As soon as Beth was through with little game, I scrubbed her down vigorously with a towel that enveloped her entire body and gave her a change of clothes. Beth was now positively bubbling over with joy and as I carried her back to the living room, she beat a playful fist on my chest and poked her cute little fingers into my cheek.
As for Beth’s “baby tongue”, as I call it, I was eternally grateful that she wasn’t yet fully capable of speaking, although she could mouth words gripped with a sense of mounting humor to find like “Mummy” and a few other incoherent words that originated in her own imagination. In addition to that Beth could coo, gurgle, cry and laugh room in a charming way that was a trademark of her presence.
Later, I fetched Beth’s toys from her room and sat on the carpet with her, watching her play (and making that that she didn’t eat any of her toys). Beth’s favorite toy happened to be a battery-operated train and her face as she watched it chugging along around the railway track was comparable to that of an enchanted adult watching a beautiful sunset.
As I later carried Beth to the kitchen to warm her some more milk, Beth looked me straight the eye with a look that was a mixture of both amusement and disgust. I regarded her with surprise, wondering what had made her scrunch up her face like that until I sniffed a sour odor in the air that made me realize what it was. Beth had wet her diaper! Memories of my younger brother flooded my mind, but just looking at Beth made me burst into laughter, so comical was her look! Beth was now chuckling softly and I tapped her playfully on the nose, making her giggle with delight as I carried her off, to her room to change her diapers.
When I was done, I tried feeding Beth some warmed milk, but she furiously resisted and instead crawled off to the living room as fast as her four limbs would carry her. Then, standing up using a stool as support, she began hitting the screen of the nearby television with both her palms, momentarily looking at me with eager eyes as she did so. I smiled and thought “So she wants to watch telly, does she?” On top of the video was placed a Bugs Bunny cartoon cassette which I inserted and played.
Sitting on the couch with Beth on my lap. I must say that encouraging by Beth’s frantic enthusiasm and wild cries of delight, I rather enjoyed the cartoon. Beth had the time of her life, bouncing playfully up and down my lap until the cartoon ended. But, (Oh, no!) that was not all. Beth demanded to see it again and I had to go through another session of her acrobatics before she was finally satisfied.
Beth then sat down to play with her crayons which she thoroughly enjoyed using. She smudged her hands and then rubbed them all over my face, but we had taken to each other so much that I was incapable of feeling any anger towards her. Beth then scribbled incomprehensible designs on a paper, which she later tried eating, but I only just managed to snatch it away in time.
I firmly believe that each baby has his / her own subtle character (personality, if you may) that made him /her very unpredictable to adults Beth’s character did not betray my beliefs, for a short while later, she sat down on the floor and began to cry. Just like that! I picked her up and cradled her gently in my arms, realizing that all that morning activity must really have tired her out. For a baby so active, it was no wonder her former nanny had quit, citing Beth as being ‘uncontrollable’- Mrs. Smith had told me.
Before I could realize it, Beth had gone to sleep in my arms and I quietly carried her off to her room and lay her in her cot, being sure to wipe the crayon smudges off her face, through which her tears had made white, streaked marks. Then, I kissed her gently and slowly left the room closing the door behind me. I left as soon as Beth’s mother arrived and she was delighted to see her energetic bundle fun sleeping so peacefully.
She congratulated me on a piece of work well done and soon, I was on my way home.
Along the way, I contemplated upon the events of the day and arrived at a few conclusions that surprised me. Babysitting, as I had discovered, wasn’t just about taking care of hollering baby that never seemed to be satisfied. Patience and love were just two qualities you learned to master when you successfully interacted with a baby. Babysitting taught you why so many poems had been written about babies and why they were the most lovable things on earth. ‘A baby is one of the best blessings God can bestow upon a family’, I thought. ‘If none of us were cared for and loved when we were young, this world would be an emotionless jungle, whose inhabitants would be stone-hearted people.’
A peal of Beth’s cheerful laughter echoed in my mind and I smiled. Suddenly, tomorrow didn’t look so bad after all.