Babysitters are powerful. More than they know. I hope. Perhaps the most powerful little creatures in the world. With their iPhones, earbuds, skateboards and bubble gum. They quietly pull the strings of my life.
Even if your stable of sitters is three or four deep, you can’t get overconfident. They all do the same stuff together. Homecoming is the same for everybody. Spring break trips they take together. You have to select sitters with a strategy: one actress, one academic, one cheerleader, one who is lost in the crowd. Spread them out across the school’s clubs and calendar of activities.
I recently noticed that my life revolves around these activities, weekend visits with out of town dads and boyfriends in college coming back to town. Whether or not I can go to a parent-teacher conference or an open house is dependent on a fifteen year old’s play rehearsals and volleyball tournaments.
I recently heard myself tell my Boyfriend Candidate “I’ll check with my sitter to see if I can go.” The ludicrosity of it didn’t occur to me until later. My young life spent asking my parents for permission to go out. Married in midlife, it was another seventeen years of checking with him first to make sure I wasn’t needed elsewhere. And now that he’s gone, I have to check with the sitter.
I’m wondering if there really is any such thing as independence. And I’m guessing not when you have kids. Interestingly, it’s not just your children who make you interdependent, it’s their support staff: the sitters, the grandparents, the coaches, the tutors. It all structures my life in a way that leaves me ordered but out of control.
Now I’m thinking I’ll have to wait for the kids to graduate from college and get out of the house. Two events that will coincide only if I’m very lucky.
I suppose it’s possible that when that time comes, I’ll have to check with the nurse at my assisted living facility to see if I can get a weekend pass.