I babysit a lot. Since my undergrad degree in bad guys, crazy people, and terrorists is pretty much useless without a graduate degree, and until I get that my career options include Starbucks and babysitting. And Starbucks hasn’t called me back. Most of the kids I babysit are wonderful and we get along great. And then there are the psychos.
I have babysat some truly crazy kids. And the all have one thing in common, which leads me to the first thing on my list:
“He/she is a perfect angel! You’ll get along great.”
Doubtful. Listen, I know you love your kid and think the sun shines out of their ass, but let’s be real. Every child has a little monster inside of them, no matter how sweet they are. You need to accept that there will be times when your darling is acting out, and you need to deal with that appropriately. When you tell me your kid is a perfect angel, you’re really telling me that you think your kid can do no wrong, and let them walk all over you. Then when I roll in, they try walking all over me, and since I won’t let that happen, sparks will fly.
I’ve babysat three “perfect angels,” and each one of them was a holy terror. The first two were siblings, which felt like my own little circle of hell. In the course of one evening (and unfortunately there were multiple evenings), I had a gecko dropped on my head, a guinea pig tossed at me, I was chased with the cat while holding the gecko and the guinea pig, and then they emptied the contents of my purse into the muddy backyard, after tossing my shoes into the ravine behind their house. Thankfully their stepfather knew what little psychopaths they were, and would slip me a couple extra twenties at the end of the night. The third “perfect angel” wasn’t as horrific, but he had never had a babysitter before, and his mother gave him everything he wanted. When I babysat him, I had to pick him up from school, take him to their house, and hang out with him all evening. Instead of doing his homework, he decided to show me his sword collection. Yes, swords. As big as he was. And them he demanded dinner at 5pm, but refused to eat anything in the house. So I made him chicken fingers and fries and told him he could take it or leave it. Then the homework battle resumed, culminating in me hiding his DS, his CD player, the TV remote, and everything else that could possibly be fun. When his mom got home I ran away screaming.
“No television/computer/media/anything fun.”
Guys. I understand if this is a big deal for you during the week, or if your kid is in middle school and has a ton of homework that they’re supposed to get done. But if it’s 7:oo on a Saturday night and I’m cooped up with your eight-year-old, you’ve GOT to give me options. The kid wants to watch TV and play with the iPad and DS and iTouch and whatever the hell else you bought it, as long as homework is done, I don’t understand why you’re trying to force crafts down your kid’s throat. Especially if you let them do all that stuff while you’re home, and then expect me to pull the plug. That makes me the bad guy, and already I’m fighting uphill. I’m not you, so I don’t have your authority, and if the kid is pissed at me from the beginning, we’re both screwed. Give me something to work with. I can go with “not too much technology” or better yet, “[time limit] of technology,” but if you ban it outright, I’m in trouble.
“He/she can have a friend over.”
NO. DO NOT DO THIS. Unless we’re friends for a while and I know your kid and most of their friends, don’t say one can come over. Because that opens up a whole new can of worms for me. For one thing, are you going to pay me extra to deal with this second kid? This child needs to be fed and watched and that’s a lot of work. I don’t know their eating habits, allergies, what they’re allowed to do, I’m flying blind. And what about their parents? Are the other kid’s parents going to be fine with dropping their kid off with a stranger? I know you think I’m great, but what about the other parents? They have no idea who I am and you’re expecting them to leave their kid with me. What if the kids get in a fight? I can handle your kid, especially if I’ve babysat for a while. But someone else’s kid? What the hell guys, don’t throw in another kid without making sure it’s fine beforehand.
What about you guys? For those of you that babysit or have babysat, what have the parents said that has made you want to break down? Leave it in the comments.b