Give Me That Babysitter, I Saw Her First!

“Dear Michelle: I complete disagree with your column saying a friend is wrong for not sharing a babysitter. NO WAY! It’s hard enough to find a reliable available sitter,” wrote a reader named JACM1234.

“Add to that friends homing in on the same sitter, and we’ve found ourselves hosed when we really needed a sitter,” JACM1234 wrote. “True friends understand that, and would not be offended. It’s much more offensive when friends immediately try to edge in when I find a new babysitter.”

I recognize your tone of desperation, JACM1234. In fact it takes me to the days when my daughters were little. One time one of them was still recovering from a cold and not ready to return to day care on a morning when I had an absolutely important, urgent, do-or-die assignment at work. Or, at least that’s how the assigning editor at my newspaper described the situation. (This was the sort of editor who used to leave me phone messages: “I’m trying to reach you. Where are you? Out shopping?”)

What was I going to do? I couldn’t take my daughters to work with me — I was on my way to go interview the head of a hospital or the county executive or some other “busy” person. My husband, who also was a newspaper reporter and had to go to a courthouse to cover a trial that day, couldn’t take the kids, either.

Then my friend Debbie Rimler came to the rescue. She had little kids too, same ages, and a demanding job, too. She said, “You know, I have this great babysitter I sometimes use in emergencies. She’s really busy, but I bet if I call her and explain the situation, she’ll watch your girls today.” And she did. And she was a wonderful babysitter. And I remember that day in 1993 like it was yesterday. Thanks for sharing your babysitter, Debbie.

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