The Princess and I are currently in Cape Town, staying with The Brother-in-law, The Sister-in-law and their one, two, three, FOUR (adorable) kids. Just after The Princess has had her very first bath with her six month old cousin, The Sister-in-Law casually asks if I’d mind babysitting whilst she and The Brother-in-law attend a parent teachers evening at their eight year old’s school. Now, we have every intention of giving The Princess a baby brother or sister one day, so I should be perfectly capable of sticking a dummy into the mouth of my beautiful niece, in the very unlikely event that she wakes up and cries. Right?
It’s 7:20pm – a full hour since I started giving The Princess her bedtime bottle – and she is still writhing in my arms, refusing to sleep. It’s been a rough afternoon visiting an unwell Father Figure and I am not in the mood for a fight with an eleven month old.
Enter The Princess’ crying six month old cousin.
The Princess and I will just go next door for a dummy dash.
We stand next to the cot and a pair of large blue eyes stares up at eyes. This does not look like a baby in the throes of a deep slumber, merely in need of a dummy but I try anyway.
I try again.
She spits and screams.
I try again.
Now she’s upset. And really screaming. Very, very loudly.
I panic. In the last day and a half I’ve spent with this little angel, I’ve never heard her cry. But now she is P*SSED off. She’s woken up in the middle of the night and she’s got some stranger who is NOT her mommy trying to shove her dummy in her mouth. Not happy.
So I pick her up and sink into the feeding chair next to her cot – The Princess in one arm and her cousin in the other. The Princess is smiling sweetly at her crying cousin and even reaching across to her as if to console her. It’s adorable but it’s not helping at all. Her cousin is going BALLISTIC now.
As my eight-year old nephew is roused from his sleep and walks in, offering to help, I realise I have failed dismally trying to take care of two small children and I ask him to please call his baby sister’s live-in nanny. Thank God for her. She’s in the bath but she’ll come as soon as possible.
Enter my darling little niece’s nanny and she stops crying immediately.
I return to The Princess’ room and at once, the sweet, consoling older cousin version of her is gone and I am left with a screaming eleven month old, nearly an hour into her bed-time, refusing to go to sleep.
Finally, after what seems like years, but is “only” one hour forty minutes, I put The Princess down. She stirs and almost sees me standing near her cot, but she somehow doesn’t see me and she seems to roll over and at least attempt sleep. This leaves me on all fours, hiding behind the darkened side of her camp cot as opposed to the see-through, net side, trying to crawl silently to the door where freedom awaits…
I manage to make it out, collapse onto my bed and pick up my phone to read a mail just in from The Sister, newly settled in NYC. She’s forwarded me her party invite for this weekend:
Subject: heads up for Friday night
I’m having a few friends over to Le Parker Meridien near 56th and 6th Ave, 7pm – 10pm.
Heated rooftop pool + fun little suite. Cocktails and swimming etc.
Please come and bring a girl-friend. We have TOO MANY DUDES.