Thursday, December 14, 2006

Great Herds of Babysitters

So my wife and I decided to go on a date. This required a baby sitter because it’s against the law to leave young children at home unless they’re shepherded by someone wiser, more stable and more logical than the tots.

Or you can pay a teenager. This is the route we chose and it was not an easy one. Any parent can tell you that babysitters are rare and hard to find – like unicorns or the Fountain of Youth. Actually, babysitters are even harder to find. You will actually stumble upon unicorns peeing in the Fountain of Youth before you find a teenager willing to accept a lot of money for watching television and occasionally yelling at the kids.

Ironically, I do this every day for free.

When I was a kid, great moving herds of babysitters used to cover the landscape. When my parents needed a babysitter, they merely stepped outside, waved our cable bill to prove we had HBO, and – BAM! – they had three or four babysitters willing to take a dollar an hour to watch three kids. The babysitting herds have largely disappeared now. I blame global warming and Chik-Fil-A.

We lucked out eventually and the daughter of a friend agreed to watch our kids. We picked the babysitter up and drove her to our house where she immediately began watching MTV. Our kids began jumping around, giddy as they pictured the amount of damage they were going to cause in the next few hours.

Before we left, my wife and I took a few bittersweet moments to walk around the house and say goodbye to the personal belongings we cherished the most. Bridget and I paused on the threshold to kiss our children and ask one last question of this rare creature called the babysitter. She didn’t answer or even look away from the television.

No doubt, like us, she was dreaming of a different time; a time when there were only twenty channels on television and only parents were allowed to exploit the cheap labor of teenagers.

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