It’s funny, I’m babysitting for the Chaplain, C, tomorrow night, and I’m quite nervous. Her three children are five and three (the girls) and the baby, a boy, is fourteen months old.
I’m always nervous before babysitting – this is a keep-them-entertained job rather than a putting them to bed job, or a merely showing up after they are in bed and watching telly until the parents come home (with any luck) job. Of the three perhaps putting them to bed would be scariest – children have routines and many of them are very precise about how things must be done, and then they get critical, potentially grizzly, and it’s horrible for all of you.
Thankfully in living memory that’s never happened to me – I only know this because my sister and I could be quite like that when we were little. Obviously showing up after the kids are in bed is about the easiest way of earning money that anyone has ever invented, but it’s also not particularly rewarding, and often quite boring. So really this is about ideal – I’m babysitting before bedtime, so we will get to play some games or something and rather enjoy ourselves.
Children always scare me, but then you show up and what you have to do becomes obvious – they’re usually keen to show you things, want to do certain things, and have set ideas about what happens next. And all you have to do is keep everyone happy and, by and large, that’s fine. As a babysitter, with very little moral authority, you’re a sort of servant, an experimental subject, almost another toy, with certain special powers (like operating the scissors or doling out biscuits) which the child doesn’t have, and a certain clownish fascination value.
So, really, I’m quite looking forward to it.
And this is a job which is barely five minutes from my front door. Winner.