I have a neighbor, Mrs Lim. She is a career woman -- pretty, smart-looking but
constantly wearing a harassed look. This is because she has a baby to look
after. Her husband is constantly overseas. She had a succession of maids, but
none of them stayed for long.
One day she called for me. "Nina", she smiled in
her sweetest manner. "Can you do me a favor? Please look after my baby. My maid
has just left. I need to go to town to meet my boss."
How could I reject a request couched in such a sweet
cajoling manner? I agreed to try looking after Jeremy until her
return. Anyway, I was on school holiday. I always had a fondness for babies. I
used to play with baby dolls when I was young. Now, I would have a real, live
one! It would be cute and fun. Mrs Lim gave me some instructions on feeding the
baby and burping him. Then she left in a hurry. I was now the guardian of a
little plump baby.
Jeremy, the "cutie", however turned out to be a
pesky "monster". His wails were heard upstairs shortly after his
mother left. The persistent cries summoned me up. I tried my best to cradle him
comfortably but his wails did not cease. Thinking that he needed a change of
environment, I walked around the house and even ventured into the garden.
However, it was to no avail. Mrs Bala, my neighbor to the left, saw me and gave
me some disapproving stares. Finally, she blurted out, "The baby might be
hungry, you know?"
"Food! Why didn't I think of that?" I thought. Putting Jeremy in his cot, I
mixed some milk powder with hot water and eagerly gave the little one his
bottle. However, the baby took a few hungry sips before he rejected it and
started wailing again. At my wits' end, I called his mother but her line was
busy. In desperation, I tried to remember my Living Skills lessons and suspected
that the milk powder was not enough. Sure enough it was! The baby stopped crying
after I had put in more scoops of the milk powder!
The next two hours were the happiest hours of my child care. Jeremy smiled
and chortled as I sang lullabies or acted
silly poses for him. Then, as he started crying again, I took him in his arms.
The next moment, he yawned, nodded sleepily and instantly fell asleep.
After depositing him in his cot, I went down wearily to the kitchen to fix
myself a meal. However, this was not to be. While I was taking a drink, the
familiar wails started again. When I entered his room, I saw that his diapers
were loose. He was wet and had soiled himself. Yucks! It took me ages to clean
him up and change his diapers.
Jeremy slept after this and I lay down on the floor to have a nap. Before I
could nod off to sleep, I was awakened by the tyrant's screaming again. I
carried him out of the house when I could not stop this. I noticed Mrs Bala in
her garden. This time, the nasty lady was very helpful. She came over to my
side. After examining him, she pronounced "Colic!"
It seemed that the baby was not burped properly and now he had stomach
discomfort. Then my guardian angel appeared in the form of Mrs Bala. She
volunteered to look after him until the mother came back. I was to be her
When Mrs Lim came home, Mrs Bala briefed her on my misfortunes. The two of
them had a good laugh at my expense while I glared at them. Mrs Lim gave me a
pair of tickets to a concert that I badly wanted to go to. She thanked me and
mentioned casually that she could make me the permanent babysitter. I turned
down her offer politely, knowing very well now that I should not underestimate
the responsibility of this seemingly easy job.