The minute I accepted my new job, I set about finding a reliable babysitter to cover the afternoons I'd be working. Because I've been at home for three years, and because I'm not the most trusting person when it comes to leaving my kids, I felt the need to be thorough. I joined a nanny-finder web site, placed an ad on a local classifieds site and put the word out to everyone I knew.
The first babysitter - let's call her Gertrude - responded to my ad and came over one sunny afternoon to meet us. She was a nice young girl (wow, I sound like a granny) with a kind of sheepish look about her. I led her out to the garden where the boys were playing. Upon seeing the new girl, my pre-schooler grimaced and hid behind his playset, groaning "I don't wanna say hi! I don't wanna!". I laughed it off, assuring Gertrude that he was just shy with strangers and that he would soon warm up to her.
Gertrude seemed disconcerted - like, quite a lot. She sat, timidly on a chair, far away from the boys, not moving from the spot once, as though she were at an audition she didn't want to be at. I waited for Gertrude to jump into action and show me her terrific babysitter skills, but alas, she didn't. My son, sensing her aloofness, remained silently at his post for the entire visit. Before she left, Gertrude told me that, in fact, she was worth $2 more (per hour) than I was offering.
Babysitter #2 was a school girl aged 14.
Babysitter #3 was 6 months pregnant.
Babysitter #4 arranged to come over, then emailed me on the morning she was due to arrive, asking if I could instead meet her at the mall because my house was "kinda difficult to get to".
Babysitters #5, 6, 7 and 8 wrote me bizarre emails like "I can't do the times you've asked for but I'm still interested *smilie face*." and "you call me 412 123 4567 please".
And then, like an unexpected lottery win, babysitter number nine showed up, with three days to go and just as I was beginning to wonder if I could smuggle my kids into work with me because there were no good nannies left in my city. She arrived on time, was friendly and not deterred by the first-meeting shyness, and after twenty minutes she and my son were playing hide and seek and quarreling over who was the biggest goofball.
When she left I breathed a huge sigh of relief and did a happy dance for about three hours.
Marvelous marvelous nanny number nine.