I’m never sure where to begin when I’m interviewing new babysitters. Corey and I don’t go out much, because it’s a lot of work to find someone capable of keeping our children alive for less than $100 while we go out for pizza.
We’ve actually found a string of teenagers who have been really helpful as mothers helpers or taking care of the kids for short bursts of time, but I’m currently on the hunt for people I can trust with the kids for a triple bedtime, potential diaper emergent evening…long enough for Corey and I to eat dinner and drink a beer.
Sometimes, I go right for the kill shot and start my interview with, “They will lock you out of the house if you give them the opportunity.” When met with blank stares, I expand, explaining how they like to lure sitters out the front door and then slam it behind them and turn the deadbolt. Once, when I was pregnant with Oren, I got a call from a sitter who got locked out by the older two. In January. They managed to get her outside without shoes on.
Other times, I start softer, asking if they know how to care for an uncircumcised penis. “No need to roll that back,” I’ll explain, demonstrating a diaper change. “Just treat it like a finger!”
Most often, I allow the children to answer the door when a prospective sitter knocks and I stand back, judging their response to whatever happens next. Are they horrified to see a ring of boys riding bikes through the house, pantsless? How does the sitter react if Oren takes a swan dive off the back of the couch into the bean bag chair? Can I see the sitter squinting at the ketchup on the curtains, trying to determine whether it’s blood?
A few weeks ago, our dear friend had a planned elopement and I hadn’t had time to find a new babysitter after our faithful champion moved to Virginia. I had to go with a recommendation from a friend, sight unseen. “Just don’t open the door, no matter what,” I said as we left the house.
When we returned in a few hours, she’d gotten the children to sleep, tidied up the downstairs, and washed my dishes. Then, she described my children as “mellow,” and I passed out.
Miles tells me (and his teacher at school) that his dream is to babysit his brothers, and I know I’m not too many years away from being able to leave them home with Mr. Responsible. For now, when none of them can reliably wipe his own butt after a poop, I remain ever hopeful that I’ll build a stash of unflappable masochists.
What questions do you ask when you’re meeting new babysitters?