Work from Home, Baby Edition

Hayden at couch

As I’ve discussed in a number of previous posts, my wife and I provide day care for our grandniece while the little one’s mom attends college classes during the day.  Well, let’s be honest about it, my wife is the one who provides the day care.  I get to sit on the couch and play with the baby, sing to her, read to her, play endless repetitive games of her own devising.  My wife gets to do stuff like change dirty diapers (“You pooped again?! That’s the third time today!”), comfort the little one when she starts screaming her head off and won’t stop, and run around after her when she’s hell bent on mischief that’s bound to send someone to the hospital (the baby if she’s successful or my wife if she has heart attack).

Pastor Mom is heavily involved in this equation as well.  She and my wife share the child care duties because, well, it takes two adults to chase after a half-pint who has decided that she’s going to run amok today and that there’s nothing that anyone can do about it.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been taking a break from unemployment by doing some work for a tech company on a contract basis.  This involves being glued to my laptop for many hours per day.  My office?  The living room couch.  To say that this is a challenge with the little one here is an understatement.  For one thing, she wants to play with uncle and I feel bad when I have to tell her “I’m sorry, honey, uncle has to work right now.”

Then there is the matter of the noise level.  As I am working in an unfamiliar field, I spend quite a bit of time poring over documentation ranging from the mundane to the highly technical.  The point is that I have to concentrate sufficiently to understand the stuff, a difficult proposition at best when Hurricane Hayden is going on all around me.

When the little one gets particularly rambunctious (“She just won’t mind,” as Pastor Mom says), she goes in the playpen with her toys.  As you may imagine, she hates this.  Being just a few steps away from me, I will often stop what I’m doing during Playpen Time so that I can sing to her or play a game of “Boo!” from across the room.

When she gets out of jail, the little one loves to sneak up to the side table next to the couch and grab at the refreshments that I keep there.  Most of the time, I have a jug of iced tea, a bottle of lemon juice and a glass beside me, all of which she thinks are fair game.  As in “This is a pretty fair game!  Let’s see what we can dump over and spill all over the carpet!”  If I notice the little one standing there, I will lunge for tea, lemon juice and glass to pull them out of the way before disaster strikes.  I don’t always make it in time.  If I’m busy reading and typing, I may not see her out of the corner of my eye.  I may not notice at all until I hear my wife’s yelp, which is the signal for “Lunge!”

In my continuing effort to get my expected production done, I frequently eat lunch at the laptop.  This is the little one’s signal that it’s Sharing with Uncle time.  I will feed her a small piece of my tofu chicken or my veggie burger or whatever it is I’m eating.  Then she’ll happily run off to another part of the room, only to return about ten seconds later for more.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat ten more times.  By this time, I have to start reading my document from the beginning.

While the little one is here, we generally have videos of “Elmo’s World” running on our big screen TV.  She also has a Nabi, Jr., on which she will play the Veggie Tales song “Barbara Manatee” or “His Cheeseburger” over and over again.  As if it weren’t bad enough that both those songs grate on the nerves, the little one loves pushing buttons and will therefore rewind to play the same section of the song six or seven times in a row.  I’m pretty sure I can recite the lyrics in my sleep.

So, no, I don’t have to comfort a crying baby, make up bottles of milk or change dirty diapers.  But I daresay that you haven’t lived until you’ve had the pleasure of listening to the same “Elmo’s World” video you’ve already seen dozens of times while “Barbara Manatee” is playing in the background and the little one is throwing a fit.  Add to that parishioners and workmen walking in and out of the parsonage all day long and you’ll long for a nice quiet office where you can close the door and hear nothing but the occasional ringing of a phone.

But I’m not really complaining.  I’m glad we are my niece’s day care of choice.  How else would we get to spend so much time with the little one?  It may be tough to get any work done, but that’s the price I have to pay.

After all, I love the little squirt.


