I Have No Idea How To Hire A Babysitter

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babysitter-entertaining-childSo much of parenting is trial by fire, isn’t it? Yes, you think you’re prepared with your books and your BabyCenter groups and your vagina puppets and then one day you pop your actual baby out and all you can do is look at it, wide-eyed and bewildered, wondering what idiot actually let you do this and wondering if you can put it back.

That never changes.

As soon as you master one thing, it’s on to the next, and as soon as you get a grasp on that it’s not longer relevant. For instance, I can potty train the shit (literally!) out of a kid, but who cares? I’m never having another one. I will only go back to working with children of potty training age if someone lobotomizes me, so why does it matter that I know how to do this?

It does not.

Of all of the things I’ve learned to do as a parent; potty train youngsters, suction mucus, breastfeed while making margaritas, and cook up a golden grilled cheese, there is one thing I have never mastered, and that’s the art of babysitter hiring.

When someone says to me that they have a reliable babysitter to watch their spawn for a night out, I automatically hate that person and seethe with jealousy, because how is it, that all these years later, I still have no idea how to initiate the simple transaction of entrusting my child to a complete stranger, paying that stranger, and getting totally shnockered during a night out on the town?

Now, it’s not that I’ve never gone out. I have done, but it did take a while. We don’t live near family, but there was a solid stretch of time where my friends and I would swap out childcare duties amongst one another, sometime after my kid turned four. This wasn’t so much “babysitting” as it was “kids hanging out with other kids,” so I’m not sure it really counts.

Before that, I truly did not go out, mostly because I was paralyzed by my utter ineptitude at babysitter-hiring. I don’t mind admitting this. The subtleties of the entire process mystifies me. How do I find a sitter? How much do I pay them? When do I call them? What if they flake? Should I have more than one babysitter? What if the babysitter dies suddenly while I’m out of the country and my daughter gets into wacky hijinks while I’m away?

This only comes up again because now that we’ve moved, I’m not close to friends and too awkward to do anything but stare at other moms and grunt at them, hoping they’ll take pity on me and adopt me as one of their posse.

They never do, which means if I ever want to get shnockered in public with my husband again, I have to hire a babysitter, which leaves me back at square one, with no where to start and a deep resentment for Ann M. Martin and the false impression I got about roving packs of capable sitters-of-babies as a teenager.

I realize that there are websites for this kind of thing. And I’ve tried them. Besides providing me with new dilemmas (do I interview these people? What do I ask them? Whoa, it’s HOW much extra for a background check?) two popular services also provided me with a teenager who expressed surprise at how much my toddler pooped, and a woman who wanted $30 an hour.

What the fuck, world? Where are all the babysitters? How is it that I can do all kinds of awesome stuff, but this very basic, very common task eludes me?

A mature person would overcome this issue. I’m clearly not that, so I’ll just wait to go out until my daughter graduated high school. It’s only ten years away, after all.

(Image: auremar/Shutterstock)