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19 Jul 2011

I don''t understand this
A couple that I know well asked me to babysit their children occasionally because they work from home and need to get work done. They are practically friends of mine because a child I babysit is best friends with one of their children.

Anyway, I accepted (more because I recongnized they needed to work than for the money). I babysat their children (5 and 2) a few times, took them for walks and to the park. We starting calling each other 2-3 times daily to plan the next good time to tae the children.

Well, last week I got hurt. They knew about it and got very worried and did everything to convince me to go to the doctor, including calling me maybe 8 times in a row to make sure I would go. It was a good feeling to see they were so worried, but I also felt bad that they were worrying so much. I went to the doctor and it wasn''t anything serious. I called the couple to thank them and say what the doctor had said. Then I went and babysat their children the same day. That was on wednesday last week. On Thusday, I called them and left a message saying I''d be available the whole day, if they needed me. They tried to call back many hours later, which is unusual. Then I called back to apologize missing their call and ask if they wanted me to take their children. They didn''t pick up, so I left a message. Well, I never heard from them again. I tried to call many times, to no avail. Then yesterday I knocked on their door to see if everything was okay, and they said everything is fine. I asked if I had said something impolite perhaps. They said no, that everything was fine and they were just busy.

However, I have a feeling it''s more than just that. They used to call every single day, including on the weekend, and then all of a sudden they stopped. When I visited yesterday, the husband was in a terrible mood, like I''d never seen him before (he''s a philosophy professor, and usually the calmest person ever). He practically ignored me completely and only spoke to his wife in an angry way. They told me they are going on vacation today and he suggested to his wife that I could water their plants when they are away, which she in turn asked if I could do. She said " If your could turn on the sprinkler..."  to which he replied quite angrily " No sprinkler! We can''t leave the tap on in the basement. No sprinkler! I''ll leave a bucket outside and a couple of water bottles" . His wife got a little upset and said that wouldn''t be enough for a single flower pot. But he continued with the argument. Then a minute later, he came back to the garden and said to his wife, again in an angry way, " can''t you get the girls to come back inside?"  It sounded like he doesn''t trust me at all and didn''t want me to have the key to their house or even be around his children. His wife explained that he gets stressed out before trips, but I don''t know. That''s all very strange.
I remember the last time I took the children for a walk, I came back and the youngest pushed me in front of her father and laughed. (She''s at the stage where she likes to push people for fun.) Then I tickled her and said if she pushes me, I''ll tickle her. Her dad looked at me in a strange way then. Was that inappropriate? Or maybe he didn''t see it properly and thought I had hit her?

I''m very confused. I have a few years experience with children but I''m also a little shy and unsure how to react to unexpected behaviour sometimes.

I''m in my 20s and the couple is around 55 and 45, if that matters.
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Gosh what a long one ! It sounds as though they are having real problems between themselves, and maybe don't want someone who knows them, to see this, as far as possible. The problem really sounds as though it lies in them, and not you.
Maybe they'll work things out while on holiday ( or sometimes, being together so much on hiliday brings such problems to a crisis, for good or ill). Leave it to them to sort if out if they can. Don't blame yourself. Maybe the philosopher is grappling with a more practical and less philosophical personal problem
I'm delighted to hear that the art and career of the babysiter hasn't died out, as at the mall I see so many families dragging all the kids round with them.
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