Life is full of risks. As reasonable adults, we try our best to weigh the pros and cons before making any decisions. Will you need to bring an umbrella with you when it’s overcast? Can you drink the milk a few days past its expiration date? Do you need to tip the Chinese delivery guy who always comes to the house even though he doesn’t actually make or serve the food? (Will he spit in your food if you don’t?)
I have recently found myself weighing the pros and cons of a new inner conflict: “Do I allow that babysitter into my house to take care of my son?”
For the most part, GWE and I have had extraordinary successes with babysitters. These women have been personally vetted by GWE as to being worthy of staying in our home with our possessions and care for our son. I cannot take credit for any of this. And, as good as GWE is at assessing the “babysitter value” of the women that we let into our home – sometimes things don’t always go the way we’d expect. Here are two examples:
“Puff the Magic Babysitter” – When Justin was younger, GWE and I needed to attend an event. It was one of the first times we hired a babysitter. GWE called one of her sorority sisters, but was told that she was unavailable. Instead, she recommended her roommate – who she insisted was reliable, trust-worthy, and up to the task. GWE agreed to hire her based on that recommendation alone.
When the babysitter arrived, GWE gave her the grand tour and showed her everything that she would need know – how to use the remote, where the emergency numbers were, what Justin’s bedtime was, etc. After the tour, GWE went back to our bedroom to continue getting dressed. I remained in the den and I struck up a conversation with the babysitter. As we were talking, I noticed that the babysitter’s speech was delayed and she seemed slightly “drowsy.” Something didn’t seem quite right…and then it dawned on me.
I smiled at the sitter and excused myself. Casually, I walked into the bedroom and notified my wife that I thought the babysitter was high. She told me that I was being ridiculous. I insisted that I knew what I was talking about and that, indeed – she was “Riding the Pineapple Express.” GWE told me that I could not use this as an excuse to get out of going to wherever it was we were going. She told me I was being paranoid and demanded that I drop the subject. As a good and dutiful husband, I did.
At the end of the evening, we returned to the house to relieve the babysitter. GWE asked her how the evening had gone, paid her, and escorted her to the door. As she turned to leave, GWE and I noticed the “Free Hemp” and “Legalize Marijuana” patches sewn into her knapsack. Slowly, GWE realized that I may have been right. She turned her head and gave me the tense, unspoken, “Don’t tell me ‘I told you so!’” look. I smiled and walked away.
“The Alarmist” – Last night, Justin had another babysitter. She had been to the house before (incident free) and liked sitting for Justin. I let her into the house around 5:30, ran through the do’s and don’ts of Justin, and then quickly left for a client’s show taping.
At 9:30, I was already on my way home when my voicemail beeped. I looked over and noticed that I had a message from an 800 number. Not thinking much of it, I casually checked the message and was informed that the alarm in the house had been set off. The woman who left the message asked me to call 800-733-14something, something. I started to panic because she mumbled on the message and I couldn’t understand what the last two digits of the phone number were, but it was clear that it was a different number then the one my phone displayed.
I called the house and no one answered. I checked my voice mail three more times to try and decode when the number was. I then called GWE at her event and told her that the alarm had been set off and I was now concerned because no one was answered the house phone. I asked her to call the babysitter’s cell. Again, I tried to decipher the voicemail. I gave up and decided to guess the last two numbers. I got lucky and I was connected to the alarm company.
I was told that the Medical Emergency button had been pushed at the house and that Medics were on route. My heart sank and I began to speed toward the house when another call buzzed in. It was the babysitter. She seemed unusually calm and almost “sing songy.” I asked her if she was alright and if Justin was alright. She told me that everything was fine and that she had set off the alarm by accident.
I clicked back over to the alarm company and told them it was a false alarm and that they needed to cancel the medics. They understood….and then they informed me that since I didn’t answer my phone and GWE didn’t answer her phone, they followed protocol and went to the next numbers on the list – my inlaws!! (Oh, great! I’m sure that’s how they wanted to end their evening too!)
I sped into the driveway, threw the car in park, and ran in to the house. I knew that everything was probably ok, but I needed to see if for myself. Justin was the first to greet me at the door. He immediately ran up to me. “Hi Daddy! I got my peepee caught in my zipper. It hurt!” The babysitter assured me that that had nothing to do with the accidental alarm.
Once everything calmed down and GWE got home, we asked the babysitter what had happened. She had mistaken the alarm system for the air conditioning controls and in an effort to make it warmer, she put all of Northridge, California on high alert. It was an honest mistake. Who doesn’t think “warmer” when looking at a big button with a huge red cross on it??? I’m afraid to ask which button she would have pressed to make it cooler!
To date, GWE and I have had more successes than failures when it has come to babysitters. We have yet to return home to find Justin juggling knives, playing with fire, or laying on the floor bleeding. I do appreciate that his sitters have kept him safe…and in the future, I will be requiring all babysitters to provide urine and blood samples along with 15 notarized references!