babysitters

Why Do Parents Assume The Babysitter Parties All The Time?

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I’m a babysitter. I’m entrusted with the lives of kids while their parents go about the work that takes them from the home. I’ve been considered responsible for this position by being interviewed at length and by having my references checked. So why, after considering me trustworthy with the kids, do parents assume that the young babysitter parties all day and night?

I’ll admit, a lot of the elbow nudges and winks from parents are intended to be playful. I’m usually a lot younger than they are, I don’t have a family yet, and I’m sure from where they sit, it must seem like I have all the time to go out and get as loaded as I want to. But as parents start asking me questions about the many raving Halloween parties I’ll be attending and inquiring about the number of bars I hopped last Friday night, I start to get the sense that parents actually think I live that way just because I’m young.

Nope. Not in the least. I’m “old” and tired just like you. With laundry I need to do, bills to pay, dry cleaning to pick up, and dishes that need washing. I’m not doing shots on the weekends, I don’t smoke, and the last time I stayed up all night was to meet a writing deadline. At my previous job, I was working 9-5 and babysitting nearly every evening — collecting kids from school, preparing dinner, and putting them to bed. I was only 22, but I felt I was inching closer to the experience of working motherhood all the time.

Sometimes I’ve even felt older than some of the hipper parents that I babysit for. I’ve watched mothers shimmy out the door for parties in platform heels that even my craziest college roommate wouldn’t have dared wear when we were 18. With tiny dresses and full faces of makeup, I often realize that I’m the one who shows up looking more like a stereotypical mom. In jeans and a cardigan, I wonder why I didn’t bother wearing my knee-high boots to babysit.

Dads are ready to roll too, offering me up a cocktail from their bar and insisting that I finish the sushi on the counter. They’ll be home around two or three am, but maybe later. I should only call them if there is an emergency. Of course.

I wave goodbye to them at the door usually holding the infant and as I get the baby to bed, I tell him or her about all the fun Mommy and Daddy are having. When the parents come home after three, I can tell that they’re tipsy. The mother usually giggles and heads up the stairs to wash her face and lie down. They overpay me because they’ve been drinking and they don’t know the difference.

I got straight to bed once I get home and wake up early to go run more errands. As I hit the post office, the vet, and the grocery store, I think of said parents nursing their hangovers with a screaming infant down the hall.

(photo: Shutterstock)