This morning we took care of our friends' four-month-old daughter, Teagan, for 2.5 hours. Neither of us had ever been in charge of such a wee one before: Chris has very little babysitting experience, and although I've done a lot it was (a) a long time ago and (b) usually when the kids were at least old enough to be eating foods, not drinking from bottle/breast. So it was a new experience for both of us. I have been around my nephews when they were that wee, of course, but their mom was usually around as backup as well.
We did pretty darn good. I learned that I am calm even when she fusses repeatedly - I remember my sister commenting that I was much calmer with her second son than I was with her first, as if the intervening years had taught me the valuable lesson that sometimes they're just going to fuss, and there's little to nothing you can do about it. When my older nephew was that age, I feared that his fussiness meant I was doing something wrong, and I would nearly always hand him back to his mom to "fix" it. But that lesson is now firmly in place, as well as the confidence that comes with it. I was willing to try different things to soothe her, even trying something that didn't work a few minutes ago, knowing that there weren't really going to be disastrous consequences; the worst that would happen is the soothing wouldn't work, which would just prompt me to try something else.
It was a fun and positive experience to jumpstart our parenting experience, and I know we'll be called upon again to help out our friends. They're even keeping track of the hours so we can trade child care back and forth when it's our turn, which is very appreciated.
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