Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge



Eoin 1
I’ve been minding my niece Lola the last few mornings. When I volunteered to do this, before she was born, I envisaged a small child sleeping contentedly in a cot, or playing with a toy, while I worked away quietly at my desk. It would be fair to say that I knew fuck all about babies at that point.

I’m a little wiser now. Babies, let’s say, tend not to bottle up their feelings. When they cry, it’s like having a car alarm go off in your living room. Your number one priority is to make the noise stop. Everything else is secondary.

I have a set list of tricks I use…

1. Put a soother in her mouth. Soothers are next to useless. They’re a million to one shot. If the soother works, it’s as likely she just ran out of steam of her own accord. Most of the time, she’ll just spit it back at you. Next.

2. Make funny faces. I don’t go in for baby talk. It baffles me that children ever learn to speak, the way adults spout nothing but gibberish at them most of the time. But I do have a limited repertoire of funny faces. If I’m lucky, my Generic Crazy Man face might just be enough to buy a couple of minutes peace.

3. Pick her up to see her reflection in the mirror. At this point, you’re essentially saying, ‘Look at yourself. You’re literally a cry baby. It’s pathetic!’ Surprisingly successful, this one.

4. Tour of the house. Okay, so the mirror thing went well. No point resting on your laurels here. One thing babies invariably respond well to is motion, so it’s time for our daily (sometimes hourly) grand tour. My sister lives in a fairly small apartment in the city centre. So it’s kind of a crappy tour, to be honest. (“We’re in a windowless room with tiles on the walls… That’s right! You’ve guessed it! It’s the bathroom!”)

At this point, I’m just hoping the baby will be so bored of my enthusiasm, she’ll pretend to be asleep to shut me up.

5. Beyonce. She’s changed, she’s fed, she’s been through steps 1-4 and she’s still crying… It’s time to bring out the big guns. For some reason, Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) is like the happiness-inducing equivalent of Kryptonite to this kid. I put her on my knee, find it on YouTube and, voila, one happy, bouncing baby!

‘Yo Lola, I’m gonna let you finish. Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time – but this is the tenth fucking time this morning… What about some Miles Davis…? …Hank Williams?’

Previous Adventures in Babysitting

October 7th, 2009.


  1. Conal Says:

    funny. like the mirror tactic, it’s never to early to try a bit of introspection.

  2. Alan Moloney Says:

    This is weird. I was babysitting last Friday and the only thing – ONLY thing – that would stop the crying was that song. Beyoncé, what’s up with THAT?

  3. ursula c. Says:

    Try Jackson 5 i Want You Back – usually works for me!

  4. Eoin Says:

    @ Alan – Some combination of the rhythm and the movement. During the mellow bit, about two and a half minutes in, she often starts whimpering again – I have to fast forward to the chorus to avert meltdown!

    @ Ursula – thanks, I’ll give that go!

  5. Rosemary Says:

    Have you tried, eh, a vibrating chair? Jaysus I’m really not helping the “I’m sane” argument, but kids love it. They just sit there vibrating, happy as Larry, as me Ma’d say.

  6. Eoin Says:

    She’s actually in the vibrating chair with the Barney music playing when this whole sequence usually begins.

    As you can tell from the speed with which I reply – I’m not babysitting her today!

  7. Sarah Says:

    Three people in my office (doing a PhD, not a productive member of society) are currently bringing their small children in to work. They are forever fucking screaming their heads off. Are all children under 18 months depressed? Why are they alway, always crying? Why don’t their parents take them out? Or pick them up? Do they not find it difficult to write up experiments listening to a shagging air raid ?!?! Getting my tubes tied…..

  8. Eoin Says:

    Hey Sarah, try using Beyonce on them. Seriously, there’s a PhD thesis for someone in there…

    The Popular Appeal of Beyonce’s Single Ladies Amongst 0-18 Month Old Infants in the Context of Post-Marxist Neocolonialism etc. etc.

  9. Rosemary Says:

    Seen this? Freakishly compelling.


  10. Alma Says:


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