WHO! LET! THE! DADS! OUT! woof, woof. We were at an adults-only birthday party last night so naturally all the parents were there courtesy of a babysitter. Near the end of the night, a few dads gathered their coats and lamented the dreaded task ahead: taking the babysitter home. "What is the big deal?" I asked. Sure, it's annoying to add a few minutes on to your night while your wife gets a head start on brushing her teeth, but there's no reason to be so grave. You also have to pump the gas on road trips and pee next to strangers and you don't grimace about that. These guys were downright morose about transporting hired teens.
"What if I say the wrong thing?"
"Yeah, what if something I say gets misconstrued?"
"Yeah! What if she goes crazy and throws herself at me and I say no and she says I assaulted her or something?"
They all nodded.
Wow, the thought stopped me cold. These were certainly not aggressive or inappropriate guys. My own husband didn't even say anything remotely suggestive to me until I knew him for three months. The other common factor with these dads, besides being upstanding citizens and great parents is they are all pretty successful professionals with a lot to lose. The thought of one stray accusation from a babysitter and they were like scared elephants.
I remember those late-night car rides home as a babysitter myself. I don't recall them being particularly awkward or charged. I certainly never considered throwing myself at the dad. If I knew that thought crossed my employer's mind, it would have creeped me out and I might have flung myself out the car door and rolled onto the grass. They were 40-year-old farts! I had pimple-faced crushes to worry about. Also, a kid doesn't think of themselves as powerful. Even when inappropriate things were said to me by strange adults from time to time, I never figured anyone would care. When I was 17 I had a boss close the office door behind him and quiz me about my sexual experience. I just quit the job. It never occurred to me to make a big stink about it or track down his superiors. I was a kid. Who cared what I said? There were other jobs. It just didn't seem like that big of a deal.
On the other hand, I completely see where the dads are coming from. I mean, what if there was some moment of awkward silence in the car with the babysitter and my husband said, "so are you going to the prom this year?" and the kid went home and told her parents Mr. K was quizzing her about her dating life. I really do not need the police at my door looking for Pops.
It's a scary conundrum between taking false accusations at face value and dismissing valid ones. When I think of this scenario and put my daughters in the role of the babysitter, suddenly I get very protective. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, babysitting gig dad of the future!
Perhaps with all the empowerment education we give kids, we also need to make sure we emphasize honesty. With issues like "catfishing" coming up after the Manti Te'o fiasco, it's also getting easier to see the consequences of deception.
Maybe dads worrying about offending babysitters follows the same course as people wondering about their own sanity: only those with something to worry about think they're in the clear. That said, I'll do my hubs a solid and be the one to haul the sitter home if it ever comes to that. Thank God our nanny is in her 60's and drives herself. Go granny, go!
What do you guys think? Who should take the babysitter home? Is this a common dad fear?
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Filed under: Daddy issues