It all started on a particular Monday morning during the holidays, just as I had awoken from my restless slumber, a feeling of nausea permeated my body and a bitter, acrid taste filled my mouth. No, it was not because of the small dinner I’d eaten the previous night, but the fact that a dull day lay ahead.
“Another boring weekday,” I thought sourly with half-closed eyes. * Another day of monotonous nothingness, another clockwork routine day.” What else could I expect from a weekday during the holidays? For the past two weeks I had endured the dullness and the monotony, but I now firmly resolved that if I didn’t find something positive to do in the next three weeks, both my mentality and physique would become severely retarded.
I, therefore, jumped out of the bed, a cherry feeling enveloping my mind, washed up, dressed and began scanning the morning newspaper for part-time jobs, which now seemed to be my only escape from the eternal limbo that these holidays had devised for me. Turning my gaze to the advertisement section, a catchy column suddenly caught my attention. It said: “Babysitter Urgently Required.” Must be competent, patient and experienced. No specific age requirement. The successful applicant will work 6 hours daily. Remuneration-Negotiable. Address- 156, West Street, London.
I regarded the small advertisement with a curious eye for a moment and then stifled a guffaw. Ha! Babysitting? Of all things?!!! I’d never lived to see it down. If I took up this post and word of it leaked out to some of my friends, and word of it leaked out to some of my friends, I’d be the laughing stock of the school for months to come. There wasn’t a chance in a million that I was going to apply for this job.
But as I turned page after page, my heart sank into despair. I wasn’t qualified for any other job, all of which required diplomas and experience in large, reputable business organizations. Perplexed as to what I should do, I abruptly realized that the only option open was the babysitting job that I wasn’t too keen on. But my grim determination to do something, however discouraging it may have seemed to me or silly to others, pervaded my mind and, with my mother’s consent, I soon found myself on the doorstep of House No. 156, West Street, thinking of what I’d do with my “remuneration” if I ever did get the job.
To my surprise, I was the first applicant and the only one. But then, House No. 156 was not quite what I had anticipated. For an establishment that housed two adults and a baby, it was exceptionally neat and tidy, not one of those unruly sprawling establishments.
My interview was brief and interrogative. The proprietor, Mrs. Carolyn Smith, unleashed a volley of questions that I managed to answer (thankfully) well. Experience? I’d had a hell lot of babysitting my brother when he was young.
Competent? I’d fight to the get this job. Smiling genially, Ms. Brown offered me the job, along with a whopping remuneration offer of £15 per week.
As soon as she left, I was in a daze, my mind and word of swirling. “£15 a week! Why I could…” The soft sound of a baby crying interrupted thoughts and I raced up the stairs, two at a time, and slowly entered the room from where the sound emanated. Beth, the baby girl who was to be my acquaintance for the day, lay in a baby-cot and abruptly stopped crying as soon as I picked her up.
Beth was a small fragile, two-year-old bundle, whose azure eyes were still half distorted with tears. Her silky, soft brown hair in the doorway light and I smiled tentatively at her initial response. Her eyes opened wide in surprise as the realization that I was not her beloved mother hit her fully. Then burying her head in my shoulder, she began crying again. With a mixture of surprise and anxiety, I hope that we would become better acquainted soon, relying on the fact that her mother had told me that Beth took to strangers rather well. Sitting down, I rocked her slowly from side to side. Cooling softly and thankfully, she soon calmed down. Arms around my neck, whimpering softly through a tear-filled eye, she was the sort of baby your heart went out to.
With Beth in my arms, I navigated my way to the kitchen, warmed some milk, located Beth’s bottle and soon, she was hungrily gulping down her breakfast. As soon as she had finished, her face broke into a wide smile of satisfaction. Holding her face downwards, I patted her back to expel any gas.
Unfortunately (for me), Beth happened to be an exceptionally fast crawler. I discovered this only after I had set her down on the living-room carpet for a minute so that I could fetch her a change of clothes. Coming back down, I was gripped with a sense of mounting horror to find that she had disappeared. However, I was soon relieved when I found her in the adjacent guest room, playing with her reflection, a look of delight, and fascination on her face.
Following her mother’s instructions, I gave Beth a bath an hour later. I had anticipated this to be the most difficult task in managing Beth and I was right but in an entirely different way.
I had expected Beth to burst into tears as soon as I began bathing her, but I found my eyes opening wide in surprise at Beth’s reaction to the bathtub. With a squeal of delight, she extended her outstretched arms towards the warm water and began splashing happily as soon she was in. She flounced her arms against the water, driving the soap onto her face and content to ignore me as I washed her thoroughly. Beth genuinely loved the water, unlike my younger brother, who’d be transformed into a screaming, kicking, clawing, biting and squiggling mass once. I’d gave any indication that I was planning to give him a bath.