January 13, 2021

Don't we have dinner in the oven? Chia seeds. Other red flags, and gratitude

After I commented recently on Suz's blog about how grateful I am for my babysitting families, I thought I'd share why . . . 

At last, all the pieces have fallen into place. This is my 6th year babysitting for families from my home . . . so, it's about damn time. 

This was me trying to get a photo for our
 ornament project. The 18 month old in the
middle looks like he is fed up with the twins.
 Really we were playing peek-a-boo.
Up close twin on the RIGHT-
I double checked that -
is the Bolt hamster one. 

I've had my fair share of nut jobs. Remember Narcey? Nightmare. Or the mom whose kid had chronic diarrhea? He was potty trained, but struggled to make it on time. I suggested she get him to a doc. Instead she listened to a podcast and asked me to sprinkle chia seeds on his food. Who could forget the Ungratefuls? 2019 Christmas: they didn't give me so much as a hand written note of thanks. The dopey dad refused to knock on my door, always just letting himself in. Ugh.

We parted ways in the spring, and part of me was worried. I was relieved to be rid of them, but they DID meet some of my criteria, minus the normal factor. Sometimes it's easier to dance with the devil you know. I was scared to take on someone else and get a newfangled nut job. 

My criteria: Part time. Teacher hours. Normal parents. A sense of humor (generally I get along with anyone if they have a sense of humor). Laid back types work well with me. The people who are grateful are clearly the best. New families want my references, but I'd also like THEIR'S. "Can you have three people email me to assure me that you're normal?"  - too much to ask? Stay tuned for a few examples of how I've learned a bit to gauge whether or not people are normal . . . 

At the start of the pandemic, I was hired by a teacher at my kids' high school to watch her twin babies this school year, so that limited who I could take. *Or so I thought. Hello, FB accidental hire* 

The other two families who are still on the docket from last year, are literally totally opposite from the Ungratefuls. They paid me for the rest of the semester last year even though we were locked down. The text messages they sent when I said "that's really not necessary" brought me to tears. So kind and gracious. 

New this year:  the baby twins, one twin continues to remind us of the hamster in Bolt. I knew the twins' mom because she taught Ed AP Caluc, and I thought we'd get along just fine. Understatement. We've totally clicked. She's abundantly grateful that I watch her girls. Even though she's a first time mom, she's very relaxed. One twin is really fussy, but I don't care. I do my best to make her feel well and the mom and I trouble shoot as needed.

So far, new FB family has been a good fit. The parents gave me a Christmas gift even though I'd actually only watched their kids twice before Christmas. The 2 year old cried the first few times he came. The 2nd day was the worst. He was seriously melting down. The mom started to tell him that she'd stay for a little bit. I picked him up and said:  NO YOU WON'T. HE'LL BE JUST FINE. (to the 2 yr old) COME ON, I WANT TO SHOW YOU SOME OF THE TOYS IN MY BASEMENT. And that, as they say, is how it's done. I texted her a few minutes later "He's fine!" 

* a short trip to the basement was my way of preserving my children's sleep. No one wants a grumpy 2 yr old AND a room full of grumpy teenagers on their hands. 

PART OF THE REASON I DECIDED TO TAKE THEM She's a teacher, she and her husband seemed nice. They only wanted part time. They hit all the marks. Even though it meant I'd need to switch to 5 days a week.

In total: 3 toddlers boys, 3 baby girls . . .  the more the merrier. I look forward to the nonstop entertainment they'll supply me as they grow up together. Yes, I'm easily entertained. 

The lessons:  

Wait, Ed - I liked eating breakfast
 with you. Come back!
Hard NO:  In July before I met the FB accidental fam, I interviewed another family. They wanted part time. They were teachers. It seemed like it might work. Their kids played in my family room and they told me that they preferred to drop their kids off on a set day, but if that day happened to be a day that a friend could watch them - then they'd end up not brining kids to my house. 

