About a week ago I got a call from a friend, living a 20 minute stroll away, asking if I wanted a babysitting job while she’s on holiday next week. I figure, babysitting, I’ve done that before. Going to someone’s house, read the kids a story, put the kids to bed (unless you’re lucky and they’re already asleep), watching a couple of hours TV that I’d probably be watching anyway at home and getting paid for it. Not at all strenuous, call me lazy but that’s the type of work I like.
I accept and the friend tells me she’s going to pass along my number to the woman I’ll be babysitting for. Two days later I get a text from the woman in question asking if I’ll go round their house briefly one evening to meet the kids, fix dates and whatnot. At this point I see nothing alarming, parents like to check in with these people – make sure they’re not leaving their kids in the care on a serial killer or anything. Standard procedure, I’ve done this before.
So I go to the house at the specified time on the decided day and I’m greeted at the door by a man who says his wife’s not home but he’ll answer any questions I have. At this I’m a little confused, normally it would be the other way round- him asking me questions. However, I didn’t voice this opinion and politely stated that I have no inquiries. The man looked relieved and says, he thought I wouldn’t as I already know the kids so well and everything. I’m thinking, ‘Excuse me!?’ I’ve never met any of your family before now. He looks shocked when I say this and asks if I know anything about the job I was going to do. I answer this with, “babysitting?” as if I was being asked a difficult question in school but I wasn’t really sure of my answer. I follow with this by saying “I was going to fix dates with your wife tonight.” I figured there could only be a couple of nights at most, my friend was only going away for two weeks. The man’s not sure about dates except he thinks that it will be 4 days next week (I’m thinking, “Jeesh, these people like to party!”), but he corrects my first answer from “babysitting” to “babysitting/nannying”. Now I don’t know what a “/nannying” actually includes but the rapidly talking man in front of me says this:
Getting up at 6.30AM so that I can get to their house at 7.15AM, waking the girls up, getting them both dressed, making and feeding them breakfast, brushing their teeth, walking them to school, walking them home from school, entertaining them for 3 hours, making and feeding them dinner until their mum gets home around 7.30PM. On top of that the 7 year-old is apparently ‘over-emotional’ and frequently gets sad and/or has tantrums and the 5 year-old is a severe coeliac so that if she consumes any gluten there is a chance of her dying. I don’t know about you but that seems quite a lot for a “/nannying” to include. I’m overwhelmed as I leave the house with promises of the wife/mother calling me that night to finalize dates.
Once I got home, I started to panic, the only experience I’ve had with kids under 10 is putting them to bed, and at most reading them a story, hardly dressing, feeding and teeth brushing. This woman basically wanted me to be the kids mum when she couldn’t be. Don’t you think there’s a reason why sensible kids don’t get pregnant at 16? Responsibility. I’m not confident providing for these kids who I don’t know, even for a fee, while I’m highly capable of doing something stupid while I’m busy being a selfish 16 year-old and thinking of myself. Whether it be letting them wander into the road en-route to school or forgetting to wash my hands after I (God-forbid) consume gluten. I may be overreacting, lord knows how my friend managed, but I’m nowhere near ready to look after anyone except myself at this age.
When I try to explain that to the woman on the phone later that night all she replies is, “Did my stupid husband freak you out?” Although inside I’m screaming “YES”, I refrain to say this and explain myself a way that roughly equates to, “It’s not you, It’s me”. She’s obviously heard this one before because this she understands. She utters a sarcastic “I appreciate it. Bye” and the phone goes dead. Woops.