Just recently, I have realized that it is time to get a babysitter other than a family member. Until a few weeks ago, only my mom, my mother-in-law, and occasionally my sisters-in-law had babysat my children. But I really feel bad imposing on them and I knew that I would NOT feel bad imposing on a babysitter that I was going to pay a pretty penny to watch my kids for a few hours. So far, I found one girl that was very nice, responsible, and good with my kids (more importantly, she is willing to come back and babysit again)!
What I am getting to is that this whole process got me thinking of how hard it is to find someone you trust to come into your home and stay with your children. My oldest daughter is 6 years old and she is an open book...as soon as any babysitter left, she would most likely tell me every little thing that occurred while we were gone. When I was about the same age, I had a babysitter that watched me on a regular basis. I really don't recall any babysitters before this point in my life. When I think back to this babysitter, let's just call her "Sue" for the sake of the story, I wish I could say that I have fond memories. All I can say is a have many memories, but "fond" would not be the best word to describe them.
For starters, "Sue" was only 5 years older than me. I was 6, she was 11. That is unacceptable. What was my mom thinking? Is that even legal? "Sue" would come to my house 3 days a week during the summer while my mom worked. Shortly after the summer began, I called my mom at work and told her I would slit my own throat if she ever had "Sue" babysit again. The next day, "Sue" returned. She would lay on the diving board of our pool to catch some rays and ignore all requests by me to play barbies. She clearly did NOT want to play with me but she also would not allow me to go play with any of my friends. It was maddening.
Each afternoon, "Sue" would make me watch Days of Our Lives and General Hospital. I will not lie about this one...after awhile I learned to love these shows and became very invested in the characters (but I was 6 years old). Again, unacceptable.
Although my mom insists that "Sue" did not babysit that often, that is not how I remember it. It definitely lasted at least 2 summers and throughout the school year as needed. The following summer I think we watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre and St. Elmo's Fire over 50 times. She was 12, I was 7. NOT acceptable.
In "Sue's" defense, she was very young and I guess she did her best. And I am sure I was a real jackass. She did grow on me over time too. I even made up a little song that I would sing every morning as I waited for her (yes, I began to wait for her to arrive and I bet that my enthusiasm at 7 am was very charming). I would also like to add that I became possessive of her. When "Sue" began to babysit for another neighborhood family, I was pretty ticked off. But that family's house soon became my second home so if "Sue" was babysitting, I was usually there anyway.
In general, all of the situations I mentioned are things that would make me NEVER have that babysitter return to my home. But perhaps it was different in the early to mid 80s. Who knows.
As I reflect on my experiences with "Sue" as my babysitter, I realize that as long as I survived that is all that matters. I am sure that my kids will be fine with a babysitter every now and then. And hey, maybe I can even have "Sue" come watch the girls sometime...since she is the godmother of my oldest daughter and one of my best friends* (so I guess she wasn't THAT bad).
*NOTE: Although Sue is one of my best friends, I introduced her as "my old babysitter" until I was at least in my mid 20s.