A few weeks ago I had a lovely conversation with a friendly babysitter in the park. She was telling me and another babysitter how she so much enjoyed working for this family and how close she was to all their four children that she had practically raised herself. The youngest, a baby, is with her all day. She picks up the older brother from gan and the others come home from school by themselves. I went home thinking that if I were to go out to work, that would be the way to do it. No pressure to get the kids out to day care in the morning, no worries with strikes or school letting out early (both common occurrences), being a few minutes late is no big deal, you don’t need to wonder whether the ganenet remembered to send your child on the bus to the tzaharon (afternoon program) and you come home straight to your kids and a reasonably clean house. You know your babysitter and her values, you trust her, and you just hope that she doesn’t get sick too often or quit. I have to admit that I was a bit jealous of that mother and her carefree life (as presented by the babysitter of course).
So I noticed the last few days that the babysitter was coming to gan without the baby. Today I caught her and asked her where the baby was. “Oh, she’s home asleep!” So I started to ask her whether she had heard about the boy from Beersheva, who died from smoke inhalation while locked inside his apartment when his mother brought his younger brother to gan. She said, “It’s only for five minutes! The baby can’t machzik maamad (hold out) after 1:00 (gan ends at 1:20),” and quickly ran off. I think I’ll offer to bring the boy home from gan next time, as it’s on my way. Why she can’t put the baby to sleep in the stroller is beyond me. I’m also surprised that a babysitter would want to take such responsibility, even if the mother approved. Babysitters are usually much more careful to avoid letting their charges climb or otherwise risk injury.
I saw the neighbor mentioned in the post linked above at a recent wedding, and she thanked me for something I had said that day in the park. I had told her that when I was debating leaving a sleeping child at home or some other questionable action, I would ask myself the following question: “If something happened to the child, and I were being tried in court, what would I give as my excuse?” Could I say that I left him sleeping because I didn’t feel like taking him out in the rain? She said it better in Hebrew, with feeling: Mah tihyeh ha-taanah sheli?