Around noon, the foster mother, let’s called her SL sent a text around noon and asked if she could bring the baby, Roly, over around 3PM. “Sure,” I responded, hoping that my one word text indicated a confident nonchalance. I sent a quick text to Wood to let him know and ran upstairs to get the laundry out. I had just finished washing the baby’s sheets and blankets and was putting the final touches on the room.
The rest of the day dragged. 3 o’clock came and went. 3:15 came and went. It was around 3:25 when SL and baby Roly rung the doorbell. I invited her in and took a good look at Roly.
A little brown skinned baby with 4 and 1/2 teeth, she smiled easily and came to my lap without hesitation. Attachment theory flashed through my mind. Is she supposed to come to me so easily? I pushed it to the back of my mind. She was so light. I expected her to be heavier. More solid. She was cute in a little pink dress with matching panties. She smiled and grabbed my earrings. We were going to get along just fine.
RL went to the car and brought in some toys, a multi-colored bouncer contraption, a talking rabbit, a rainbow-colored pyramid of stackable blocks. I held baby Roly and played with her has she brought in the car seat, set up the base in my back seat and showed me how to attach it to stroller base. I felt immensely unprepared. I didn’t even know how to set up a car seat. I wondered what RL was thinking.
RL brought in 3 bags of stuff – a jug of distilled water, a container of formula, four bottles, jars of baby food, sleeping clothes, a blanket, additional clothes, shoes and hair bows, baby shampoo and lotion, a tooth brush and toothpaste, other toys and a full diaper bag. It was overwhelming. All of this stuff for the weekend.
She began to explain things to me, how Roly was extremely hands on and that she would just hold her on her lap and watch television sometimes which I took to mean that I was expected to do the same. I asked questions about when she was supposed to eat and how much. She just kind of said that she ate baby food three times a day but in general she would let me know. A bottle was typically 6 oz and she would let me know when she was hungry. That made me uncomfortable. I’m used to working on a schedule so I was hoping for a list that would give me some sort of time frame. RL seemed to expect that my intuition would kick in and I wasn’t entirely sure that I had it.
RL stayed and played with Roly for another half hour, giving me some other information but just in general making sure that Roly was okay. I showed her the room and she suggested we put the bed down a notch. She showed me the list with all the emergency information on it, kissed Roly and then she left.
And I got HOT! I mean, it felt like a sauna in the house. You know when you are about to give a presentation and your nerves start to kick in. This was it. It seemed like such a small thing. Just babysitting. People do it all the time. But for me, I felt like this was our initiation into foster care.
Even more than that, it was the first time that Wood and I would be responsible for a tiny human in any form. We’ve never babysat and we were ready to test our mettle as parents. We would see what the weekend would bring.