Of all the things I thought I’d be worrying about as my kids grew up, I thought finding a babysitter would be the least of them.
I was, of course, a babysitter myself when I was a teenager – it was a great way to make cash, and most nights the kids were asleep for the vast majority of the time that I was at their house.
Of course, making things more complicated is that the Monster has Autism.
While the Monster usually is very sedate and very happy to deal with new adults, there’s always that concern in the back of our minds that he might have a meltdown or something if we’re not present at bedtime or if someone unfamiliar is trying to get him to go through his routine. We’ve been, as a result, fairly unwilling to have some neighborhood teenager watching the kids when we go out, for fear of their not knowing how to handle the situation. (And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that there just plain aren’t as many teenagers looking to babysit these days.) Most of the time, we’ve been very fortunate that their grandparents have been able to watch them… but we’re getting to a point where that’s not always feasible.
As you can imagine, this makes life difficult – there are just not that many babysitters that have experience with children with Autism.
A few weeks ago, we lucked into someone who was willing to sit for us – the wife met a special-ed teacher at the Autism Society meeting who was interested in ‘paying it forward’ and was willing to watch the kids for an evening when we went to the theater. This was wonderful for us, since this is someone who knows exactly what we’re dealing with and is not going to freak out if he flips out. At the moment, though, our issue is a different one, as my company holiday party is a Thursday this year and runs past midnight. I’m not going to ask a teacher to stay up that late to watch our kids, so back into the babysitting pool we’ve gone to find someone who doesn’t have as pressing of a Friday…
And what makes it interesting to me is listening to the questions the wife asks when she’s checking up on references, as she was doing last night, asking questions about how engaged they are with their children, trying to feel out what kinds of special needs the sitters have dealt with, et cetera. I feel a little bit like listening to someone screening nannies and trying to make sure the parents she’s talking to realize we’re not trying to ‘poach’ their sitter/nanny from them, but just that we need someone for a single evening for an unusual circumstance. We are talking a rarified pool here.
I think someone could make a lot of money if they set up a specialized version of SitterCity or the like for special-needs children…