Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Health Baby Mea Culpa

I failed as a Health Baby grandma! My son earned a 97% for the time he spent watching the “baby” (with only one small mistake), but during my short stint babysitting, I managed to almost kill the kid. On the time-stamped computer printout, I was busted for letting the baby’s head snap back three times, missing a diaper change, and even neglecting to feed the little guy within the four-minute window.

How did my own boys survive me?

Truthfully, I feel terrible, but not for little JaKobe, who I think should learn to be a little more patient on the diaper change thing. My real kids had to man up and tough it out on occasion while I navigated the slalom course of our life to get to the source of their discomfort. But I do feel terrible for my real son, who slumps and slouches through the day at school to mask the fact that he is, in fact, proud of his straight-A average (which is now in serious jeopardy). If he had a timed computer printout gauging my performance, it would have shown a major downward blip right about sixth period as he received his Health Baby report.

You see, I made him go to his refereeing gigs that day. I insisted that he leave the “baby” with me (“I parented two kids of my own! I can handle a doll… jeeez!”). It’s his first job, and I thought that canceling on his employers because of the Health Baby set a bad precedent. And really, how many dads can just quit their jobs because having a baby at home is too hard? (Thoughts on paternity leave would make an interesting future post, though…)

And then I blew it as the Health Baby’s grandma. Damn. I really thought parenting imaginary kids was one of my fortes. Little Jessica and Jennifer, my imaginary twins (whom I named back in 6th grade) are doing splendidly. They never fight, they keep their rooms clean, and they have never once told me “I hate you”, no matter how badly I screwed up. [Sigh] Imaginary kids are so sweet!

Back in reality, my other real-life kid spent the weekend moaning on the couch with a 102º fever. I cooled his brow, brought him juice and Tylenol, and—in the moments when he felt a little better—played cribbage and battleship on a TV tray by his sickbed. I read him stories and gave him hugs, and when he was finally feeling better last night, he gave me a big squeeze and said, “You are the best mom in the world. Thank you for taking such good care of me while I was sick.”

I guess I’m one for two for the weekend. That’s not so bad, really. But I wouldn’t ask me to babysit your baby any time soon if I were you.

* Update: I went to conferences yesterday (arena-style at the middle school), and every parent I ran into already knew the sad story of my failure as a doll-watcher. You could see the reproachful chuckle in their eyes. My conference with the health teacher started with, "So... the baby..." I'm infamous for my ineptitude as a pretend baby-grandma. Jeez.

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