Adventures in Babysitting

Concentric circles of irony frost the universe, like the coils in your fridge.

Irony would be the Dalai Lama marrying for money, not love. Irony would be Hugh Hefner marrying the Dalai Lama.

And irony is me babysitting my granddaughter while taking parenting tips from the two daughters I raised from birth…changed, fed, washed, wiped, combed, dressed, lullabied, coached, scolded, financed, entertained and – most of all – taught to walk, talk, swim, ski, snorkel and tell a joke in tense situations.

Taught them how to drill a penalty kick, finesse a 5-iron, the right way to flip a flapjack…a million things a dad does without acknowledgement.

And now they are teaching me how to babysit my cherub-faced granddaughter, the one I call Catty Cakes. The one they dress like Pippi Longstocking.

This lack of faith comes with the territory, of course. Kids never trust their parents about parenting. I mean, who knows you better?

Plus, parenting is ever evolving – lousy now with apps and gadgets and new ideas about exactly when bacteria colonizes the baby’s intestines.

Boomer alert!!!

When I was a young dad, the only gadgets we had were Peter Pan night lights. You flicked on the nightlight, shut the door. Now, there is all this CIA equipment – nanny cams with motion-activated sensors. My lovely and patient older daughter even has high-powered drones.

That is how, when I babysit Cakes, my daughters monitor me from the living room while I serenade my granddaughter with Irish war songs, and give her a bottle of milk, while her little head rests in the crook of my arm.

Is there anything better?

Have to admit I do a pretty fair job. Of course, having raised four kids, I put babies to bed hundreds of times.

On this night, I kiss her milky chin and put Cakes in her crib. She lays her chestnut curls on the pillow, does a quick spin move so she’s on her tummy, thrusts her butt in the air and gently goes to sleep with a pacifier in her mouth and one in each hand, a family tradition.

In a way, it explains my fondness for Blanton’s Single Barrel.

Anyway, as I come down the stairs, triumphant after my inaugural put-Cakes-to-bed moment, a small grand jury awaits: Rapunzel and her fiancé (Uncle Truck), and Suzanne (the silver cloud), who has been brought in as additional backup, presumably because she has fostered some 70 infants, in addition to raising three kids of her own. The lovely and patient older daughter is still there too, as is father Finn – they haven’t yet left for dinner.

So, basically there are five people critiquing my performance, as I put one 15-month-old down for the night.

“Just one note, Dad,” Rapunzel says.

“Wow, just one?”

“You need to use your indoor voice,” she says.

I explain that I don’t really have an “indoor voice.” I came of age during REO Speedwagon concerts at Illinois county fairs, and my ears are pretty mushy. All I can really hear anymore is the blood pumping behind my eyes when my children offer parenting advice.

My hearing suffers too, from all the ballgames I’ve attended as a quasi sportswriter. Stadiums now pipe in music so loud that it singes the vellus hair in your ears and nose. You can’t have a decent conversation, can’t argue the merits of Ferguson Jenkins vs. Bob Gibson, a tenuous stance in the best of times (though, as you know, Jenkins was 5-3 in their head-to-head matchups).

Instead of talking, you just sit there nursing your $14 beer and losing your mind, as the whole world gets noisier and noisier – sports, concerts, talk shows.

As I lose my hearing, the world gets louder.

So, that’s my report on the dubious intersection of fatherhood, irony and babysitting. I’m hoping this might lead to future babysitting gigs. And future irony.

Sorry, I don’t have a website or even much of a resume. I just raised four kids, that’s all, and probably saved two of them from some sort of lethal situation – one when he choked on a hazelnut, the other when the little dude put his fingers in the cocker spaniel (not the front end, either).

Somehow I saved them both.

And now, for the same 50 cents per hour I charged in 1971, plus any cold beers I can sneak from the ice box, I am back on LA’s demanding baby-sitting circuit.

FYI, Saturday slots are filling fast.

