Sunday, October 07, 2007


I babysat for three really cute, fun girls on Friday. I was really glad I got to do it. But something really awkward happened at the end - it's actually happened to me before - and I need advice on how to better handle the situation.

Two years ago when I was living with my mom, my aunt called me about babysitting for some of her friends' kids. If you know Birmingham, then you know what I mean when I say these women were very typical Mountain Brook mothers - no offense. I love Mountain Brook. But these women were hiring a babysitter so that the three of them could go to lunch. Yes. No supper club, no company party, just lunch. And there were four kids between the three moms that I was watching that day. And none of the kids wanted to do the same thing. So it was a long two hours. Eventually they all came home and I got to leave. One mother handed me a check, the other mother showed me to the door while the third mother waved goodbye.

I got in my car and looked at the check. It was for one-fourth of what I was expecting to be paid. Just enough to cover that mom's child.

So I'm in my car, at the intersection between Cheap Street and Awkward Avenue. Do I just avoid the awkward and cut my loss, perhaps mention it to my aunt the next time I saw her? After all, it was more than I would have made sitting at home that afternoon. But on the other hand, those kids were brats! I don't care if it is awkward, I need to go knock on that door and get the rest of my money! Which mattered more: money or dignity?

I sat for 30 seconds and decided that if I phrased it right, I could embarrass the mothers and not myself. So I went back up and knocked on the door. The mom who lived there answered.

"Hey! Umm I only got a check from Mrs. ___, I thought it must be for all three but it isn't, so, ummm... I think there might have been miscommunication about who was going to pay?"

Welcome to Awkwardsville! Population: Lindsay.

She sputtered and giggled and handed me some money and I think I actually ran to my car.

So fast forward two years to Friday night. After playing with these sweet children, the parents came home. I handed the youngest one off to her dad, who stayed upstairs to put them all in bed. I went downstairs, chit-chatted with the mother for a minute and then she said "Well we've got your number, so we'll call you again!" and headed toward the front door.

I walked alongside her very slowly. "Yes, please do. Your kids are great. We had fun." We were at the front door. She opened it. She looked at me. I looked at her. Money or dignity? Dignity or money?

"So did you want to write me a check, or...?"

She covered her mouth with her hand. "Oh I thought my husband paid you! I'm so sorry!" (Side note: if I ever wanted to be a con artist, I think I know my trick.) She walked back to the kitchen, rifled through her purse then walked toward me with a wad of cash. I took it, stuffed it in my jeans pocket and thanked her once again. Then, just like before, I RAN to my car.

So what in the heck? Has this happened to anyone before? Am I just a magnet for awkward situations? And if that is the case, is there a better way to handle it? I know they aren't forgetting on purpose. It's an accident. But an awkward accident nonetheless. So should I make a joke? Should I pretend to pay THEM? Maybe I should ask to be paid up front. Or get a credit card number for incidentals.

Because until I have my own, there is only one child I'll babysit for free:


  1. I think you handled it pretty well. I think I would have cut my losses the first time though. The second time they obviously had a miscommunication. When Jennifer and I have kids you're going to have to pay us because they're going to be so awesome. So start saving up.

  2. ha! we'll just trade nights with Elliot and Sanders.

    Moms who have had multiple babysitters are just about the only ones worth dealing with - they know the drill. Last summer (yikes - summer before last!) when I was keeping those two little boys, the mom across the street needed me to keep her three IN ADDITION to Luke and Jack for like two weeks. They had NEVER had a babysitter outside of their family, so that was an experience in itself. She paid me the same as the other mother, and then tacked on another $1 for her two-year-old. So that was five kids ages 2-8 from 7am to almost 7pm (which included trips to the neighborhood pool, bee stings on the trampolene and one ill-advised trip to Chic-fil-A for lunch) for $11/hour. Yeah.

  3. Funny story :)

    I didn't realize this blog was here when you asked if you could babysit my little maybe-there-maybe-not. It makes more sense now. And somehow, my comment about me only doing it for free just fits right in...


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