When our three kids were preschoolers, there was no greater gift for Hannah and for me than when someone would babysit for us. As young parents, Hannah and I would have a regular Saturday morning breakfast date, often at Bill Johnson’s Big Apple in Phoenix, AZ. Throughout the week, we could look forward to our date; especially knowing we’d be awake and fresh enough to have a real conversation. Usually we were so tired by evenings, we couldn’t put two coherent sentences together.
So my/our gift tonight is babysitting Owen while his mom, Molly, and our son Will go out to dinner. As she leaves, Molly says, Call if you need to. We nod, but there is no way in God’s good green earth that we are going to interrupt their dinner. We are parenting veterans. We can handle an eight week old, be he content or be he crying as if he will never stop. Tonight Owen lies napping in his Baby Bjorn Bouncer at our feet while we watch our movie, I Bought a Zoo.
When he begins to wind himself up with blood curdling screams channeling his inner banshee (In Irish mythology, a banshee is a fairy woman who begins to wail if someone is about to die.), I offer my second gift of the day. This one is for Hannah. As she finishes the movie, I go to the far reaches of our house to soothe a disconsolate Owen. As he wails, he has no idea how relentless I can be. I’m not giving up; I just coo, Owen you’ll be okay. Papa’s here. As we stroll around the house, he arches his back and kicks his feet to his wailing symphony. Trying to break his crying cycle, I lay him on the bed. That doesn’t work, so I continue to rock him gently around the house. Little does he know that he is no match for me tonight even when he scrunches up his face making it as red as the clichéd beet. I am on a mission for Molly and for Hannah tonight. Fortunately after a while, I again lay him on the bed and rock him side to side, which soothes and calms him. When his mother arrives home, it will not be to a screaming Owen.