By Contributing Mama Karen Palmer Bland
First off… keep this to yourself. Apparently babysitters do NOT realize that they hold the keys to the castle. That moms are out there desperate to find and connect with total strangers to watch our precious kids. When we moved to St. Louis last summer, my first order of business was finding babysitters. I mean, come on, house hunting and school visits can wait. But bikini waxes and Bikram yoga classes are a priority people.
How do I find these amazing sitters that you hear people talking about? My first thought….Washington University, a sizable school full of the elite East Coasters, was right in my own backyard. How could I penetrate this academic palace and score the sitters??? The answer? PLAY THE SORORITY CARD.
While I wasn’t much of a greek-er in college, I did pledge. And while I hadn’t really thought about Pi Phi much since 1990, the time was now. I googled away and emailed the chapter contacts at Wash U. I quickly identified myself as their “ older sister with kids” and asked if they would post a “babysitters wanted” note up at the house.
Now, I don’t know about you all, but when I was a college student at Tulane University, NO ONE WORKED and NO ONE MISSED OUT ON A NIGHT OF CHEAP DRINKS, like dollar Corona night, free drinks for ladies night and 2-for-1 Thursdays. I mean, how could we possibly justify working when we needed to hightail it to the bars to save money?
Well apparently at Wash U, there are girls who do more than drink. Within 15 minutes of my email, I had 8 emails and 6 phone calls from my long lost little Pi Phi sisters looking to babysit. Everyone from the rush chairman to the president was answering my ad. I didn’t understand it. Soon resumes were flying into my inbox. (Again, when I was in college, we couldn’t even spell the word resume.)
When my husband, Jeffrey, and I started looking through these 3-page resumes, we were stunned. They were filled with solid material – not filler crap like “Proficient in Word” and “Member of Who’s Who in High School” but really impressive positions like “Intern for Lou Dobbs at CNN” and “Participant in the Massachusetts Legislative Program.” What was up with these girls?
And then came the pre-med students – #1 in their class of 500, perfect SAT scores, science honor students, full scholarships, CPR certified and proficient in 3 languages. It was quickly apparent that these girls were more qualified than I to be home with kids! Eesh – are these girls nerds? Maybe they have social issues (i.e. no friends) and they want to babysit just to have some interaction with humans instead of fruit flies? I had two immediate thoughts. One, there is no way I could get into college today. Two, could I afford these geeks?
Turns out I was wrong (about the nerd part anyway). These girls were not nerds – they were all beautiful, East Coast 20-year old, mature, well-balanced, smarties, with boyfriends and lots of friends. They would show up to babysit in their SUVs, with their Louis Vuitton bags, their Uggs (in August), their $200 jeans – and to top it off, they couldn’t be nicer to my 3 kids under age 3.
And did they want to watch TV when the kids were asleep? No, they preferred to study for a midterm that was 10 weeks away. These girls were too good to be true.
And I enjoyed their company. We started gabbing about boys and formals and dresses and rush, and suddenly I was back in college mode. I mean, we were pretty close in age and all. They introduced me to Facebook. They told me they liked my clothes. These were my new buddies. I was on cloud 9 with my new sisters.
That is, until one day, when Jeffrey pulled back the curtain. “Do you realize that these girls are closer in age to our 3-year old, than they are to you?” he said. Eesh…was he right? Does he even know math? Did HE get a perfect SAT score?
Hmm… I am good at math, and he is right. Wow. Thanks, honey. I guess that means I’m not going to Pi Phi formal after all. All for the best really. I wouldn’t be able to find a sitter.
Midwest mama Karen Palmer Bland lives in St. Louis, Missouri – with her husband and three kids, Rory, Sawyer and Georgia. She’s a big city girl (not to be confused with a large girl who lives in a city), but right now she is “doing the right thing” and living in the middle of the country, to provide her birdies a nice backyard with their very own expensive swing set. Karen is a Tulane graduate who earned her MBA at Washington University. She is a recovering advertising agency executive, now serving the toughest clients of her life – her three kids.