We lost our fourth babysitter today. She had been the storytime lady at a book store, and while that was some of her only experience with children, we thought we would give her a chance. She loved kids, she said. She had impeccable references. She trains service dogs (because that has so much to do with taking care of small children, right?), but ultimately, she was far from satisfactory.
One day two weeks ago, we left for a date, and returned to find out that our son had cried for an hour and a half. The sitter never contacted us. An hour and a half. Un. Fucking. Acceptable. We attributed it to lack of experience, gave her another chance, but as the weeks have progressed, BG has been freaking out more and more about her coming. With previous sitters, he has been nervous about us leaving, but they have been good at distraction, have helped him move on, and ultimately, he has had a good time. Not so in this case.
Today she let us know her full-time job had shifted her schedule, and she would no longer be available to us after a couple of weeks. I honestly breathed a sigh of relief, but I was annoyed because I was fairly convinced she was lying to us (she informed us when we hired her that she had flexibility in her schedule, that she could make her own hours at work, that she could make a year commitment to us). I just wanted her to have the courage to say she didn’t want to do this because it was hard. But to her, it was a little bit of pocket-money for too much stress. I get it; I really do, but damn. To have to search again makes me crazy.
Today, though, we were going to BG’s new preschool to our parent orientation. He knew storytime lady was coming, and he was obsessing about it all day. He didn’t want her to come, he cried. He begged. When we got the email that she would be available for only a couple more weeks, I told my wife. She was, understandably, pissed. She didn’t want her to come today either, and when BG heard this, his little face–eyes wide and chin quivering–had such hope, such potential for relief from his anxiety, that we made the call to storytime lady, relieving her of her duties, and we brought him with us where he could play in the school’s daycare for a bit. Our boy was so positively relieved that he cried. And I cried too because I feel like I really blew it with this sitter. I really betrayed his trust by bringing someone here (over and over again) who didn’t make him feel good. That feeling really sucked.
We’re always learning, though, aren’t we? Now I know what kind of sitter to look for. I know what to avoid. And I know our son is not an experiment, and he’s not a test dummy for someone who thinks s/he might want to spend time with kids. It’s not so much that I didn’t know that, but more that I’m realizing I need to trust him, to take his lead a little more in the selection, to pay close attention to what type of person is going to keep him distracted and happy while we’re gone. He has his own distinct preferences, and we need to honor those (on top of our own preferences for experience, safety, lack of meth habit, etc.). The best sitter we had was a young woman who hid behind a curtain the second time she met him and told him she wouldn’t come out until he was more comfortable. He giggled endlessly at their game of peek-a-boo. We lost her to an au pair job in Holland (damn glamorous overseas gigs!), but when she would come over, BG looked forward to us leaving. When we returned, he was disappointed his play time with her was over. He loved her (and she really dug him). So while I’m frustrated to have to go through this process again, and while I know we won’t find the peek-a-boo lady again, I have to have faith that someone more suitable is out there–someone for whom a background check is not the most appealing characteristic.