the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Adventures in babysitting

One night several weeks ago (and a few times since then) Leta had so much math homework in addition to her normal workload that she didn’t finish everything until almost two hours after her normal bedtime. That night she didn’t have time to practice piano which is her only extracurricular activity. Yes, her only. I know, I know. YOU MIGHT AS WELL REVOKE MY UTERUS NOW. Where is her Taekwondo lesson? The soccer? The gymnastics? The skiing? This is Utah, why isn’t she sewing quilts and marrying her uncle?

Leta hasn’t ever been inclined toward those activities, and since she has excelled at piano I wanted to focus on that one skill before the onslaught of middle and high school. Before debate and French club and drama and chess club and student government and choir and… see? She’s only nine years old and already she has so much homework she can’t come home from school and BE NINE YEARS OLD. She can’t even take a half hour to let her brain fart and scratch its butt.

So I decided to look for a part-time babysitter who could pick the kids up after school and watch them for a couple of hours. This way Leta could come home, relax for a bit, and then attend to her homework and piano all before dinnertime. It would also give Marlo a reprieve from the hours spent in aftercare at preschool where I would sometimes show up and she’d collapse at my feet on the floor, exhausted from having held it together all day long.

Tyrant offered to conduct initial interviews with potential candidates to avoid any potential awkwardness with people who might already be familiar with me? I used a question mark because how does one even say that out loud without sounding like a total douche? I do not know. Okay, here’s a whack at it:

“I’d really like it if I could hire someone who isn’t interested in collecting samples of my hair.”

No? Too far?


There. That.

The thing is, a ton of bloggers get recognized now, whether they are writing about fashion or crafting or cooking. And when you’re looking to engage with someone like this, when you’re looking to bring someone into your home, you want to make sure that you’re not going to walk in on them rummaging through your underwear.

While I was away in Haiti Tyrant and Dane spoke with one girl a few times who seemed to fit the bill perfectly, so we invited her over to the house for a final interview. Funny thing is… she is familiar with me. She even recalled a few of the things I’d recently written (Ivy, you can tell Gigi that she was a hit with her). But she applied for this position and I hired her because she’s amazing with kids and the hours work perfectly with her schedule. Also, she’s a Mormon who laughs when I poke fun at Mormons. We share that common upbringing which is always nice because I often like to tweak Mormon hymns under my breath when dealing with discipline problems:

“I know that my Redeemer lives because he’s spared your lives.”

“I am a child of so help me God.”

“I hope they call me on a mission where I will be far away from you.”

It’s been a few weeks since she started, and already I see a huge difference with both kids. They are so much lighter in spirit when they walk through that door, like they have so much more room to breathe. It also helps that this girl loves to indulge in Marlo’s wily imagination. Several times I have taken a break to check on them only to find them hidden in the most elaborately built fortresses made out of blankets and chairs and pillows from every room in the house. This has also made Marlo very possessive, and I will occasionally hear Leta trying to ask a question only to hear some four-year-old variation of, “I didn’t give either of you permission to speak to each other.”

What does that sort of variation sound like? It’s got a lisp and there is a ton of shoving of the older sister involved. That’s okay, though. I gave the babysitter permission to chain Marlo to the railing on the staircase. A little too high so that Marlo’s toes can’t reach the ground. We’re on the same page!

I won’t lie, I love having them around every afternoon. I love to hear their footsteps and giggles, the shoving and consequent eye roll. This solution has given them a little more room to be kids and a little more time for me to enjoy them being kids. Most importantly, Leta is finishing her homework and piano practice without having to go to bed two hours late, and she’s making far fewer mistakes than she used to. She even had enough time left over last week to write letters to two friends, make Christmas cards for her grandparents, and design her own miniature apartment out of a cardboard box:


The only hiccup we’ve run into so far is that one art project they did on the countertop involving glitter, and now and I can’t stop finding glitter in the strangest places: glitter in the silverware drawer, glitter in my purse, glitter even in my bed which is a floor above the kitchen (I deny any wrongdoing with the glitter). A few days later as I was picking up dog poop in the backyard… you guessed it. Glitter in the dog poop.

She is obviously our Christmas miracle.

  • jess crawford!

    2013/12/16 at 3:59 pm

    Glitter: the herpes of the craft world.

