I write this while babysitting. Babysitting is not something I do very often these days as I would hate to have compete with the local teenagers for their pocket money, although they get paid almost as much as I do in the Post Office, come to think of it, after tax and NI they earn exactly what I do! (I am having a moment to contemplate why I don’t now spend more time in other people’s houses, drinking their tea, watching their TV and being paid a premium for being a more mature sitter who doesn’t need taking home…..). I used to babysit all the time in my youth. I had regular sits during the week and always was asked to work at weekends. It was my income and I was very much in demand.

Anyway, I digress. At 48 years of age I realise that some things never change. My charge for this evening tried telling her mum that she felt poorly because she didn’t want her mum to go out. I used to do that all the time! I was a master of the ‘funny tummy’, the headache, ear-ache and the non-existent sore throat.

I know to ask before mum and dad leave what time bedtime is. This is my master stoke because I know that if I ask the kids they will add an hour or so on. I also like to use it as a bargaining tool… if I offer the extra half hour in return for good behaviour and make it a secret pact I win brownie points. I know every time wasting ruse; the missing toothbrush, the extra story, the lost pyjamas etc.  I tried them all myself, even the walking painfully slowly up the stairs and the last minute tantrum.

Tonight I was asked f I wanted to see something. “Of course” says I.  Oddly the laptop was on top of the kitchen cupboards… I’m not falling for that! I asked, “Have you been banned from the laptop by any chance?”. Only till tomorrow….

I was there for the long haul, 5pm to midnight, so when I cooked tea I made sure it was cooked to perfection so there could be no issues about the colour or taste of the pizza that had been left out. Once the pizza was cooked all signs of the poorly tummy disappeared.

Bedtime was as I expected. I allowed the extra 15 minutes required to watch the end of Masterchef. I outstared  the defiant standing of ground., and I secured the TV remote ready for the moment when I had to take complete control.  I turned my stare to a glower, and said, quietly, “Go to bed now, please”. When the answer was no I didn’t beg, plead or bargain, I simply turned off the TV. Triumphant my charge said, “Aha! You don’t know how to work the TV!” to which I could reply confidently, “But you showed me how to switch it on when I arrived.” She slowly walked backwards all the way to the bedroom, where I was required to go through the lights on, no, not that one, read me a story routine. Five minutes later she was in bed, teeth clean and reading her own story. I had won.

The moral of the story? Never take on the Queen of Playing Up the Babysitter. I’ve seen it all before.