My friend needed to go out for a few hours only, or so she said. She was clutching a newspaper when she came to my house, pushing a stroller and leaning away from a bag swung over her shoulder. She was applying for some jobs and had to go for interviews. There was no need to think or hesitate. I agreed immediately.

The baby girl was quite cheerful. She was dressed in pink fluffy clothes from head to toe, her round eyes peering up at me in an expression of innocent surprise. The bag, which was placed alongside the stroller, contained all the things I needed during my babysitting work. It had a box of diapers, a thick wad of tissue papers, two napkins, a box of cereal, powdered formula and two rattle toys. I gently picked up the baby from the stroller and perched her over my folded arm, using my free hand to wipe off her drool. I hummed a nursery rhyme to her, swaying her slightly, but she wasn’t interested. Her tiny arms swung out in a random manner, and she started to whine. Maybe she was hungry. I dissolved some powdered milk in pre-heated water and prepared her feeding bottle while she lay on the couch with cushions propped all around her for protection. The baby was, it turned out, indeed hungry. She sucked on the nipple of the feeder hungrily. When the bottle was half empty, she pushed away the bottle, and I knew she would drink no more. So I grabbed her and thumped her lightly on the back. She fell asleep almost immediately.

Babies are not such hard work. I thought, as I laid her down in her fortress of cushions once more. Hardly an hour had passed before she woke up again. I was sitting at the foot end of the couch, reading a novel. Then I knew how hard it was to pacify a baby, because the moment she woke up, she started bawling. No matter what I did, she would do not stop crying. I undressed her and checked her diaper. It was dirty. I threw the used one away, wiped the baby clean, poured some powder on her, and took out another diaper. After I had fastened the new diaper, I held her up, trying to make her happy and comfortable, but she was simply not interested in being quiet. My next thought went to the rattle toys. They didn’t work for long either because only after five minutes, she threw them down rather cruelly. I tried feeding her milk again, but she was not hungry. So all I could do, was to carry the bawling baby around the house, rocking her and singing songs. She would stop crying for a moment or two and then start again. Now I had a serious headache. Before I could have started crying too, my gaze fell upon her blanket and immediately thought about swaddling. I took the blanket and wrapped the baby in it. I had seen my mom do it. As soon as the wrapping was tight, the baby stopped crying. I patted it back to sleep, and it slept.

Two hours later, she was still sleeping when her mom came to pick her up. She asked if she could drop her off tomorrow as well. Though handling babies is difficult, I had enjoyed the experience. There was no need for hesitation. I immediately said yes.

Posted in Friends