They say there are people who just love babies. They are so sad when those babies grow up.
So…can I give you one?
I am referring to Princess Terror. My fifth grandchild and only granddaughter.
She doesn’t look like a terror. She has this kind of cock-eyed beauty. She smiles. She coos. In fact, she makes an astonishing variety of sounds. And they’re interactive. She’s just 5 months, but it feels like she is having a conversation with you. Yeah. She’s adorable. She melts hearts.
Until you get her alone.
We volunteered to babysit. It was only for an hour or so, and when her parents bought her over, she was asleep in her car seat. They look so precious when they’re sleeping.
Her mother left us with breast milk in a bottle, and some oatmeal cereal.
“Try the bottle first, and, if that doesn’t work, do the oatmeal and milk in a 5 to 1 ratio.”
It sounded like everything was under control.
For the first half hour, I happily played FreeCell while my husband cooked blueberry muffins with the toddler. All was well.
Then, my adorable granddaughter woke up. She smiled at me, and I quickly got her out of the carseat. I put her on the rug for a second, while I got out a clean sheet for her to lie on and a number of toys. She’s not crawling yet, but she turns over, and grabs for anything and everything within sight.
“She’s not hungry the minute she wakes up,” my daughter had cautioned us.
She was happy. Her toddler brother left Grandpa, came in, and handed her toys. They were adorable.
I was happy. I played FreeCell, and checked Facebook. ‘Alright. I thought. Piece of cake.’
I watched her carefully. It’s important to pick them up before they start to get upset. (I have babysat before.) So when she fussed, I swung into action. I changed her diaper. Once alerted, Grandpa readied the bottle and prepared a 5-to-1 oatmeal slurry.
It seemed to be going well.
I held her, and tried to introduce the bottle in a playful way. I let her grab at it. I put it on her cheek. I smiled. And…for a minute, it seemed to be working! We have given her a bottle before. She used to take it.
But this time, she cried and spit it out.
I tried some more. Then, a little more frantic, I went into full creepster mode.
“C’mon girl…I know you want it.”
No. She didn’t. She cried, arched her back, and spit.
OK. OK. Next I tried the oatmeal slurry. I gave her one spoon to hold and took another. I tapped her lips. I smiled. I slipped a little milk slurry into her mouth.
Isn’t there is a scene in The Exorcist when the child turns her head around in a complete circle and projectile vomits? This went somewhat like that.
“OK. OK. Lily.” I said, very calmly. “Let’s try a re-set. I realize that you are currently a bit too hysterical to eat right now. Let’s walk some.”
Her other grandmother is the brilliant inventor of the baby footfall hold. In this hold, my granddaughter’s head sits in the crook of my elbow, and my arm goes through her stomach and legs, supporting her belly. She normally likes that. So I walked around the house a few times, and thought positive thoughts… ‘my doctor did tell me to get more aerobic exercise…’
“Do you want me to try?” my husband asked.
“Oh yes,” I answered. “Yes.”
He was the one who used to be able to get her older brother to take a bottle.
But he just repeated the same sequence, with no better results.
“She doesn’t have a dirty diaper.” I analyzed. “And she’s not tired, because she just woke up.”
I took her outside. Fresh air sometimes does wonders, they say. And it worked. For a second. I walked around the yard. I stopped at a tree, and let her grab at leaves. This too, worked. For a second. I let her grab at the fence. And a flower. I put her feet in water. This all stopped the wailing. For a second.
“I’ll put her in the carseat and drive her around,” my husband offered.
“Call Tracy first,” I muttered, clearly admitting defeat.
As it turned out, my daughter was only 10 minutes away. So, I kept walking, and shut my ears as Lily wailed. I try to keep a tight grip on her as she arches her back. I frantically repressed memories of when her head twists in a circle, her eyes turn beet red, and she vomits fire.
“Please Tracy…please…get here soon…” I prayed, clutching my holy water…
After approximately 100 years, my daughter sauntered in and picked up the baby.
Princess Terror immediately calmed down, just hiccuping once or twice. For effect, I think. My daughter sat down, curled up on the couch, and puts the baby to the breast.
“She is giving me slant-eyes…” my daughter commented.
“I’m sorry…baby…” she cooed plaintively. (Not to me, of course. To Princess Terror.)
I then have an uncharacteristic moment of honesty.
“She’s the worst,” I yelled. “She’s the worst of a bad bunch. Worse than her brothers…She’s…she’s… Princess Terror.” I’m a bit worked up.
And then, suddenly, everything changes. The baby turned all innocence and smiles. She cooed. She wriggled. She’s once again the most charming creature on earth.
“I don’t know what your problem is…” my daughter sniffed. “I had her all last week camping and she never cried once….Did she?” my daughter rhetorically asked the girl’s brothers. “Did you hear Lily cry once? Once? In that whole week?”
“No.” they declared loyally. “No.”
I know what they say. I know they’re only a baby for a short time. I know how good their head smells. I know I should treasure every second.
But. Really? Really?
Anybody want to borrow Princess Terror for a couple of months? She can be really charming…honest…