Thursday, June 11, 2009

What was the going rate for babysitting?

I had a friend who was married with a young child, and one night, we decided to go out to dinner. Her husband wasn't big on fancy food, and we hadn't had a chance to chat in a while, so her husband stayed at home with the child while she and I had a nice dinner.

We were out for maybe two hours max, and afterward, we went back to their place. I went inside for a bit, and she went to check on the child, and I was a bit surprised that he went on and on about how it was a big deal that he'd agreed to babysit for the night so that she and I could go out, and wasn't he a great guy for doing that. She said that yes, it was nice of him to watch the baby so she could go out for a little while.

And then he turned to me and said that I should thank him for babysitting so that I could have dinner with his wife. I don't remember exactly what I did. I think I was mostly shocked. I don't think I thanked him. I think I might have just stared at him.

So, when did it become "babysitting" when it's YOUR OWN CHILD? And she was the one who took care of the child's needs every night - feeding, changing, attention, all of it. She had already fed and changed the child before we left for dinner. We were only gone for a couple of hours, and it wasn't like he was missing out on a dinner he would have enjoyed. He didn't like those sorts of restaurants anyway. He just had to take care of the child by himself for a couple of hours. And he was expecting to get some sort of medal for that? Or at least my undying gratitude? For actually deigning to look after his own child?


Sherry said...

Yes, you must thank the macho man for taking care of his own child instead of going hunting for the Mastadon that you should have been eating for dinner. You should also thank him for pulling you into the cave by your hair.

dodie said...

My ex-husband used to say things like that too. Key word here is EX-husband!

JeffG said...

Yeah, that sounds pretty bad. My wife and I do use the term "babysitting duty" sometimes when one or the other is watching the kid while the other goes out (and we do typically thank one another for it), but we certainly never treat it like watching the child is a big sacrifice or anything. In fact, a standard part of our weekend routine (when we aren't out and about doing stuff as a family) is to take turns giving one another a little time to ourselves.

I will say that since I spend so much time on weekdays at work, I absolutely >treasure< the time that I spend taking care of my son on my own. I generally take the lead on a lot of his standard bedtime activities (helping him with his bath, reading a bedtime story, etc.) and I also very much look forward to my "babysitting duty" times on weekends or the occasional evening.

My wife is certainly appropriately appreciative of her break times, but I could never even begin to imagine demanding gratitude in the way described in that post. I completely encourage any of my wife's friends to feel free to take her out for an evening and I promise that I will be more than happy for the opportunity to spend an evening with my kid.

Tim Castro said...


It like those self-righteous fools who loudly proclaim "I TAKE CARE OF MY KIDS!"

Ummm, you're supposed to!