My 10-year-old passed her iPod to me, her expression smug with a hint of shell-shock.
“Just look, Mom. Just watch it,” she said.
I pressed play and viewed the 59 seconds of covertly filmed footage featuring the babysitter we’d hired.
My tween had captured her in action (or non-action, I should say) during “Movie Night.”
The purpose of the video? To prove to me and her dad what a jerk the babysitter actually was.
When we moved to Burlington, Ontario (from the UK) we knew we’d have to find a babysitter if we ever wanted to go out to dinner on our own.
I asked the people we’d met in the area for recommendations but when they came back to me with a few 14-year-olds to call, I was skeptical.
I knew I’d been influenced by the years I’d spent in England. I had, after all, lived there for my entire parenting journey so far. And, in my 10 years there, I had never known someone to hire a 14-year-old babysitter. 14 was simply too young.
In the UK, my mother-in-law would babysit sometimes as would the girls’ aunts and uncles. And when the aunts and uncles started having babies of their own, we did what other parents around us did; we hired qualified nursery school staff to babysit for us.
So, we decided this was what we’d do here in Burlington and we paid for a one month membership to a well-known care provider website in order to do so. We searched through the ads, and reached out to three young women. Two of them worked with kids at a daycare, and one was studying to be a teacher.
The student teacher moved away before we even had a chance to meet her.
Another of the contacts babysat for us a handful of times. She seemed nice and the girls liked her but she soon got a nighttime job at a restaurant and her availability became limited.
At that point we called our third option, Marissa.
She was in her early twenties, was from Burlington, and came with references (which we called).
She babysat for us one evening but the girls seemed less than enthusiastic about the experience. She wasn’t nice, they’d said. But when I asked them to explain, they couldn’t.
Perhaps they needed to get to know her, I’d thought. Maybe she was just quiet. So, the next time we hired Marissa (as she was basically our only option left) I made sure to have some crafts out for her and the kids to do together.
When we left the house she was sitting quietly, iPhone in hand, at the table while the kids glued and coloured.
We came home at 10:30 p.m. to a messy table, still covered in crafts. No big deal. But, for $16.00 an hour you would think doing (or getting the kids to do) a two minute tidy-up wouldn’t be too much to ask.
We paid Marissa and she left.
First thing the next morning, we were presented with the video evidence that the babysitter was, in fact, a total jerk.
The footage revealed Marissa, sprawled out on the couch, chillaxing underneath a blanket. She was sipping a Coke (that she’d had my daughter pass to her) and enjoying some videos on her phone. Fair enough, she wasn’t into the kid-movie and maybe she was tired after a long work week but the volume on her phone completely overpowered that of the T.V. It was unbelievably disrespectful how loud it was.
The girls then described to us a phone conversation Marissa had had during the film. Apparently she had shouted: “Why is she there?” followed by: “not that I care, she’s ugly anyway.”
Needless to say, Marissa’s rude behaviour meant she was not invited back.
Our next babysitter was recommended by a mom in the neighbourhood. Through our door walked an almost (not even!) 14-year-old gem of a babysitter. Three years later, and she is still our go-to sitter. She brings a backpack full of games, has a genuine enthusiasm to spend time with our kids and, as a small but much appreciated bonus, she even tidies up.