This would clearly save them money, but I pointed out that I don't do drop-in care. I give two weeks of freebie days for sickness or travel, etc. After those are used, you pay regardless of whether or not you use my services. Why would I hold a spot for a kid who comes as needed? 

Literally, after I explained my policy (which is pretty common), the dad looked at the mom. "Hey, we should go. Clean up kids. Don't we have dinner in the oven?" I tried not to die laughing, because I was like - 

Dude, mutual. Get out. I've had my share of your weird type. Ba-bye.

Steer Clear:  When Coach and I went for a walk in the summer, we introduced ourselves to a couple who had just moved in. They had two little kids. I told them: "We have a daughter who babysits. She helps me at my in home daycare, so she has experience."

This perked their ears up. "We have a nanny, but . . . " They'd had her for years, with a break in the middle while the dad was out of work. She was now back with them and bringing her own child. They said they trusted her and she took good care of their kids, BUT they weren't sure she was able to give enough attention to THEIR younger child who was close in age to the babysitter's child. 

Me:  I don't do full time, sorry. 

We walked away, and Coach was like - HEY, THAT SOUNDED PROMISING. 

Me:  They're not my type. (am I getting wiser with age, or what). Coach, they're considering ditching a woman who they claim to like because she does a great job, who was flexible (or maybe just available) to come back after the dad was employed again. Now they aren't sure their daughter is getting the attention she needs. PLEASE. They need to give it time. In a few months, this will no longer be an issue. Their kid has a built in playmate, same gender even. There is no pleasing these two. 

Coach:  Wow. 

Me:  I've sharpened my weirdo-sensing abilities. Remember the first time meeting Narcey? She told me that she figured I was Type A just like her. Huh? I'm NOT Type A. - Turned out neither was she - she was narcocsistic.  Red flag. 

My babysitting friend, Becky, laughs when I occasionally take out the ancient sandwich bag of chia seeds I keep in the back of a kitchen drawer. I shake it to remember, avoid the weirdness. 

Coming Friday:  short post. I'm highlighting some of my kids' talents. Wait, it sounds like my kids aren't talented if I'm referring to it as a short post. They are talented, damn it - and it is a short post. Come back. I'm not crazy. 


Suz said...

Goodness; I remember the ungrateful parents, the dad who JUST walks in and I just went and read about Narcey. NUT CASES.
I'm SO happy that you have a nice set of families this year and perhaps that is a sign of ONLY GOOD THINGS TO COME? Sorry for yelling....just hoping the universe could hear us.

Your weirdo-meter is fully functioning and I'm SO proud of you.
Isn't there a book or movie called Adventures In Babysitting? You could write that!

Kara said...

Gods bless the people who open their homes to watch other people's children (for pay of course). I had my kids in in-home daycares for the first 3-4 years of their lives. I always knew it was a job and not a drop-in and treated our daycare providers professionally. They got paid if my kids were there or not (my husband had a bit of a flex schedule for a couple years, and a few days a month would decided to keep the kids or an individual kid home for the day). We understood when the kids would come home with the occasional bump or bite, because that's what kids do. And were relieved that we did not get dropped in a hot minute when our youngest turned out to be The Biter in her age group.

Also, don't chia seeds do the opposite of stopping one up? I know they do for me. I add a tablespoon to fruit smoothies for their interior scrubbing properties.

Ernie said...

Suz - Oh, the Nacey saga was something else. Her kids are younger than mine, but in my district. I know people. About a year ago she texted me out of the blue to ask me NOT to tell anyone that I ever babysat for her kids. I never responded but oh how I wanted to. I will make her no promises. I owe her nothing. Wondering if she's worried the truth might slip out. I think the accidental FB mom who hired me works in the same district as Narcey. Different buildings? My favorite episode of that nightmare is that the evil dad came to pick up the kids and gave me a few minutes notice that they weren't coming back. Said nothing like 'thanks for everything.' Ed was in high school and he was the only one home. I was shaking with anger. I told Ed, if your father was here, he'd have something to say to that poor excuse for a man. Ed said, I'll go tell him what I think of him. No prob. And he did. It was beautiful.

