Yes, today’s is a rushed post, and it’s not actually the bible verse that I wanted to share. But I do want to share about love.
I’m not a parent, but many of my friends are awesome parents. My close friends have given me the privilege of allowing me into their kids’ lives, and I enjoy spending time with them watching and helping them learn and I’ve already discovered they watch my every move. My first realisation of this was years ago when my friend’s 4 year old daughter started doing impressions of me singing in the band at church. There was even a particular worship song that she nicknamed ‘Laurie’s song’. Years later her younger brother one day turned round and said something was ‘awesome’ while we were all in the kitchen. Intonation perfectly matched to how I exclaim this phrase often. There’s nothing quite like a toddler to help you realise what words and phrases you totally overuse. Like totally. And awesome.
Knowing that child free time is rare, I try to babysit when I can. I’ve now been babysitting for over half my life thanks to my younger siblings so I’m a pretty experienced babysitter. But the one thing that has always been my biggest fear is that a babysittee would get sick on my watch. I’ve had some teething and snotty colds in my time, and a lot of poo. But never the worst kind of sick for an emetophobe.
Until this weekend.
We had storytime and milk and a little bit of playtime. I had a minor panic of ‘where the heck is the baby monitor’ but I found it. There were only smiles and no tears as I popped my charge in his cot, and I went downstairs baby monitor in hand (on full volume), to pop a pizza in the oven my very lovely friends had left for me knowing I’d come to theirs straight from work.
I was sitting waiting for the oven to beep listening to my friend’s toddler singing away to himself in his cot and then all was quiet. I went upstairs to check he was asleep. Sound asleep though now scrunched at one end of the cot. I tried to straighten him out, but he groaned in his sleep and went back to his previous position. I figured if that’s how he wanted to sleep, then it was weird but fine. I text my friends to let them know that all was well.
Cue 30 mins later and I hear him stirring a little over the monitor. I assumed he was moving in his sleep again – there were no tears or coughing, just some soft ‘meh’ noises. I went upstairs to investigate. My honest thought was that he might have been trying to find his cuddly toy or had got stuck in a strange position.
I was greeted by a very strong smell, that at first I thought was a very nasty nappy.
I turned on the light a little.
He had been sick in his sleep.
Not just a little bit sick. A lot sick.
I won’t lie, I went into panic mode. One of my worst fears had been realised. I can’t even walk past evidence of that in the street without freaking out a little. I have jumped over passengers in a plane and ran up the aisle screaming before. I have abandoned my friends in cities at night and run away from them when they’ve uttered the words “I feel … “. Every instinct told me to run away from the smell, the evidence…but this is where love comes in.
My love for my friends’ son, was greater than my fear.
My instinct changed immediately to getting him out of danger.
And so I picked him up (I won’t go into details but this was not pleasant) and sat him upright at the other end of the cot so if he was sick again he wouldn’t choke because he was so sleepy, while I ran for towels and my phone. He was sick two more times and kept trying to lie face down to sleep. By the third time he was awake – hard not to be when I’ve taken you out your cot, sat you back in a chair and I’m trying to peel your clothes off you, taking your cuddly toys out your hands (as they are now destined for the washing machine) and sponging your hair.
By the time his mum had got home, I’d managed to clean the worst of it off of him, and he was toddling about unfazed as I was putting a new clean vest on him. There was quite the pile of towels and sheets in their bathroom.
While his Mum got the washing machine on, and changed from her lovely outfit to something more practical for being awake with a sick toddler, he reached out for me and buried his head into my chest/armpit. There was a good chance I was going to get christened. But he had me with one look into my eyes that just pleaded for help. I let him lie back in my arms as once again love pushed the panic of being covered in that away.
Only after he fell asleep in his mother’s arms did I feel able to leave. Fear came back once I got home – everything I was wearing went into the washing machine and I scrubbed my hands, antibacterialised my phone and my glasses, and jumped into the shower.
I still keep thinking back and worrying about what I could have done better to handle things. I still have the message on my phone that says ‘All is well’ which was followed up 31 minutes later with a frantic call where I don’t think I even said hello but opened with ‘*****’s been sick’ and ended with ‘I better go, I think he’s being sick again’ and probably sounded less than calm that may have made my poor friend worry. I kick myself for not knowing where my friends keep their spare towels. I’m certainly glad that instinct told me to go and check out the soft noises I’d heard over the baby monitor. There was also even a little anger at God, as I’d prayed for my friend’s son to have restful sleep before I left him in his cot, and this I felt was the exact opposite of restful for him.
But I know that I learned something in the process. Love is a powerful force.
Perhaps more powerful than I realised before.