In the past 24 hours, I've had 2 babysitters cancel.
The first was yesterday afternoon-- a high-school student canceling for Saturday night. We booked her about 4 weeks ago, to go out with several other couples for dinner and the annual Warren Miller ski movie at Boulder Theater. Since tickets are pricey, I waited until this sitter had confirmed that she could babysit before buying them. Her text read "Hi Meg, so sorry to do this, but something came up and I can't babysit any more on Saturday. I'm really sorry." Now, I may be wrong, but I have the feeling that this "something" is a rare week of November snow, and the promise of powder days in the mountains.
The second cancellation was today. Today felt far more like January than November: it snowed all day for the 3rd day in a row, and the high was about 8 degrees. On Wednesdays, I have a regular sitter from 3-5, a CU sophomore. At 12:30, she texted that she had a flat tire, and wasn't going to be able to make it. Really? I thought. In 2.5 hours, she couldn't: a) find a way to change the tire, b) find a ride, or c) take the bus, which stops 2 blocks from my house? I had planned my afternoon around those two hours: an appointment and then picking Kenai up from doggie daycare on the other side of town (which wouldn't be a big deal with Julia ordinarily, but at zero degrees, it was far less appealing). I texted back that I had an appointment, and to please let me know if she found another way to get here.
Both cancellations have made me think about technology and responsibility. If one or both sitters had had to call me to cancel, might that have changed things? I, of course, understand that emergencies happen, but I also understand that it's pretty painless to cancel on someone via text.
I have high standards for my babysitters-- both as a mom and also as a former babysitter myself. I babysat from about age 11 until Julia was born. 19 years of babysitting. My first steady job was babysitting for a family with 5 kids, 3 afternoons per week, when I turned 16. In college, I babysat for the Dean of Students (I would say she thought I was very responsible, but I also recall an embarrassing faux pas where I accidentally invited her, Nancy Thompson, to my 21st birthday party via email, instead of my friend,Neil...). When I moved to Boulder, I spent two years nannying full-time. In addition to regular jobs, I spent countless weekend nights over those 19 years heating pizza, playing board games, watching Disney movies. I've babysat on beautiful, spring days, when my college friends were sitting outside in the grass, and I've babysat after late nights, arriving with coffee in hand and wishing I were still in bed. I've babysat a little sick, and on cold days when I didn't want to scrape off my car.
I am sure that at some point during all of this, I cancelled. But I'm also sure that there were times when imagining the stressed voice on the other end of the line was enough to dissuade me from doing so. I vividly remember waking up on a snow day in high school, when I called the woman for whom I sat regularly, and asked if she still wanted me to come that afternoon. I could hear yelling in the background, and crashing. "Oh, yes," she said. "In fact... can you come now?" And over the past 24 hours, I've been wondering: was I more responsible than the sitters I've happened to find recently? Is it just a coincidence that I had two cancellations in the last day? Or, does it speak to one of the negatives associated with being able to do everything via phone?
I'll be the first to admit that I love my iPhone, but I'm also glad I didn't have it when I was growing up- I'm glad I didn't have the easy out my sitters had this week. I'm grateful for many lessons I learned from babysitting, but this week has highlighted one of them: the importance of showing up, whenever possible, and giving one's best self to the job at hand.