Babysitters are a fact of life for parents. Even though you may think when you bring junior home from the hospital that you’ll never want to part with him, the truth is by week three, you’re arguing with your spouse about who gets to go to the grocery store. Nothing says, “You need to get out more often!” like loitering around the produce section just so you can debate the best butt creams with other parents who won’t go home because they just can’t face yet another diaper horror show. The only way you and your spouse can regain your collective sanity is to find that one coveted babysitter you can trust and afford.
Needless to say, this is about as easy as hunting for Easter Eggs on Halloween, because once parents find good babysitters, they usually don’t want to share them.
Which is why when my boys were little, in a moment of desperation, one time I had to break in to my neighbor’s house to get the phone number of her babysitter.
Okay, it wasn’t an actual break-in per se. I was feeding their cat while they were on vacation. I had the key and was welcome to go in and out of their house as I saw fit. One evening after our babysitter cancelled at the last minute I saw fit to go in and get their babysitter’s name and phone number, which I noticed was written on a whiteboard in the kitchen. I defended this sneaky act by telling myself my neighbor and I were close enough friends for me to do such a thing. Or at least that’s how I justified it in the heat of the moment.
I contacted the pilfered sitter, a lovely 16-year-old girl named Jessica who had just obtained her driver’s license. This was a big plus, because now we didn’t have to worry about taking her home after a wild night of drinking (us not her), thus eliminating the embarrassing risk of being pulled over for a DUI with a babysitter in the car. Which we never would’ve done, anyway, not necessarily because we were afraid of the law, but because we were even more afraid of being blacklisted by the parents of a perfectly good babysitter.
After I made the call Jessica came right over. My husband and I went out and we had ourselves a grand old night out on the town. I didn’t give my self-indulgent, babysitter-stealing ways a second thought.
Until the next morning, when I experienced that darn “day after” shame.
I was feeling a little guilty because a couple of weeks prior to that I had asked my neighbor for a babysitter referral and she told me she didn’t have anyone she could recommend. So imagine my surprise when I saw Jessica – babysitter, followed a phone number, written on the white board above her desk.
I made a mental note to ask my neighbor about it later. But now that I’d simply forged ahead and called my neighbor’s secret sitter without her blessing I was no longer in any big hurry to bring up the matter. I figured it would eventually surface all on its own one way or another.
And sure enough it did—two weeks later, to be precise, when Jessica pulled into our driveway and waved at my neighbor, who was working in her yard. By the look on my neighbor’s face you would’ve thought I had enticed her husband to give in to my sultry ways. In fact she probably would’ve preferred that I had done the horizontal tango with her hubby than deny her the freedom she had once known by having a babysitter as good as Jessica all to herself. It was an awkward moment. I knew I had to do something. I walked over to my neighbor as she angrily attacked a lilac bush with pair of clippers that were so scary they looked like they could’ve gutted a warthog.
“I’m sorry Ellen,” I confessed. “I meant to tell you sooner.”
“How long has this been going on?” She asked furiously as she hacked off a thick branch in one swift chop.
“It all started while you were on vacation. I thought it was just going to be a one-time thing. But she was so good, and she said she needed the money for college.”
“I suspected something was going on. She wasn’t as available as she used to be. But I never guessed it was you.”
I hung my head in shame. “We can share her,” I offered meekly.
“Oh, please. This is Utah, we may share our husbands, but you know as well as I do babysitters are sacred. I’ve got five kids, four of which are boys. Jessica could handle them all like a seasoned nun at Catholic boarding school.
“You’re Catholic? I thought you guys were Mormon.”
“We’re neither. I’m just really fertile. And now I have to find a new babysitter, because you only have two kids, who for some strange reason, go to bed at a reasonable hour. So just who do you think Jessica is going to save herself for on New Year’s Eve? Or any weekend night, for that matter? Huh? WHO?”
Um, she had a point.
And with that my poor defeated neighbor turned and stomped into her house, leaving me to consider my actions and wonder, what was I thinking? She’s right! New Year’s Eve DOES book up fast. I’d better get in there and call Jessica pronto!
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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.
For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.