So this week I volunteered to help keep the children of my Bible study leaders. I am on the list but more the we-are-desperate-and-cannot-find-anyone list. This has absolutely nothing to do with the children, or the requirements for keeping them but solely based on my own fear.
My son was born in the peck-of-dirt years. Those halcyon days where the more dirt and grit a child consumed the more the moms believed their immune systems were strengthened. The antiseptic baby and prophylactic pup poem is probably the best way to describe this:
“The antiseptic baby and the prophylactic pup were playing in the garden when the bunny gamboled up. They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised — It wasn’t disinfected and it wasn’t sterilized…”
My first awakening to sanitation with babies was when my niece was born, 2003. I could not wait to hold this tiny precious child and as I happily reached for her a bottle of sanitizer was shoved at me. I took it and cleaned my hands, then held her, but the joy was most guarded.
Anyway, here we are in this classroom. Five toddlers and one 10-week-old infant. There are cardboard blocks, a small wooden train set, a couple of bins with soft dolls and plastic baby dolls.
The inmates were definitely in charge of this ward.
The lady working with me was (thankfully) a grandmother. She had more recent experience than I. Her grandchildren live close by so little people didn’t frighten her at all.
Let me say right at the start, like horses, babies can sense fear. And react in different ways. They may cry, fearing a lack of control so total that they are suddenly plunged into an emotional abyss rather than cozy boundaries of lovingly murmured “Good jobs” or “no, no, we mustn’t hit our friends on the head with hammers…”
Alternatively they may simply run with it. WooHOO, no restrictions, let’s see how far I can push the envelope! The rest fall somewhere in the middle. So we had one little one who would absolutely not remove the little backpack calling for his mama, another wide open throwing toys, kicking those cardboard blocks, whooping it up, and 3 in the nirvana middle.
After an hour or so of unstructured play we sat everyone down for snack. Couldn’t remember whose bag was whose so we had random drinks, cookies, crackers, spilled water, wet napkins, cries for more. We tried to take a walk but 2 could not walk well (this 10-week-old baby) and the little one whose head got bonked with the plastic hammer.
As luck would have it there were some workmen who were making some sort of repairs which was far more interesting than our large-muscle exercises and walk up and down the hallway. So we one-handedly managed to corral everyone back to the room, until one got loose, saw one of the leaders also out in the hallway which reminded him of mama. Thus began the tears again. So we broke out the cookies –somebody’s cookies– and the magic once again settled in the room. An attempt to have a rest time was an utter fail, so the baby-whisperer grandmother suddenly had those ambulatory ones marching single file around the snack table. Pied Piper of babies. I hustled around the room replacing toys, stacking those cardboard blocks, putting the soft toys back in their bins in the cabinet and replacing the train cars on the tracks. So like “The Cat in the Hat”, all order to the room was restored when the big people returned and moms came to collect their children.
By some miracle.
Poem: “Strictly Germproof”, by Arthur Guiterman