Just a heads-up that the kids may be off their game tonight. They had back-to-back birthday parties this afternoon. Translation: They're sugared up and exhausted. Why do you think I'm scrambling to get out of the house as fast as I can?
But they have really been looking forward to having you sit for them. Translation: Frankly, this fact worries me a bit. Why do my children adore you so much anyway? The last babysitter to receive this much adulation taught our kids to burp the alphabet and let the gerbils loose in the living room.
For their dinner there is whole-wheat pasta with turkey meatballs and steamed broccoli ready to heat up. I have grapes in the fridge for dessert. Translation: Yeah, we know this is hypocrisy, since they get sweets with us. But at least try to convince our kids that fruit is dessert-worthy.
There's money on the counter to order in your dinner. Translation: I'm leaving 20 bucks to appear generous. However, if you spend it all I'll be peeved.
No TV or Wii. The kids have already used their "screen time" quota and then some. Translation: TV and video games are my babysitters, not yours.
Please keep your iPhone out of sight. Translation: OMG u r here 2 sit 4 my kids, not 2 text.
No visitors allowed. Translation: I know the Iron Curtain fell long before you were born, but does the word "informant" mean anything to you? Because who needs a nanny cam when you've got two little tattletales like mine? Yeah, we know about the boyfriend who hangs out here.
Bedtime is no later than 8:30! Translation: Keep my kids up past that time and I will call you every hour starting at 5:30 a.m., when my exhausted children awaken me. Because contrary to all logic, overtired kids do not sleep in.
Ian can't fall asleep unless his stuffed animals are arranged at the foot of his bed from biggest to smallest. Translation: Yes, this is peculiar behavior for an 8-year-old, but we don't have the fortitude to break him of it right now. Don't judge.
We'd love it if you clean up any messes. Translation: Returning to a bombed-out house totally sucks the joy from a night out. We don't need to experience firsthand the elaborate fort you and the kids set up in our living room. Take a picture. By the way, any cleaning you do will earn my undying gratitude and affection. And my husband will thank you too. Nothing says, "Tonight is your lucky night" like a kitchen cleaned by someone else.
We should be back around 11. Translation: When I walk through the door, I'll feel compelled to ask how things went. Here's the correct answer: "Great! Your kids are awesome!"
Emergency numbers: Pediatrician 215-555-6687; Poison Control 800-222-1222.
Translation: If you have reason to use either of these numbers, things have gone very, very wrong.
Any questions, just call us. Translation: We so don't want to hear from you.
Have fun! Translation: But not at our expense. Don't download any pay-per-view movies—our cable bill is sky-high as it is.
And thanks so much. Translation: Really. You're a lifesaver. I loooooove my kids. But if you hadn't shown up, I might have eaten my young.
Originally published in the November 2012 issue of Parents magazine.