Sunday, January 17, 2010


My daughter Rebecca is due to have a baby at the end of the month. She’s asked us to babysit two-year-old Luke during her stay at the hospital. The last time she went to the hospital to have her first baby, she asked us to take care of her cats. I’m afraid this time will involve a little more than opening up a can of foul-smelling food and setting it on the floor of the garage.

To make sure we were up for the task, my daughter decided to give us a test run.

Now, back in the day when we had young children, we were so grateful to get out of the house alone, we didn’t insist that Grandma Mary follow a bunch of babysitting rules. She could have fed them chocolate for dinner and let them watch horror movies and we’d have been happy, as long as the kids were alive when we got back.

But my daughter isn’t quite as grateful as I was. So when they went off to a wedding last weekend, I figured all we’d have to do was feed Luke some dinner (at the table), play Buzz Lightyear for a while, and then put him to bed. No sweat; we’d raised two kids of our own.

And then she gave us “The Rules.” Seriously. Here’s an excerpt from her manifesto.

“Food Rules:
1. Please hide your cookies and chips and candy.
2. If he’s thirsty, give him hot milk, heated to 110 degrees for one minute in the microwave, in his Mickey Mouse sippy cup.
3. When he’s hungry, pick one food from each category:

“Breakfast: Category 1:
a. Whole grain frozen waffles with cinnamon—cut into fourths. Put a piece in his hand and he might feed himself.
b. Peanut butter on whole wheat toast—cut into fourths—then feed him bites.
c. Sesame seed bagel with cream cheese—cut into fourths. He might feed himself but never has for me.

“Category 2: a. Precooked refrigerated bacon – two pieces. Microwave for a minute so it’s extra crispy and he won’t choke.
b. Precooked frozen sausage – two pieces. Microwave for 1 minute, cut into little bites, and feed him with a fork.
c. Bowl of dry cereal: Cheerios or Crispex (he calls them spikeys.)”

Lunch and dinner meals are even more complicated so I won’t go into those. Let’s move on to Bedtime.

“Bedtime: Give him warm milk at 7:30 and bring him into his bedroom. While he’s drinking it, change his diaper (standing up) and put him in his Lightning McQueen PJ’s. Then tell him to pick out a story. When you finish the last story, give him his ‘wu’ (blanket), pick him up, and go say goodnight to Benny and Roxy (cats) and everything in his room. Turn on the sound machine, select “Wind,” and turn the light off. Tell him that everyone (including Spiderman) is going to sleep. Get him his bat and his ball (they should be in his crib) and rub his back. Then say “Good night, Buddy” and “I love you,” walk out and close the door. If he cries, start the timer for three minutes. then go in and repeat the process. Do this at least three times before you give up.”

By then it’ll be time for some chocolate and a horror movie.


Anonymous Isabel Lau said...

So what did you really do that night?

I'm not sure what I would do with a set of "rules" like this but I am having fun imaging.

January 18, 2010 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger * lucky lisa * said...

This is the 1st time I read your blog. I like it. I learn something from your experience. I will keep reading. Thanks for sharing.

January 27, 2010 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

These rules are too funny. I'm sure I did something similar to my mom years ago when she first watched our kids. Now our eldest is engaged to be married, so I'm sure we'll be "getting ours" before too long. We don't seem to see the humor in our own overzealousness until we see it replayed in another mom :)

February 17, 2010 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Penny said...

Hi Isabel,
I know you and you'd break those rules in a flash!

February 20, 2010 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Penny said...

Hi Lisa,
Thanks for your comments. You'll have to share some of your own stories with me.

February 20, 2010 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Penny said...

Hi Lynn,
I think that "sense of humor" is the key to survival!

February 20, 2010 at 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Susan Adcox said...

This is too funny! I think my kids are still too happy to get away. They don't burden me with a lot of rules. But the only daughter of my only son always comes with enough luggage to cross the Atlantic. Her mom always packs sippy cups, apple juice, snacks, and enough "products" for a cover girl.

September 26, 2010 at 8:18 PM  

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