My kids have eaten, bathed, and are tucked into bed. My make-up is on with only a few smudges due to a lack of practice. I’m wearing the fanciest clothes I own which aren’t adorned with stains from who knows what. My husband is at the door and I’m giving my final instructions to the babysitter. What the babysitter doesn’t know, though, is that there’s a huge difference between what I say to them and what I actually mean. For example:
What I Say: Help yourself to whatever’s in the kitchen.
What I Mean: You can eat all the fresh vegetables you want because my kids aren’t going near them. The pasta is fair game, too, since I buy ten pounds of it a day seeing as how it’s the only thing I know my daughter will eat. I’d stay away from the box of graham crackers, though, since I’m not sure how long they’ve been in there. My son liked them for about two days and then deemed them “yucky.” He’s yet to change his position on the matter. Oh, and don’t even think about eating the chocolate that’s stowed away behind the cans of corn and green beans. I know exactly how much is there and I guarantee you’ll never work in this town again if you so much as look at it.
What I Say: Feel free to have a friend over.
What I Mean: Sure, you can have a friend over — especially if your friend runs some sort of cleaning business. Are you friends with any cleaning fairies? Do you have any friends who enjoy scrubbing day old yogurt off the walls? What about friends who enjoy weight lifting? They could lift up the couch while you vacuum under it. You can also earn a nice little bonus if you guys find out what that smell is that’s wafting out of the toy box.
What I Say: She should be asleep the whole time you’re here.
What I Mean: There’s a strong emphasis on the word should. Theoretically, since my daughter is two, she should most definitely be able to sleep the night away while dreaming of my demise. However, it’s more likely that every ten minutes you will hear a soft knock on her bedroom door and when you go to check on her she will cheerily announce, “Me awake! Me play!” Obviously I’d like you to put her back to bed, but I’ll apologize right now for the twelve shrieking choruses of, “I’m not sleepy! I’m awake!” that you’ll have to endure.
What I Say: Watch whatever you’d like on Netflix.
What I Mean: You can put on whatever you want, but don’t judge me for what you see under “Recently Watched.” I spend all day helping Dora find things and Bob build things. I sing songs with Elmo and daydream about Caillou’s destruction. After those kids are finally asleep, I want the most child unfriendly thing I can find. If you notice a lot of violent shows, I promise you I don’t have any mental issues. It’s just TV therapy for those of us who are up to our eyeballs in Technicolor torture all day.
What I Say: We shouldn’t be out too late.
What I Mean: We haven’t been by ourselves in months and we are going to live it up, my friend. After dinner, a movie, and dessert, we may find ourselves sitting on the hood of our car in a drugstore parking lot if it means we’re still out of the house. It’s also quite possible we have an overnight bag in the trunk just in case we get such a rush from having freedom that we decide to stay the night somewhere. And the next day. In fact, do you have a weekly rate?
What I Say: Call me if you have any questions.
What I Mean: The only question you should be asking is how to attach my son’s arm back onto his body because if he’s still breathing, and there hasn’t been bloodshed, I don’t need to know about it. Don’t call and ask me if he can have ice cream, or what you should do when my daughter asks for her seventh drink of water. You’re the babysitter. You’re in charge. Mama’s going out tonight!
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