Neil Gaiman linked to…

Neil Gaiman linked to these, calling them twee and horrible. Which, okay, they are. But speaking as someone who has two dozen identical soulless condos being built on her block, is it wrong of me to actually find the Shire a little seductive? (Although for the prices they're charging, I'd want a lot more square footage! It's not as if they're in a major city...)

Anway, back to real life. Wednesday, we babysat Zara while Nilofer and her sisters worked on clearing out their father's apartment. About six hours or so, of course with a fair bit of babysitting Elinor too. We were exhausted by the end of it. Zara refused to drink any milk -- Nilofer called it a hunger strike. So Zara was okay for the first two hours and watched a movie with me (Must Love Dogs, apropos). Then she started crying, and cried off and on for the next four hours. Sometimes the crying turned into howling, and/or screams of rage. Elinor really didn't like the screaming baby -- Zara scared her. She scared us too. There's something about baby screams that just go right through your head to the primal back end of your brain, you know?

There was a point when Kev and I were both just exhausted from trying to calm Zara -- one of the few things that works most of the time is walking around carrying her and bouncing, which sounds easy enough until you do it for four hours and you think your arms are going to fall off -- when I just leaned my forehead against her screaming face and tried to breathe, thinking:

"No, I am not going to lose patience with this baby. No, I am not going to join her in screaming, because that will not actually help. I will not burst into tears of frustration, because that will probably scare Elinor. I will just sit here with my forehead against hers, and try to be calm."

Eventually, finally, we realized that Nilofer had left us a sling, and we cursed ourselves for idiots. We put Zara in the sling, walked around the room for literally about a minute, and she fell fast asleep, and slept until Nilofer arrived. The sling is magic. The sling is a gift from the gods. We will never agree to babysit without a sling close at hand.

How do people cope with babies, twenty-four hours a day? I just don't understand...

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