Have you ever found yourself telling people, “my kids aren’t usually this bad!” It always feels like lying, even if you’re not. That’s because if you ever find yourself saying those embarrassing words, you can pretty much assume that whoever is on the receiving end doesn’t believe you.
I’ve uttered that phrase once; it was the honest truth, and I’m 99.9% sure the person on the receiving end thought I was full of it. I can’t be certain though, because this person never spoke to me again. Yeah, it was that bad.
I was in search of a babysitter. If you have ever attempted to summit this impossible mountain, ya feel me. We don’t have friends with teenagers who might be available, and I was in need of a sitter during weekday hours so that ruled out the cheap high school labor.This meant weeding through a sea of strangers, mostly on the internet, in an attempt to find someone kind, honest and patient enough to entrust with my little angels.
After sending messages to at least ten different people, I finally got one response. HALLELUJAH! I mean, not that I was willing to leave my kids with just anyone, but I was determined to make this work. Dumping another $29.99 into a site that had yielded me one person wasn’t exactly selling itself for another month. It was like torture…photos and profiles of all the wonderful babysitters you can’t have!
I set up a time to meet with her at my house. Not just because this was more convenient for me, but I also like to see how they interact with my kids. While interviewing nannies when my twins were infants, we asked an applicant her best strategy for soothing a crying baby. Her answer?
“I’d probably read them a book.”
I don’t know about you, but my infants weren’t real keen on books. Lesson learned: Make sure your sitter has met a baby.
I thought ahead. I cleaned up all the cars and animals and little people scattered across my floor. I set the twins up with play dough in the kitchen. I figured, worst case scenario, I ended up wrangling little dude while we tried to chat. That was doable because he doesn’t interrupt me every 10 seconds like two other little people I know. Nothing makes you more of a rookie parent than assuming you can predict worst case scenario.
About five seconds into the interview, my typically shy, “don’t-make-eye-contact-with-new-people” toddlers were bouncing off the walls, demanding my attention, competing with this new person who had my concentration. I started off with awkward attempts to try and divert them.
“Go back and play with your play dough please, Mommy is talking.”
“Why don’t you go color? That sounds fun! Mommy can come see what you color in a minute!”
“Heh, heh…Sorry, hang on. Landon, get out of the pantry please.”
Nothing worked. It was a giant collage of distraction failures. At that moment, my kids were interested in nothing other than sabotaging my life and making me look like an awful mother. I don’t really remember any of the babysitter’s answers, but I do remember my daughter pulling her pants down to her ankles and streaking through the living room like a drunk collage freshman on a dare.
I hurled myself off the couch and yanked her pants up. Unfortunately, she had decided this was hilarious and promptly pulled her pants down again, zigging and zagging through the living room with remarkable evasiveness. I threatened a time out. To someone determined to enjoy the cool breeze on their behind in front of a complete stranger, this was hardly a disincentive. Before I could take further action, her twin brother decided that the best way to deal with this manic chaos, was to pull his pants down.
You now have two three-year-olds running around with their pants around their ankles in front of a horrified potential babysitter. How do you neutralize the situation? You don’t. You say a desperate prayer, put them in their room, and plead with them to be good until the sitter is gone, or else they are both getting very long time-outs. Like, until they are eighteen.
I often say that my little dude is always “assessing the perimeter for weakness.” He figured out our gates promptly after he learned to crawl, and he quickly ascertained that bringing a stool around with him allowed him access to fun things like knives, pens, sharpies, and other items Mom puts up on the counter, theoretically out of reach for 15 month-olds. All of this to tell you that while I was dealing with the gloriously nude twin-nado twisting and tearing through my living room, Nolan was capitalizing on the unsupervised opportunity for shenanigans.
The twins were semi-calm in their room. I took a deep breath and returned to the living room. I chuckled awkwardly, then red-faced said,
“I’m so sorry. I promise my kids aren’t usually this bad!”
I could have given further explanation, like, how I gave them a snack right before she came, or how I had just come home from work and they were starved for Mom attention. Both were true, but somehow I thought talking more about it would just make it worse. I tried to move on and redirect our conversation, when little dude rounded the corner carrying something he had obtained after figuring out that he could still pull things through the small opening in the baby-proofed bathroom cabinets. Being a polite and friendly fellow, he handed it to the babysitter.
A tampon. He handed this young woman who had been in our house less than ten minutes, a tampon. There was no coming back from this. We were a house full of hyperactive nudist freaks with copious amounts of feminine hygiene products littered everywhere. It was time to call it a day. I tried to finish up politely, tell her that it was nice meeting her and that I hoped we would speak again. Buuuuuuuuut I kind of knew we wouldn’t.
My kids have never pulled this kind of mischief before. Seriously. They haven’t since, either. Seriously. It was a colossal catastrophe at the least convenient moment. That’s the thing about kids. They have a very special and humbling way of reminding you to be grateful that they “aren’t usually that bad.”