Swings and roundabouts


Diary of a home bird
Ciara Galvin

AS I write this I am about to head off for a five-day stay with my sister and her family in Dublin. I’m being the good auntie, after the sis had her second beautiful child recently. I hope this works out, as I haven’t been a great sister: I forgot her wedding anniversary last week. In my defence, the clocks had gone forward. That excuse works for everything, right?
I’m utterly useless when it comes to babysitting, to be honest. As well documented, I once searched high and low for ‘cow’s milk’ while babysitting a niece, thinking it was a ‘special formula’.
And as for getting children dressed, well, that’s a different kettle of mismatched fish altogether. I turn into ‘good cop, bad cop’, chasing them around negotiating with them to let me put their socks on. Using bargaining tools like the ‘Frozen’ DVD or an episode of ‘Peppa Pig’, I earn just enough time to pull some garments over their heads. The odd vest might go on backwards, and some Babygro buttons might get mixed up, but hey, I’ve no younger siblings, so I lack experience.
I do enjoy minding the ever-growing gang though, blanket forts in the kitchen and binging on Nickelodeon are right up my street.
Playgrounds bring out the big kid in me too. To give her mammy some downtime, I recently blackmailed my niece Aoibh with a call into ‘the play park’. Once she agreed and enthusiastically said ‘Let’s go auntie Keewah’, we made our way to the playground on a cold Saturday evening.
After a brief spell on the see-saw, Aoibh was done with the attractions, preferring that I go on them. So, there I found myself, sitting on a spinning-wheel contraption while my two-year-old niece oversaw, and parents and guardians looked on at the seemingly inconsiderate ‘big child’ (me) hogging all the attractions. I tried to coax my niece to participate on any other swing or thing in the playground, but to no avail. She was quite happy walking around shouting ‘faster Keewah’. Hey, you don’t disagree with the orders of a two year old.
Dublin should be an experience, on top of bribing my Godchild into not wearing her ‘Elsa’ dress to creche, there’ll be a newborn for minding and changing. I don’t know what it is about my presence around children, but it seems I’m a ‘baby laxative’ and always get caught changing the dirty nappies. Even when I’m not on babysitting duty ‘Nana Galvin’ (The Female Roomie) ropes me into changing her darling granddaughters. And yes, it can take several attempts to actually put the nappy on the baby. They just don’t teach you these skills in school!
If you don’t hear from me in the foreseeable future it’s because a) I’ve chosen a career in childcare (not likely), or b) I’ve had to sign myself in for counselling following too many episodes of Peppa.  

In her fortnightly Diary of a Home Bird column, Ciara Galvin reveals the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something year old trying to get used to living away from her parents.