After nearly eight months on duty, the time has come for New Mommy to dip her pinky toe into the treacherous babysitting waters. Around here, before making any parenting move, parents consult with a list serve called DC Urban Moms. On DCUM, one woman wrote that her nanny was interested in babysitting another child occasionally to supplement her income. We exchanged emails and set up a time for all of us to meet.
At the door, the nanny's charge greeted us. He was one and a half years of blond little boy with a mouth purple from blueberries. He was very excited about the baby--or, at least, excited about her car seat and pacifier, which he tried to climb into and chew on, respectively. I felt a twinge of doubt.
But he calmed down, and the nanny was lovely and capable - a Mary Poppins by way of Peru, where she had been a registered nurse. The Other Mother seemed like someone I could deal with. Their house had been professionally baby-proofed (toilet guards - who knew?!). I repeatedly raised the issue of the kids' age differences, but Other Mother and Nanny Poppins assured me that all would be well.
As a dry run, I handed Baby C to Nanny Poppins and left the room. Baby C's separation and stranger anxieties both kicked in immediately, and she started wailing. Eventually, Nanny Poppins distracted her, and both she and Other Mother assured me this was normal and that she would be fine, the Nanny would be fine, and the little boy would be fine. Finally I believed them and permitted myself to think about having a few hours once a week in which to get things done without toting around a baby over half my size.
I got home to an email from Other Mother.
"Dear Elizabeth," she wrote. "It was a pleasure meeting you and your adorable Baby C."
Uh-oh. I sensed what was coming next.
"Unfortunately” – yep, there it was – “after thinking it over, Nanny Poppins and I realize that the age difference between Baby C and Blueberry Boy is probably too great after all. I promise this isn't because Baby C cried. Blah, blah, blah, We wish you much success in your future endeavors."
Okay, I made that last sentence up. But it was a rejection nonetheless. My dreams of grocery shopping without a stroller crashed down around me. I looked over at Baby C. "They didn't want us after all, honey."
"Bah," she said, stuffing her foot in her mouth. Indeed.