I find myself in the interesting – and entirely voluntary – position of … um … babysitting. Through a migraine-inducing series events that I am not at liberty to share, I offered to spend some time with my 4-year-old niece and 4-month-old nephew.

Right now, as we … er … speak, the little boy is curled up in a lilac jump suit with pale pink mittens, sleeping with his mouth open, and looking utterly gorgeous. He’s in one of those postures that make women want to have babies. It – however – has zero effect in me, and I’m just glad I can finally get some computer time. The kitchen is a disaster area, the basket is puke-ful of clothes, and despite it being 3.00 p.m., I haven’t had a shower … yet.

[And I think he heard me type because he just yawned, turned, threw me an evil, wicked look, and went back to sleep. Bah humbug.]

When I volunteered for this service, I thought it would be easy. After all, I’ve raised my own baby safely for all her 8 years, and she turned out pretty good. She even woke up at 2.00 a.m. last night to help with the midnight feeds. Yes, I said 2.00 a.m. midnight feeds *shudder* For the record, I don’t remember it being this hard. I don’t know how she does it! And it’s not even in my chest!

My nephew is a really happy baby. We had a big family fun day with nieces and several aunts, and he was fine. He was griining and giggling and charming all and sundry, making them wish they could reverse their menopause and have their own bundles of joy. Again. Me? I held him when it was my turn to hold him. I felt not an ounce of cluckiness at all. I think my bio-clock gene is faulty.

Anyway, we finally got home and all the other relatives went off. The baby seemed to realize his audience was gone, and that this aunt was insusceptible to infant charm. I wasn’t making facess or goo-goo-gaa-gaa or fawning at his every whim, and he wasn’t having any of that. So he decided he would get my attention any way he could – which for him meant waking up every two hours and pretending to be hungry, only to doze off the second he saw the bottle. That’s the longest night I’ve had in a while, and if it wasn’t for Princess’ help and patience, it would not have ended well.

[Yet in true Princess fashion, my little girl woke 15 minutes early today, looking bright and caffeinated while I looked more like a backfired zombie. My kingdom to be 8 years old again!]

Once his cousin was safely in school, my nephew decided to play nice and look cute, and he even managed to extract a little baby talk from me. We took  a walk around the neighbourhood looking for diapers and wet wipes, and all the shopkeepers looked a me like , ‘You stole another baby?!’ Two of them actually asked me to my face. They still don’t believe princess is mine.

I then settled back home with a blender and some vegetables. I’d been advised that the baby wasn’t fussy and ‘would eat anything’ so I made a mix of spinach, carrots, milk, and potatoes. It didn’t taste half bad really. Yeah, try telling that to my nephew. He stuck out his tongue, literally, and wailed like it was the end of the world. #NoHaroldCamping

My friend Cedric came over, and he just happens to have a weaning baby, so he showed me a few tricks. To say I felt inadequate is an understatement, especially when little nephew threw up all over me and when I went to change, I came back to find him giggling and happily feeding with my house guest. Christ! Again, #NoHaroldCamping

Did I say I don’t remember it being this hard?

After my guest left, little nephew smiled at me and ate a few spoonfuls. Actually, he ate about half the bowl. Then he threw up half of what he ate. Again. That’s three changes a piece for both of us, and it’s barely lunch time. Of course once I take the food away, nephew and I are friends again, all giggling and smiling and trying to ignite my bio-clock. It ain’t working kid.

I’ve always said I have zero mothering skills. I raised my own child on fluke alone. Well, fluke and guts, because I dared anyone to tell me I wasn’t doing it right. But with the nephew, it’s different. I’m worried, anxious, and petrified I’ll do something wrong. I mean, what if I inflict permanent damage on some other woman’s kid? I could get sued!

I called up a cousin in panic and she gave me some great advice. She said, ‘Just pretend he’s yours. Do what you would do if it was princess.’ Eh … I don’t know about that, but it’s great advice in principle. For the next few weeks, I’m going to take this little boy as my own and try not to screw it up. And then … I’m going give him back and get my tubes tied.

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