Just a Few Small Instructions

Grandma and Grandpa, we're so happy you can babysit, but we have just a few quick notes for you

By Gary Drevitch

Do your kids ever leave you pages and pages of instructions when you come over to babysit your grandkids? If so, some of this may sound familiar:

Mom and Dad,

Thanks so much for coming over to babysit tonight. The kids are SOOOO excited to see Grandma and Pop-Pop. And we know you guys know what you're doing, but we just wanted to leave you a few notes.

Emergency Info

First, emergency numbers are on the side of the refrigerator. Both of our cell-phone numbers are there, as well as the number for the restaurant where we'll be, our pediatrician's office, Poison Control, and our next-door neighbors Bob and Carol. They're not parents themselves, but they have terrific instincts and the children just love them, so if one of the kids isn't feeling well and you can't reach us or the doctor, feel free to give them a call for some advice. And if there's a real emergency, the number for 911 here in our town is: 9-1-1.

Things to Remember

A few things going on with the kids you might want to know about: If you can avoid it, don't look Jake in the eye. Whenever one of us looks him in the eye lately, he just screams, "Stop looking at me! I hate you! I hate you!" So we've been trying to avoid it. It sounds worse than it is; we spoke to Bob and Carol about it and they say it's just a phase. In fact, Bob went through it himself at Jake's age, and just between you and me, Carol says he's still like that every once in a while, so if Jake should start freaking out about you looking at him, who better to ask than Bob? But call before you drop in; he really hates surprises.

from our users:

[photo lady max-width=86 align=left]If I saw the instructions, unless they were for medicine, I'd leave them right where they were left and turn them over — unread

- June Leos

Zoe will only answer to Princess Penelope Porcupine. So if you call her to the table a few times and she doesn’t respond, make sure you're using the whole name – it also really helps if you do it in a British accent. I know what you're thinking — don't indulge her. We know. But HotMama359, this brilliant mom on this great Wiki-parenting site I've been reading, says this is a critical stage in Zoe's development and we shouldn't discourage her creativity. So we've been playing along, and for consistency's sake, you probably should too. It's not so bad, except when we slip up and she tells us we're "banished from the kingdom." When that happens, we usually just pop over to Bob and Carol's for a little while. But we'd rather you didn't leave the kids alone, so if Triple-P (our new nickname for her; too cute, right?) banishes you, maybe just hang out in the garage for 15 minutes or so. And don't worry — Zoe will be fine, as long as she doesn't look her brother in the eye. But she's pretty well-trained at this point.

The baby hasn’t been sleeping so well lately. We tried sleep-training him, but with his sister banishing us from the house almost every night, it's been hard to establish a solid routine. The only thing he really likes is to sit with us on the couch while we watch TV until he nods off, usually by around 11:30. You may want to try that too. Don’t put on any cartoons, though — they're really distracting for him. His favorite shows are Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Jersey Shore. (Oh, hey, did we tell you he just spoke his first word? You guessed it: "Snooki." How adorable is that?)


We try to feed the kids every night at 6:15. It's a good idea to set the table before you call them in. Zoe likes to have three napkins at her plate, one of them yellow. Jake likes to have his water in his "JACK DANIELS 125TH ANNIVERSARY" shot glass, which you'll find on the shelf with the baby's bottles. You'll have to refill it a lot, but he says he likes to drink his water "just like my main man, Bob." You're going to have such fun with them tonight!

[poll]It's a Thursday, so that means ravioli night. There are some boxes of frozen ravioli in the freezer. Just boil them up and serve with some tomato sauce. Zoe likes each of her ravioli to be cut into six pieces, and she likes to eat exactly 100 pieces. Can you believe it — our little girl can count to 100! She's so special. Jake likes each of his ravioli in the shape of a baseball. All you have to do is trim the corners to make a circle, then carefully carve two rows of seams into the top. I keep a pair of reading glasses in the top drawer so I can see more clearly while I'm carving because he won't eat any ravioli that aren't perfectly symmetrical. The good news, though, is that any ravioli that you don't get right you can give to the baby. And then he's covered. See? Easy!

After dinner, you'll need to clean up. Wipe down the baby's high-chair tray and bib and load the dishes into the dishwasher. Put any leftover food back in the fridge. And don't forget to check under the seat cushion of the high chair after dinner. You never know what the baby will hide under there. I once found that pearl necklace that Grandma left me under there. How the baby managed that, I'll never know. He can't reach my dresser, and, anyway, I thought the necklace was locked in my jewelry box. But kids find a way. Zoe said that Carol hid it under there the last time she babysat, but that doesn't make any sense, right? Like I said, our little girl has an active imagination. But we don't want to discourage her.


Bedtime for Jake and Zoe is 8:30. They should brush their teeth, go to the bathroom, and wash their faces before they climb into bed. Tell them each "Night-Night" when you put them down — that's what we always say — or you can say, "Sleep tight. Grandma loves you," or anything else you might come up with. You can improvise! (But, really, don't forget to say "Night-Night" too. Routine is so important to them.)

On your way out of their room, hit the button marked "Ocean Waves" on the white-noise machine on the changing table. It will shut off on its own after 30 minutes. Jake will ask you to turn on "Whale Songs," but don't — it gives Zoe nightmares about killer whales. The kids each can go to sleep with their favorite stuffed animals, and Zoe is allowed to keep her plush harpoon under her pillow because she worries the whales will come to get her while she sleeps. Bob and Carol got it for her. They're so sweet.

Thanks again, Mom and Dad. We know you're going to have a great time.

We'll be back in an hour-and-a-half.

And now for some real babysitting advice:


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