It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Last Post on the Topic

…but it has to be said.

It’s about the infamous “babysitter” comment. When one of the two Silly Women asked Melissa,

“Would you let your babysitter drink while she was caring for your children?”

Everywhere throughout the blogosphere, mommy bloggers are uniting in indignation. “Of course not!” they shout. “And we’re NOT babysitters!”

I’m a childcare provider (NOT a ‘babysitter’, thankyouverymuch). I’m also a mother. I live on both sides of that great divide.

You know what? I thought the question was perfectly reasonable. (Though the follow-up, “Seriously. What’s the difference?” was unnecessary and insulting. It was also stupid, because it put the emphasis in entirely the wrong place. The questioner did not mean ‘what’s the difference between a mother and a babysitter?’, but that’s what just about everyone heard.)

Mothers who heard that were justifiably insulted. Caregiving is a 9 – 5 job. (Huh. I wish, but it does have start and end times.) There is not a second in the day you are not a parent, not a second in the day you are not ultimately responsible for that child in a way a caregiver is not. I understand that – I’m a mother! I know the difference between caregiver and parent. But that question…

Anyone curious to know how this Babysitter (hate that word) Mommy would have responded to it?

“Would you let your babysitter drink while she was caring for your children?”

My answer?

“Well, it would depend on the sitter.”

Because, well, wouldn’t it?

You’re okay with yourself drinking around your kids. You’re probably okay with your mother, too. Oh, and your sister — and Cousin Ron and Aunt Ida. Oh, and of course your best friend… and that lovely neighbour across the street.

You see? There’s a heightened level of trust that has to be present for you to allow this behaviour, but there are probably a reasonable number of people you trust in this manner. Why should your caregiver arbitrarily be excluded from this trust, simply by virtue of her job description? Or simply by virtue of the fact that she does it for pay? It may well be that you just don’t have that level of trust with her. Or, it may just be that you do.

The thing is, if it was wrong for the Today Show plastic people to suggest that an entire group of people be forbidden a certain behaviour simply by virtue of their ‘job description’, surely it’s also wrong when it happens to a different entire group of people.

So. Do you let your sitter drink? If it’s someone I don’t know well enough, someone I don’t know personally, no. No, I wouldn’t, because there wouldn’t be enough trust. But… If it’s my sister, my best mommy friend, or the woman I’ve had in to care for my child for the last two years, I may very well pour her drink myself.

February 4, 2007 Posted by | controversy, individuality, parenting, parents, the dark side | 19 Comments