In London I worked as a babysitter for years. It was perfect after a day of hard work and after school. I placed an advert in a French expat magazine and it worked very well.
God was looking at me as I only had very nice families with wonderful babies to look at. First time I said I was the oldest in a large family and was used to look after my younger siblings. Truth is I am the youngest in my house and also in the extended family and have never held a baby for more than 3 seconds before. Experience zero, but how hard could it be to look after babies for a couple of hours while their parents are in the theatre or eating out?
I had a circle of regular families, of course I had some favourite children, but I think the fact that I am very calm and loving inspired confidence to all parents I had to work for. They all knew my address and where I worked during the day.
There was one household where things were always a bit chaotic though. I think they were artists. They had an adorable little girl, very active, who never wanted to go to bed on time. The mother was expecting twins. The twins were born and I thought I wouldn’t be called there for a good few months. Well, they call me after 2 weeks.
The house was transformed when I arrived, and baby talc smell in the air. Both babies were crying and the oldest one nervous talking loudly around them without stop. The mother told me the boy was nice, but the girl was a show off and she cried for attention all the time (?)! The instruction was for me to let her cry until she fall asleep and not to give any attention to her crying. I’m not a mother, really don’t understand much about babies, but in my mind newborns do not “cry for attention”: they cry to communicate there is something wrong.
The parents left. The boy seemed tired of crying and slept. The girl kept crying louder and screamer. The oldest girl wanted me to play with her, she was 4. But I was really worried with the baby. 2 hours passed and the baby girl hadn’t stop. I had to disobey my instructions, that baby was in pain or something. I called my mother (in Brazil) to ask what to do. She told me all the regulars: check the nappy, give her a bottle, hold her and try to calm her down. Nothing worked. I had orders not to change the nappies, period, so the baby would learn “to wait until a proper time to have nappies changed”. Well, I had to check – poor baby - it was dry but, my Lord! No wonder the baby was screaming as if someone was killing her. The smell was unbelievable, one could easily say there was a dead rat hidden inside those nappies. It was midnight but I had to run her a bath. Right before I finish bathing her, she was asleep in my arms. And then I didn’t know if they had any baby cream or what to use to calm the rash. I read all the labels in the twins’ bedroom, found something, apply on the baby and put a new nappy. At least now the baby was calm and sleeping. What a relief!
During all the “operation” the eldest girl was screaming around me telling me the baby girl was sleeping and it wasn’t for me to touch her. She even tried to grab the baby from my arms. It was like a battle. I would put her to bed and she would run away and disturb for hours. When she finally fell asleep, I was exhausted. The parents arrived and I only wanted to leave. They never called me again.