Finding someone to babysit for a few hours is both the easiest and the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Whenever I mention to a friend or co-worker I need a babysitter they know a million and a half people who would LOVE the job. The excitement is palpable. They’ve clearly convinced themselves they know a 13-year-old whose minimally responsible enough to make sure a younger child in their care makes it through being babysat without a trip to the emergency room.
Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to get out my first few sentences. Then I have to explain that my son has a feeding tube and while the person caring for him won’t need to use it they need to be responsible enough to realize if it’s come out on its own. Additionally, his low muscle tone means he’s prone to falls so he needs to be watched closely. While we have removed the vast majority of sharp edges from the house sometimes even wall corners can become dangerous if rammed into with enough force.
No one seems to want to be responsible for taking care of the kid whose parents instructions NEED to be followed. While babysitting is critically important it’s also supposed to be easy. Once I’m done explaining our son’s medical struggles it doesn’t sound easy anymore. The most painful part is that it is still easy. It’s heartbreaking to see the fear in people’s eyes when realistically the only thing I’m asking them to do is actually keep eyes on our son and call me if something happens out of the ordinary.
Even if we say we’ll be gone for three hours, we’ll probably be having a coffee less than two minutes away from home by the time two hours hits. All we really need is someone who:
- Is responsible enough not to stare at their phone and ignore our kid.
- Will not panic if something out of the ordinary happens.
- Will not lose our number and will call us if something out of the ordinary happens.
It feels like it’s not too much to ask, but in reality it probably is too much. Most babysitting is done by parents with other kids or teenagers. Asking either to pay full attention to our child is probably unrealistic. It breaks my heart that we ask the same thing everyone else asks and no one wants to help. Realistically, it’s rare anyone actually pays full attention to the kid they’re watching. Children usually don’t need your full attention. Many are completely content to play on their own and even if completely ignored will be just fine for a few hours.
I don’t for certain know why so many people are afraid to babysit a child with a feeding tube. It’s really not that bad. Being a Nanny or a full-time caregiver while the parent is at work 30+ minutes away is different. Two to three hours with a child who has a tube is exactly like watching any other child, except you actually have to pay attention.