By Amy L. Hatch
As is the way in a college town, our regular babysitter left this semester for a student-teaching stint in Chicago and we were left without a reliable, available person to watch the kids.
Even though we no longer have a “full-time” sitter, we often find ourselves in the position of two people needing to be in three places (which is, incidentally, the subtitle of my autobiography). Those are the times I miss my extended family the most. Not having someone you can call on at the last minute can make the logistics of parenting a lot harder.
Erica was our go-to gal when we needed someone to hang out with the kids or pick someone up from school, et cetera, et cetera. As her schedule slowly got tighter, we knew we’d have to start looking for a new sitter, and then came the death blow—she up and left town.
Fortunately, the flip side of living in a college town is that there are plenty of new recruits looking for work when the semesters turn over. I posted an ad on the UIUC Virtual Job Board and found myself with an avalanche of candidates to choose from. Students majoring in child development, education, psychology, 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 apparently I’m a closet chauvanist. I didn’t interview a single male applicant.
Now, that may be because the first few women who sent their information to me were excellent candidates. They all had extensive child-care experience, they all had fairly open schedules, they were all studying in a field about or related to children and they all had their own cars.
Or it may be because the idea of hiring a man to watch my son and daughter freaked me out on some level I didn’t even know existed in my psyche. Apparently, it does, however, and it makes me nervous to consider a male candidate.
Which is stupid, right? Several of my babysitters as a kid were guys, and it made for a different energy, not bad, not better, but different. We were always perfectly happy and safe.
So 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. We so often hear about men hurting kids, when there are plenty of women out there who don’t hesitate to prey on children.
I happened to have found two great sitters in the first two applicants, who also happen to be women. We’re giving each of them a try-out soon, and I’m hopeful that they will both be a good fit.
But I’ll hang on to the other names and contact information, just in case—even, I think, the guys.
Would you hire a male babysitter? Why or why not?