The Gin & Tonic Society of Greater Los Angeles is still gunning for a Sept. 3 bash in the hills above the Rose Bowl. Please keep your calendars clear and your hearts pure as we approach this important event. Don’t RSVP yet – I don’t have that kind of memory. In fact, yesterday, I accidentally stored the lettuce down where I usually keep the chips and the crackers. When it came time for Smartacus to make a salad, we couldn’t find the lettuce. I mean, we looked everywhere. So this Gin & Tonic bash is probably tenuous at best. But we’d still love to have you there. Meanwhile, for books and the coolest gin glasses ever, please visit, a sort of clearing house for such items. Splash a little watermelon juice in there with the gin and toast the approach of cooler days and football. Cheers!

18 thoughts on “Adventures in Babysitting

  1. Hugely smile-inducing! Love that you casually stuck in “ice box,” just to reinforce your point that there’s a lot to be said for Boomer maturity and the wisdom and patience that come with experience. Catty Cakes is going to learn so much from you! Love the pics too. Keep ’em coming, Grandpa.

  2. Great article again, sir. Reminds me of my daughter who stuck jellybeans up her nose and we had to rush her to Urgent Care. No parenting classes or baby books can prepare you for that.

  3. Thank you. Being the only Dad in a “ Mommy and Me” class in the early 90’s, this made me recall all the “ tips” I received on putting my daughter to bed and then with a couple verse of “ Summertime”, or “ Baby don’t you Cry” from Dumbo and a man-size forearm, always having my daughter sleep sooner, and longer then any of the experts. We are the “ Baby-Whisperers”.

  4. My son, daughter-in-law, 19 mo. old granddaughter, 15 mo. old grandson and giant dog just left last night after a four-day visit. I can relate to this so much right now! Parenting is definitely ever-evolving albeit I never had two babies that are only 4 months apart. I’m exhausted! (In case you’re trying to figure out the math here, the 15 mo. old is their foster son who will hopefully be officially adopted eventually.) Anyway, I’m exhausted! Parenting is a young person’s game. You are lucky yours live closer than a 6 hour drive.

  5. The circle life in all its glory. You did great Chris, I’m sure your granddaughter slept soundly.

  6. From a retired redhead (natural), who dislikes the term ginger, the picture of Smartacus and Catty Cakes is really special.

  7. … can really hear is the blood pumping behind my eyes when my children offer parenting advice… Classic and true! Always great to start the day off with a laugh💕 thank you!!

  8. I’m taken with the picture of the little girl’s uncle telling her how to handle grandfather when “he’s taking care of you.” She is avidly absorbing the unspoken knowledge (the best kind), and seems masterful in her execution, which bodes well for the future of such adventures. How little grandfathers know of the secret lore of grandchildren, though they often overflow with parental confidence, and read the dramatics accordingly. Parental concerns are often misplaced, but in this case one could wonder: will he be teaching her how to do a hook slide into third base, so he can get her to slide easily into bed, under the covers, and to sleep? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

  9. One of your truest and most hilarious observational humor articles EVER!!! I wish I was 30 years younger so I could know everything. God bless the kids…..

    Oh, and it was clearly Bob Gibson that was better….. 🙂

  10. What a delicious example of irony. LOL. How did you and Posh ever manage all those years ago? 🙂

  11. I was paid 25 cents an hour for babysitting back in the 60’s ~ I am told that babysitters now get 25 DOLLARS an hour ~ ~ !
    Rock on, Chris ~ ~

  12. You had me at, “concentric circles of irony frost the universe, like the coils in your fridge.” Oh and yes, I remember REO Speedwagon concerts. Fun fact: Styx played at my high school in the early 70’s. It was also very loud. Those pics of Catty Cakes are scrumpdillyicious. Keep them coming!

  13. “Stadiums now pipe in music so loud that it singes the vellus hair in your ears and nose.” Damn that’s funny. I don’t know if it’s biologically accurate or not, but it made me laugh out loud. Yes – I wrote that out. And, REO was WAY louder than stadium music today. That’s why my wife is always telling me to turn down the music at home and in the car. #IblameREO

  14. Wonderful piece! I’m always grateful the kids trust us babysitting the grandkids – but after all we did successfully raise the 4 of them! One of which, by the way, also always wanted one pacifier in mouth and one clutched in each hand. He also called it his “FIRE” which scared us as he’d desperately scream FIRE FIRE FIRE until we realized he was referring to his paciFIRE 😆

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