Finding the perfect babysitter

by Jennifer Hatcher

Finding a good babysitter is like winning the lottery mega-millions jackpot. And sometimes it seems the chances of each are about the same.

Reality Chic Jennifer Hatcher

Throughout the years, we’ve had some fabulous babysitters. And I have selfishly hesitated to share their names and numbers with my friends, for fear these gems would be snatched away to babysit for a smaller family with more sedate children.

Some of our favorite babysitters have shown up with Candyland or coloring books or The Lion King. They’ve pretended to be a horse, giving rides all over the living room.  They’ve played dress-up and danced with my children while wearing a pink feather boa. They’ve read Apples Up On Top and Bedtime for Frances and Goodnight Moon and tucked my children into bed. And my children have loved them like family.

One babysitter refused to let us pay her after she had spent hours watching our children while we were at a funeral. She said it just wasn’t right for us to have to pay for a babysitter if we were doing something that sad.

Another time we hired a babysitter so we could go to dinner and a movie; but half-way through dinner, I was doubled over in pain with what would be diagnosed as a kidney infection. She willingly stayed until we got home from the ER in the middle of the night. And she wouldn’t let us pay her for all those extra hours that she was sleeping on our couch.

But finding these fantastic babysitters required a great deal of trial and error. One babysitter sent my 2 year old, 4 year old, and 5 year old out in the front un-fenced yard to play alone, where she could not see them from inside the house. That same evening, she allowed my 5 year old to take a pizza out of the oven. After I got home, my daughter proudly announced her accomplishment, “I can take things out of the oven now without help!”  This overprotective momma did not hire that babysitter again.

Another time, my children convinced a high school girl that I allowed them to drink blue snow cone syrup as a beverage! They consumed an entire bottle of the sticky blue liquid within an hour.  Their mouths and chins were stained blue for days, which is about how long it took for the sugar-high to wear off!

Less than a week after my husband laid new tile on our bathroom floor, a babysitter allowed our 3-year-old daughter to paint her own nails with my bright red nail polish. Of course, she spilled it on the new floor. When we moved 6 years later, there was still a faded red stain on the bathroom floor, making potential buyers wonder if it was Miss Scarlett with a candlestick in the bathroom.

Cosmic karma paid that same babysitter back, though, when she allowed my almost-2-year-old son to eat and eat and eat – cereal, yogurt, cut-up hot dogs, bananas, bread, more cereal. When she laid him in his crib, he threw up everywhere. So she got to clean up all sorts of disgustingness from the ridged bars of his crib.

Reality Chic Jennifer Hatcher and her transportation for a family of eight As my children got older, I encountered a new babysitter concern – what might my children do to frighten the babysitter away?

One afternoon, prior to a babysitter’s arrival, I caught the children making a list of all the rotten things they planned to do after their father and I left. Toss rubber lizard at her. Put fake roach on her food. Pretend to fight and then run in opposite directions screaming and crying. Lock youngest brother in the bathroom. Pretend to choke on dinner.

Clearly, they had been watching a little too much Parent Trap and Cheaper By  The Dozen.

Now, my oldest is a babysitter herself. She has learned what not to do from our horror stories, though I’m sure she’ll still make some mistakes along the way. She does know not to send toddlers out to play unsupervised, not to allow preschoolers to use the oven, and not to believe everything kids say about what Mommy allows them to do, especially when it comes to blue snow cone syrup or bright red nail polish!

Yeah, whoever hires her hits the babysitter jackpot for sure!

Jennifer Hatcher recently moved from the Orlando area to Southwest Virginia with her husband and six children. She no longer purchases blue snow cone syrup, and she pays her oldest daughter in Arizona Tea and crackle nail polish to babysit the other children.

2 Comments

  1. Carol says:

    Great story, Jennifer! I can just picture all those things you told about the babysitters and the kids! Haha! Miss your smiling faces around here!

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