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Location: Northern California

Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


The pied piper of babysitters

Last week a letter came in the mail for my daughter, who is two and a half years old. A child had addressed the envelope; I could tell by the block letters and the fact that it was written in pencil. Only children write in pencil.

The envelope contained a single piece of paper with an advertisement for the babysitting services of two neighborhood girls. I was touched. I also knew we probably were the only family they had solicited. The letter didn't strike me as being part of a mass mailing.

I know the girls who sent it; they live in a court behind us. I met them when they accidentally threw their shoes over our fence last year. They showed up with one of the girl's mother to retrieve their shoes and immediately fell in love with Emily. This was last June, a few days before Emily's birthday, and the next day they were back with a present for my kid. I knew then that I should be recruiting these girls for babysitting but I thought they were a bit young and that their moms wouldn't approve and I don't know; I was lazy, I guess.

Well that was six months ago and now these girls are knocking on my door looking for work. I can't believe my good fortune. For if you know anything about teenage babysitters, you know that you have to get them early, while they're still in middle school or even grade school, and before they are busy every night of the week with extracurricular activities designed to get them out of high school and into one of those prestigious universities that don't necessarily count "babysitting" as a life-enriching experience.

Excuse me while I gloat for a minute: I have babysitters coming to me. You read right. I don't have to befriend young girls at the playground in hopes that they'll soon be available for Saturday night employment. I don't have to beg mom friends for the names and phone numbers of the babysitters they use, only to have them avoid my gaze while pretending they don't have the babysitter's phone number memorized when I know for a fact that they do. I don't have to post an advertisement on craigslist and interview insane numbers of babysitters who seem to care nothing about kids and charge $16 an hour to watch TV and text message their boyfriends. Because if you didn't hate me already, let me tell you what my sweet neighborhood babysitters want to charge me for watching my kids.

$1.00 an hour.

Oh, mama, I am so gloating right now.

P.S. In case you think I'm a horrible person, please know that I will pay these wonderful girls more than $1/hour because anything less than $5 is just plain wrong. I'll probably pay them each $5/hour the first time and if it works out, bump it up to $10/hour. Heck, if it works out I'll probably consider setting up a college fund for each of them. Except that I'd rather they not go to college. Who will babysit my kids when they do?!