Author Topic: "who's watching the kids?"  (Read 8926 times)

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TootsNYC

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"who's watching the kids?"
« on: April 25, 2013, 07:44:12 AM »
The thread over on Life in General about dads being "allowed" to "babysit" their own kids reminded me of another conversational gambit that we found annoying when our kids were little.

Right after our first was born, we went to a wedding, leaving her in the care of my two best friends (they were both so excited to spend time w/ her that DH & I joked about whether her arms would be longer when we got home from them doing a tug-of-war with her).

At the wedding, about 5 people approached us to say, as the first words out of their mouth, "Who's watching the baby?" Some of these folks used a sort of challenging tone, which was frustrating; it felt like they felt they had a right to demand that we justify ourselves.  Or like they thought it was shocking we'd not attend the wedding (or whatever) without the kid; or that they didn't trust us to properly choose someone to care for our child.

And with all of them, the next minutes of conversation were them quizzing us about the babysitter of choice or talking about how it can be hard to find someone trustworthy.

It kept going, for years.

Every now and then I'd try something like replying, "Is there a reason you wanted to know?" But that just kept the conversation going.

Until, after the 2nd kid was about 2, I figured something out that just shut that conversation down.

I started answering, "Oh, we just left them home alone. I figure DD is 4, she can get her brother a cracker if he's hungry. And really, what's going to happen? They're not going to burn the house down." My DH played along and threw in other nonsense, over-the-top stuff. "We left her money for Chinese food; she knows where the store is."

They gave up the conversation. And then we had the usual "how are you" stuff to talk about. And it didn't get used as a conversation opener much anymore.

(I've just now realized--I wonder how much that played into my difficulty in getting DH to look beyond family members for babysitters...)

shygirl

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2013, 08:17:45 AM »
Ha ha!

My husband and I went to a wedding last summer, and we left our 2yo son home with a babysitter.  Everyone asked me "WHERE'S your son??".  Part of it was probably because kids were actually welcome at the wedding, and in our culture kids are not usually left home so adults can go "out".  So I was expecting that sort of question.

I usually said "Oh, we left him at home!"  Most of the people were horrified because they thought I meant home alone.  And then I explained that we left him with a babysitter. 

Daquiri40

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2013, 08:28:29 AM »
That is what I would be tempted to say.  "Oh, that kid?  We locked him in the basement where there aren't too many things to hurt him.  Is there something wrong with that?"

hjaye

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2013, 08:34:07 AM »
you can always just make light of it.

years ago I attended my mothers 65th birthday party.  I was separated at the time and going through a divorce,  and I had both of my kids living with me.

I had to fly half way across the country to go back to my hometown for the party.

A lot of the people that were at the party were obviously friends of my mothers.  I knew most of them because I had gone to school, and socialized with a lot of these peoples children.

I was sitting at a table and talking with some of my mom's friends.  They were asking me how I was doing and just general chit chat and catching up.

One of them mentioned how nice it was that I was able to get away and come home for my mom's party.  I responded that it was nice to be back home, and I was glad it all worked out.  One of my mom's friends said something along the line of "and of course you've got someone watching your kids?"

I looked at her slapped the palm of my hand to my forehead and said, "Oh..... the kids, I knew I was forgetting something!!"

TootsNYC

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2013, 08:42:56 AM »
That is what I would be tempted to say.  "Oh, that kid?  We locked him in the basement where there aren't too many things to hurt him.  Is there something wrong with that?"

We did use something like that once when the baby was the only one not there. Like, "we just left him in the crib--he can't get out, after all." My DD picked up on it and added something like, "We put his favorite toy in with him."

learningtofly

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2013, 08:45:43 AM »
We tell people that we left DD with money for pizza.  I mean really, she's four.  How could we leave her with money for pizza?  She can't open the front door  :D

TootsNYC

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2013, 08:47:03 AM »
This is so funny! (and fun)

I didn't realize there would be so many of us!

Luci

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2013, 09:13:14 AM »
Hate to tell you this: We did the same thing, and it really was satisfying and fun.  >:D

TootsNYC

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2013, 09:19:38 AM »
Hate to tell you this: We did the same thing, and it really was satisfying and fun.  >:D

I will say that the amusement we got out of making up these outlandish statements really went a LONG way toward removing the irritation.

Every now and then someone would try to stay on the original serious topic (babysitters are dangerous), but we'd just keep going.

(irritation both at the "explain yourself to me, the distant relative, so I can be sure you're a proper parent" implication and irritation at the "what, is the only thing you can think of to say to us about our babysitting arrangements?" reaction)

Jloreli

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2013, 09:20:25 AM »
"We're crate training her/him."  >:D

StuffedGrapeLeaves

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2013, 09:20:52 AM »
Hate to tell you this: We did the same thing, and it really was satisfying and fun.  >:D

I will say that the amusement we got out of making up these outlandish statements really went a LONG way toward removing the irritation.

