We had a new babysitter come last night, a sweet tattooed 20-something with an asymmetrical haircut and a sense of ease about her.
I had been facilitating a training that day. When I pulled into the driveway around five, she was watching Sophia tool around the blacktop on her Disney Princess scooter. They were so absorbed in their activity, I had to honk so they would get out of the way of my oncoming car.
A good sign, I thought. Either that, or I can put off that oil change for another week.
I stepped out of the car and shook her hand. She held mine loosely, as if she was caught by surprise, unaccustomed to formal greetings.
“I see Sophie is getting you acclimated.”
“Oh yes. I’ve already had the grand tour. She showed me every dress in her closet.” I pictured all of them on the floor.
“Mom!” Sophie ambushed me, running into my arms full force.
“Hey you. Having fun?”
“Yes! Can I have a snack and take Helen to see the dinosaurs?” She meant the memorial created by the local boy scout troop that marks the site where the first full dinosaur skeleton was discovered. It’s a few blocks away. People have left a variety of plastic dinosaurs on a picnic table there, which Sophie likes to set against each other in prehistoric battles.
“Its almost dinner time. No snack, but you can go see the dinosaurs. Put some bug spray on first.”
“Mo-om! But I’m starving!”
“Great, then you’ll be hungry for dinner when you get back.”
“But I want something now.”
“Fine. Then you can come in the house and have dinner.”
“I don’t want to eat dinner. I want to go see the dinosaurs.”
“Either you go see the dinosaurs without a snack or you eat dinner now.” This was my final offer.
“O-kay,” Sophie backs down, “C’mon,” she says to Helen, who has wisely stayed out of the negotiations. And they scoot away.
Dealing with Sophie, 101.
When they return, I tell Helen I want to give her the full orientation. As I’m leading her around the house, showing her the exact location of the Yummy Bunny pasta and frozen peas that has become a date night staple, she nods, “Yep. Sophie told me.” I lead her to the bathroom, and give her the low-down on the night routine. “Yep, she told me that too.” It seems the only thing Sophie hadn’t told Helen was the number for poison control and my preferred choice of emergency room.
The babysitter, it seemed, was in good hands.
As we headed out the door I kissed Sophie and told her, “Take good care of Helen. Make sure she eats her vegetables.”
“C’mon mom. She’s supposed to make sure I eat my vegetables.” Got that right, sister.
One luxurious dinner and dusky walk down by the river later, we headed back to the house to relieve Helen.
“How was she?” I asked in a stage whisper.
“Great,” Helen said cryptically.
As much as I’d like to believe her, I didn’t trust Sophie with fresh meat. She convinced her last babysitter to give her whipped cream sandwiched between two bagels for dinner. “It’s a whoopee pie,” Sophie told her. “Mom let’s me have them all the time.”
When I grilled Sophie about the Whoopee Pie the next day, she admitted that she had read about it in Ivy and Bean. “I wanted to try it, Mommy. I didn’t think you would let me.” My skepticism was justified.
“Yeah?” I asked Helen. “How was dinner?”
“She ate everything. Mac Cheese and peas and Yonanas for dessert. It looked so good I had it too.”
“How about bedtime?”
“She got into her pjs. Read while I brushed her teeth. Instructed me to give her cough medicine, and went right to bed. I’ve really never seen anything quite like it.”
That makes two of us.
Sophie, it seems, broke in the babysitter all by herself.