of the food into my mouth. I splutter and gag, my tongue undulating in a manner I had not known was possible. But some of the slop slides down my throat, and the babysitter gives me a triumphant grin.
Babysitter 2, Baby Jake 1.
I am not pleased with the outcome of the lunch situation, but I also know that the babysitter will not be pleased with the lunch outcome either, as I work on the transubstantiation of pomegranate turkey souffle puree into a miraculously shaped poo. This thought makes me laugh a little and the babysitter ruffles my wispy, crusty hair. Our tempestuous relationship notwithstanding, I do enjoy it when she shows me affection, so I reward her with a few cooing burbles. She burbles back at me and we converse nonsensically for a few minutes before I tire of the scintillating conversation and shit myself.
Baby Jake 2, Babysitter 2.
After the diaper change, we wrestle through a bath, where I do my best to imitate a slippery squid, and the babysitter does her best to not steal my mom’s Vicodin. It is an exhausting ordeal and by the end of it I can barely keep my eyes open. Off we go to my room where I am placed gently into my crib. The babysitter kisses my cheek, pulls down the shade and exits my room with the flourish of an ingenue. She loves naptime. I know she does. Everyday, before I drift off, I hear her on the phone, soliloquy after soliloquy, regaling her friends with stories of my antics and magnificent poos. Today, though, she is quiet. This intrigues me. I heave myself up to standing, grabbing the crib rail to balance my weeble wobble body. Only I have managed to stand facing the direction opposite of the doorway, and I find myself staring into the chasm between my crib and the wall. A disgusting array of detritus is scattered in the gully below: petrified cereal, abandoned pacifiers, a dried spray of misdirected reflux, and a smattering of brown objects that surely are raisin pieces and not a pile of offerings from munificent rats. Surely. I slide back down to my bottom and scoot to the other side of the crib. I pull myself up and strain to hear what’s going on, but at some point, I fall asleep.
Babysitter 3, Baby Jake 2.
When I wake, I am frustrated that I wasn’t able to solve the Mystery of the Momentarily Silent Babysitter. I frittered away important sleuthing time by sleeping. Blast. I give a cry of frustration and a few minutes later the babysitter appears. She is all smiles, retrieving me from my crib, and cooing at me like a sycophantic moron. She swings me upside down and tickles my face with her ponytail. I can see her split ends. Surely a haircut is in order. I wish with every ounce of my being that my first words could be, “Hey babysitter, get your split ends out of my nose!” Alas, they are not. I offer her a splutter of indignation which she misreads as a sneeze of joy, and then she heaves me under her arm like a football. We march down the hall to the playroom and I admit that I squeal a little at the fun of it.
Babysitter 4, Baby Jake 2.
The babysitter plops me on the floor of the playroom and I sit there, a solipsistic sack of potatoes. She offers me a sippy cup of juice and a snack. I oblige, leaving her sclera intact this time. After taking a long pull of the sweet stuff and surveying my surroundings I get that familiar feeling and smile. I am perfecting my transubstantiating again. I get two points for this one.
Baby Jake 4, Babysitter 4.
I hear the garage door open. Mama is home. The afternoon ends in a tie, as it so often does, but I know that the babysitter and I still have tomorrow to look forward to. I await our future confrontations not with trepidation, but with relief. The day is always brighter when you have someone to poke in the eye.