I was 11 years old when I started babysitting. Inspired by the great American novel series, The Babysitters Club, my 3 friends and I made up fliers, handed them out in our neighborhood, and were paid actual money to look after people's children. I knew little about children, nothing about babies, and couldn't have had an attention span longer than 4 minutes. Unlike pre-teens today, I had no cell phone, had never taken a CPR class, and "Safe Sitter" courses hadn't even been invented. I did know how to dial 911, however, and I guess for the trusting young parents hard-up for a night out in 1989, that was about all the qualification that was necessary. Terrifying, actually.
Just for a snapshot of my maturity level, I remember watching the two little boys across the street whose names I'll withhold for their protection. They were probably 5 and 3. The younger one was being potty trained. He did actually make it to the toilet to relieve himself but then (Due to constipation? Inexperience?) could not complete the job. There the poor little guy sat, with what seemed to me at the time to be a GIANT turd 1/2 out, and only 11 year old me to help him. None of the girls in the fictional Babysitters Club had ever dealt with this particular issue. Actually, come to think of it, none of their tales ever had to do with bodily functions. So what did I do? I left the tot sitting on the pot, called my Dad and told him I was too sick to continue babysitting and needed him to walk across the street and relieve me so I could go home. My going rate was $2/hour and even then I knew that there are some jobs you couldn't pay me enough to do.
So Shawn went to the Jimmy Buffett concert this Tuesday and I stayed home. His going away party for Channel 8 is tomorrow but I'll be on Violet duty. Although I often lament the death (or at least paralysis) of my social life, I can't imagine leaving Vi with just any babysitter. I'm sure we would never select a sitter as terrible as I was, but even if she was just 1/2 as bad, it could terrorize the baby.
My Mom is a good option, but given the fact that she's about to be saddled with 32 hours of Violet care a week when I return to my job, I hate to overwork her. And, perhaps making matters even more difficult, is Violet's inability to be soothed by anyone but me and now, thankfully, Shawn, too. I've scheduled one outing per day this week sans Violet while Shawn is off work (a haircut, a lunch) so she could get more consistent practice drinking from a bottle. Shawn says she takes it well. That is a step in the right direction. If all else failed, the babysitter could just let Vi have bottle after bottle until she drank up all I have stored or fell into a breast milk induced coma.
The other thing that I think might make it difficult to leave Violet in a non-family member's care right now is the fact that I still barely know what I'm doing with her and would find it difficult to parlay my half-ass strategies into anything resembling an instruction sheet for a sitter.
1. If she cries, hold her over your left shoulder. Or try sitting her on your lap and swinging on the porch swing.
2. She likes to lay on her changing table and look at stuff sometimes.
3. She may fall asleep while you are holding her after drinking a bottle. Put her down at your own risk. If you MUST go to the bathroom, lay her gently in her swing, turn it on the third level of speed and use the cricket sound effect. Good luck.
4. Bedtime routine is...oh, yeah, there is no bedtime routine. We'll be home at 11 and she will surely still be awake so don't sweat it.
5. Keep 911 on speed dial.
So I guess my social life has to be on hold for awhile. But, now for the sappy part, my life is actually very full and I wouldn't trade any of these three to go to the Wilco concert on Monday night.