Well, YES, I love the babysitting, really I do. You’re wonderful! The kids love it. They love you. I need to get away from them, so please don’t stop. I really need you.
1 | Please stop making me look so bad, OK? My kids already think I’m no fun and a total bummer because I make them do “important” things like homework and picking up their filthy inside-out socks and whatnot. Could you just be a smidge less fun? Like a hair lower on a sugary-and-shiny scale? Not enough so I can actually compete with you, you understand. Just enough so I don’t look quite as Voldemort-ish.
2 | Don’t discipline them too much, and don’t discipline them too little. Could you just discipline them exactly right in the middle? You know, maybe not force them to finish their plate but also actually put veggies on their plate. Pretty much, I want to you to read my mind and discipline them exactly how I would, minus my occasional yelling. So, be like me, except a little better, but not too much better. (See #1.)
(What? This isn’t about my control-freak parenting tendencies at all. Shut up.)
3 | Chill on the gifts. You’ve been to our house. You know what slovenly housekeepers we are. I know, I know. But the last thing we need is more crap to put away or to pull from a hoarding child’s death grip on donation day. Besides, you’ll make Santa look bad. Don’t you like Santa? If you won’t do it for us, do it for Santa.
4 | Put them to bed on time. We’re so grateful that you’re babysitting, did I mention that? But, dear grandparents, have mercy on us. Have you ever seen these children the day after a grandparent-bender? No? It’s a toddler hangover, which means they cry and whine all day instead of just feeling sick and having a headache like a proper hangover. No, it’s us that has the headache. From the whining. Really, we appreciated that night out. Actually, can you come again? Like maybe right now?
5 | Chill on the junk food. Reports have it that there are “fun snacks” at the grandparents’ house. I like fun snacks as much as the next gal, but I don’t like transitioning children from an exclusive diet of fun snacks to – oh, what’s it called? – real food. It’s okay if you make a regular, well-rounded meal and they don’t want to eat some of it. Really. They won’t starve, and they won’t hate you. (I think. Kids, you don’t hate me, do you? Oh, crap. Maybe they do. Me and my lentils.)
6 | Keep the toy catalogs to yourself. I’ll give you one guess who introduced my children to the idea of American Girl dolls. You don’t have to tell children this stuff, you know. Look, my eldest is 11 and still none of my children know that the bakery at our grocery store gives out free cookies to children. (Grandparents, do NOT get any ideas. You are hereby forbidden to take our kids to our grocery store.) I digress.
The point is, American Girl dolls are just like cookies except that they cost $120 more than a cookie. And cookies don’t have “accessories sold separately” like $500 doll-sized French bakeries and juice bars. (No, the point was NOT that I’m a meanie who won’t even let her kids have a grocery store cookie. Stop changing the subject.)
7 | Ask me first, then ask the kids. “Hey, kids, how about we all go to Chuck E Cheese? Yes? Oh, let’s just go and ask your mom if it’s okay.” Um, do I have a choice? They’ve already interpreted your idle suggestion of loud, plasticky fun as an ironclad promise, you know. (But, wait, do I have to go? Because I’m thinking maybe you could take them, and this could actually work out well for me, too...)
8 | Don’t rock the baby to sleep. You know we take sleep very very seriously in our house, and we can’t stop yammering about the importance of sleep and bedtime routines – no, no, we’re not uptight, we’re just informed, of course. That’s why we've mentioned approximately 1,000 times that you must lay the baby down awake. DON’T ROCK THE BABY. Sure, now my kids are older and now I’m the indulgent auntie who rocked my little nephew to sleep just the other day, and ooooh he was so sweet and cuddly and squishy and…wait, what was I saying? Oh, never mind. Rock on, I suppose.
As long as you promise to keep babysitting.