Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Science of Babysitting (or Acquiring It)

Pre-child Scenario:
Arrive when you feel like at any social event you are invited to.
Leave when you feel like.

Post-child Scenario:
“There’s a dinner/party/play/movie that we have/must go to.”
“When is it?”
“On XYZ day”
“Okay we can ask one of the khalas or the phupos?”
“Can’t he go for a night-spend?”
“Let’s see.”

The 'let’s see' usually last till the last minute. Till whoever the potential babysitter is can be bribed to come babysit (which usually means overnight babysitting).

“Can’t he stay with you?” or “Can’t you(babysitter) sleep over?”

When my son was born I thought my life was over. Being the (yes fine, overly) paranoid parent I always knew I would be, I would not want him left anywhere except with my parents or my sisters. I thought this was the end of my enjoying my life as I had known it. That turned out to be true. It was indeed the end of me enjoying my life as I knew it. But it was the start of enjoying my life in a different way.

This involved a lot of time and effort from trusted babysitters (who in the first couple of years of my son’s life I manipulated by bursting into tears and announcing melodramatically “My life is over! Boohoo! I can never do anything ever again! I can never go out anywhere again without him! I’ll have to wait till he’s 20 till I can do anything!” and more along those lines). I guess I was lucky that my family was so easily emotionally blackmailed.
Over the last 4.5 years I have realized there is a science to acquiring babysitting (obviously from trusted sources, who have in fact got lives of their own). The first rule for a parent looking for babysitting is: Be selfish. Forget what other people’s plans may be. Forget the fact that they may have to let down others and remind them that it is their beloved niece/nephew that requires their attention and care. (Try to play down your own ultimate enjoyment. Perhaps use phrases like “I really don’t want to go, but it’s just something we have to go to unfortunately.” or “I don’t know why XYZ (XYZ being your spouse) agreed to going, but it’s just something that we have to go to. Just for a little while?”

When the baby is younger and its far more painful to babysit him/her, you can expect far greater resistance. As the child grows, the babysitters will:
a) be more willing since child is less trouble
b) have been beaten into submission (from various guilt trips/knowing no matter what at the end they will have to babysit).

However in defense of parents everywhere who leave kids with babysitters, we do feel guilty. Honestly we do. We are well known as the KPKs (Khao-Piyoo-Khishkoo ie Eat-Drink-Leave). We are infamous for it in fact. If hosts want us to stay on till later, they will set dinner later, for they know we will leave immediately after.

We really do feel bad about forcing our child on you so we can go out and have fun (in a harassed way, while having an ear/eye open for a SOS call or SMS, which might make us rush home). We try to cram as much enjoyment as we can under pressure. We shove food down our throats in order to be back in time for the babysitter’s deadline.

To sum up:
1. If you need babysitting, beg, plead plaintively and ultimately bribe. Every babysitter has a price.
2. Once babysitting is acquired, be grateful. Babysitters’ egos need careful nurturing. Offer words of gratitude and a dessert (if babysitter has a sweet tooth). A little sugar goes a long way (especially in the form of a brownie/ice-cream or a Mississippi mud pie from Hot Spot, in the case of my sisters)
3. Once out, message once to ask how your offspring is. Do not expect this SMS to be answered, after all you have held babysitter to babysitting duty against her wishes.
4. Try to KPK as soon as possible. It is most advisable to be back home to relieve babysitter of duties in order to avail babysitting next time around.
5. Allow a decent time to pass before asking babysitter for next babysitting session. This may be just a day, but if you play your cards right, the babysitter will be back on duty as required.
6. At least once, come back earlier than the time you said you would be back. Babysitter will feel more kindly towards you.

Once these rules are followed, any parent will be guaranteed babysitting as and when required.
(You do need to have wonderful sisters to actually succeed…see? scoring points with sisters who will be reading this. Future babysitting guaranteed…or would have been had this last sentence not been written).

Monday, April 5, 2010

SM/SM - So Much Stalker Media?

SM/SM (Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik) looming nuptials has sparked a media frenzy in Pakistan. When the news was announced a few days ago, a tsunami style wave of attention crashed upon the couple. Some were happy (as witnessed in the form of dancing citizens outside Shoaib's house in Silakot), some were angry ('How dare he marry an Indian?' And vice versa 'How dare she marry a Pakistani?').

Most of us though were just bemused. Why was there such a hype about them? Yes he is an ex-cricket star and yes she is an ex-tennis star in their respective countries but the level of scrutiny and detail being broadcast about them and their wedding is a little sickening. Especially when we have far greater problems to deal with. One theory is that people are so sick of the sad state of affairs around us, that we have hungrily turned on anything that distracts us from the permanent depression.

While SM/SM have provided light relief as well in the form of jokes being exchanged over SMS and Twitter ('Pakistan no longer needs a tennis star, humain jahaiz mein mill gayi' & 'IPL rejected 11 Pakistanis, Sania rejected all of India'), I think I can safely say we have all had enough.

However, the exclusive dance practice video filmed through a crack in the door, the apparently current wife of Shoaib Malik and her hysterical interviews, the claims of a possible pregnancy, the telephone nikah (in this day and age? seriously?) validity, police involvement and Shoaib not being allowed to leave India now; all means that the media piranha feeding of this tale won't end anytime soon.