Yes, I saw that movie back in my teenage babysitting prime. I was literally ticked off when the Nanny Diaries movie came out. I could've written something like that. No dads ever hit on me, fortunately, but still.

Ernie said...

Kara - I honestly feel like these little guys get the same fun that my kids enjoyed growing up. Not that hard to recreate, although my body is making weird creaking noises more when getting up and down off the ground lately. Some parents are just crazy. Demanding. Never satisfied. We LOVED this little girl we watched a few years ago and they girl was SO happy here. After one year the parents opted to leave and gave a lame excuse that was no way accurate. I felt like I deserved the honest truth. I also felt like: GOOD LUCK FINDING ANOTHER PLACE WHERE YOU KID IS HONESTLY LOVED THIS MUCH.

Oh, that had to suck to be responsible for 'the biter.'

No idea what chia seeds are supposed to do. This woman, who I am still in contact with and she is a good person who was crazy about the care I gave, was just a little peculiar.

Kari said...

I can't imagine someone walking into my home! I mean, I don't even understand that. I know you're watching their child but still, it's creepy.

We used to eat Chia and I thought they made you go to the bathroom??

Saying prayers for you. I've said this before and I will say it again, I give you so much credit. Having that much going on in your home? Sending huge hugs. :)

Ernie said...

Kari- no idea what chia seeds do but I have a little baggie of them in case I ever figure it out.

That dude was major creepy.

Life is never dull. It keeps me out of trouble. Someone just reached out on FB saying I came highly recommended. Needs care in the fall. Four half days. Hmm. Tempting but I might be at capacity.

Charlie said...

So happy you have a full set of kids from nice families. But.... (and I know this is awful) I am just the tiniest bit disappointed that they won’t supply you with weirdo parent stories to pass on to us!

Ernie said...

Charlie - Hilarious! No worries, I have a decent story about my guy who wasn't here for months. Maybe I will share next week. It isn't a 'your parents are nightmare' story, but it is fairly entertaining. Mini is studying parenting types in AP Pscyh so she is enjoying deciding what parenting type each parent is. More to come.

Pat Birnie said...

I'm so happy you've finally got some great & grateful families. I'm in awe of how you can manage all those babies! It's so good for your own kids to be a part of this as well. I bet they'll all make great parents. I will also miss the crazy stories but glad it's settled for you. I may have mentioned before that my daughter has a home-daycare and prefers babies - currently 5 under 2 years. Unfortunately she had to close while her own 6 & 10 year old are home-schooling (Ontario is totally shutdown) Trying to help her kids, (the 6 yr old needs a lot of help with the system)& keep on top of the babies had everyone at their breaking point. She said after 2 days of everyone, including her, crying she bit the bullet. Fortunately all her families are wonderful and so understanding.

Ernie said...

Pat - Yes, it is a relief to work for decent people. Rest assured though, they don't always have the same parenting style which leads to some interesting/irritating situations. Not true nightmares, thankfully but some things that make me scratch my head. More to follow. :)

Oh, and my kids - I am confident my grandkids will be so well parented because my kids have witnessed the parents at drop off who are totally nuts. One mom (the Chia seed lady) used to get down to her kid's eye level and say loudly: I CAN HEAR WHAT YOU'RE SAYING AND I UNDERSTAND YOU'RE UPSET. . . BLAH BLAH BLAH. . . after that the kid has tuned out. What she really needed to do was say good-bye quickly and LEAVE. Meanwhile my kids would be elbowing each other and giving me the eye roll as in check this whack-a-doodle out, she's talking her kid to death. He's 2!

Such a bummer about your daughter's day care. That's rough. I am grateful that my kids can e-learn on their own.