I read the blog of Mayim Bialik, who plays Sheldon's girlfriend Amy on The Big Bang Theory. She's an interesting woman with an interesting background and I've enjoyed many of her entries.
Today's (Meet Miam Bialik, the Babysitter) brought back memories of our Babysitting Co-Op days. We were in a co-op connected with Tiny Tots and when we moved here, we joined a co-op here. It was the Davis co-op that did me in completely and ended our stint as taking care of strangers' children for brief amounts of time.
I don't remember a lot of the kids we took care of in Oakland. They were mostly children of friends or kids that we knew from the nursery school (or Pinata kids who all blended together and all 22 of them were one big extended family), kids who might have come by our house to play whether I was babysitting for them or not.
I do remember the baby who was allergic to cow's milk. They had him on a soy formula instead. I am sure that soy formulas have improved a LOT since then, but that stuff smelled so bad it made me retch. It smelled making it, it smelled when I fed the baby, it smelled ON him, so I didn't even want to touch him, and it smelled awful coming out the other end.
His father was an Orthopedist and I remember the day that I was getting a roast out of the freezer and dropped it on my toe. I was in extreme pain when he came to pick up his kid and I mentioned dropping the roast and that I thought I might have broken the toe. He looked down and said something profound like "oh" and left. Not a single word about what I could do or anything. Yeah, he probably was afraid I'd sue him if he offered an opinion but even a "I'm so sorry you're in pain" would have helped a little.
Then of course there is the story, which I have mentioned here a time or two, about the night we were at a Lamplighter Gala, where in those days the champagne flowed copiously, and our kids were being taken care of by a very proper British gentleman. I was definitely in my cups that night coming home from San Francisco. I had worn an outfit my mother had given me, a purple lamé one-piece coulotte that was a tad too long for me. As I staggered out of the car and tried to go up the stairs, while trying to hold in a very full bladder, I tripped on the damn hem of the outfit, fell flat on my face on the stairs and peed all over the place.
The babysitter looked a bit bemused and made some dry comment about my having had a little too much to drink. I was mortified. I will admit that it did make me feel a tad less mortified a few years later when I discovered that he and his wife were "swingers" and had propositioned another couple that we knew to come and share their bed for an evening of fun and frivolity. It makes me laugh now to picture our friends in a four-some with these folks. A more incongruous coupling I can't imagine!
Ahhh...we never know what goes on behind someone else's closed door.
That was kind of the problem with the disaster that we encountered here in the Davis babysitting co-op. I didn't know the woman, who was new to the co-op, but she had two boys who were, I don't know, young grammar school age, I guess. She said she needed to go shopping and could I watch the boys for an hour. I said sure.
I opened the door to see the boys for the first time. She handed me a bag with...something...I don't remember what was in it, kissed her kids goodbye and left. I expected to have her back in an hour. This was in the days before cell phones, so I couldn't get hold of her when I needed it.
She didn't return for more than eight hours. She apparently had a date with her ex-husband and didn't want me to know. I was frantic by the time she came back.
The fact that she was 7 hours later than she told me she would be was bad enough, but it turned out that one of her kids was autistic and she never told me. She just handed him to me as if he were a normal kid and left. A few suggestions for how to handle him would have helped just a tad. All he wanted to do, as I remember all these years later, was to play in the water of the aquarium we had. That, and run around the house and cry for his mother.
That may have been the closest I have ever come to really wanting to kill someone. Not the kid, his mother. She could have warned me. I would have tried to work within her rules and how she handled the kid, but to just give him to me as if he and his brother were both alike and then to go off for eight hours....
I don't remember when I learned he was autistic. Maybe I just thought he was retarded and found out later that he was autistic. Whatever he was, I didn't have a clue how to handle him and I was not warned ahead of time. It was 8 hours of sheer hell.
When she came home and I exploded at her for what she had done to me, she got angry with me and accused me of trying to keep her from getting back together with her husband. This was obviously a woman with some serious problems.
I never saw her again and I suspect she was not allowed to be a member of the babysitting co-op again either.