Expect the Unexpected
I glanced over at the infant and immediately became concerned. A moment ago he was smiling — now he was grunting, less interactive, and appeared very uncomfortable. It was a sudden change. It’s a common scenario in pediatrics — kid appears to be doing great, until suddenly he isn’t.
I looked to the nurse next to me — she had already seen it. She knew what was coming; we both knew we needed to take quick action.
I briefly considered calling for help, but I looked around and saw we had all the resources we needed.
We also didn’t want to trigger a panic. We were in a crowded area with many unsuspecting people. She and I could handle the situation, but the bystanders almost certainly couldn’t. We grabbed our big bag — sitting nearby and stocked for situations such as these. We quickly and quietly wheeled the infant to a quieter area and closed the door.
Combined, this particular nurse and I about twenty years of experience dealing with kids (evenly split). We’d been in similar situations before, but there’s always a wrinkle.
This particular night, this particular baby wasn’t supposed to be in our care. He should have been someone else’s responsibility that night. Unfortunately, on occasion good people make mistakes and kids end up in situations and circumstances they don’t belong. Instead of being home, asleep in his crib, he was with us.
Thankfully, our extensive training and experience carried us through the moment. We were as well prepared as the situation allowed. The infant did remarkably well, and I’m proud to say our care was almost (but not quite) pristine. We cleaned up and disposed of the biohazard materials. It was time to rejoin everyone else.
We wheeled him back into the main room. A doctor walking past asked us quizzically where we had gone.
“Code Brown,” I told him.
He nodded at me with understanding — this doctor, also a good friend, has two kids of his own, and has changed many a poopy diaper. However, his kids were at home asleep, under someone else’s care.
No, Rogue Three wasn’t supposed to be with us at the wedding. We were dressed and ready to leave the house — me in a three-piece suit, my wife looking beautiful in a pink shalwar kameez — when we realized the babysitter was late. She’s never late.
A few texts later we learned she was doubled booked with work and had forgot she was scheduled to babysit. Rogue One and Two were with my in-laws for the weekend, and Rogue Three was supposed to be asleep in bed under the care of our trusted sitter while we enjoyed the wedding.
The wedding start time was after his regular bedtime. We had no notice, so could not find a backup. Either I could go on my own, or we scramble to get Rogue Three ready and bring him with us. We chose the latter.
We gave him a quick shampoo in the sink to remove whatever sticky substances were on him and to restore the new baby smell. My wife magically pulled out a new infant suit with a bow tie — it fit him perfectly.
I packed the diaper bag:
- Pacifiers (with a clip)
- Extra outfit
- Disposable changing pad
The big bag was ready for action.
Rogue Three had never been to a late night desi wedding before. We didn’t know how he would react — we left the house at his bedtime, knowing we would be out hours past it.
Kids at a Wedding
We somehow arrived before most of the wedding guests. We pushed Rogue Three around in his stroller, mingling with people for awhile, before it was time to sit. We ended up at a table with friends, seated beside some who have kids and some who don’t.
Fortunately, we were attending a valima — a Muslim wedding reception that has nothing in the way of a ceremony. We didn’t have to worry about Rogue Three crying during a solemn moment, because 99% of a valima involves eating and talking. All the traditional and religious aspects of a Muslim wedding generally occur before the valima (often comprising multiple parties/evenings). This night was meant solely for mingling.
When we looked over and saw him grunting, his face red and his eyes unfocused — classic poop face — I was slightly embarrassed. However our friends sitting closest to us did not hear him. My wife, a nurse practitioner, was sitting next to me, and heard/saw him as soon as I did. We quickly grabbed the diaper bag, put him in his stroller, and wheeled him into the family bathroom.
The family bathroom didn’t have a changing table — so we put him on top of a hamper that they provided to dispose of the linen hand towels. Despite wading into a situation that was messier than we anticipated, we walked out feeling clean and good about ourselves.
Ultimately, things turned out as well as could be expected. We saw several other couples with young babies, and Rogue Three behaved better than most of them. He eventually fell asleep in his stroller without much fuss. However we had planned this evening weeks in advance and had been looking forward to a kid-free evening. While we ended up with some time to talk to friends, it was not the night we had planned on.
Leaving the Kids Behind and Paying for Convenience
Not that long ago I hated hiring a babysitter — not because I don’t trust babysitters (a wonderful young lady has helped us for almost 6 years), but because I hated the idea of paying someone $30-60 (depending on hours/# of kids) to watch TV/surf the internet while the kids were asleep. A casual dinner/date night with the wife doubles in price with a babysitter. It just didn’t seem worth it.
I am quite frugal, but I’ve changed my tune (on this) over time. While I gladly take free babysitting (from my mother), we frequently use our “regular” babysitter to watch the kid(s) while we attend formal functions or have date nights. The economics do not work well, however, not every decision can be driven by economics. With three kids and two working parents, there is always some reason not to go out and have an evening without kids. It takes extra effort and resources to take care of yourself, something many of us are quite terrible at doing.
This is not a carte blanche for us to spend our way to happiness, however sometimes you do trade money for happiness, or at least for less stress and more personal time. I used to have a similar resistance to hiring a company to clean our house periodically (not that I am aching to do it myself — I mostly just wanted us to embrace the filth). In a couple years, however, I expect our boys to be scrubbing toilets, so hopefully we can cut back on the housecleaning. It’s a win-win — I save money and they learn the reality of how gross they are when they pee.
What are your thoughts? What unexpected childcare situations have you ended up in? What non-material things do you trade money to obtain?