It was Saturday night and my 6-year-old was bursting with excitement.
No, she wasn't anticipating a wild night of braiding Barbie's hair and binge-watching Monster High. Something much more dramatic was happening.
The babysitter was on her way.
Once upon a time, my daughter was that excited to hang out with Mommy. However, as my kids have grown older and wiser, they've discovered that a night with the babysitter holds many more possibilities. Here are five reasons an evening with the sitter is more promising than even the wildest night with Mommy.
1. The sitter parties all night long. Or at least until 9 o'clock. I generally allow the kids to stay up a little later when we go out. Making them feel like they're having a special night too distracts from the fact that while Mommy and Daddy are getting all dressed up for a steak dinner and a night on the town, they're eating leftover mac 'n' cheese in their pajamas. Few things are more exciting to a kid than staying up past their bedtime -- especially if they don't know it's with Mommy's permission. Party on, tiny rebels.
2. The sitter never comes empty-handed. Whether she's toting birthday presents, ice cream, or fresh fruit, our sitter always comes prepared. These treats are much more exciting than the steamed veggies I left the kids (you know, to accompany the leftover mac 'n' cheese). Turns out, sitters bearing gifts are infinitely cooler than mommies bearing broccoli. Who knew?
3. The sitter is easy prey. Nothing is better sport to a child than outsmarting the babysitter. I'll never forget the first time our sitter put the kids to bed. My daughter had a princess story collection, from which I generally read her one story a night. The night we were gone, she told the sitter that Mommy always read her the entire book -- all 19 tiara-filled tales. Frankly, I'm just glad the sitter came back after all those screwy mice and spaced-out fairies... or Mommy would not be living happily ever after.
4. The sitter thinks the kids are hilarious (or at least pretends to). There's only so many times Mommy can roll her eyes at "Mommy, guess what? Poo poo!" before someone's going to her room -- usually Mommy, to hide under the covers until the sitter arrives. The babysitter is a captive audience who hasn't spent her day listening to punchlines involving excrement and other bodily functions. (Or so I assume... I have no idea what she does in her spare time.) Therefore my little ones can be the comedians they were always meant to be, at least until bedtime.
5. The sitter never gets played out. The babysitter doesn't spend her day wiping runny noses, pulling half-naked toddlers off the furniture, or tackling an overflowing mountain of laundry threatening to bury the house like Mount Vesuvius. When she arrives, she's fresh, smiling, and ready to play hide and seek until the kids have exhausted all two of their usual hiding places. She's never too tired for a dance party, too sleepy to stay up for a Brady Bunch marathon, or too achy to serve as a jungle gym. For the two or three hours the kids are awake, the sitter is all fun, all the time.
And yet, miraculously, when they awaken in the morning, my kids are somehow thrilled to see me. No matter how much fun they had, they're always full of kisses and cuddles for the Mommy they haven't seen in hours. Somehow, in a matter of minutes, it's like Mommy never left the house: the kids are bouncing off the walls, the house is a mess, and Mommy's exhausted. And everyone's blissfully happy to be together again.