Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top Ten List: Just Get A Babysitter

When the Cap'n and I were dating, we would go out to nice restaurants and see parents struggling with obstreperous children and we would ask each other: "Why don't they just get a babysitter?" [Editor's Note: Obstr-whaterous? Oh, how I hate it when you make me get out the dictionary, ya twit. -Kate]

We were a couple of asshats. [Editor's Note: See? That word I know. -Kate]

Getting a babysitter is not easy.  If you're one of those people who has on demand childcare in the form of a Mrs. Doubtfire-like mother-in-law who just wants to spend time with her grandchildren and never takes your money - congratulations.  And go suck it.  I hope you appreciate how good you have it. 

I have no such luck.  I had a teenager live with me for a year and guess what?  Even when you import one to live in your house, it still doesn't mean that they'll babysit for you.  And when they do?  It doesn't mean that they'll do anything other than text on your couch while your kids set stuff on fire.

Kate offered to take me to lunch yesterday - someplace really swank and cool.  [Editor's Note Again: To be clear, I didn't offer to take her. I offered to let her come along. HUGE difference. Bring your own cash. -Kate] Do you know what my first reaction was?  Horror.  Why was it horror?  Because who will pick up my kids and feed them lunch and make sure the baby has a nap?  Me go out to lunch? In the middle of the day?  Was she out of her damn mind? 

So that's great.  Because a normal person would have said: "Thank you."  Then I was embarrassed for being a jackhole and getting all weird and I tried to explain, even though she already understood.  Sort of.  So I made a list to help explain and here it is.

The Top Ten Reasons It Is Not That Easy To Just Get A Babysitter.
10.  Presumably you love your children and therefore do not want random strangers in your house taking care of them.  I know.  Picky, picky, picky.  That narrows the pool.  Are they responsible and trustworthy?  Do they have references?  Do they know CPR?  Will they make creative, mentally stimulating craft projects instead of just watching TV? 

Then maybe you start to get desperate, because everyone is busy or out of town or already babysitting for someone else.  The questions change.  Have you ever been convicted of a felony? No? Good!  Arrested for one?  Oh. Drat.  Then you find yourself hiring someone you've never met because your friend told you they worked as a camp counselor at the Y and you know they do background checks.  And you'll only be gone an hour.  Then the Bad Thoughts come and you just stay home.

9.  A miracle occurs and you get a reliable babysitter.  Then you realize that the cost of dinner and a movie just escalated by another $60 bringing the total for the evening to approximately $2.9 million dollars Canadian.  Not worth it.  Just stay home.

8.  It's your anniversary.  Or Mother's Day.  Or your birthday.  Or some other stupid day that's supposed to be all special and all about you.  That's hilarious.  Except that there is a law of babysitting that states: "If the event is intended to make Mommy feel special, there will not be a babysitter available.  And if there is any chance of actually finding one, you had best believe that Mommy will have to find the babysitter herself for her own special day.  And good luck with that."

7. It's still your special day and of course there's no babysitter, so you decide to just bring the kids.  It's better than cleaning and cooking and then cleaning again.  And so you call and make a reservation (for your own very special dinner) and you get there.  And then the next Law of Babysitting kicks in: If it's important to you/potentially really embarrassing, your kids will act like a pack of rabid, snarling wildebeests prompting the question from everyone in your vicinity - "Why didn't they just get a babysitter?" [Editor's Note: Is this where you use that obstreposteroserous word again? -Kate]

6. Finding a new babysitter means you get to have the following awkward conversation.  It starts like this: "How much do you charge per hour?"  It concludes with the realization that teenagers now make more per hour to sit on your couch, eat microwave popcorn and watch Pixar movies than you made at your first office job with a college degree. 

5. When you get home you learn that even though you are dealing with someone who is 17, they've cleverly imposed several hidden charges that jack up your bill.  Home after midnight fee: $20.  Don't have enough cash and have to write a check fee: $5.  Didn't leave enough cash for the specialty pizza they ordered: $10.  I learned the hard way that America's entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and living in my subdivision.  Also, that teenagers willingly extort money from grown-ups other than their parents.

4. More awkward conversations! Such as: "Do you mind if my boyfriend comes over after the kids go to sleep?" and "Wait.  Are you wearing my shirt?" and "Do you have Pay-Per-View?" and "What the hell happened to my cat?"

3.  You must learn to master several new technologies in order to contact prospective babysitters.  Call their cell phone? Email them?  No no no.  That's old school.  Most of the babysitters I have used over the past three years do not answer their phones.  In fact, their "phones" are primarily used for frantically checking for new text messages (in the manner of rats tapping pedals to get pellets) and Facebook.  And don't bother leaving a voicemail.  Voicemail doesn't even exist for them.  So if I'm out and I want to call to see if the kids are doing OK and the baby is asleep?  No can do.  But I can text that question and get back: "Yeah right LOL".

2.  You start to realize that you've found a babysitter with whom you'd like to go steady.  Now you begin a bizarre ass-kissing ritual whereby you try to convince her that babysitting for you is the best gig ever and she should never, ever say no when you ask her or make other plans or cheat on you with another family.  You may find yourself tipping her, buying Doctor Pepper for your fridge and assiduously [Editor's Note: And, once again, the dictionary. Thank you for nothing, you useless whore. -Kate] avoiding sharing any relevant information about her with your friends - for fear that they will steal her away from you.  Does this sounds like an unhealthy relationship?  That's because it is.  She has all the power and you are a creepy, needy, over-protective stalker.  And this scenario arises if you're lucky.

1. Let's say you find a great babysitter and all the awkwardness is behind you.  For a while, life is good. You can go out to dinner with your husband, or to get your teeth cleaned, or maybe even to get a drink with your friends...Then that selfish little whore will want to do something like go to college. Or get a real job and her own apartment. That hardly seems fair. To me. It means that I have to start all over.  Oh, I understand that these babysitters are growing up and need to move onto the next stage of their lives. But I also need to to see the new Twilight movie. I think we all need to get our priorities straight.

Starting with mine.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

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