Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Now that it's summer, especially now that it's summer, it has become clear to me where the true source of power lies: access to telephone numbers of babysitters who don't have access to summer cabins. Those who have it live lives of blissful freedom and can lord it over those of us who don't.

Yes yes yes I realize that much of the world either doesn't have small children for whom they are responsible, doesn't care about engaging in adult activities in the absence of said children, or doesn't give a hoot about the kids. Unfortunately I am not lucky enough to fall into any of these exceptions. I am a babysitter have-not (or, more precisely, have-not-enough) this summer and at the mercy of those babysitter haves. The babysitter haves don't just share their numbers with any Tom Dick and Harry (or Eloise). You have to earn the information with various bribes or, heaven forbid, a sustained relationship approximating close friendship.

I do OK during the school year. It's true I occasionally wring my hands over the unreasonably active social lives of the babysitter demographic (when I was their age a babysitting job was a welcome break from parental monotony) or cluck disapprovingly at the parents dishing out earning-incentive destroying allowances to their kids (I am clearly a social conservative when it comes to babysitters.) But despite these horrific roadblocks, I can usually find a babysitter if I steel myself to make enough telephone calls (yes, I finally understand, it is extremely humiliating being turned down by teenage girls; I apologize if I ever caused anyone any such pain in the past).

But summer in Minnesota is absolute hell for the babystter-dependant! Potential babysitters are all visiting their friends' cabins, or going camping or tubing down some tributary for the weekend just when I need them. It's an impossible situation, and elevates the power of those with babysitter access to untenable heights.

At lunch last week a friend told me the story of a local businessman who experienced difficulties enforcing his non-compete agreement against a former partner. His solution: he forbade his daughter from continuing to offer her babysitting services to the turncoat. As a lawyer, I admire the ingenuity. As a mother, I decry the unfair tactic. I guess I need expand my toadying efforts from the babysitter list-holders to the babysitters' parents.


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