HOW TO BOSS A BABYSITTER
The babysitter needs a ride.
Me: you drive her.
Wife: no, you drive her.
Me: I always drive her.
Wife: and you always will.
So it’s another excruciatingly awkward ride with the babysitter.
Awkward is an understatement.
Torture is an overstatement.
Somewhere between awkward and tortured is how I feel when it’s me and the babysitter – sans the baby.
We make small talk.
Which we both suck at.
But we both force it.
And we both bomb.
We can’t make small talk about the weather.
Because rule number one of small talk is to pretend it’s not small talk.
And nothing exposes small talk like a comparing today’s light drizzle with yesterday’s scattered showers.
But we inevitably cave.
And talk about the weather.
baby no like wet?”
She speaks perfectly acceptable English.
But I break up my English like a middle aged woman jacks up her vocal octaves for some cutee-patutee-adorable-little-baby-boobah.
It’s just part of the script.
Our phones inevitably save us.
A fake email for me.
A fake text for her.
We are excused.
Dismissed from the horrors of small talk.
I know, I know.
We’re using our phones to escape.
But some situations are just not worth enduring.
Small talk with the babysitter is on top of that list.
The whole relationship is uncomfortable.
I can’t even ask her to take out the garbage.
Or to change a diaper.
Or to take a kid off my hands because I’m done petting him and the cute moment is quickly fading into a restless moment.
When I’m really bored, I like to track her productivity by checking her WhatsApp status.
Last seen: today at 4:03PM.
That was 25 minutes ago.
She said she was using the restroom.
How dare she?!
I save my investigative analysis for the dinner conversation.
Because nothing unites husband and wife like a common enemy.
Sometimes a kid escapes the babysitter and finds his way into my arms, or onto my laptop, or inside the freezer.
I try (and fail) to keep my cool.
I gently whisper:
“Go ask the babysitter (but don’t tell her I sent you)…
daddy needs to work (on his Instagram addiction).”
I don’t read minds.
But I know what she’s thinking:
I’m mopping and folding and wiping and reading Humpty-Dumpty for the 67th time!
These are your kids and you can’t even take one off my hands for 25 seconds while I finish vacuuming YOUR goddamn bedroom?”
My rationalization is simple:
You manage to get it all done when I’m not home.
Pretend I’m not here, and proceed accordingly.
(I used to pull the same schtick with my wife, but it didn’t last very long.)
If I want to get a message across, I need to whisper something to my four year old and hope he relays the memo in a coherent way.
Like “Daddy say you change me smelly…”
Or something to that effect.
The book “How To Talk To Kids So Kids Will Listen” needs a sequel: “How To Talk To Kids So The Babysitter Will Listen,” because that’s how I talk to my babysitter — by talking to my kids and hoping she listens.
It’s a problem, I know.
Why is it so uncomfortable?
At this point in the relationship, things should be pretty uninhibited.
She cleans our toilets, tidies our whities, and she probably reads our mail.
She has an all-access pass into our innermost lives.
And yet we can’t exchange three words without lunging for Klonipin.
What’s that all about?
Well, I think a large part of it is guilt.
Her presence is an uncomfortable reminder of how spoiled I am and how luckless life can be.
She came to the land of opportunity only to realize how badly she lost the genetic lottery.
Some jobs require specific skills, special training, and unique talents.
Other jobs require no skill, no training, and no talent.
Just a willingness to do what nobody else is willing to do.
It’s a dirty job… so let an immigrant do it.
Welcome to America.
Grab a plunger.
Yes, there are some minor perks.
Yes, she gets paid in cash.
Yes, we pamper her.
Her hair is fake but her Chanels and her Guccis are real (we can verify her designer integrity because the RueLaLa packages get delivered to our house). She dresses like a princess, but the glamour starts and ends there.
It’s not equal pay for equal work.
It’s minimum pay for maximum work and she has no choice.
I mean, she has a choice, but it’s not really a choice.
So it’s not exactly slavery, but the job description eerily resembles the kind of stuff slaves did when slavery was in vogue.
And here I am.
Wrapped up in my cushy life.
Pretending like I have to “work,” when she knows quite well that I’m doing nothing even remotely productive on my phone.
And here she is, working like a dog.
And I’m the one in a bad mood.
I’m the one who needs a break.
I’m the one in therapy.
Life is morbidly unfair.
And our babysitter is an ever-present reminder of this inconvenient truth.
There’s nothing comfortable about it.
It’s why I boss without bossing.
It’s why we communicate without talking.
And it’s why I really need her to read this.
Because I smell a diaper.
And that diaper needs changing.
I’m just too scared to ask.