MIND­ING THE BABY

NEW GRAND­MOTHER KIM CAR­ILLO WAS THRILLED TO BE ASKED TO LOOK AF­TER GRAND­SON HARVEY, BUT THEN THE IN­STRUC­TIONS BE­GAN TO AR­RIVE…

Woman & Home - - Contents -

NEW GRAND­MOTHER KIM CAR­ILLO IS KEPT BUSY PRE­PAR­ING FOR HER GRAND­SON’S FIRST OVERNIGHT STAY

I’D JUST BE­COME A GRAND­MOTHER FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND A FEW WEEKS AF­TER THE BABY’S BIRTH I WAS THRILLED WHEN MY DAUGH­TER, CATHER­INE, ASKED IF WE COULD HAVE LIT­TLE HARVEY FOR A SLEEPOVER.

THE QUES­TION WAS, WERE WE EQUIPPED FOR THE TASK? MY HUS­BAND CHAR­LIE AND

I ARE STRONG AND HEALTHY GRANDPARENTS, BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEAN BY EQUIPPED. I’M RE­FER­RING TO AC­TUAL EQUIP­MENT – THE LIKES OF WHICH I’D NEVER DREAMED POS­SI­BLE WHEN MY OWN CHIL­DREN WERE BORN!

THE MORN­ING OF THE SLEEPOVER WAS BRISK AS WE WERE BOM­BARDED WITH AMA­ZON PRIME DE­LIV­ER­IES OF BABY EQUIP­MENT COUR­TESY OF MY DAUGH­TER.

“JUST SOME BITS AND PIECES YOU’LL NEED FOR HIS OVERNIGHT STAY,” CATHER­INE IN­FORMED ME.

BY MID­DAY MY KITCHEN WAS JAMMED TIGHT WITH CARDBOARD BOXES CON­TAIN­ING ALL SORTS OF BABY GAD­GETS, MUCH TO MY HUS­BAND’S HOR­ROR.

“HOW LONG IS HE STAY­ING FOR?” HE ASKED ANXIOUSLY. AND SO

THE UNPACKING BE­GAN.

FIRST UP WAS A BOTTLEMAKING DE­VICE THAT WOULDN’T HAVE LOOKED OUT OF PLACE IN MY LO­CAL BRANCH OF

COSTA COF­FEE, PROMIS­ING PER­FECTLY PRE­PARED FOR­MULA BOT­TLES AT THE PRESS OF A BUT­TON. I WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN SUR­PRISED IF IT HAD OF­FERED A CAPPUCCINO OP­TION!

NEXT CAME A MICROWAVABLE STERILISING KIT, A COU­PLE OF GLOW-IN-THEDARK DUMMIES, A POD IN WHICH MY

By mid­day my kitchen was jammed with boxes

GRAND­SON LIKES TO SLEEP (WHAT­EVER HAP­PENED TO THE GOOD OLD MOSES BAS­KET?), AND A STRANGE-LOOK­ING SHEEP THAT GLOWS IN THE DARK WHILE PLAY­ING A LUL­LABY WITH A WEIRD NOISE IN THE BACK­GROUND… “YOU’D THINK FOR THE

PRICE THE MU­SIC WOULDN’T HAVE THAT ME­CHAN­I­CAL DRONE,” CHAR­LIE QUIPPED. TURNS OUT THE DRONE HE WAS RE­FER­RING TO IS A HIGH TECH SIM­U­LA­TION OF SOUNDS IN­SIDE THE WOMB.

WHILE CHAR­LIE MADE A START ON THE GI­ANT RE­CY­CLING PILE, IT DAWNED ON ME THAT WE HAD TO PUT THIS STUFF TO­GETHER US­ING IN­STRUC­TIONS TYPED IN PRINT SO SMALL THAT WE HAD TROU­BLE READ­ING THEM EVEN IN OUR MOST POW­ER­FUL GLASSES.

TIME WAS FLY­ING PAST AS WE HUR­RIED TO CON­STRUCT THEN INI­TI­ATE DRY RUNS TO EN­SURE EV­ERY­THING WAS PREPPED AND OP­ER­A­TIONAL. BY THIS STAGE MY KITCHEN WORKTOPS RE­SEM­BLED A HIGH-TECH SCI­ENCE LAB­O­RA­TORY.

MY DAUGH­TER HAD DROPPED OFF A FEW MORE ES­SEN­TIALS. A PRAM THAT UNFOLDED WITH THE GEN­TLE PRESS OF A SIN­GLE

BUT­TON SOUNDED STRAIGHT­FOR­WARD;

IF ONLY WE COULD FIND SAID BUT­TON.

A RE­FLUX WEDGE THAT RE­SEM­BLED A PIECE OF EQUIP­MENT AT MY GYM AND A VIDEO/SOUND BABY MON­I­TOR STREAM­ING LIVE UN­TIL WE LOST THE CON­NEC­TION (OB­VI­OUSLY WE HAD NO IDEA HOW TO GET IT BACK!). IN ANY CASE, THE ONLY THING I COULD HEAR CLEARLY VIA THE MON­I­TOR

WAS CHAR­LIE IN THE AD­JOIN­ING LOO.

WITH HARVEY’S DROP-OFF IM­MI­NENT, MY STRESS LEV­ELS WERE OFF THE CHART

BUT JUST AS I COULD SEE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUN­NEL, I HAD AN­OTHER CALL FROM MY DAUGH­TER.

“DON’T FOR­GET TO DOWN­LOAD THE WHITE NOISE APP!” SHE SAID. “HARVEY LIKES THE HAIRDRYER OP­TION.”

I HAD NO IDEA WHAT THIS MEANT

BUT PLAYED ALONG, WHILE MEN­TALLY AC­KNOWL­EDG­ING THAT WE MIGHT BE IN SE­RI­OUS TROU­BLE.

BUT THE KILLER WAS THE CAR SEAT, WHICH LOOKED LIKE IT HAD BEEN IS­SUED BY NASA. CATHER­INE HAD GIVEN US A CRASH COURSE EAR­LIER DUR­ING WHICH WE NODDED AND PRE­TENDED TO KNOW WHAT THE HECK SHE WAS TALK­ING ABOUT BUT NOW I WAS FLY­ING SOLO, I RE­ALISED I DIDN’T RE­MEM­BER ANY OF IT.

I LOW­ERED A WRIGGLING HARVEY INTO PO­SI­TION AND BE­GAN THE VERY ELAB­O­RATE STRAPPING-IN PROCESS, WHICH WENT SUR­PRIS­INGLY SMOOTHLY UN­TIL I RE­ALISED I HAD ONE OF HIS ARMS WHERE HIS LEG SHOULD BE. IT WAS AN EASY FIX SO, FEEL­ING SLIGHTLY CALMER, I AN­NOUNCED TO MY HUS­BAND, “OK, HE’S STRAPPED IN, NOW ALL WE NEED TO DO IS SPIN THE SEAT ROUND TO FACE THE BACK.” THEN IT DAWNED ON ME. I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT. JUDG­ING BY MY HUS­BAND’S FACE HE DIDN’T HAVE A CLUE EI­THER.

AF­TER ABOUT 20 MIN­UTES FUMBLING AROUND, WITH HARVEY BE­COM­ING IN­CREAS­INGLY AG­I­TATED AT THE LACK OF AC­TION, I WAS FEEL­ING SWEATY AND DES­PER­ATE, SO I FOLDED AND CALLED CATHER­INE.

AS THE SEAT LOCKED INTO ITS NEW PO­SI­TION MY GRAND­SON WAS NOW TILTED AT THE KIND OF AN­GLE IN WHICH I IMAG­INE AS­TRO­NAUTS FIND THEM­SELVES PRIOR TO A MOON LAUNCH. HE DIDN’T SEEM TO HATE IT

SO OFF WE WENT.

LATER, BY THE TIME HARVEY HAD FIN­ISHED HIS MID­NIGHT FEED WE WERE FAD­ING FAST BUT HE SEEMED TO HAVE A SE­COND WIND.

“I’LL TRY THE WHITE NOISE APP,” CHAR­LIE SUG­GESTED HOPE­FULLY.

“USE THE HAIRDRYER SET­TING!” I YELLED, WON­DER­ING WHETHER WE HAD FI­NALLY LOST OUR MINDS.

I WENT AHEAD TO SET UP THE AL­LIMPOR­TANT POD, WHICH WAS TO BE PLACED BE­TWEEN CHAR­LIE AND ME. FOR­TU­NATELY, WE HAVE A SU­PER KING-SIZE BED SO WE COULD ALL JUST ABOUT FIT IN. ARMED WITH THE MU­SI­CAL SHEEP, THE GLOW-IN-THEDARK DUMMIES, THE RE­FLUX WEDGE AND THE HEATED POD WARMER, ALL I NEEDED NOW WAS HARVEY SO THAT WE COULD FI­NALLY GET SOME SLEEP.

AF­TER 20 MIN­UTES AND WITH STILL NO SIGN OF THE BOYS I HEADED BACK DOWNSTAIRS TO DIS­COVER CHAR­LIE, HARVEY AND BAI­LEY THE LABRADOR SNORING AWAY ON THE COUCH, THE HAIRDRYER APP DRONING AWAY ON MAX­I­MUM, ALL LIGHTS BLAZ­ING.

THE TRUTH IS, HARVEY WAS AN

AB­SO­LUTE JOY BUT BY THE TIME HIS

PAR­ENTS PICKED HIM UP THE FOL­LOW­ING DAY WE WERE EX­HAUSTED WRECKS! THE LACK OF SLEEP WAS THE EASY PART, IT WAS THE CRASH COURSE IN ME­CHAN­ICS THAT

HAD MY ADRENALS PUMP­ING.

AS THE KIDS DROVE OFF, HARVEY AT

HIS USUAL 45-DE­GREE AN­GLE READY FOR LAUNCH, IT DAWNED ON US THAT WE NOW HAD TO DECONSTRUCT EV­ERY­THING AND STORE IT IN READI­NESS FOR HARVEY’S

NEXT SLEEPOVER.

MY DAUGH­TER’S OLD BED­ROOM IS

STILL JAMMED TO CA­PAC­ITY WITH HER BE­LONG­INGS DE­SPITE HAV­ING MOVED

OUT THREE YEARS AGO, BUT WE NOW HAVE ENOUGH EQUIP­MENT TO OPEN UP OUR

OWN BRANCH OF MOTHERCARE.

WE HAD BEEN DIS­CUSSING

DOWN­SIZ­ING BUT, THINK­ING ABOUT IT, WE’RE GO­ING TO NEED AN EX­TEN­SION! W&H

The fol­low­ing day we were ex­hausted wrecks

KIM WAS KEPT BUSY PRE­PAR­ING FOR HER GRAND­SON’S FIRST OVERNIGHT STAY

CHAR­LIE AND

KIM WITH THEIR GRAND­SON HARVEY

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