Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Question of the Week

When Cordelia travels to Lady Trescombe's home she is received by the old lady and then told that she may go into the garden to meet her charge, Eileen, on her own. This is when I fall in looooooooove with Lady Trescombe.
My adolescent babysitting career was unexceptional as these things go. I came, engaged in awkward banter with the parents, was introduced to the perishing terrors, given loose instructions ('We've fed the baby tapioca...keep an eye on that...), and waited while the parents left. Sometimes this took some time--the little darlings would watch Mommy grab her purse and linger on the doorstep while mayhem and wailing would be emitting forth from her progeny. And I would be hopping with impatience for them to leave so that I could get on with the actual meet and greet--wherein the children, freed from the necessity of putting on a show for Mom and Dad could size me up without tears or undue drama.
Now that I am the mother I have learned a thing or two. Brief the babysitter (a well-trusted and hardy lass) on the way to our house. Make no eye-contact with my kids as I collect my things like that Longfellow poem: And the night shall be filled with music, And the cares that infest the day, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, and quietly steal away.

My question is: Babysitting stories. Cough them up.


  1. When I was fourteen or fifteen I had a regular Friday night babysitting job watching two really easy kids; Quinn and Cecily(baby and toddler). Baby Cecily was like one of those unbelievably placid Betty Neels babies. Their parents had a weekly meeting with their 'motorcycle club'. I never had any problems with the kids or parents except once - usually the parents were home by midnight at the latest...but one night they stayed out all night - without calling. I remember that I called the hospital - and maybe the police. They showed up in the morning - their club had decided to drive up to Portland (100 miles away)for the evening. I was VERY well paid for that night.

  2. This one time I was babysitting Betty Debbie's grandkids and while one of them was having an epic meltdown on one side of the house, the other one put a library DVD case into a big Pyrex bowl, CLIMBED ONTO THE STOVE, and TURNED THE OVEN ON BROIL. I started to notice the smell and went into the kitchen to see him putting an oven mitt on and getting ready to retrieve the hot (this word doesn't seem to be enough) Pyrex bowl, which had been in there for five minutes.


  3. I once had to call Poison Control while babysitting--the 4-year-old had swallowed some 'liquid skin'. They assured us that as long as she wasn't acting drunk or loopy...two words that perfectly described her 'normal' behavior.

  4. We've got the babysitting blues.

  5. Then there was the time I was babysitting for a single mom and got taken home by her date on a motorcycle. Dad was not even slightly amused.

  6. It's a product that you use for small cuts and abrasions--

    You probably shouldn't swallow it.

  7. Oh, lord -- too many stories to count. I babysat for more than 25 years before I went to law school. (I had other jobs, I should assure you, lest you think that was all the income I had pre-law.)

    I do recall having to get bubble gum out of the kid's hair -- and *he* was very vain and certain I was going to ruin his looks. I earn both his praise & my pay that night.

    But otherwise, no -- my most vivid babysitting memories are uninteresting stories, like the time I got a first-time babysitting gig for a newly divorced dad and he had NO furniture plus he stayed out until 4 a.m. -- which left me trying to snooze on the dinette set chairs. Not fun, not fun at all. (And I was wildly underpaid for that one. Some of them -- a lot of them, I have to admit -- I was overpaid. But not that time.)

  8. In my role as VBA (Very Best Aunt) to dozens and dozens of nieces, nephews, great-nieces -nephews and now THEIR children (and sundry other kids who are no relation whatsoever) I've had some real adventures. One time babysitting my best friends beautiful little girl - 21 months old - she was eating those miniature pretzel twists. She swallowed one whole and began choking. Her father told me later she wouldn't have died but she was turning blue and I was panicked! Fortunately my son was home from school sick that day and told me to do that "thing" and held his hands out squeezing. So I did - I grabbed her around her tiny chest and squeezed. The pretzel flew across the room and Elizabeth looked at me and said, "Oh, hugga baby!" I did.

    Another time, when babysitting my sister's two children, I got yelled at by her husband when they got home and I was in the living room, house all tidy, kids sound asleep upstairs. He asked just what I thought I was doing. I'd been pretty pleased with myself. Their son, at age 4, was no easy kid to get to bed, but I'd managed.

    He was hollering at me for putting the kids to bed and then coming downstairs, leaving them alone up there. What if there'd been a fire? At that point my sister stepped in and said, "It'd be OK if the kids died as long as Cindy died too?"

    I could go on. I've been babysitting since I was 12 - 39 years - most of it "VBA-Gratis."

  9. They never put their kids to bed and came downstairs?! I'm shocked and Betty would be too...I remember one of hers where she leaves the pram under the window and goes upstairs to make beds...or was she working in the garden while baby slept in their room?...

  10. That's why baby monitors are such a great invention. And smoke detectors!