Monday, February 23, 2009

The Third Man

I'm looking for a nanny slash sitter to come in once a week for a few hours and spell me, and to be on tap for the odd evening out to the movies.

If we still lived in Philadelphia, I doubt I'd be looking to hire someone. I have enough friends there with odd work schedules and big baby love that if I needed someone to watch the kid for a couple of hours so I could go to the dentist or get a haircut or just go and have coffee alone and read an entire article in The Atlantic Monthly like a grown-up, I think I could always rustle up that kind of help among people Ben was already familiar with. But we don't really know anyone here. Not like that. Not known-you-for-fifteen-years-and-you-owe-me-cause-of-that-time type folks. Which blows, I have to say.

I know other mothers of youngsters here, and though at least one uses professional (rather than family/neighbor/friend) in-home childcare, I didn't ask them for recommendations or references. It's not that I don't trust their judgment -- it's that on this particular subject, I don't really trust anyone's but my own.

I read a book recently which was given to me by friend C. and which I recommend: Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane) by Gavin De Becker. It's not the sort of thing I'd probably have picked up if C. hadn't given it to me, because I resist all material aimed at parents that appears to ramp up paranoia and make every safety molehill into a mountain. But I read this book, and I'm glad I did, because I actually found it very sensible and empowering. His basic thesis is that you should trust your instincts about people who creep you out, because your lizard brain is much better at making those kinds of judgments than your rational brain, which tends to talk you out of those creeped-out feelings.

Anyway, one of the chapters is devoted to picking childcare providers, and one of the things he says that really resonated with me is that you shouldn't trust other people's recommendations because they have too much invested in believing that the people who care for their children are above reproach, even when -- or especially when -- they're not. He says to do your own research, ask your own questions (he provides several very smart ones), and do your own follow-up.

So I advertised on craigslist, and am currently sorting through responses and making appointments for interviews. With luck, by this time next week, there will be a third adult in Ben's life on a regular basis, one we all like and trust.

No comments: