Baby care for dummies
Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2009 7:24 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
I forgot how to take care of babies. I forgot it all. How do you warm the bottle? How do you install the car seat? What do you do when the baby cries? Yes, I took care of both our boys when they were babies. Yes, I knew how to keep them reasonably maintained. But it’s as though it’s all a terrible blur and I find myself needing a book called, “Baby Care for Dummies.”
It started when a dear friend had a terrible health crisis. Without thinking, I volunteered to come care for the baby. I should have gone ahead and volunteered to teach calculus at the University of Tennessee at Martin or model swimsuits in “Vogue.” What about taking over for the head chef at a French restaurant? I was clearly in over my head.
One of the biggest problems is that babies now come with about 500 pounds of gear that I don’t understand. Every year they make new and innovative “discoveries” of things that babies need. Whatever it is that babies need today, I promise they will “need” something else in less than a year. One of the newest innovations is the baby wipe warmer. Yes, I said baby wipe warmer. It’s a battery-operated machine that warms the baby wipes. I didn’t realize that the frigid, hypothermia-inducing baby wipes would physically and psychologically harm a small child. When my boys were babies I didn’t have a baby wipe warmer. They lived. Sometimes they even seemed happy. A grave mystery.
Of course, the biggest obstacle of all came when I needed to go to the pharmacy to retrieve some medicine for my friend. The baby would be taking a trip with me in the car. Even though it wasn’t a long trip, I had to have a bottle, diapers, pacifier, spit up cloth (I prayed I wouldn’t need that one) and socks. I don’t know why I needed socks. I fear it had something to do with the spit up cloth. But none of those things were my biggest obstacle in getting out the door. The biggest obstacle was clearly the 95-pound car seat. Now I know why God didn’t give this 45-year old limping woman an infant. I was clearly past the expiration date on being able to maneuver the car seat. When I got to my car, I had to decide how to install the car seat. Was it to face the front or the back? I read the instructions on the side of the seat carefully. I pulled the baby out of the car seat to try to determine her weight. I tugged at the seat belts and adjusted until I had made my little passenger quite unhappy. Babies are like dogs in that they can smell fear. At the pharmacy, I accidentally knocked into a shelf full of potato chips with the 95-pound car seat. The chips fell to the ground but the baby found the collision amusing rather than distressing. I felt proud that I had provided a mini-Six Flags experience for my small charge. Maybe I wasn’t so bad after all.
At the end of my adventure in babysitting, I patted myself on the back. The baby was sleeping peacefully. The baby wipes were warm and toasty. The car seat had built my right bicep into a thing of body-building splendor. What’s that? Am I ready to actually parent a new little one? Are you kidding? I don’t even own a baby wipe warmer.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 8.26.09
Lisa Smartt, The Smartt View