I look for a new babysitter every year, and the guys never make the cut.
My husband and I often find ourselves in the position of two people needing to be in three places (which is, incidentally, the subtitle of my autobiography), and as we all know, the holy grail of parenting is finding a reliable sitter.
The sitter we love the most is about to be a new mom herself, and it’s time to find someone to replace her. Fortunately, we live in a college town and there are plenty of new recruits looking for work, especially this time of year.
I posted an ad on the university job board and found myself with an avalanche of candidates to choose from. Students majoring in child development, education, psychology, and students who had years and years of child-care experience. It was the motherlode of babysitters — including some male candidates.
Here’s where I confess that I’m a closet chauvinist. I didn’t interview a single male applicant. The idea of hiring a man to watch my son and daughter freaks me out. Which is stupid, right? When I was a kid, several of my babysitters were guys, and it made for a different energy — not bad, not better, but different. My siblings and I were always perfectly happy and safe.
Why do I feel this way? I’m sure it has something to do with societal perceptions and the news about child abuse in the media. I am well aware that not all men are pedophiles, but the idea that there’s a guy out there who prefers watching kids for his college gig gives me the willies.
My husband spent the first nine years of his career as an elementary school music teacher and I watched him care for, nurture and oversee the musical education of hundreds of kids during that time, so you’d think I would be able to overcome this irrational prejudice.
My daughter, who has major anxiety issues, generally feels more comfortable with women and girls. My son, on the other hand, would love to have another guy around to get his full quota of rough-housing. But I just can’t subvert that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that there’s something fishy about a male babysitter.