Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cruising for Sitters

Hi there - Just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. I'm julesrules, and Mama J has kindly allowed me to start blogging here weekly. Hopefully I will come through with amusing and witty anecdotes about my kids: The Duchess, who will be three in September; Honey, who is nine months old, and of course, the 40 year old kid in my life, The Grump. Or, I will just demonstrate what too little sleep over too long a time can do to a person's brain. I live in a large condo complex in the city of Boston and am a full-time mom who used to work in marketing and related fields back in the day.

Yesterday, I had a babysitter come by to watch the Duchess while I took Honey to a long-standing doctor's visit. (Little Honey was born with some issues, so we are always schlepping to the doctor's). She lives on the floor above mine and posted her ad in the basement laundry room, so here I will call her the Laundry Sitter. Finding her was lucky, because our Regular Sitter is going out of town for the summer and I need to book my monthly "date" with The Grump well in advance, or we'll never get to go out.

I found RS because she was my waitress last year. Another sitter I used for a while had been my personal trainer at the gym. Once I almost got a Starbucks barista. I confess: although I have used SitterCity in the past, now I just end up cruising for sitters around town. (And don't tell me that you don't, either - RS told me that moms are always coming up to her, although that could be just strategy on her part).

One of the other moms in my building emailed me about my experience with LS. I said she seemed great. (She is, btw). The other mom said she was going to pay for a background check on LS. I said, I figure that if she lives here in the building, she's not exactly going to be in a position to kidnap children and hold them hostage. (What is this, CSI: Condo Building?).

I laugh, but I am full of it. I check up on all sitters and call their colleges to make sure they attended there. I always call references and then try to figure out if they are actual citizens or just random roommates of the sitter.

Too bad I can't just be old school and hire a neighbor's teenage child. For one thing - they are too busy and not interested, which is strange since the older sitters are cash only and Not Cheap at that. (I am paying $18/hr. now for a sitter to watch both girls, which is impressively high. Maybe I should start babysitting!)

I also have the sneaking suspicion that today's teens couldn't hack it as a sitter. When I was 12, my neighbors used to hire me to watch three kids. I had no child care experience whatsoever, but evidently, I met the main qualifications: I was a) breathing, and b) able to call the fire department, should that be necessary. (Note: It never was). For this, I was paid $2 (yes, TWO dollars) per hour for the opportunity to watch "Dance Fever" and raid somebody else's food cabinets for potato chips. (I would have called a boyfriend if I had had one, but no, I wasn't that kind of seventh grader).

Somehow I would be able to wrangle the kids into bed and then tackle my math homework. Nowadays, it seems like a lot of these teens, what with their digital umbilical cords (i.e. mobile phones), would freak out. Or play Angry Birds or whatever they do these days.

Anyway, the Duchess played LS like a violin. I came home long after the Duchess was supposed to be napping, only to find poor LS sitting in the bedroom with a triumphant, wide-awake toddler. Apparently, the Duchess had gotten juice, candy, TV time, and pretty much everything she wanted while I was out. (LS hardly knew what hit her).

At that point, I just let it go. LS would not have known that I am engaged in a long-running battle over sippy cups with the Duchess (her: pro, me: against). How could LS possibly have known that with the Duchess, it's best to briskly set her down, walk away, and turn up the volume on the TV? I had already booked LS for a couple of dates in June, and I think LS might want to reconsider. Although maybe not - I did present her with a staggeringly huge check for a few hours' work. It's worth it though. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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