Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sitting Out

Even in the toughest of economies, I have often been surprised that people are willing to babysit my children. As my husband and I return home, dread begins to pool in my belly, and I cringe as I strain to ask, "How were they?" It stuns me each time our gifted sitters tell me they had a fine time, and sometimes my shock compels me to want to overpay them. Once in a while I've had sitters tell me my kids went to bed early, after making a picture, playing a game, listening to a story and brushing their teeth without any fuss, and I've wondered if I returned to the right house. I've suspected some of my sitters of sorcery or hypnosis, and I have been humbled in the face of their superior child charming strategies.

Don't get me wrong: I have worshiped my babies since before the first time I kissed the top of their funny little heads, and I Mama Bear with the best of 'em. But if I am totally honest with you (and I am compulsively honest) my children usually seem to me like the kind of kids that, if they weren't my own, would cause me to suspect inadequate parenting. From where I'm sitting, as the parent in question who works day and night to try to do what is best for our family, I tend to want to blame genetics a little higher above me in my family tree for my kids being willful, wild, and impulsive, but I would add that autism probably deserves some credit as well. My kids are not perfectly behaved with ANYONE, but they sometimes can be cute and charming with pretty young sitters they don't see that often, or they can be holy terrors for those very same sitters who somehow love them regardless.

That is all a very long introduction to today's headline. We just had our first sitter quit on us. It shocks me that it has taken this long. Truthfully, I would not want to babysit my children! And yet I didn't take it all that well. In fact I'm still not taking it all that well; thank goodness for blogging so I can get it out of my system.

See, we don't usually get sitters so we can have fun. (I THINK I remember fun.) Unless it's our anniversary, a date night is rarely involved. But sometimes we both actually need to go to work, and yet also take the kids somewhere else at the same time. So this week, I arranged for one of the sitters we have used before to drive the kids to Rooster's ed therapy, then get them to camp. For the bargain shuttle rate of $55 thank you very much. Plus twice as much for the therapy, of course. But we could at least go to work on time. At the end of the day, when my husband picked the kids up from camp, the camp staff members sought him out. They wanted him to know that they observed my children behaving uncharacteristically aggressive with one another as they entered the campus, with Peach scratching and hitting her brother, and even leaving marks from her finger nails on his neck as they both screamed at one another. As they watched in shock (my kids have had no problems at camp that I know of), my disgusted sitter marched off, leaving the camp counselors to regain control.

I expected to hear from the sitter, but I didn't, so today I emailed her. I said I heard my kids gave her a tough time and I wanted to know what happened.

She wrote back and told me that the Rooster is not the problem, that he follows her rules and usually makes good choices, but she doesn't want to babysit for us anymore. She doesn't want to endure Peaches' disrespectful and rude behavior, and she doesn't want to be responsible if Peaches hurts her brother. I wrote back and said that it's fine if she doesn't want to babysit in the future, but yesterday she already WAS responsible for my children and all reports indicate she simply walked away. And with that, friends, we are down one babysitter.

Believe me, I deeply understand the urge to turn and walk away when my kids get like that. I have felt it myself many times. But I hired this sitter because she had some experience with special needs kids and she is getting her teaching credential. Before she worked for us, I invited her over to observe them, and I gave her FULL DISCLOSURE. Sure, we get just as fed up with Peaches, but in this case, what about my boy? What about keeping him safe? And she thinks after a couple of hours with them once every few months that SHE feels overwhelmed? Really?

And why did she not contact me, but wait to cancel our next babysitting appointment (in two weeks, in case you were interested in filling in?) when I asked her what happened? Is that her plan when she has her own classroom? Or her own kid?

We used this sitter when our other gifted and amazing sitters were not available, and so luckily we still have them (J, J, A and M, for instance) to call upon in the future. It isn't losing a sitter that has me down. It's just -- well -- losing a sitter does have me down. You know what I mean?

1 comment:

Niksmom said...

W.T.H??? I am flabbergast (flabbergasted??) that she simply walked away and didn't contact you IMMEDIATELY. Seriously? Sounds like she has the maturity of a twelve year old. I'm sorry. :-(