Day 5 Part Deux – Babysitting, while on vacation? What the…

20 Sep

Executive Summary

  1. Here’s your summary.

End of summary

The Report

Milan (German Miland): Save an overnight visit a couple of years ago, it’s been 5 years since I’ve been to Milan proper. That was in 2006 during the greatest vacation ever. I remember being surprised by the number locals sporting forearm tattoos (I was once advised to never get a tattoo that could not be covered up in front of a judge). Well it seems the trend now is to get neck tattoos (that’s a tattoo *on* your neck, not *of*). I can’t wait to return in another 5 years.

Right now I’m traveling north on a WW2-era Italian commuter train to visit my good friend Jan – one of my first foreign roommates from all the way back in 2003. I remember picking him up at the airport in my dad’s red 1991 Ford Ranger (standard, no AC). Jan had recently broken his foot playing soccer (or “association football”) and had fallen in love with the Italian ambulance attendant who transported him to the hospital. Records from that era are spotty at best, but here is what I have been able to piece together from his time in Ottawa

  • starting the visit off on the right (unbroken) foot he made me wait for over two hours while he was secondaried (i.e. interrogated) by Canadian Immigration.
  • a bunch of us were going out clubbing one night and we had to leave Jan behind (because of his foot) – we felt terrible (not really)
  • he borrowed my circular saw to remove his cast (I think the doctor wanted to charge him $20 or something)
  • as it was written in Italian, Jan was unable to read the restraining order served to him by Rita (his Italian amour) and proceeded to send her approximately 90 post cards (one per day) confessing his love for her
  • after a 2-week trip to Australia, I returned home to find the house in considerable disarray – sheets missing from my bed, strangers sleeping in the living room, my porridge half-eaten, my picnic basket swiped.
  • there was a Hallowe’en party (I think I have some pictures somewhere) and the neighbours had this giant trampoline. By some miracle no one had to visit the hospital that night.

Anyway, he returned home to Germany physically healed but an emotional wreck. He received only one non-police-issued letter from Rita the entire time he was in Ottawa.

Anyway, long story short: the following year he managed to win Rita’s heart by (unbeknownst to her) coaching her little sister’s soccer team of underprivileged misfits to winning the national championship (against their arch-rivals from Naples).

So now Jan and Rita have two kids. Boy is 4.5 and Girl is 2.0 (approximately). I have some experience being around kids of this age as a number of my friends are in almost identical family brackets. This is to say I noticed that Jan and Rita were making several mistakes. Now I’m not saying these were mistakes because they were doing the opposite of what my Canadian friends and family do – they were doing the opposite of what I would do in the same situation.

Girl, Boy

First up: where the f&$% are the baby-gates? I kid you not, all the stairs in this three-story (plus basement) home are made entirely of polished Italian granite. I myself was uneasy using the stairs in sock feet, yet no baby-gates. Jan explained that when the kids were younger they told (yelled) at them not to go near the stairs and now they just don’t. Did I mention the stairs were made of stone – on top of concrete?

What's the Italian word for "heart attack"?

Next: during supper little Anna Lea dropped food (a segment of pizza) on the floor and the 5 second rule was *not* respected. Jan simply put the food back on her plate and she ate it. While we’re on the subject of food, for dessert both kids were given bananas that were *clearly* expired. One half looked normal, the other looked like the plague. They just ate the good part and left the bad.

Finally: I had to ask about the baby monitors. They just don’t use them. They prefer to use the 17th century method of listening for any abnormal noises. And just as I wrote that sentence Anna Lea woke up crying and Jan went and checked on her. She’s stopped crying now.

I must mention there was one thing I do strongly approve of: the use of Jackovasaurus-themed pillows. I mean, how awesome is this?

I think these kids are going to turn out just fine.

I also had to watch the kids for a couple of minutes while Jan got the groceries from the car.

7 Responses to “Day 5 Part Deux – Babysitting, while on vacation? What the…”

  1. Lottabot September 21, 2011 at 02:35 #

    Babygates are for (retarded) North American parents (and babies). Nowhere else in the world is there any need for such things. Same goes for baby monitors. Probably. I don’t even know what a baby monitor is.

    • Natasha September 21, 2011 at 02:49 #

      As a childless engineer, you have a lot to teach the world about the subtle art of child-raising across many cultures. I find your perspective refreshingly rational, utilitarian and unconcerned about the niceties of human social interactions.

      • Uncle Ross September 27, 2011 at 14:58 #

        That’s my boy!

        Engineers Rule!

  2. Thea September 21, 2011 at 15:42 #

    well, the stairs do look dangerous and in a house of children without gates I would at least change the stairs… wooden without hard edges, carpeted or when it really has to be the granite, then rough up the step on part… 🙂 The kids aren’t going to be 3 or 5 all their life… they are going to be 10 and 12 and running in this very staircase… btw. I have seen Babygates in all German houses with an open staircase for both babies and puppies… 🙂

  3. Nina October 3, 2011 at 14:21 #

    It’s Mailand in german…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Day 9 of 20: Babysitting Again | Die Hard Three - February 20, 2014

    […] seems like I can’t go anywhere without people asking me to babysit. At first I struggled to figure out if this is normal. Does everyone get asked to look after (and […]

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