Secrets of the sitter

I began my work as a babysitter in the December summer of my Grade 10 year. I was going on an overseas exchange so there was an incentive to earn some extra cash.

A friend and I printed and photocopied posters like mad, armed ourselves with enough play-dough to mould a mini Table Mountain, and let loose on the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.

Babysitting has been known to turn some people off ever having children of their own. Here’s why.

Gourmet chef ain’t in the job description
It’s great when potential employers see beyond your basic skills and encourage development. It’s not so great when you have two kids under the age of 10 demanding attention as you try to acquire these new talents.

This is what happened to me. It was announced quite casually as they stepped out the door that there were some veggies, pasta and mince for supper and if I could just whip it up for the kids that would be great.

What?! Where!? How?!

To someone who had not yet tapped into her culinary flair (whatsoever) this came as a brutal surprise. I stood perplexed in front of that great invention called the oven for quite a while. I pondered the reality that these sweet darling children may never recover from my meal and I would be babysitting blacklisted.

After numerous calls to sources of support I took the great food plunge and prepared that dish. The children were less than enamored. Shouts of protest and food began to fly.

“I want my mommeee!”
“This tastes like cat food…ugh gross!”

Bengy decided the pasta needed to be tested (once again) and began to fling it across the room. Jean was beside herself crying with the passion that only a three year old can employ. Late that night those dear parents returned home.

“How were the kids? Good?”

I glanced briefly down at the mince stains, surveyed a pasta free wall and smiled sweetly. “Of course they were.”

The bird in my head

Parents often forget to tell the babysitter essential details before they exit the house. These small but significant things can sometimes even have a bearing on said babysitter’s sanity.

I had the most intriguing experience while watching TV one night when the kids were asleep. From the rafters above me I heard a voice. Yes, a voice!At first I thought it was a celestial moment or that the voices in my head had actually escaped this time.

I looked up and there sitting comfortably was none other than the family pet– Felix the parrot! He continued to say hello all evening. Every sentence uttered by a TV character was peppered with an extra layer of dialogue, per kind favour of my new feathery friend.

3 things the babysitter would never tell you:

1. While looking for that telephone number you left… those ‘artistic’ pictures of you on your honeymoon… lock them up.
2. The cute toy bear your kid owns is great but when he proceeds to beat you incessantly with the thing, it ain’t so cute anymore.
3. Watching TV may work as a great time saver for you but when the sitter pushes the Off button the screaming from the children is a painful experience to say the least.

Would you trust a Grade 10 to babysit your children? Have you ever had a bad babysitting experience that put you off having your own?
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