So, on our trip I did something I have never done: I hired a babysitter that I didn’t know. Have you done this? What was it like?
We were having a full family trip, but I knew Mark and I would need at least one night of going out by ourselves. Also, if Mark doesn’t eat some good food, the chef gets cranky, so I made a reservation at the Compound. I was in touch with the lady who runs the property management who takes care of my friend’s house. I probably wasn’t top of her list to help since I wasn’t bringing in any rental income, but she was helpful when I asked for a recommendation for a babysitter. She proposed a lady she works with. I talked to this “sitter” on the phone before I left LA. She seemed mature, capable. She only does it as a side thing, but she said she is a mom, and she has a 19 year old and step grandchildren. Right away I knew she was probably younger than me. That’s the crack up of the regionally timing of motherhood; in a lot of the big cities 40 year olds and up have newborns, and in smaller town they are great grandmas. Always makes me feel like a late bloomer.
Oh, that’s right. I am one.
Anyway, I knew she didn’t sound like the fun, get-down-on-your-hands-and-knees kind of gal, but I figured they would be cared for. And we were only going to walk a couple of blocks away to dinner, so if there was a problem,, we could come a running.
For days I told Vivien she was going to have a babysitter she didn’t know. At first she was incredulous, “I am?” But as we were taking a bath before the sitter arrived, she was starting to get excited. When Mark yelled that she was there, Vivien wanted out of the tub. Thought that was a good sign.
I also chalked it up to her going to preschool. She learned other people can take care of her and be fun. So that’s good.
When we walked out though, I was a little taken aback. The sitter looked like a nice woman, about my age, dressed casually, but correct for the summer heat, but in the next chair was a teenage boy.
She said, “This is Randy [making up names here] my son; he’s going to hang out with me tonight”
Uh, gee, did we discuss Randy on the phone days beforehand when we talked price, experience, teenage boy? Randy had a baseball hat backward, a red face, and a grin. I didn’t think child molester, but I didn’t think Rhodes Scholar either. It went through my head to pull the cord on the evening. Was kind of pissed. But then how often do we go out of town and have a nice dinner in Santa Fe? Hovering over me, I put my dark thoughts aside and decided to find out something good about Randy.
“So, where do you go to college?”
He said, “I don’t, I’m working on getting my GED.” I could feel Mark’s brain boring into mine, “Don’t judge.”
But I was.
Vivien seemed fine, but I wanted to grab the back of the lady’s perm and say, ‘Hey, what’s with springing the Back Street Boy on me?”
Couldn’t really see how that would go well. Reservations were made; I had put my make up on.
Me: “Randy, do you like little kids? “
He said he did, and his mom said he was good with his little nieces and nephews. That could be…
Dinner was in 10 minutes.
Mark was giving me his “it’s fine” face.
I knew that so many other moms would get how this was so not cool that there was an unplanned assistant babysitter.
But I left.
Over our lovely dinner while we sipped cocktails and talked about living trusts ( ery romantic patter) I would periodically say,
“Are you sure our kids aren’t being raped?”
Yes, Mark kept saying that they are fine. I think since he has older kids and has handed them off to sitters many times he takes it in stride. Also, he doesn’t see calamity around every corner like I do.
Tom Ford, the designer, sat nearby. A few years back he was dining with someone Mark knew, so I bum rushed an introduction. At that meeting, Tom Ford told me I had great legs. I was so excited I slept with my husband. We didn’t talk to TF this trip. Poor Mark.
When we walked home after two hours, Vivien and Rex were fine. Rex was bouncing on the ladies knee while they were watching “Bolt.” Vivien showed me the art project they had done together (I had left a craft activity).,and they said they had gone to the nearby park. All was well.
I must have gotten dizzy with excitement that strangers could be trusted with my children because the next thing I knew a nice couple from Texas was holding Rex while I ate my lunch. Sante Fe is lousy with Texas tourists.
Since my daddy (intentional use of ‘daddy’) is from Georgia, I get a twang in about 5 seconds when close to a Southerner or border state. Other people that trip offered to hold him while we ate, but this couple just seemed like a dear neighbor to me. Well, they were at the next table, so that’s a neighbor right? He was a retired army officer, they now raised cattle, very nice people. When I finished my enchilada, he was sorry to give Rex up. One of my favorite quotes from the grandfather of 3 when discussing the merits of being a hands-on dad.
“Why wouldn’t a fella change a diaper? That’s when you really get to connect with them.”
With so many bad stories it’s nice to be reminded that not everyone is a wack job. And it does take a village… a big one.