So, I keep wanting to tell you more about the gala—like that it was hosted by alums Deborah Norville and Deborah Roberts, who kept being referred to collectively by people like the president of the university as “the Deborahs,” which made me want to collectively punch someone in the face, although I was apparently in the minority in finding it demeaning rather than cute—but I am too mired in consternation.
The time has come to admit that I am still grieving the loss of our old babysitter.
Our regular babysitter in New England was a neighbor, which was a happy coincidence when we first started using her back when the kids were tiny, and an absolute necessity once I was a single mom and unable to leave the kids to drive her home at night. She sat for us for for about six years, and was delightful in every possible way. Most notably, “raising her up” alongside the kids meant that she knew them well and handled them with finesse.
After the move down here, I proceeded as I always have, when it comes to finding a sitter—I looked for a young girl whose parents we knew, whom I could likely coax through some early “mother’s helper”ing and then into actual sitting as time went on. We were able to find a lovely young lady and engage her services.
Now, part of the problem, I know, is that we simply don’t use a sitter very often. When I was single, I needed a sitter at least once a week. Now when I run off to PTA or whatever, more often than not, Otto can hang out here with the kids. So there hasn’t been as much time for the kids to get comfortable with the new sitter and for the sitter to get comfortable with the kids.
Another part of the problem is that my children are rotten beasties who often give Oscar-worthy performances, particularly when it’s time for bed. I know this.
But the biggest problem is simply that this young lady is… not very forceful. The last time we had her sit late into the evening, we arrived home and the children were still awake—several hours past their bedtime. I was… not pleased. But she was clearly flummoxed by their refusal to go to sleep, and trying to reason with them (silly girl), and I wrote it off as inexperience. Also, I punished the kids, as they are old enough to know better than to pull something like that.
So when our sitter arrived for the gala, I gave her a pep talk. I explained that SHE IS IN CHARGE and WHAT SHE SAYS GOES and that time for bed means TIME FOR BED. She nodded and agreed. I gave the kids a pep talk—NO BEING ROTTEN FOR THE SITTER. All seemed well. And off we went.
When we came home, the first thing we noticed was that every light in the house was on, save for the bedrooms. EVERY SINGLE ONE. In the case of the family room alone, that meant that FIVE separate lights were on. Three lights were on in the kitchen. All the hall lights were on. Etc. It was like walking in on the surface of the sun. “Wow, there sure are a lot of lights on!” I joked, curious to hear what she’d say.
“Oh, yeah, well, for some reason Monkey walked around and turned them all on before he went to bed. I’m not sure why.”
Huh. Well, I would’ve made him TURN THEM OFF, but of course she hadn’t done that, nor did she take it upon herself in the intervening three hours since he’d done that to turn off the unneeded lights. And this is not a big deal, no, I realize it’s not, but it’s a pet peeve of mine to leave lights on, and let’s face it, JUST PLAIN WEIRD to sit in the middle of all those lights and not have it occur to a person that hey, this is sort of unnecessary.
But I was not going to jump to conclusions, because I could forgive the excess wattage if things had gone okay with the kids. Had things gone okay with the kids?
“Well, Monkey went right to bed with no problems. But, uh, Chickadee was up for about an hour. She’s having some self-esteem issues, I think.”
And then I became boneless and slid to the floor in a pile of frustrated goo, as my bones had dissolved in sympathy for this girl’s vaporized backbone.
Chickadee is having self-esteem issues, sure, if SNIFFLING THAT HER HAIR IS UGLY TO CON THE SITTER is a valid self-esteem issue. Which I would posit it most emphatically is NOT.
Otto paid the sitter and took her home, while I stewed. The next morning I asked Chickadee what had gone on, and she tried to keep it up for about ten seconds—assuring me that yes, the state of her hair really had distressed her, last night, to the point where she was unable to sleep—and then finally she broke down and cried, “BUT I MISS OUR OLD SITTER!”
Hey, I miss our old sitter, too. But that doesn’t excuse behavior of the extreme-buttmunch variety, though I expect in her own way Chickie was just conducting a test. How far can I push this sitter before she pushes back? The answer, sadly, is FOREVER, and I think it’s time for us to investigate other options.
I find this problem especially perplexing because Chickadee is ten-and-a-half, and by her age I used to stay home alone without a problem. Heck, I was babysitting by the time I was eleven. I’m NOT suggesting that Chickadee is ready for either of those things—although, I would be quicker to trust her to take care of someone else’s little kids (which she is surprisingly great at) than I would be to allow her to tend to her own brother for an evening—but she is Getting To That Age where having a sitter becomes a little dicey. Having a 13- or 14-year-old sit for your 4- and 6-year-olds is fine, but having one sit for your nearly-11-year-old may be an inevitable battle of the wills. Even if said sitter is a little more self-assured. Not that I would know.
The logical solution is to investigate an older sitter—a college student, perhaps. My solution, though, was to find our old sitter on Facebook and send her a message asking her to send Chickadee some email to say hi. And to then inform Otto that we can’t ever go out again.