It’s a work-at-home day. A friend had an important meeting in NYC today and her regular babysitters weren’t available. So, after attending our own oldest son’s graduation from elementary school, I offered to watch Rachael and Mark’s two young children for a few hours.

By few, I mean five six (but who’s counting). It’s been a while since this family’s had a youngest who’s just 3, so I thought it might be fun to liveblog (sort of) the occasion.

12:30  Rachael drops off daughters Arabella, 5 and Angelina, 3, with nappy bag, potty seat, Mouse and Bunny, kisses them goodbye and heads to the City.

12:31  Angelina says “We going to have fun!” and “Where is Theo?” (9 year old’s at school)

12:36  Arabella plays the piano and asks Rafi, 11, to play for her. We have a chat and talk about things we’ll do today – play, read, go for a walk and then to the playground, paint, bounce on the trampoline, possibly bake, and of course, at some point soon, a nap for Angelina and ‘quiet time’ for the rest of us. She agrees with this idea quite cheerfully.

12:38 I ask Rafi to change out of his long-sleeved smart shirt which he wore to the graduation ceremony and he gives the typical tweenage response, “No!” I widen my eyes and mutter under my breath, “Show them a good example please!” Off he goes, trying not to smile.

12:40  The girls potter around with my deck plants while Rafi and I have a quick bite (girls have had lunch)

12:44  We’re all in the  kitchen (pottering didn’t last long) and Arabella asks if the peanut butter is a “vitamin.” (There were other vitamin jars on the counter). No, it’s pb, I tell her.

“I’m not allergic,” she says. Rafi says he’s allergic to nickel and I explain it’s a kind of metal. Angelina (AGE THREE!) immediately says, “Is he allergic to the refrigerator?” Jaw drops. “Clever girl! The fridge is made of metal but no, Rafi is not allergic to it. But he can’t wear some kinds of watches.”

12:50 Angelina polishes off a bowl of blueberries.

12:53  We all go upstairs to the Kids Library and pick up the Spot series of books that I will take to my grave with me. We read Where’s Spot, Spot on the Farm, Spot’s Colours, Spot says Goodnight.

Then , we follow with Snowman – a picture book with no text – this takes quite a while to read with plenty of questions, some reinforcements of good behavior, and rather a lot of warnings ladled out by me for a young kid’s book. “This is just a story!” “Good boy for asking his mom if he can go outside.” “It’s dangerous to go near fire.” “Never let a strange snowman in your house or your bedroom!” “The snowman shouldn’t be stealing the father’s clothes.”  Arabella is fascinated by this book and wants to take it downstairs.

1:15  After showing Angelina the bed options – Bernadette’s big bed or the Blue Bed in the Kid’s Library – she picks the Green Bed (Rafi’s).

1:25 We get her Bunny and prop up the sides of the bed with long pillows, and she’s tucked in without another word. Whoa. Too good to be true probably. She’ll be up in two minutes?

1:37  Rafi and Arabella are watching cartoons, I’m postdating this ‘liveblog’ and Angelina appears to be asleep!

1:50  Just checked again and Angelina’s definitely asleep. Wow! How long do 3 year olds sleep for, I can’t remember?

2:00 to 3:10  Where did the time go? Theo’s come home. Angelina’s still in bed (photos to prove it). Arabella and we have been reading, watching cartoons, drawing and colouring. And I’ve dug up our loose eyeballs, feathers, buttons and craft books for more fun (well, we can’t go out while Angelina’s asleep! When will the child wake up?) Arabella has a yen for peanut butter and I make her half a PB sarnie, which she has with juice.

She’s drawn about six things, despite my offers of other activities. One is a self-portrait, with a fly, a person going to work, another fly, and a series of numbers. Another shows her Mouse, with twin girlfriend Mice – one tiny, the other bigger, both wearing green skirts.

3:30  OMG. Angelina’s STILL out for the count. Time to wake her up perhaps, in case she doesn’t sleep at night… yikes! That’d be the end of my short, so-far sterling babysitting career.

3:45  Uh huh, 15 minutes of gentle strokes later, the child’s awake, happy and eating half a PB sarnie (good thing they’re not allergic) with a cup of milk.

3:50  “I love my mommy,” Angelina announces happily in mid-bite. “I always fall ashleep.” (Sounds of Arabella and Theo taking turns at piano)

4:00 Girls are helping water all my patio plants (hooray!). Nearly fighting over this task but I’ve luckily found the second watering can.”I love my mommy,” Angelina says again. “I love her too,” I say. “You always come to our house. Will you, will you come again?” “Sure, honey, maybe next week!”

4:15 On the swing set. Scuffle has broken out between my boys unfortunately, so one is in a strop and has been sent indoors (am I a bad mummy for telling the gentle older child, “You can defend yourself” while mouthing the words “hit him back” while the enraged younger one is mauling his arm?) Rafi is pushing Angelina on the swing, Arabella’s swinging extremely well on her own. Strong as a gymnast, graceful as a dancer, and beautiful, “Abela” (Angelina’s pronunciation) is.

4:42 Angelina comes back in the house to finish her PB sandwich. Rafi lifts her onto the high chair. “You’re a big boy, Rafi,” Angelina tells him, eyes wide with unadorned admiration.

4:44 Girls have a banana each and run off to play the piano with Rafi. I start baking that cake so they’ll have a chance to have some before their mummy comes home. It’s in the oven in 15 minutes.

5:00 Arabella helps me finish cake preps and the girls want a go on the trampoline. “Carry me there,” says the lightweight one. I oblige (she’s too cute!)

5:28 We run in to escape rain. No sign of Rachael yet. How long before the girls decide this is not fun anymore?

5:35 Cake’s almost done. The girls adore Rafi and have gone to the basement with him. Phone rings and it’s Rachael.

5:36 OMG. Bad babysitter. Completely forgot Rach’s instructions to ‘put nappy on child before putting child down for nap.’ “Is Rafi’s bed soaked?” she asks. (OMG) She and Mark are stuck in NYC traffic.

5:45 I’ve run upstairs to check. Wipe brow! All is well because I had persuaded Angelina to ‘go potty’ before she napped. Yay!

6:00 Time to cook dinner. May be chicken burgers (homemade) for all. And chocolate cake. As it starts to rain, Rafi offers to watch the children downstairs so I can get cracking.

That was fun! Come back any time, A & A.

Lesson relearnt: It’s not possible to work while looking after kids below 7 years of age with no help!

PS. I took notes because the girls were saying cute things, and wrote this afterwards (hence the ‘sort of’ liveblog).

PPS. Yes, they did get to taste the cake!