When I was a teenager I earned a tidy living as a babysitter. Sometimes I wonder how on earth those people could have left their children with me. I remember being on vacation and the people who were renting the cottage across the street from us hired me to babysit several nights. They had never met me. They didn't know my parents. They had not done a background check or even requested my GPA.
Because I have been through this and see it from the perspective of the babysitter, I know what to look for in a babysitting candidate. In other words, we never let our kids stay home without us. Because, among other things, babysitters are incredibly snoopy.
Personally, I mostly limited myself to record collections and bookshelves. I played their records and then tried to make it look like I was doing homework when they got home. Babysitters are devious and snoopy and even if you trust them with your kids, don't trust them with the contents of your house. Just don't.
And so it is richly ironic that we went out to dinner last night with the full knowledge that our babysitter was rifling through all our papers. Personal papers, impersonal papers, Lucy's school work... who knows? If we knew, we wouldn't be having her go through them all, now would we?*
We have reached the conclusion that we need professional help. So we chose someone who claims to have terrible short term memory and she is helping us organize our files. I can't tell you what this will do to the general layout of our home. I have been circumnavigating piles of papers for so long, I don't even notice them anymore.
One of the things we didn't need help finding is the gift certificate to Abba we received last spring. I am very good at keeping track of things near and dear to me. Like my children and gift certificates to restaurants.
So while our friend rifled through our stuff and listened to the snoring of our children, we had a lovely dinner out. We don't go to Abba very often as it's a little out of our budget. The prices are about the same as other places we eat, but the trouble with Abba is that (although you convince yourself how disciplined you will be) once you see the menu it is impossible to not have an appetizer and dessert. In fact, I could easily have ordered six appetizers (we settled on two).
I think they know this, those people at Abba, because the portions are not so huge. They took all the good stuff and left out the filler. It is not the kind of food you eat without being aware of what you've just put in your mouth. Is it possible for food to be intimate? So often the descriptions of things (50 ways to make your holidays stress free!!!) outshine the actual things. This was exactly the other way around.
And for dessert? I spent half an hour figuring out what to have. Imagine, lavender ice cream with lemon shortbread and quince. I almost got it so I could write about it (but went with the chocolate because the coffee smelled so good and I couldn't imagine how coffee and lavender ice cream were going to work out).
Our babysitter was still hard at work when we got home. She didn't blush when she saw us, so I guess it went okay. And just think, we paid a babysitter to actually do something while our children slept. Is that allowed? I'm sure glad the parents I worked for never thought of that.
*I'm sorry, all of you with privacy issues. I should have suggested you sit and have a paper bag handy for this one.