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Sitters: The Last Stand

Six Simple Rules for the Ones Who Watch the Kids


It was disappointing news. Crushing, even.

Our first great babysitter in years - the kind who’s like family, only smarter - announced she was moving across the country, thereby annihilating our beloved Date Night.

While grim, the news wasn’t really surprising. I have lousy luck with sitters.

Starshine Roshell

There was Poor Judgment Girl, who decided to “rescue” our “lonely” dog from our backyard one day while we were gone and bring him to a 100-decibel kegger at her apartment. When we went to fetch him, she was too drunk to come to the door.

Then there was Blatant Liar Guy. We said he and the kids could build Legos, make sundaes, play Star Wars Monopoly - anything as long as the TV stayed off. We left; he plopped the boys in front of the tube and told them not to rat him out. They did.

Let’s not forget Hormonally Tormented Gal, who said she was taking my toddler to the zoo. Turns out they were at her boyfriend’s house, where my son watched Bob the Builder while the couple, um, coupled in the next room. Ick! Aack!

And I never did forgive poor Multi-Tasking Lady, who did her laundry at our house and left her lacy thong underwear in our dryer. When I found it, plagued by postpartum paranoia, I accused my husband of having an affair with the sitter. “Yeah,” he said, laughing louder than I appreciated, “we had wild sex and then … oh, baby … we did laundry!”

So I’m tired of being polite. I’ve had it with conducting “proper” interviews with potential sitters. I’m going to tell you what I really want in a babysitter - what I think most parents want - and see if it gets me any closer to sitter bliss.

One: We want you to have your own car. When we say it’s no problem to pick you up or drive you home, we’re lying. Frankly, if we wanted to spend one more minute attending to someone else’s needs, we wouldn’t need a sitter in the first place.

Two: We want you to know CPR. We don’t know it ourselves, have never met anyone who needed it, and our kids stopped gobbling up “choking hazards” years ago. Still, we like it. In our skewed logic, anyone who can re-animate a stopped heart should have no trouble getting a first-grader to eat his peas and brush his teeth.

Three: You seem to believe that calling our cell phones while we’re out is the worst thing a sitter can do. Au contraire. The worst thing you can do is be so afraid to call us that, when our infant won’t stop crying, you knock on the neighbors’ door and ask them what to do. (Yes, of course this happened to me.)

Four: If we’re gone three hours and eight minutes, don’t expect us to pay you for four hours. We don’t charge you for all the soda you suck down; don’t charge us for a couple of sluggish red lights.

Five: Be aware that we check your MySpace page for inappropriate photos. Not because we fear you’ll re-enact that nude beer-bong moment in our playroom. But because we know that someone who makes such short-sighted choices might not think to remove a pre-schooler’s “rubber band necklace” before he goes to sleep.

Six: Finally, we want you to be comfortable in our home. So comfortable, in fact, that you don’t notice the pet hair clumped under the high-chair, or the sand in our children’s sheets. Failing that, we want you to pretend that you don’t see it and never speak of it aloud.

I’ve noticed my own sitters are more inclined to contribute to the household mess than to gag from it.

Guess I’m just lucky that way.

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Starshine Roshell is a straight-talking mother of two and the author of "Keep Your Skirt On," available through KeepYourSkirtOn.com.

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