Training Day

WW marchEvery once in a while my oldest daughter likes to unnerve me by saying stuff like, “If I have a baby the same age as you did, you’ll be a grandma in just a few years.”


I mean, I’m excited to be a grandma someday. The whole snuggle them, spoil them, stuff them full of sugar then send them home sounds like a great gig. But before I get to carry out revenge plots on my grandchildren’s parents, I’ll need a childcare brush-up lesson. For this reason I agreed to babysit my cousin’s toddler for the day while they were at a wedding.

Sweet little Cicely arrived with a big smile and a bedhead. She didn’t even cry as her mother drove away, mostly because my cat clan gave our guest a warm welcome on the porch and she was too busy cuddling. As we went inside, Cicely wanted to bring one of the barn kittens. I explained he was an outside cat only, but her lower lip started to quiver and I caved.

I knew I’d be great at this grandma thing!

The kitten entertained Cicely for a while, then she dug into the box of toys I’d brought out of storage. We played dolls and dinosaurs and snacked on apples and cheese. Then she wanted to color so I got out crayons and paper. My business/life partner needed help in the office, so I left Cicely to her coloring for a minute.

One minute, I swear.

That’s all it took for Baby Picasso to find a lone non-washable marker in the bottom of the crayon bin and express herself artistically across furniture, floors, cats and clothes. When I caught her blue-handed she guiltily hid the marker behind her back.

Now, if this were my kid she’d have to help scrub then sit in timeout. But this was supposed to be a proxy grandma exercise where I just get to be fun, not the enforcer of natural consequences. I cleaned it up and let her slide.

While trying to clean Cicely up, I decided to remedy her bedhead. Maybe if her hair was done cute her mother wouldn’t notice her shirt was ruined. And I thought it would be fun to do a little girl’s hair again.

It was, for thirty seconds.

She didn’t like brushing out snarls, and she had no patience to sit for the fancy braid I found on Pinterest. I opted for a ponytail. While I concentrated on wrangling her hair into a scrunchie, Cicely found mascara on the bathroom counter and applied it like Tammy Faye Bakker. My efforts to wash it off made her look like we’d played goth dress-up.

After that, she was grumpy and tired but wouldn’t lie down with me or read books so I resorted to the classic caregiver cop-out—Disney movie. I let her have a popsicle, three bowls of cereal and more cheese. She dripped on my couch and pulled out her ponytail as she sang along with Elsa while I cleaned up the kitty doo left by the outside pet I’d forgotten about.

Later that day, I handed Cicely back to her mother stained, smeared, sugared-up and overtired. Yep, I got the grandma thing down.

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