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Solid Sitter Search Was Seldom Simple

February 17th, 2009

I read the other day that the latest way to find a babysitter is a match-making process like speed dating. Prospective sitters and desperate couples show up at the same place and rotate through five-minute meetings to get to know each other.

“Check this out,” I told my husband. “We should have been so smart. Mass interviews! Disaster prevention!”

“Doubtful,” he said. And I had to agree. The truth is, no amount of interviewing ever guaranteed a no-surprise experience when it came to babysitters.

Still, we persisted on the advice that even after children, marriage must come first. Evenings out must continue. Romance is meant to linger.

We just hope ours lingers for as long as the babysitter stories. With the youngest already in college, the tales persist.

One young woman, who assured us she worked well without direction, volunteered to do odd jobs around the house when the kids were napping.

“A self-starter!” I told my husband. Imagine our surprise when we discovered she’d re-touched our glossy white kitchen cabinets with a basting brush and some leftover wall paint.

Naturally, we avoided sitters the children couldn’t stand, but we soon learned to be more skeptical of the ones they really liked. That wisdom came with a woman we’ll call Sabrina, a 15-year-old who took it upon herself to give the boys piano lessons and, more significantly, sneaked her family’s cable box in her purse and hooked up the TV — and our boys — with movies that would make Walt Disney blush.

“Can she please come again?” the children would ask with uncharacteristic enthusiasm for a musical education. When we noticed that the C scale had been inked indelibly on the ivories, the oldest even took full credit to keep her from being fired.

“Sorry,” he sniveled on the way up to his room.

For awhile, it was heaven. With such a popular sitter, we went out nearly every weekend. Sadly, one night the cable box spilled out of her handbag and, soon, the full story.

“We need a more mature sitter,” I announced, going on to hire a white-haired woman complete with bun.

“I feel better already,” I told my husband as we pulled out of the driveway. Sure enough, there were no calls for help, but we had to shake her awake when we got home.

As she snored, our older one, almost the age of Sabrina and hungry for money, made his pitch that he could provide more vigilance. As he pointed out, it had been several years since he locked his brother in the closet.

“OK,” we said, as he cleverly proposed a better rate than we’d paid Sabrina or Sleepy, and soon we went out for an evening at a restaurant very nearby.

Again, no calls for help. And when we called to check on them every seven minutes or so, no complaints. When we got home, the dishes were done, and there was no sign of a struggle.
“Fine job!” my husband said.

“Excellent!” said I, trying to be discreet as I peeked at the piano keys, just to make sure.

Copyright Pat Snyder 2009

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