I had kids last night. My sister and her husband just celebrated their 17th anniversary (17!), and so I spent the night at her house with her four boys while the two of them when up to Snowbird. I've tended Zac, Josh and Jonah overnight several times now, but this was my first long term commitment to their five month old baby William. I was excited and nervous and a little frazzled all at once.
Turns out, having a baby is a snap. I don't know what all you women are complaining about. Of course I'm kidding. It's a little trickier than it looks. He was a very good boy, not fussy, pretty easy-going, cute as can be, and lots of fun to play with. But when it came time for bed, things got a little bit difficult. Marla showed me the entire procedure to exactness before she left, but when I tried to put it into play myself, William didn't respond the way I'd expected. Apparently he hadn't read the script. He cried his little heart out. And then he screamed. So, I picked him up, wiped tears, gave kisses, whispered "shhhh" while rocking back and forth, and then tried it again. More screaming. I remembered all I had heard about letting a baby cry it out and go to sleep, so I tried to wait before picking him up again, but he was making it pretty clear that he wasn't going to go to sleep. So, we went back to the living room, where I held him and tried to comfort him to the best of my never-practiced abilities. At this point, I was mentally preparing myself for a full night of walking the floor with him. After a while, I decided to try the swing. He went right to sleep. "Huh" I thought, "So that's what he wanted." After letting him sleep for maybe ten minutes, I thought I might try to gently carry him to his room and lay him in his bed, where he would sleep peacefully for the night. I immediately regretted that decision. We didn't make it down the hallway before he was crying.
In the mean time, a local event of some sort was shooting off fireworks. So Zac, Jonah and I, with William, went out into the street to watch. The poor baby was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open. He looked drugged (I promise you I did not drug the baby). After going inside, I decided to try the bed again. This time he went right down. He wiggled and sighed and jabbered a bit, but no crying, and soon fell asleep. Fantastic! I guess he just needed to be ready on his own terms. Who knew a baby had terms? He was suppose to go down at 9:00. He went down at 10:30. An hour and half late isn't so bad, is it?
He woke up and asked for a little attention at 1:30, 4:30 and 7:00 am. I slept in the same room so that I could be right there when he squirmed. He had a little bit of a bottle, and then went back to sleep. Each time he woke up, it was about fifteen minutes worth of care before he was asleep again. Not bad. It took me longer, though, to go to sleep again, which meant that by the time I was finally dreaming, he was awake. Oh well. One sleepless night won't kill me.
The next morning, after some cuddles, a clean diaper, breakfast and a little bit of play time, he took a two hour nap in his swing, which I'm told is something he never does. I guess dealing with the new girl's incompetence was exhausting for him.
That afternoon I drove all four boys up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Brighton, and we spent some time at Silver Lake (side note - I've noticed that there are maybe 1500 Silver Lakes in the area...?). It's beautiful up there, and relaxing. Jonah had bread to feed the ducks. Zac and Josh just walked with us, and did a good job of helping me take care of the little ones. Those two really are good with their younger brothers. Surprisingly good. In fact, Josh, who's only 11, gave a lot of attention to William during our walk. Every time he made a noise from inside the cocoon that is the covering over his stroller, Josh was right there to see what was wrong. Very sweet.
In spite of my long night, I really loved spending the time with them. They're great kids. It's always hard to come home after a weekend with the boys. Although, I have to admit that I am looking forward to going to bed early tonight. I'm sure William is too, now that he has his mom back again.
Kudos to all of you who do this every day. You have my compliments and deepest respect!