I know I wax on about how great babysitting co-ops are. But really – it’s justified praise. Trading free babysitting with other families in my neighborhood is amazing. One of the best things about my babysitting co-op is that I know and trust the other families. I never have to worry about anything “happening” when I have a co-op babysitter watching my son (usually its another Mom, but sometimes a Dad). Things, for example, like this:
A few years ago, the Ex worked for a large, international firm. One of the perks of his job was backup childcare. If G was too sick to go to daycare, I would call this service and they would send a nanny to my house. A working parent’s dream, right? No missed meetings, no taking extra sick days. The only problem was that you rarely knew the person who was coming to watch your child. But, since they were being sent through a reputable agency, there was a built-in level of accountability.
We used two nannies from this service. The first was an older lady – a grandmother. She had been watching children for over 20 years and seemed to be a natural with G. The only problem was that she liked to nap while G napped. And, since we hadn’t a guest bedroom, she would nap in MY bed. That alone was not exactly cool with me. (Kind of ick, don’t you think?) But the worst part? As she was an older lady, she struggled with incontinence problems. I’m sure you can see where this is headed. Yes, the nanny had “accidents” in my bed. And while sympathetic to her incontinence, I was not sympathetic to someone peeing in my bed. Especially when that someone was not related to me.
Nanny #2 was 19 years old. I haven’t evidence, but I suspect her bladder worked quite well. Nanny #2 didn’t nap in my bed. Thumbs up. Sure, she was more interested in watching TV than watching G, but it was just for a few days until he was feeling better. Nanny #1 had already lowered the bar so much you could trip over it.
But trip Nanny #2 did.
That Thursday night, after Nanny #2 had watched G for the past few days, the Ex arrived home from his business trip. Tired, he went to pour himself a glass of his (fancy) Scotch. There was an awkward pause. “Erica, did you drink my Scotch while I was gone?”
Please note that he was gone for just three days and the now-empty bottle of liquor was full when he left.
“Of course not,” I said. “And no one was here except me and G and…” I recoiled in horror. Either the underage Nanny had drank the alcohol while watching my baby, or she had stolen it (and left the empty bottle behind). Both really, really bad options.
I went from horrified to irate pretty damn quickly. Face red and steam puffing out my ears, I called the agency and demanded to speak to the owner. I got him on the phone and I detailed the entire situation. He was horrified as well and wanted to know the Nanny’s name. When I told him, he laughed. LAUGHED.
“She’s one of our best Nannies,” he said. “She wouldn’t have done that.”
“WHAT?! She did,” I said. “How can you say that when no one else was in my house during that time? I don’t think my baby climbed on top of the fridge and downed a fifth of liquor, do you?”
“Ma’am,” he said. “I know she wouldn’t have done that because she is my daughter. And she doesn’t drink. She even told me that she hates the taste of alcohol.”
After reporting this agency (and giving the poor, naive sap of a father some tips), I vowed to be stricter about who I let watch G. While I’ve had a few great sitters since then, I haven’t been as happy as I am with our babysitting co-op. In addition to having someone trustworthy sit for me (and for free!), because there are over 20 families in my co-op, a sitter is almost always available when I need them.
And, so far, not one sitter has stolen my liquor. Or peed in my bed.