The Babysitter: A Parent's Partner
Definite do's for hiring a sitter
One Family’s First Babysitter
Our first babysitting experience occurred on a house-hunting trip to Massachusetts, six years ago. We were staying with my husband’s brother, his wife, and young daughter. Our hosts suggested going out for dinner and had lined up one of their regular sitters. Though this was going to be the first time we would be leaving our 18-month-old son with a “real” babysitter, I didn’t have strong qualms about it. After all, we were going to a restaurant nearby and would only be gone for about two hours.
Before we left, I carefully explained my son’s bedtime routine, and added, “He’s been really difficult to put to sleep lately, so it might be easiest to just let him stay up until we get back. Especially since he had such a late nap this afternoon.” The sitter nodded her understanding, and we said goodnight to the kids and left.
When we returned two hours later, the sitter was on the phone, and Cullen wasn’t in the playpen or family room. She abruptly ended her phone conversation, and explained, “Oh, he started crying right after you left, so I put him to bed.” With a sinking heart, I started up the stairs for the guest room and found our son, bright pink and sweaty. He had obviously been crying for a long time, and even though he had finally fallen asleep, there was still a sobbing catch in his breath. I’m sure you can imagine how I felt.
This sitter’s deliberate cruelty to my baby was incomprehensible. I ended up saying nothing about this incident to my in-laws or their sitter. To this day, I’m still haunted by my silence.
We’ve had other problems with babysitters. For example, one sat my daughter, who was six months old at the time, on the couch. Not surprisingly, minutes later Taryn tumbled onto the floor, landing on her head. I only know this because my second son reported it to me after the girl had left (and the large lump on Taryn’s head verified Brendan’s story).
Then there was the time that I specifically told a sitter not to let my sons watch TV. She not only disregarded my wishes, she barely waited for my car to leave the driveway before doing so.
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