The Babysitter Blues

, , , , , , | Related | September 22, 2018

(My father wasn’t a great parent when I was growing up. He and my mother divorced when I was ten, when she found about his ongoing affair. Shortly after their divorce was finalized, he married his mistress, and they moved to a place on the opposite side of the city and expressed no interest in spending time with me, despite my asking to see him. Fast forward a few years: I’m now thirteen. My father, his wife, and their twin boys move back into our area of the city, and for the first time since the divorce, he has agreed to spend time with me. I’m hesitant at first, but at my mother’s insistence, I agree to meet. I go over to their home to have a quiet evening with their family, see their new home, and meet my half-brothers for the first time. I’m a bit uneasy at first, but I start to relax once the kids take a liking to me. I’m in their playroom in the back of the house when I hear the front door slam shut. Concerned I don’t hear my father’s or his wife’s voice afterwards, I decide to check it out. To my surprise, my father and his wife are no longer in the house, and have left a note on the table saying they’re going out and will be back in a few hours. In a panic, I call my mom.)

Me: *panicked* “So… Dad and [His Wife] are gone, and I’m alone with the twins. I don’t know what I should do.”

(My mom flips out, cursing my father and his actions, but quickly calms herself down when she realizes I’m panicking.)

Mom: “Did they say where they were going or how long they’d be? Did they even mention they were leaving at some point?”

Me: “They didn’t tell me anything. I was playing with the twins in their playroom in the back of the house when I heard the door slam. When I went out to check it out, I saw their note on the table, which says they’ll be back in a few hours. They didn’t leave a phone number for me to call in case of an emergency.”

Mom: “I’m going to try giving him a call and see what’s going on. If I don’t call you back in ten minutes, you call me, okay?”

(About two minutes later, my mom calls back, saying she’s called my father, left a voice message, and sent him a couple of texts demanding he call either one of us as soon as possible. Because she doesn’t know when or if we’ll hear back from him, she offers to come look after the boys with me if I’m uncomfortable doing so by myself. I regularly babysit the kids in my neighborhood and the children of my mom’s friends, so I tell her I feel comfortable enough staying and watching the twins. I was more caught off-guard how I was thrown into the situation. Around 11:00 pm, my father and his wife walk through the door, asking me how it went.)

Me: “It went fine. They fussed a little bit, but calmed down after a while. I got them to finally go to sleep around eight and they’ve been quiet since.”

Dad: “That’s great. I knew they’d like you.” *to his wife* “See? I told you she’d be a great babysitter.”

Me: “That’ll be $55.00, please. I prefer cash, but I guess you can write the check out to Mom and she can cash it for me.”

Dad: *taken aback* “What?”

Me: “Um… My fee for babysitting? I charge eight dollars per hour for one kid, and then an extra two dollars an hour per additional kid — an extra three dollars if one of them is a baby. So, two kids, that’s ten dollars an hour, and the two of you have been gone since 5:30, which is five and a half hours. That brings your total to $55.00.”

(The two of them look at each other, then back to me, in both horror and disgust, as if I had asked them to help me hide a dead body.)

Me: “What? You literally ditched me and your kids, expecting that I’d watch over them. You’re lucky I called Mom first and not 911. So, if you’re going to treat me like a babysitter, I want to get paid like one.”

(After he dropped me off at my mom’s, my parents had a long argument over my father’s antics. In the end, I was paid the money — no tip, though — but it was a while before I agreed to meet my father and his family anywhere other than a public place again.)

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