Sunday, August 26, 2007

The No Nanny Diaries

As I mentioned a post or two ago, our beloved babysitter quit us in favor of her education or something, leaving the boys, Mitch in particular, bereft, and leaving John and me panicked since she quit only a week before the semester started. (In her defense, she was trying hard to rearrange her schedule and didn't know for sure that it wouldn't work out until late in the summer.)

So we pulled out all our old nanny-seeking tricks: an ad on the job board at a local university, an email to former students of mine, a request for friends to ask friends. We got several replies, including one from a student I taught last spring, a smart girl whom I really liked.

She started last Wednesday. Yay! And quit last Thursday. Boo.

She has some health problems, which I knew about, and in her email she explained that she'd thought long and hard and had come to the conclusion that her schedule was too grueling to fit in the babysitting, and sorry, she hoped she was giving us enough time to find someone else. Well. The semester started yesterday so...not really.

That makes 2 babysitters quitting in a week's time. Also, over the summer, when I was teaching/directing a couple of writing workshops, the sitter we hired to keep the kids for those 2 weeks quit after her first day, too. She called from her car claiming she was covered in hives from an allergy to our cats.

So what is it? Does our house stink? Are the boys horrible? Are these "I have to quit because" reasons just...excuses?

In my contemplation of the matter, I came up with a list of reasons a babysitter might not want to work for us. Turns out there are a few:

Ant Jubilee 2007. The exterminator is coming on Tuesday, but the ant parties have been really really rockin' lately. Ant infestation = gross people.

The big, boisterous man sitting at the dining room table talking loudly in a managerial tone. AKA Being alone in the house with the husband; AKA Babysitting with a parent present = nerve wracking.

Owen's tendency to relate every detail of his school day in a high pitched voice. Including a comprehensive list of who got X's on their behavior cards and why, what everyone had for lunch, what kind of cars the teachers drive, and a recitation of the carpool pages over the PA.

Mitch's insistence upon physical play. Including jumping into 120 pound sitters' laps and climbing up their legs, begging to be tickled and/or chased.

Paige's mommy-centric-ness. When mommy is not present, she crumbles in a heap on the floor, refusing toys, sleep, and food. Occasionally eebee or Baby Einstein will help, but only for 10 minutes.

The ginormous crack in the ceiling. The former home owner who installed the ceiling fan in the family room did a shoddy job, and now there is a crack zig zagging from the base of the fan to the top of the wall which makes our house = The House of Usher. So the new babysitter grand tour includes a warning not to turn on the fan or sit under it. Or near it. Or sneeze too loudly.

The lawn. It's been hot. Really really really hot. And our lawnmower blade is shot. And it's been too hot to live. And also very hot. So the lawn is a teensy bit overgrown. Add that to the pile of outdoor toys in our carport = we are rednecks.

The cat stink. Our cats can sense when someone new is visiting and feel it is their solemn duty to welcome new people with a steaming pile of cat crap in the litter box so the new people can smell just whose territory it is.

The poop duties. Apart from the cat stink, we have two children whose bottoms must be wiped, one of whom is also big enough to call from the bathroom, "Come WIPE meeeeeee" and then ask the wiper to look at his poo before he flushes it. Newbies are often unprepared for the wide range of poop duties in our household.

Our neighborhood. I like our neighborhood. It's been called a "marginal" neighborhood because of its proximity to a few "undesirable" areas of town, but I have no problem living here. (We did choose this area after all, and its "marginality" comes with living downtown.) Many of our neighbors are super friendly, run of the mill suburbanites. But it happens that one of our neighbors might be a drug dealing thug (or at least kind of look like one), even though he has always been very polite and respectful to us and sweet to our children. See, the girls I hire to babysit who are students at the expensive private college where I teach probably don't come from neighborhoods where the thuggishness of their neighbors is in dispute. And some of them are from very small Southern towns and have family members with very small Southern points of view about difference.

I realize our family may be a wee bit quirky. Our house is a wee bit quirky. Our kids are a wee bit quirky. So maybe it does take just the right person to work for us, though when we've found the right people, they've been incredibly loyal and dependable. Since 2001 we've had 3 long-term sitters, all of whom left because of graduation/senior year internships, and all 3 have been wonderful and have stayed in touch with us because they care so much for our children. So, yes, there are people out there who love us despite our faults.

I suppose we just have to keep looking. Meanwhile, local readers, if you know anyone, please pass along this ad:

Downtown family ISO part-time nanny. Looking for someone with lots of energy and a love of children. Duties include playing with our 3 kids, fixing snacks, and helping kids clean up after themselves. Must have reliable transportation, references, and no cat allergy. Those with skeevishness about ants, fear of ominously cracked ceilings, a low tolerance for babbling, or prejudice toward red necks and thugs need not apply.


myminivanisfasterthanyours said...

This is one good looking home! Decorate it yourself? I'm glad to see the movers from the pics on your old home didn't drop anything on the way over :)

bella said...

you, and your delightfully wicked humor are brilliant.
Good luck finding a new sitter.
It is hard, I know.

MadMad said...

It's not you, it's them, to paraphrase a bit. For sure! (Well, maybe the drug dealer thug a little, too, but mostly them.) It always takes a little to find the right sitter, I think. And better to know sooner, rather than later, right? Still, bummer. Hope you find someone soon!

Rhonda said...

LOVE your blog. We have nanny issues... only on the other end. Two of my daughters have "nannied" the last 5 years for a total of 5 families. Quirky is a plus too, now if you only lived in Connecticut, we could help you out!!!