I love having my parents babysit, hate having them drive home to Irvine at 11:30 at night. Jeff and I were starting to feel that if we wanted to have a night with dinner AND a movie, we'd better hire someone so we can stay out late, sans guilt. A couple of months ago there was a Young Women program during Sacrament Meeting at church and as the adolescent ladies of our ward stood lined up on the podium I thought, "Ah, perfect babysitter scoping time." They all, for the record, were lovely. So with a double date on the calendar, the preceding Sunday I snagged one in the hallway, and made arrangements! I felt like I was looking down at my almost-30-year-old self fixing the date and time with this cute little Laurel, quite the out-of-body experience, and thought, "So this is it. I'm really a grown-up now."
Then as the date approached I realized how anxious I was to make it a positive experience for her. Jude would be asleep before we left, so that part would be cake, but this date called to mind all of my HUNDREDS of evenings babysitting for families in MY pre-teen/teen/college years. I babysat a LOT. And I was happy to have the money, to be endeared to cute little kids (mainly known through church). But some nights were torture. I'd get there and no sooner had I stepped over the threshold but the parents would be sailing the opposite direction, yelling "BYE!" No cell phones, no dinner directions, no jammies laid out, nothing. Once 2 families tag-teamed and I had 7 kids under the age of 5 under my supervision and it was 100% survival mode. I was 11 and had my fractured right arm in a sling from falling off the monkey bars. In hindsight I'm wondering what the hell the parents were thinking hiring a gimpy 6th grader to keep their kids alive for hours???
However, there were a few families who were helpful and made it as painless as they possibly could. One in particular, the Ormes, would stock their pantry with snacks and treats, they'd rent an array of new releases on VHS (Free Willy and Mighty Ducks were hot items then, if that doesn't make me feel EVEN older), and they would give a house tour, remote tutorials, and make themselves available if we had any questions during the evening. I remember I could even bring a friend and we'd feel like we were spending an evening in paradise.
I wanted to do this like the Ormes. I made this girl lemon bars, guacamole, and bought Ben & Jerry's, and we gave her our password so she could rent a movie on Apple TV. I scrubbed the house a little more earnestly that day and Jeff teased me as I Ajax-ed the sink, "Are you going to leave a trail of rose petals from the front door to the couch for her?" We laughed but really I was not sorry for over-doing it a little (if I was at all) because I wanted her to come back!
Anyway, that might have been one of the best dinner/movie nights we've had in a long time. We ate a leisurely dinner with our friends Amber and Bryan where I didn't have to keep shoving food into a toddler's mouth in hopes he'd stay happy, still, and quiet (which rarely worked anyway), and the movie, Moonrise Kingdom, was clever and quirky. And even though the night was more expensive for hiring the help, it was 100% worth it (we just won't be able to have those nights every weekend). Jude never even knew we were gone, but he did lunge for her at church the other day, so I'm thinking step 2 is having her put him to bed. Am I getting ambitious??
I welcome Jeffrey and myself to the babysitter-hiring side of life.