Gigi’s Adventures in Babysitting

So I was coming from the psychic town of Cassadaga, when I called my daughter-in-law to check in on baby Luke, who had a fever. He ended up in the hospital a couple days before with a fever and, on top of that, they got a report back from a Mold Inspector that their house had TWO KINDS of toxic mold and they had to move out IMMEDIATELY. And this all happened on their wedding anniversary! They stayed with friends for the night.

“A.J. volunteered to help us move, but unfortunately Phoenix has Hand, Foot and Mouth disease,” Courtney said.

“What?” I asked, incredulously.

A.J. and Justin were going to a family wedding and had asked me to babysit the whole weekend, but since I already had the trip to Cassadaga planned on Friday, I told her I would come on Saturday. Saint Augustine was an hour away. A babysitter was with them before I got there, but A.J. had neglected to tell me Phoenix had Hand, Foot and Mouth. She just said he “had a little virus he picked up at school.”

There was no turning back at that point, but I’d gotten sick (from Zeke) in Boston and then in Tallahassee, Chris and Courtney were both sick and I got sicker. Looking back on it, I slept in Liam’s room where the mold was the worst, so maybe it was the mold that caused my headache and breathing issues. At any rate, I was sick of being sick, much less arriving at a home with more sickness in store.

I picked up two Happy Meals at McDonalds, because it was lunchtime and headed to A.J.’s house. I got greeted by Wyatt and Phoenix running to me, screaming “Gigi!” and giving me a big hug. Phoenix had little red dots all over his face and goo coming out of his nose. I proudly presented the two yellow and red boxes with the arched handles, only to be told by Wyatt “We just had those.” The babysitter had gotten them Happy Meals, which Phoenix was still eating. So, fail. I ate a Kid’s Hamburger from one of the meals. It was lousy and the fries were cold.

I brought them presents- a coloring book for Phoenix with 4 crayons from my bank and a rope bracelet kit for Wyatt, from Mystic, Connecticut. The babysitter Mia left, putting the car seat in the back seat of my car. Phoenix started coloring on the floor, Wyatt was on his I-pad on the couch and I let the dog (Mera) in. Personally, I think it’s a lot to just babysit two grandchildren, but adding a rambunctious Labrador puppy to the mix? A bit of overkill.

The crayons suddenly disappeared, with remnants of paper left behind.

“Did the dog eat the crayons? I think the dog ate the crayons,” I said, panicking.

“Don’t worry,” said Wyatt calmly, “she’s eaten a lot worse things.”

I asked what we could do, since I didn’t want to be stuck in the house all day (although driving somewhere seemed a bridge too far) and Wyatt suggested going to climb a tree nearby. So, we set out- Wyatt on his scooter, Phoenix on his bike (that seems too big for him)- to a huge tree a couple blocks away. Phoenix had a hard time pedaling, so I tried to help him, but Wyatt was whizzing away and I worried about cars coming and told Wyatt to watch out.

We got to the tree, they climbed it and once Phoenix got up there, he spontaneously jumped into my arms, laughing. He does this without warning and without making sure you are looking- from trees, kitchen counters and couches. It is very dangerous; he has no fear. I had a mini heart attack but Wyatt desperately needed to use the bathroom. I told him to pee in the bushes but it was #2, so off he went on his scooter and off we went with Phoenix on his bike and me desperately trying to keep up with Wyatt.

I could no longer see Wyatt after he turned down his street and I was panicking. “What if someone kidnaps him? What if he gets hit by a car? What if…?” No matter, that when I was a child we could take off all day on our bikes and be home by dinner without any supervision whatsoever. But times are different. And being a Gigi is different than being a parent.

Luckily, his scooter was in the garage when we arrived and he was inside, safe and sound. Phoenix (thank you God) took a nap and Wyatt and I played a fun game called Jumanji. I miss the one-on-one time with Wyatt, because it’s impossible to focus on anything but Phoenix when I watch the two of them.

I gave them baths and contemplated dinner. When I asked A.J. what she had for me to eat for dinner, she said: lentils, turkey slices and frozen pizza. The frozen pizza seemed like our best bet, but when I opened the freezer it was a Publix vegetable pizza. There’s not much of anything sadder than a Publix vegetable pizza for dinner. Unless it’s lentils or turkey slices, so (at Wyatt’s suggestion) we ordered Papa John’s Stuffed Crust Cheese Pizza. It was good.

Dessert was a couple pieces of Halloween candy, but I definitely didn’t want them to eat too much because sugar + kids = chaos. UM lost to FSU but we couldn’t watch the game because I couldn’t figure out the TV and A.J. and Justin were at their wedding so couldn’t explain it to me. We watched Elf on my computer instead. It’s a little early for Christmas movies, but what the heck. Desperate times…

Wyatt wanted Hot Chocolate to drink while watching Elf, but when I opened the pantry, there was no Swiss Miss or the like. There was Hershey’s Cocoa, so I attempted to make hot chocolate with the little bit of milk remaining and something called coconut sugar (which I’ve never heard of).

“This is really strong,” said Wyatt.

It was, but what’s a Gigi to do? I added some water to it and we watched Elf. Phoenix didn’t seem too interested in it and then, exhausted, we went to bed. At least, I was exhausted. I read Phoenix a couple books and then we slept, with Wyatt at one end, me at the other and Phoenix lying between us, making a giant H in the bed. Phoenix coughed all night and I wondered how Hand, Foot and Mouth disease would present in adults. I had a lousy night’s sleep.

Woke up, tried to take a shower in A.J.’s bedroom but had a hard time figuring it out. Hot, cold, bath, shower? There was no soap, only body wash. What do people have against soap these days? I like soap. And I longed for my own shower with soap, my own coffee maker I know how to use, regular sugar, homemade meals, my own bed and my own TV. Even though I can’t always figure out our TV, I have Zeke at home to help me.

When the babysitter arrived to relieve me at 10 a.m., I took out of there like a bat out of hell. So quick, in fact, I left with Phoenix’s car seat in the back seat of my car. I’d never used it and totally forgot it was there. Oh well. So goes Gigi’s Adventure’s in Babysitting. Wyatt asked when the next Gigi Camp would be. I told him maybe we would do a Winter Edition, but we’ll see. I need to regain my strength first.

Up Next: Eating House

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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