Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nanny Class Factotum

posted Wed, 13 Dec 2006

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m not a parent so I don’t know. I’ll save you guys the trouble of telling me to shut up I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you don’t have to be a parent to know bad parenting when you see it. When you (ahem) accidentally come across a website showing Lisa Marie Presley holding her teenage daughter’s hair back so daughter can kiss a scuzzy-looking guy, it’s pretty easy to sit in righteous judgment and say, “I would never do that!” It’s also pretty simple to condemn Melanie Griffith for lighting her teenage daughter’s cigarette. It’s very easy to say that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes should have gotten married before their kitten was born so as to give a good example to Tom’s other children that having babies out of wedlock is not desirable, even if you are in Hollywood and the normal rules of morality don’t apply, especially if you want a big extravagant wedding for the third time which is a bit vulgar if you ask me but it was Katie’s first marriage, so there is that to consider.

See? Isn’t this fun? And easy! Bad parenting is a cinch to spot once you have the hang of it! All it takes is a little bit of practice.

I am such an expert that I can even spot the subtler violations of good parenting practices. Like last night: 9:30 p.m. Mother shopping. How do I know she’s a mother? Because she is pushing her screaming infant and toddler through The Store. Why is the infant screaming? Oh, probably because he’s either 1) hungry 2) exhausted or 3) wet. Or maybe all of the above. I was tempted to call Child Protective Services. I didn’t, but I wanted to. So I just scowled at her back. I know she could feel the stinging daggers of my eyes and that she was suitably chastened.

No matter what, 9:30 at night is when children under the age of 12 should be at home in bed. Yet you guys would not believe – or maybe you would – how many women are at The Store with their kids at that hour. The poor kids are wiped out. They’re practically falling asleep on the dressing room sofa. It’s a school night. They have to be up at 6:30 or earlier (cross-town bussing in Memphis) the next day. Kids need a lot of sleep. But no. Mom wants to go shopping.

Maybe Mom just can’t afford a babysitter. (Why not just shop on Saturday or Sunday, I ask?) Babysitters here are outrageous. My boot camp colleagues pay $10 an hour! When I was babysitting in high school, I charged one dollar an hour. Minimum wage was about $3.25 back then, I think. Now minimum wage is $5.25 or something. Babysitting rates have gone from being about one-third of minimum wage to being twice as much as minimum wage.

When I asked why the rate had gone up so much faster than inflation, they told me that the girls in their neighborhood don’t need the money and that there are only a few girls who are willing to babysit. Ah. A bunch of spoiled rich girls whose parents aren’t teaching the value of work. Society and the workforce are eagerly awaiting them!

I did not grow up in that environment. I needed the money. If we wanted to buy stuff, like a bicycle or a camera, or go to the movies, we had to pay for it ourselves. Not only that, there was competition – there were plenty of babysitters around on base. The oversupply kept prices down.

That $10 an hour looks pretty good to me. My boot camp friends were complaining about not being able to find sitters. I don’t like to take money from my friends, but you know, I think I might be able to make an exception. The Store pays $9 an hour and there are taxes on top of that. Ten dollars an hour tax free doesn’t sound half bad. And with me, they’d get a babysitter who wouldn’t feed their kids junk, wouldn’t let them watch crappy TV, would put them to bed at a decent hour, would make sure they brush their teeth, wouldn’t light their kids’ cigarettes and wouldn’t let them kiss any scuzzy guys. I think I’m worth the money.

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