In Summary
  • A few weeks ago I had to babysit two very naughty small people, who woke up grumpy and moody that morning.
  • When my little niece woke up, feeding her was a one-hour war filled with pleading, begging, bribing and stern talk.
  • I was talked into allowing my nephew to take one ride after another, and face painting, and dealing with tantrums (the boy threw himself on the floor, in front of everyone, when I refused to buy him a toy), and buying a balloon.
  • Do you have feedback on this article? Please email: lifeandstyle@ke.nationmedia.com

My nieces and nephews are the most adorable little people I know. I know everyone finds their children adorable, and my nieces and nephews are no exception. They are ‘my children from another mother’.

I love picking them up from their parents on weekends and taking them out for a fun day and sometimes inviting them over, with their mothers, of course, for a weekend sleepover. They bring life to my house, make me happy and break the extreme silence in my neighbourhood. And my neighbours’ children get friends to play with.

Taking care of them when I’m with their parents is easy-peasy. If they become a handful, especially during family gatherings, their mothers and fathers naturally take over. And when I’m usually alone with them, babysitting for one sibling or the other, it is usually a maximum of two children at a time.

BABYSITTING

A few weeks ago I had to babysit two very naughty small people, who woke up grumpy and moody that morning.

The younger one cried for about 30 minutes when her mother left them in the house with me and she wouldn’t let me console her or even carry her – those were the longest 30 minutes in my life.

I watched her helplessly, then I began singing and dancing (which she usually likes), made funny faces, put on cartoons and nursery rhymes for her, but she wouldn’t budge.

I even tried to bribe her with fruits and juice, and she hit my plates, soaking me in a mix of mashed fruits and juice. I tried everything, and, frustrated, I sat down next to her trying to calm her down.

Her brother kept asking me “Mbona unasumbua mtoto wangu? (Why are you upsetting my child?)” And he took over, carried her and began patting her back and talking to her as only siblings do.

And she calmed down, sniffing quietly, and then she slept. And this four-year-old boy taught me very important lessons on parenting and being the ‘protector sibling’.

I wanted to take her to bed but the little boy said: “No. Leave her with me until she falls asleep completely. If you take her now she’ll wake up again.”

I stared at this wise young man, then went to change and take deep breaths of relief. I was just glad the noise had stopped and I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardise the peace that had descended on the house.

ON AND ON AND ON...

As I was still dilly-dallying in the bedroom and questioning my parenting skills, my nephew came in carrying the baby and told me to put her in her cot. I was horrified, thinking he would drop her and reached out quickly to take her from him “Pole pole aunty Salma, don’t wake her up,” he warned me, then turned around and went to put on “Paw Patrol”.

And that was not the end of things. My nephew was quite demanding that day, and he decided he did not like the breakfast I prepared and wanted something else, something I did not have in my house. Now where do you get his favourite breakfast cereals and sausages at 6.30am on a weekend when all supermarkets are still closed? No amount of coaxing and bribery changed his mind and he was adamant that that was what he wanted. So I told him I’d buy them later when the shops opened and he said: “Sitasahau (I won’t forget).” And I was scared, because, knowing him, I was sure he would ask me about my promise. The compromise was a glass of fresh juice, which he drank with delight, and a bowl of cornflakes, which he said did not taste good.

As we had breakfast and watched “Paw Patrol” on replay, he made me sing the theme song every time it came on. And he would rewind the cartoon so much…Why did we have to watch it over and over?

When he began playing with blocks on the floor, I changed the channel and was met with a strong warning against that. I switched the it back to “Paw Patrol”. Shortly afterwards I was asked to play “Incy Wincy Spider” and “The Numbers Song”.

When my little niece woke up, feeding her was a one-hour war filled with pleading, begging, bribing and stern talk, and another change of clothes. Then her brother decided he also wanted to be fed. So here I was, stuck feeding a ‘man’ who could feed himself and his sister also demanding attention because she suddenly wanted me all to herself.

The fruits eating session was full of drama and has left a permanent mark on my white carpet (who gets white carpets with children around?). I mopped yoghurt and juice off the floor so many times, tripped on toys, changed stinking diapers (what do we feed these children anyway?) and sang the same songs over and over again! Just so you know, you can hire me to sing nursery rhymes and other children’s songs…

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