One of the most important relationships a family can cultivate is with their babysitter. Leaving your precious children in the care of another is an anxiety-invoking prospect. You want to make sure that the person you charge them with will maintain consistency with your parenting style and the children’s environment, particularly if they are coming into your home. In short, you want someone who will care for your children the way you do, but it is a tall order.
How does one go about finding someone who fits the bill? You tell me because I surely DO NOT know! As a child of a single working parent and a working mother myself, I have seen some doosies and have sometimes gotten lucky too.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent, as well as the guilty, but here are a couple horror nannies from my childhood.
Miss Johnson – My mom first went down the live-in housekeeper/babysitter route. When this woman appeared at our door – no kidding – she was dressed in full uniform - pressed and starched – apron, cap and all. Before she would sit anywhere in our house, she would set a towel down for fear that she would pick up germs from our miniature schnauzer. I remember her as stern and strict and as old as dirt. She would make us pick lint off of the carpets so that she wouldn’t have to vacuum. Then, within a week or two, she disappeared in the middle of the night with all my mom’s silver. I’m completely serious.
Belinda – This woman was the direct opposite of Miss Johnson. Not only was she not strict, she did not lift a finger in the house. Her idea of entertaining us was to take us for a ride in the car. Then we would sit and wait for her while she visited her boyfriend. She would make a big pot of watered down soup from which she would feed us all week. We called her “Chicken Belinda Soup.” I shudder as I can still see her hovering over the stove with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Needless to say she didn’t last long.
Another charmer was Mrs. Jacobs who (if she did come) was always late. Then she would engage my mom in conversation, making her further late for work. After mom would leave, she would talk on the phone and watch television all day. We were instructed to either play outside or stay in our room. One day the police returned my 3-year old brother and his tricycle after finding him on the other side of town. Her reply: “I thought I told you to stay in your room!”
Thankfully, it was a little easier for me as a mom trying to find reliable care. I was not limited to finding individual babysitters due to the higher prevalence of day care programs. I did also go through plenty of in-home babysitters, especially after my kids were in school. Every summer re-presented the same challenge. One of our most dear babysitters was AnnieLou who became like a member of our family. We all loved her and she loved us. It’s priceless to know you are leaving your kids with a trusted person who wants to be with them and loves them. I will always look back on those days with AnnieLou with a smile.
What are some of your babysitter stories?