Monday, October 4, 2010

Thomas - I promise!

Well, I'm back. From a week in Chicago, with my two nephews. Ages almost-3 and 3 months. I babysat. For the week. By myself. And the two of them. The little one is not yet, quite, sleeping through the night. And the two-soon-to-be-three-year-old is, as I have said before, in constant motion. The Whirling Dervish. So not only did I have my hands full, but I was functioning on limited sleep. Aunt Beth is very tired!

But it was a blast. The best week ever. (I did sleep the entire weekend though, after I got home on Saturday...)

The baby is such a sweetie pie! And smiling a lot. He is a little colicky, with the afternoons being hardest on his poor baby belly. I felt so bad for him, then. But he's sweet and interactive and very present. He watches his big brother a lot - watches him move around the house, eat meals - all of it. He loves the activity - luckily, since his big brother is always active! From interactive alphabet games on the computer to a posse of balls on the back porch, and everything in between, there is no slowing down the toddler.

We had our ups. We had our downs. Mostly ups - though there was the Penny Incident (as it always shall be known), when the older one wondered if the younger one would like to eat a penny.... Crisis averted (thanks to all humans and angels who might have had a hand in resolving that one...)

It was a little different than usual. Usually, when I babysit, it's been just my older nephew and me. We have bath time and play time - which is like study time, since he loves learning so much - nap time and meal time... Lots of things, all centered on his activities. With the addition of a cooing baby, though, my time was split. This was a new experience for the older one. He seems so aware - in a positive way - of the baby - once spontaneously saying, "He's so cute!" - but he is also, I think, noticing the changes in his life due to the increase in little ones around the house.

Luckily my sister and brother-in-law arranged for me to have help in the afternoons. I decided to use those daily three hours to go on short adventures with my toddler nephew. The first day though, we never could get far from the house because the baby needed extra help... so we played balls outside in the yard. One got lost. (I'm not pointing fingers or anything, but let's just say that I am not the one who kicked it into the wooded area behind the house.)

The next day, I had a plan. We would go to the Learning Experience store, and then the grocery store. The Learning Experience is a great children's store, with hands-on stations for the kids to play. My toddler nephew is in love with Thomas these days. You know - Thomas the Train. And his friends Percy, etc. In the past, we have played with a train track at the Learning Experience, with Thomas Trains everywhere. So as we drove to the store this time, I kept saying, "Let's go play with Thomas... Thomas is waiting for you!" Very exciting.

Until we got to the store. And saw that the Learning Experience had taken down its train track table. Uh oh. "But I promised Thomas," I told the store clerks. "I promised."

They suggested my nephew play with the doll house. Um - I don't know if I mentioned - but I had promised him Thomas. I didn't think he would be distracted from that.

And he wasn't. He just kept wandering around the store, looking hopefully in every corner for the train tracks, and the Thomases that must be sitting there. I couldn't stand it. So I bought him a Thomas. Oh, he was so excited! His very own Thomas! I was hoping that he would use the toy shelves as a train track - play with his new train for awhile, and then we'd go grocery shopping.

He was having none of it. He wanted a train track. He needed a train track!

So we built one. Right there, in the middle of the store. Using train track pieces that were sold there, piece by piece. We built a bridge, and we circled the track to come back under the bridge itself. This is how we started it (that's my hand, keeping the bridge up):

To the store's credit, they did not try to stop me. Under normal circumstances, they might have halted my initiative. But they knew - they knew - I had promised Thomas. And had expected a train track table. They couldn't really say "no," could they?

I told my sister of the event. She remembered that Toys 'R Us had a train track.

The next day, my nephew and I got back in the car during the babysitter hours and drove to Toys 'R Us. This time, he knew. As we drove into the parking lot, he knew. "Thomas!" he said, his face shining with excitement...

And this time, the train track table was still there. Whew! Only now, there were no Thomas Trains. There was one Percy (a green train, Thomas' friend). And a little girl was already using him.

So I bought my second Thomas, in two days.

But you know what? My sweet nephew was in heaven. It was worth the $12, to see him moving Thomas up one hill and down another, playing with that train. He would do this for hours, if he could. And now we had two Thomases, for his train track at home. Nothing like a little train activity to keep a child happy.

And now - if I could just figure out how to help that baby from getting a belly ache in the afternoons... Such a smiling baby, when his belly doesn't hurt. And a brave one, when it does. Beautiful boys, the two of them. Two peas in a pod. I can't wait to see what adventure is in store for us, the next time I'm in town.

photo credit: Ween Nee, found here

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