With unemployment hovering around 7%, one would think finding an after school babysitter easy.
Pick-up an 8-year-old from school. Take her to swim or dance class. Feed her dinner. How hard can it be?
But my babysitter tales have been of the Twilight Zone variety with seemingly normal folks proving unreliable or doing something slightly off and giving the creeps.
Proof that I don’t make this stuff up, here’s a shortlist of some of the sitters I’ve entrusted with my kid:
First up: Natasha. A Stuyvesant High School Russian math-whiz who was fond of wearing micro minis in the winter. Her hooker attire made want to me scream: “Put some clothes on. You’re going to get me arrest for running an underage prostitution ring!” (See Natasha.)
Once she made the cheerleading squad, she did a switcheroo with another Stuyvesant Russian brianiac. (See Sticky Fingers). I now question how smart she really is since she was busted shoplifting in Whole Foods.
Between was hippy-dippy Cindy, a F.I.T. student from the Bay Area, who showed up at work with her long haired dachshund Chloe. Everything was groovy until she got workitis and started calling in sick. Every day at 2:30.
Cindy’s boyfriend Robert then stepped in. He was another super cool dude, except he bought Savannah candy and ice cream – daily. He also once left a used condom in the garbage.
You read right.
Between there was a lot of on-offs, most notable Patricia, a chatterbox from St. Lucia who I couldn’t understand and who sat on the couch while my daughter and friend drew on the walls.
“You need to know we saw your kid run into the street while your babysitter was on the phone,” the community center called one day to say.
It was the only time I ever fired someone.
This school year, I dutifully ran ads on Craig’s List and Sittercity, while collecting names of aunts, mothers and grandmas from friends. Call them and you find the unemployed are the busiest folks around. And, truthfully, I find childless women who play the “I’m-a-great-card” high maintenance.
“Mommy, she won’t let me skip,” Savannah complained about a childless aunt who came highly recommended.
“Being a “great aunt,” I’ve learned just means you’re the ATM for the big ticket gift items.
The current babysitter was a reluctant hire after a trial period, during which she wowed me by popping out the Scrabble game.
Okay, this may work, I thought.
No sooner did I give her a week pay in cash did she ask: “Now, what should I do if I have to call in sick?”