My requests were simple, really. Someone who could occasionally watch my three sons during the day. Or part of the day, preferably the afternoon but I wasn’t really picky. Someone who wouldn’t disappear on us after a month. Someone who was okay with our dogs, since I couldn’t ditch them outside in the Southern heat all fucking day because Polly Prissy Pants was scared of German Shepherds who don’t bark or jump, just follow you around making doe eyes and begging to be petted. Really damn terrifying. So I put an ad on a very popular, semi-expensive sitter-finding service. I specified all these things.


This is not what I got.

First, half the people answering my ad wanted a nanny job. I did not want a nanny. I cannot afford a nanny. We also homeschool, so I do not need a nanny. Another quarter of the people who applied were not free during the specified time (any daytime hours what-so-fucking-ever before 3 pm) but would love to sit for me on nights and weekends. This information often came out after several days of back-and-forth about credentials and “tell me about yourself’s” and “let me tell you more about the kids.” Rule number one: The first thing you ask is if they’re free during the hours you need them. Once I learned that my inbox got a lot clearer and I got a lot calmer.

If the applicants sounded like they weren’t psychopaths, I did phone interviews. Sometimes the girls just didn’t pick up the phone, and I would have scheduled this shit out and made time in my life to talk to their petty asses. Rule number two: if you can’t be relied upon to do the interview, you are not what we term “reliable” and therefore are out of the running. One week I had no less than seven no-pick-ups. And I was only doing interviews like three days a week, so this really screwed with my free time.

Rule number three: almost everyone sounds good on the phone because they will tell you exactly what you want to hear. They are all reliable, magical angels who will swoop down and craft spontaneous macaroni art all fucking day. Of course, they love dogs! Of course, they love to play outside! They know boys so well because they have brothers/male cousins/worked in a church nursery/went to prom with a real live actual one.

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So you make a day for them to show up at your house and meet your kids. They play with them and keep them out of your hair while you monitor them for decent babysitter qualities from another room. The first one was seventeen and had a ginormous thigh tattoo. Who the fuck lets their teenager get a ginormous thigh tattoo? Clearly, this shows bad judgment – she was out. The next one spent more time talking to me than the kids. She was really nice. Except she was not my babysitter. Then she lent her car to her boyfriend while she was sitting and we had to wait for him to come and pick her ass up. Rule number four: Make sure the car stays on the premises and no one comes over who is not you or the babysitter. Even Jesus Himself has to wait till I get back from my nail appointment, thanks.

Then there were two we liked. There were two we adored. They actually played with the kids (this should not be a tall order but apparently it is, even when you say, the boys are not allowed to watch TV or they will burst into flames). We scheduled them to come back and actually watch the kids while I had two doctor’s appointments. Both of them failed to show and failed to tell me they would fail to show. Rule number five: Touch base at least a day beforehand and make sure the sitting is on. If not, you can lay on a thick-ass guilt trip and tell them off in a very satisfying, imperious manner before you call someone else and totally fucking beg.

We finally found a sitter. She’s in her sixties – I was weirded out by that and thought she’d like, think she was a better parent than me, so I said something out that and she totally allayed my concerns. She drives for Uber and brings us tomatoes from her garden. When she did her interview at a park in a million degrees weather, she was late because she was busy calling 911 and saving her elderly, single neighbor from death by heat stroke. Rule number six: actually saving someone from death is an acceptable reason for lateness. Then she sat there in the heat with me for like, an hour and a half and wanted to know all about the kids. My children adored her. When she sat for them, I came home to a houseful of paintings and crafts. Everyone was happy. The three-year-old gave her a hug. Rule number seven: anyone the three-year-old hugs is a keeper. It only took us a month, sixteen phone calls, and innumerable online exchanges. But we finally found a freaking babysitter. She even likes the dogs.