Every now and then someone would try to stay on the original serious topic (babysitters are dangerous), but we'd just keep going.

(irritation both at the "explain yourself to me, the distant relative, so I can be sure you're a proper parent" implication and irritation at the "what, is the only thing you can think of to say to us about our babysitting arrangements?" reaction)

I'm with you, Toots.  I hate it when people start questioning our babysitting choices as if we are terrible parents for leaving our kid with the babysitter.  I have to start using some of the responses on this thread - they're very funny. 

Hmmmmm

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2013, 09:34:32 AM »
Now that you posted this, I don't remember a time when we weren't asked "Who's watching the kids?"  I never thought anything was implied by it other than idle chit/chat curiousity.

But as a young mother back in the mid 90's, I didn't realize there was a segment of the population that didn't approve of young kids being left without a parent present. I think my oldest was like 4 when I learned of this culture*. A new neighbor was telling me she had never been a way from her 18 month old for longer than 3 hours and then only if her DH was caring for her child. I thought she was joking, then thought she was complaining, then finally realized that she was actually bragging about the fact and thought all parents should be similar. (I was prepared for those who didn't believe in daycare but had no idea people didn't think you should leave for 3 month old with her GM or aunt while you and DH went out for a nice dinner.)

Once babysitters were no longer needed the question became "What are the kids doing tonight?"

I'm pretty sure I ask other parents this now. I'll have to check myself in case they think I'm critcizing them.

*Aww, the days of pre-interenet when our parenting skills could only be judged by people you actually encountered.

TootsNYC

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2013, 09:52:14 AM »

But as a young mother back in the mid 90's, I didn't realize there was a segment of the population that didn't approve of young kids being left without a parent present. . . . she had never been a way from her 18 month old for longer than 3 hours . . .realized that she was actually bragging . . . no idea people didn't think you should leave for 3 month old with her GM or aunt. . .


I actually am sort of aghast at the people who think you should ONLY leave a child with a family member. As if non-family babysitters would contaminate your child. And who brag about their success at this as well.

My DH had that, a bit, and it was really frustrating, bcs it actually made life harder. And I've always believed that a stranger is simply someone you don't know *yet*. Frankly, I'd rather leave my kid w/ a babysitter whose references I've checked than with a family member, to be honest. Oh, I'd be happy to give Grandma baby time, and Baby some grandma time, but if you were asking which I'd prefer, straight out, as a *babysitter*, I'd pick an experienced babysitter.

But back to the "who's babysitting the kids?" thing--it really did often come in a slightly accusatory, "account for yourself" way.

And if it was just sort of conversational, it was STILL annoying, because it felt like that was the only thing they could think of when they saw us. As if our parenthood and something as basically mundane as babysitters was the only interesting thing they could think of.

*inviteseller

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2013, 09:55:28 AM »
As a single parent without a lot of babysitting choices when my oldest was young, it was rare I could get out so when I did I got the "what did you do with DD????" if they saw me actually shopping without her or <gasp> enjoying a night out.   I got sick of people asking and I am a natural smart rear end, so I started having fun with it...my family was the best to do it to.  I put her in the cat carrier with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  She had a date, so I thought I could go out.  What?  I can't leave her by herself?  She is in a crib, what can happen?  The cats are babysitting.  I sold her to some gypsy's for some trinkets and baubles.  One person actually asked another friend if I actually put my DD in a cat carrier..she was ready to call CYS!  And then there are the people who question your real babysitter, without knowing them.  I had one person who kept asking"Are you sure they will be safe?"  when my wonderful neighbor who they had never met that I got sick of it and got snarkier than usual and said if they did not think I was capable of choosing a safe place for my DD to be while I worked they were more than welcome to quit their job and do it for the pittance I was paying. 
« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 10:53:33 AM by *inviteseller »

TootsNYC

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Re: "who's watching the kids?"
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2013, 10:04:23 AM »
And then there are the people who question your real babysitter, without knowing them.  I had one person who kept asking"Are you sure they will be safe?"  when my wonderful neighbor ...

My DD went to daycare fulltime at 3 months old--the world's greatest daycare, and onsite at her father's company. She spent every Friday at Grandma's at Grandma's request.

When she was 6 months old, my MIL asked me, in a very concerned tone, "Do you think she knows she's being taken care of by strangers?"

My amused answer was, "They aren't strangers--she's known them half her life! And, she spends more time with them than she does with you. So no, I don't think she considers them strangers. Perhaps you do, but she doesn't, and neither do I."