We’re at a tricky parenting crossroads, at which our kids are a little too old for most local babysitters (Son1 tries to get their cell #’s), and too goofy to be left alone. It’s not that they’re too young to be home alone. As wonderful as they can be when out from all reports I hear, at home they’re morons who would destroy my house. I literally would trust Son1 more with the infant next door than I would with his own 10 yr old brother. Our search for current viable options has caused me to look down memory lane at child care options past. It’s not easy finding coverage for 2 hyper wolves in sheep’s clothing.
You can only go to Grandma so many times before you feel like you’re imposing. She may not have felt that way, but I often did. There are also times my parents have a social life, so it’s not like she was sitting around waiting for my call. The boys LOVE it, but I just feel badly hitting her up all the time. Soooooo, off to the competent caregiver search we went time and again. The odd thing is that we found the recently-minted teens were solid, while their adult counterparts seem more prone to the con artists lurking inside every five year old.
We went the referral route. The snag there is people guard the name of a good babysitter like gold, and the ones you learn about are already working for 6 other families who must book 10 weeks ahead.
We went the internet match site route, and found a good one here or there. But the good ones are like free agents who always seemed wooed to houses with one bookish, craft-loving 6 year old girl. The one we ended up with seemed way more interested in our flat screen TV, had car problems every other week (which always happened COMING to our house rather than going?), had zip control over the kids, and nearly left in tears one night when I told her she should have questioned why the boys were playing with duct tape.
We went the uncle route. My younger brother is 10 years my junior, and falls into the “cool young uncle” category. Sons1 & 2 were all hepped up to spend some quality time with him while he was home on leave once. One brisk autumn Saturday with my two probably had him Mapquesting his return to Fort Drum. Of course, they had floated the idea that they love hiking and climbing in the woods by Grandma’s where he was staying. He fell for it, but I think they regretted it later, for their bluff had been called. The fun loving uncle from Easter and Christmas was then seen to be a disciplined, highly organized fitness fanatic who ran their butts off for eight hours, with out a video game in sight. They were whipped. For his part, he seemed stunned- STUNNED- that Son2 would swear, letting the then 6 yr old blurt out multiple F bombs before realizing Son2 was saying what he thought he was saying. He assured me he handled it swiftly and with time outs as we would. I then learned he doled out one hour timeouts to the kids. I’m sure Son2 spent most of it dozing or plotting the demise of this once favorite uncle.
The biggest coup by my kids was when we went the aunt route. My sister, bless her heart, was a made mark the second she walked in the door. I’m not sure how the boys knew a push over was to be had, but at 3 and 5 they did. I think she gets the award for Most Bamboozled Babysitter. Now what you have to know is my sister is a successful attorney with litigation experience. Show her contaminated drinking water and she is ON it. Show her a preschooler and all bets are off. I guess she thinks dishonesty is the domain of adults alone, and saw only goodness and light in her nephews. Excuse me while I devolve into laughter.
My sister once watched the boys while we went to a wedding. We came home just after 12 and were assured the boys went to bed by their summer bed time. Since they were in preschool, there really was no summer vacation or adjusted time. But of course, the little ones had assured her there was… about an hour and a half after the norm. She did comment they may have been in bed about 10 minutes late, as she hadn’t planned enough time for their 2 books each (2? what?), nightly bubble baths, and ice cream. “Huh?” was my only reaction. Son1 had announced that Mommy always gave them plenty of time to play, "like a half hour" in the tub each and every night. “With bubbles!” chimed a then 3 yr old Son 2. Still, the ice cream comment intrigued me, so I inquired. Her answer had me questioning her NY & NJ Bar approval. “Well, right before bed, (Son1) said I forgot their bedtime snack they have every night- ice cream. (Son2) was upset about skipping it also. They said you gave them ice cream every night.” And with that acceptance of the conniving words of a 3 and 5 yr old, she took the crown of Bamboozlement.
Hopefully, within another year or so, there will be some clarity to the “when to leave them/ when not to” debate. For now, I’ll at least take comfort in knowing how much time, money, and energy I’ll be saving soon in the great babysitter hunt. They’ll probably end up babysitting themselves. They should. They’d probably see right through their charges’ stories. God knows they’ll already know every trick in the book.