Uniformed and Overwhelmed

My sister, Cyndi, or as she is fondly known by her niece and nephews, Aunt Cyn-deeee, has always been a loving and integral part of our children’s lives. She and her partner Sharon have made time over the years to travel here from their home and do fun things with us and the kids, go on vacations with us, and to sometimes baby-sit for us. But, prior to having nephews and a niece, Cyndi had relatively little, if any, babysitting experience.

We had three children in twenty months—fraternal twin boys and their sister twenty months later. Our lives thereafter took on the semi-feeling of raising triplets. Three in cribs, highchairs, diapers, car carriers, etc. and three who were all simultaneously dependent on adults for every last thing. It was like suddenly opening a daycare. Our house was stuffed and overflowing with swings, walkers, cribs, pack-n-plays, play mats, and multiple diaper changing stations throughout the house. So, Cyndi coming to our house to baby-sit alone when we had three in diapers was like throwing the novice swimmer who can only dog paddle into the ocean without a life vest. The dog paddle only lasts until the enormous swell takes you under.

When Cyndi arrived to baby-sit by herself, Sarah Grace was only months old and the boys were about two years old. We tried, as best we could, in the middle of our bone numbing tiredness and the mental fog that had settled upon us since the boys’ birth, to think of every plan and routine, and where the essential supplies were—food, diapers, wipes, bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers – and every way to cope with what she might encounter, before leaving. We left believing we had covered every contingency. Have a great time, Aunt Cyndi! We love you!

We came home a few hours later and sensed all was not well. Cyndi looked tired. Actually, tired would be a compliment. She looked haggard and more so than just a short stint with three little ones should have done to her. Cyndi looked like she had been crying and there were traces of tear tracks just barely noticeable in the blush on the apple of her cheeks. Are you okay? What is wrong?

Weary and traumatized, Cyndi said that the boys had diarrhea most of the time we were gone. She changed poopy filled diapers continuously. And, gagged through all of it. Every last time. Cyndi was weak and wan from retching. Her novice nose wasn’t prepared for the onslaught. As she recounted the horrors of the ongoing and unrelenting poo, I happened to walk to the refrigerator to get a diet drink. As I opened the door, the large jug of prune juice was sitting a little more forward on the shelf than usual and it was a whole lot emptier than when I had last seen it.

Fearfully I said, “Ummm, Cyndi, what is in the boys’ sippy cups?”

“Oh, I gave them prune juice. Why?”

It never crossed our minds to warn her that prune juice in the sippy cups was a bad tactical decision. We thought everyone knew what prune juice was for and what it does to your system. Apparently, that would be everyone except Cyndi. Cyndi almost drowned in a sea of poop. A swell of self-inflicted, well, you know, s—.

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