  • Cassie

    2013/12/16 at 4:02 pm

    Yeah, my roommate used to use it for her job and all the things still have glitter in them. Including the cats.

  • issascrazyworld

    2013/12/16 at 4:13 pm

    I have forever banned glitter from my home. Kept finding it everywhere the other night and couldn’t figure out why. Yeah, I’d purchased wrapping paper with flipping glitter all over it. Whoops!

  • GK Adams

    2013/12/16 at 4:15 pm

    You’ll still be finding glitter 30 years from now.

  • Guest

    2013/12/16 at 4:17 pm

    Just as long as she isn’t keeping your hair.

  • Fabs

    2013/12/16 at 4:22 pm

    It’s great that you have things working out better, and this might be off the point you were making, but no nine-year-old should have that much homework! Have you thought about talking to the teacher?

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/12/16 at 4:31 pm

    “Fourth grade is when children must learn time management skills. Those who aren’t self starters will need to learn to become self starters.” This is going on everywhere.

  • Lisa

    2013/12/16 at 4:39 pm


  • Commentor123

    2013/12/16 at 4:44 pm

    I feel confused…did you go back to a day job and I missed it?

  • Kristan

    2013/12/16 at 5:46 pm

    “design her own miniature apartment out of a cardboard box” — That is me, 20 yrs ago. I could fill a real house with all the “doll houses” I made out of scrap paper and cardboard.

  • Teal

    2013/12/16 at 6:17 pm

    I volunteer in a second grade classroom, and those kids have homework every Mon.-Thurs. The average length of time it takes them to complete it? Close to an hour. And that’s for the strong students. An hour of homework every night in SECOND GRADE is absolutely insane!

  • Melinda

    2013/12/16 at 6:56 pm

    i work with 5th graders at an after school program. they have so much homework, some of them can’t finish within the 4 hours they’re there. they go home to do more work, get not enough sleep, and do it all over again. i feel terrible for keeping them in their seats and not letting them run and play–it’s insane.

  • Meg

    2013/12/16 at 9:51 pm

    In my freshman year of high school, I used glitter on one project. When my parents sold the house TEN YEARS LATER, my bedroom still had glitter in the cracks on the floor.

  • Tara @ Surburble

    2013/12/17 at 12:19 am

    I think it’s wise that you’ve figured out a way to give Leta a chance to breathe. Kids need time. They need space. It’s all too much sometimes.

  • Sarah Michelle Digh

    2013/12/17 at 1:22 am

    My kindergartener has about two hours worth of homework every night, not including the reading they want them to do.

  • luckymom22

    2013/12/17 at 8:38 am

    I’ve told both of my girls that most of life won’t be as hard as the 4th and 11th grades.

  • Becky

    2013/12/17 at 9:32 am


  • boomer

    2013/12/17 at 9:48 am

    I think you need to talk to her teacher– that’s way too much homework at her age.

  • Jenn

    2013/12/17 at 12:59 pm

    But what do you do, Dooce, that is so omg time consuming that you can’t be this person for your children in the afternoons? I really don’t get it. How much time does it take to post pictures of your dog? Because that is all this blog basically is anymore. I just don’t get it. I am glad they have someone in their lives who enjoys spending time with them though. Children sense when they are wanted.

  • Beth

    2013/12/17 at 2:56 pm

    Hey, speaking of dog poop, how does Chuck sit on that light colored chair without it getting covered in grime? My dog is so filthy all the time.

  • jenn

    2013/12/17 at 3:28 pm

    Thin skin, eh Dooce? can’t handle someone asking why you can’t be the after school person for your children with your part time job? Do you think this increases your fan base or just confirms how narcissistic and self absorbed you are? Everyone, minus the 150 fangurls you have left, sees you for what you are. Deleting a comment here or there wont change anything. You destroyed yourself. Merry Christmas.

  • isitmyhair

    2013/12/17 at 3:36 pm

    I guess I’m done. Single mother, Sr. Project Manager, not a millionaire. But I don’t know never had to hire a nanny. Dooce you have become too rich for my blood.

  • donewithdooce

    2013/12/18 at 7:22 am

    So she has a babysitter and two full-time assistants? I can’t imagine how blogging would take up that much of her time. Maybe she should go back to a regular 9-to-5 so she can spend more time with her kids. No one can relate to her anymore. I only read Dooce anymore when I’m super bored, and then it’s for the dog pictures.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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