I'M GONNA KILL HIM

The balancing act of baby sitters

Posted Nov. 10, 2013, at 8:59 a.m.
Erin Donovan
Erin Donovan

Baby sitters.

They’re like the Taliban. The Taliban in neon bras. They come in. They trash your house, take all of your money, all of your food, and all of your passwords. When you finally get them out, it’s like, “What happened to our internet?”

It’s funny how it starts with baby sitters. With your first child, you’re so nervous about entrusting him or her to anyone that, perhaps, you would consider going out for dinner for 45 minutes at 10 p.m. if you could get a NICU nurse to stand watch while they’re sleeping. By the time you’re on your third kid, like we are, you’re so desperate to get out that you see credentials in the most mediocre of talents. “This one is great. She’ll be fine with the kids; She doesn’t even write down our wireless password. She just remembers it; That’s a screaming sign of competency.”

Most mothers romanticize our own baby-sitting years, and we want our own sitters to be like we were. Never have anything to do. Know how to order a pizza. Work for quarters. Coax the kids to sleep on any horizontal surface.

I spend a lot of time discussing with friends the virtues of good baby sitters and the vices of bad ones. We each have our expectations, some falling on the housekeeping side of the spectrum while others simply demand the preservation of basic life functions.

No matter the laundry list — literal or not — of expectations, the conversations between mothers always end with one of them declaring, “This never would have happened when I was a baby sitter.”

To which I always reply, “True, but we didn’t have iPhones then.”

If I had a smartphone the way all the teenagers do now, I can only imagine the text messages I would have sent parents:

— Is chocolate actually bad for dogs or is that more of a personal choice?

— Do you really allow the kids to watch “Basic Instinct”? I probably should have asked you this 122 minutes ago.

— The kid up the street came over, and I heard him telling Jimmy that the school nurse found some moving white stuff in his hair with a pencil today.

— Do you know your neighbor’s wireless password? Of course, I am asking for your neighbor.

— I didn’t feed them because I was worried they might be gluten-free, nut-free, cassein-free and wheat-free. So we just went food-free.

— The king bed upstairs isn’t for all of them to sleep in because that’s what they said before they all fell asleep in it?

— Would you miss your Michael Bolton Greatest Hits album? Because it’s my dad’s birthday tomorrow.

— They told me they’d never tried Red Bull, and I saw a real teaching moment there.

— You did know that I am not CPR certified?

— The carbon monoxide detector kept beeping, so I just banged it with the end of the mop till it stopped.

— I did say that I charge $5 an hour, but that was before we’d established that your kid likes to play Candyland for three hours straight and you don’t have a dishwasher.

— Emma has a boy over, who she said was her Spanish tutor, which I’m assuming to be true since I keep hearing “mi amor” coming from her bedroom.

— What color is their vomit normally?

— If it’s not too much to ask, could you not drink too much, Mrs. Williams, so you could drive me home because Mr. Williams always asks me uncomfortable questions that start with, “I don’t know what your proclivities are …”

— Could we discuss a diarrhea-based hourly raise?

— How is “blunt head trauma” really defined? Related: Your countertops are really much higher and more slippery than normal ones.

— I wish you’d been more clear about what uncircumcised meant. Or I wish I’d been more clear about my boundaries.

— It would have been nice if you could have left money for the pizza delivery man because I had to pay him in gold from your jewelry case.

 

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