7 thoughts on “Work from Home, Baby Edition

  1. First let me say, I enjoy reading your blogs, but twice this month, I’ve ended the story rather shocked! On the work from home…your niece sounds adorable, BUT why oh why do you have to be in the living room? Isn’t there a bedroom where you could set up a card table and chair and CLOSE THE DOOR or go to a library, near by? Second on your Mom and Dad coming to celebrate her birthday and yours, I would be so disappointed if I drove for 4 or 5 hours and someone served me “a special” dinner of hot dogs! I would not feel special at all, the spaghetti with all the interesting ingredients, would be far superior and at least show that you made a special effort to create something just for me. But we are all different, and if your parents look down at their plate and say WOW, those look absolutely yummy, we’re so glad you made them for us!! that’s all that counts! And I know the point is just to visit, and I would put on a happy face too, but I’d be thinking …hot dogs???
    Just my opinion… keep up the good work on your blog, very entertaining!

    • Hi, Belle, and thanks so much for your kind words!

      I do believe you are the first reader to inform me about being shocked! I love the interesting reactions to my blog posts.

      Regarding my “office,” yes, if I really had to I could head to the library (although not today, as it is closed on Mondays!). Of course, I couldn’t have my food and drinks with me, which would be rather a bummer. I did set up in Starbucks over in the next town one day when internet and phone service was out throughout our own town. I view these as options for times when things get really bad.

      I totally agree with you that hot dogs do not constitute a very special dinner. However, when you don’t cook (a state of affairs well-known to my parents), you’re pretty much at the mercy of whoever prepares the food. I had hoped we could all go out to a restaurant, but that was vetoed due to the cost. Spaghetti with homemade sauce was vetoed by my mother-in-law, because she’d be cooking it and she said the cleanup would have been too much of a hassle. They wanted to make something easy to prepare and easy to clean up, so hot dogs it was. There was also the matter of satisfying my mother, who keeps kosher, and myself (vegan). I let my parents know about the hot dogs in advance; my mother was just pleased that there was going to be something she could eat! A lot of family events here involve things like ham and other meats, and I do my best to stay away.

      As they say, beggars can’t be choosers. I guess if I want things to be different, I’ll have to learn to cook and then do all the cleanup by myself! Maybe something I should consider. 🙂

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  2. Sorry if I sounded a little harsh, and I guess shocked was a bit of an exaggeration, more like surprised that you wouldn’t have done things differently… especially with working from home, I’ve done that and silence is key…spending the day with a toddler would not do much for job performance, in my opinion….you didn’t mention why a bedroom, with a closed door wasn’t an option! Anyway good luck, and I’m glad you had a pleasant birthday, hot dogs and all !!

    • Bedroom with a closed door would be difficult (though possible) due to tight quarters here in the church parsonage. I suppose I could do it, although my grandniece would be kicking at the door and yelling half the day. All she’d have to do is hear typing and she’d know I was in there. 🙂 I’ve told my wife that we’ll go that route when I get to where I can’t take it anymore. However, I am nearly done with this contract and don’t expect to work from home in the future, so it’s probably a moot point.

  3. I read somewhere that you fall in love with something (or someone) as you take care of it. I don’t know what that says about changing dirty diapers (never that much fun as it sounds . . . ), but I will say that your depth of love for your niece or grand-niece will expand as you are taking care of her. If you were just the normal uncle visiting occasionally, you’d love her, sure . . . but this is special and precious. So, pitch in once in a while and change that diaper – you won’t die from it! And good luck trying to find that peace and quiet to work – I don’t know how anybody does it.

    • Hahaha! So true, as my wife discovered a few months ago. She has a rather extreme gag reflex, to the extent that if a shred of toilet paper with a spot of feces on it is found on the bathroom floor, she is ready to lose her lunch. And yet — She learned to change Little One’s diapers with aplomb (and appropriate gagging noises). So yes, such things are certainly possible! However, lazy ass that I am, I will probably try to get out of it for as long as I can.

  4. Pingback: Lessons Learned from Working at Home | A Map of California

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