Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10 rules, or seven: well, here are the rules anyway

for the benefit of family and friends who may be in the position of babysitting (so not appropriate when describing a period of time spent with amelia - try maintaining a state of detente or glasnost), we thought it timely to outline the rules of engagement.

1. always always ALWAYS use precise language, paying particular attention to verb forms. don't use present tense when you actually mean future or past.
2. promise NOTHING that you can't actually deliver. don't attempt to bribe her with things that never eventuate. she will remember; and you will be reminded (again and again and again and again and so on ad infinitum)
3. remember that she has the memory of an elephant, so YOU need to remember episodes, situations, people and toys that she has encountered from birth, including injuries to her person that she has accrued, and you will be expected to be able to recount them in fine detail if (in fact WHEN it comes up in conversation.
4. be prepared to dance, sing, act the goat, spin in mad circles, swing, jump or just generally let off huge amounts of energy in public, while keeping her warmly dressed.
5. be prepared to explain, in teeny weeny detail (but big words are ok) diggers, trucks, trains, machines, cranes, jackhammers, hedicotters (helicopters) planes boats and the like. the questions will start with wassat (which is a generic term meaning what it is, what does it do, how do you make it go, and WHY) , and will continue with same word until you have given her the works. you may have to repeat the explanation a few times, as in each time you see said item; her quest for knowledge never ends.
6. have a large selection of songs available to sing when requested. generally, the standard nursery songs are good, but she likes it when you muck up the words a bit. as in, the old danny kaye favorite - 'there's a hole in the bottom of the sea' becomes 'there's a hole in the bottom of my sock' with a toe in the hole instead of a frog in the hole, leading all the way to the head on the body on the bum on the leg on foot on the toe in the hole etc etc etc . . . .
7. learn to wake quickly and easily at 3 (or 2 or 4 or 1) am . . . and to respond immediately to the deep conversational openings that will come your way. these include discussions about people amelia has not seen for weeks, or toys that she once used in a cafe months and months ago. or the red car with the funny man that honked as it went past last tuesday afternoon. or the 'happy birthday cake' she would like to eat immediately now please because she is hungry. dog poo is a favorite, as well as 'what was man doing? . . . guesswork is recommended in such instances.
8. work on being truly creative with food. olives are to be eaten when stuck on the fingertips of a tiny little hand, and yogurt is to be smeared across ones face like expensive skin cream. ice-cream is first to be eaten slowly and steadily with a salt-spoon, in teeny weeny frozen mouthfuls - and then from the tiny fingertips again, and if there is enough, a whole hand or two will be dipped into the cone and come out blue. bananas are good for drawing on walls (keep her in a highchair!!!), and sandwiches exist to be opened up and burrowed into so the butter and toppings can be licked off. water is apt to be dribbled down her face as she does singing exercises (thanks to what she learned while showering with a certain sibling who does her singing exercises in said shower . . . no names mentioned katie) and cucumber slices with skin on get lined up into rows of 'rainbows' as the flesh is consumed and only the arcs of green remain. peas will be arranged in neat little rows and picked off one by one like targets at a gun range, and spaghetti exists to be picked up in whopping great handfuls and stuffed in ones mouth as if one has not eaten for a month of sundays.
9. get a sense of fashion, and be ready to help try out all the latest gear in amelia's cupboard. get rid of all your old 'this goes with that' thinking - there is a whole new world ahead of you where you will be swept into a mad whirl of anything goes.
10. above all, be ready for gusts of instantaneous laughter that will rock you almost off your feet as this tempestuous personality blossoms in front of you. she will shock you, surprise you, bring tears of joy and love to your eyes, drive you batty in an instant, and move you to want to hug and kiss her cute little ears off (although she is not the biggest hugger in the world, unless you are in possession of serious ningability).

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