Saturday, December 19, 2009

Not in the spirit of the season

There's a family we know that Aisling sometimes babysits for: they have three adorable little boys that Aisling is terribly fond of. The mother of the family, Allie, is young and hip and super-cute, plus she's a Mary Kay consultant so Aisling admires her deeply and wishes to be a great deal like her when she herself is an adult.

Allie asked Aisling last week if she'd be available to babysit for a book group that would be meeting at the house of one of the moms we frequently see at that local moms' group we provide babysitting services for twice a month; there would be six children, Allie said, and the book group would last about two and a half hours.

It seemed like a great way to earn a little extra money before Christmas, so my husband and I agreed that Aisling could do this little job on Thursday morning, having made arrangements with her in advance for when she'd be making up the school work she'd be missing. She got up, dressed, ate a little breakfast and was at the door waiting when Allie pulled up in our driveway.

Aisling arrived home several hours later looking wild around the eye.

"How'd it go?" I asked her. "Did you earn a lot of money?"

Aisling held out her hands, displaying a crumpled ten dollar bill and two fives. "Twenty dollars. Twenty dollars for two and a half hours of work."

"For babysitting six kids?" I questioned in dismay.

"No. Not six kids. NINE kids. Nine kids under the age of six and I was supposed to keep them corralled in a playroom and there were three babies, one that was only two months old and another who screamed every time I tried to put her down, and another one who was quiet, thank goodness, and the older kids kept running out of the room every time I was occupied with the babies, which was a lot. And two of the mothers got mad at me and one had five kids of her own and she paid me FIVE DOLLARS, which is, like, fifty cents per kid per hour, and another one paid me five dollars for her two kids and two mothers didn't even pay me at all. Allie asked me how much the moms had paid me and when I told her 'ten dollars' she looked really upset and gave me ten dollars out of her wallet, even though she only had Chase there, which works out to be five dollars per hour for him, which doesn't seem fair and he wasn't even one of the naughty ones."

This made me simmering mad. As you can imagine.

When Meelyn and Aisling were little, I had plenty of opportunities to join craft groups (which I avoided anyway because of my total lack of creative talent), reading groups with serious books, reading books with light fiction, Bible studies, you-name-it. There was always some opportunity for stay at home moms out there, and most of them featured some kind of babysitting.

So I usually didn't join these things, you know? Because I had two kids and didn't really have the money in my budget to pay the babysitter fairly. Even if you really want to join something, you have to have the money to participate, so if you don't have the money, you can't. It's really very simple.

Which makes me kind of wonder about these mothers and why they think that they should feel free to enjoy a morning discussing books and eating banana-walnut bread and then totally stiffing the babysitter who was looking after their bratty kids? That is so incredibly rude, selfish and wrong. What's almost as bad is paying a babysitter fifty cents an hour per kid -- a rate that would have caused me to spit on the shoes of a mother who offered me that paltry sum when I was babysitting nearly THIRTY YEARS AGO -- for her five children, three of whom were apparently suffering from low-level demonic possession.

Two dollars per hour, per kid. That's the going rate around here. If you can't afford to pay it, then you need to stay home. That will be one of the many sacrifices you'll have to make as a stay at home mom, ladies. Don't expect a teenage babysitter to pick up your slack for you.

1 comment:

Kayte said...

That's too many kids for one sitter, period, with those ages. Those women took advantage, and they knew it deep down. A comes out a saint, no doubt about it. It's one of those experiences in life that makes you wiser, more sophisticated in your outlook in life, and will allow you to be strong for yourself in the future...priceless, but she was still robbed. Next time: before the gig: get the head count, be sure to tell them what it will be PER CHILD beforehand and stand proud that you are worth it, A, and that you will work for what you feel is a fair price to both sides. Then don't back down, and if they increase the head count, the increased kids are double the pay, if you even accept increased numbers.