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Should the Babysitter Take the Kids to the Movies?

December 1st, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  14 Comments

The upside of paying for a babysitter's movie ticket: I definitely won't have to go to the movie myself

The upside of paying for a babysitter's movie ticket: I definitely wouldn't have to see Tangled myself

One of the lovely things about having a blog with thoughtful readers (as distinct from most of our visitors, who arrive in a fruitless search for pederasty) is that I don’t need advice columnists. I don’t have to suffer the smugness of traditional advice columnists, the nerditude of the Times Ethicist, or the colonic graphicness of Dan Savage. I have you.

So here’s a question from my (incredibly fascinating) life with preschoolers. My son and daughter have a fulltime babysitter. She’s older, mature, speaks Spanish (legally!), is great with the kids, we like her, etc., etc. But every once in a while she sends me scrambling for a rule book that I don’t think has been written. Like yesterday when she announced that she and the nanny of another child in my daughter’s school were going to take the kids to see Tangled after preschool today.

I mumbled some sort of acquiescence and went away. But later on, I started thinking: really?

I don’t have a problem per se with exposing my kids to movies, so my real beef was the cost. This is New York, after all, where adults pay nearly $20 a ticket even for crap Disney movies, and kids $13. So I’d have to pay about $50 for the babysitter and both kids, not counting the ridiculously marked-up food (necessary because the kids would be in a movie theater at lunchtime). We’re not broke, but seems a little crazy to pay $60-$70 so a babysitter can entertain the kids for the afternoon.

So I texted her and said it cost too much and we’d rather she just have the kids go to the library or have them, you know,  fingerpaint or something at home.

Here’s where you come in: am I just being cheap? Is that a weird thing for a babysitter to bring up? Do you have any hard and fast rule about what the babysitter can spend while taking care of your kids? Do you even pay her expenses (we pay for her lunch, for example, if she’s running around with the kids)?


  1. Theodore says:

    December 1st, 2010at 9:37 am(#)

    You are a sick, cheap, slave-driver.

  2. Theodore says:

    December 1st, 2010at 9:40 am(#)

    Oh, and Merry Hanukkah to you and yours.

  3. Matt says:

    December 1st, 2010at 9:48 am(#)

    I’d say no to this, but not for economic reasons. For me, going to my first movies with my parents was a special experience—the anticipation, the big, dark room, the likelihood that I’d get scared and ask to be taken out into the lobby for a few minutes. Finally, at the age of 3, I sat all the way through a movie for the first time: Star Wars.

    Anyway, I don’t know if Nico and Dalia have been to movies before, but I would want to be the one to take Sasha the first few times.

    After that, let the sitter take her. But to one of those cheapie, mid-Queens matinees. The hell with Manhattan!

  4. Cassandre says:

    December 1st, 2010at 10:32 am(#)

    In USA, this famous french cartoon felt under censorship because mothers are breast feeding kids. Even though I am not a maniac of breastfeeding, I am totally horrified that anyone could pay 60 dollars to put shit on children’head instead of beauty such as Kirikou :

  5. Tim says:

    December 1st, 2010at 10:45 am(#)

    Cassandre, if you started a blog, I would totally read it instead of this one. Many thanks in advance.

    Nathan, I am going to advise that you should give this activity the green light. Those joint trips that babysitters plan together are invaluable for building goodwill and for giving the other babysitter a good impression of you as an employer. It doesn’t mean it has to be a weekly occurrence, though, and Matt’s point about sentimentality is well-taken.

  6. Cassandre says:

    December 1st, 2010at 11:01 am(#)

    I won’t write any blog soon cause I have yours. But a good title for mine would have been “Mothers are fathers like any other”.

  7. Nathan says:

    December 1st, 2010at 11:04 am(#)

    @Matt — Yeah, I think that plays into it. The kids have gone to movies before, but it’s still a special experience, and one that we sort of want to do with her, as her parents, not with her babysitter.
    @Cassandre — I checked out the link–an animated children’s film that has been flagged by YouTube as inappropriate content? That’s impressive (as is any soundtrack by Youssou N’Dour. He rocks). Although frankly, the opening scene where Kirikou just walks out from between his mom’s legs might deserve a NC-17 rating.
    But seriously, I’ll grant you that Americans are nature-hating prudes only if you grant that the French have a weird post-colonial obsession with half-naked African women. The movie doesn’t just have breastfeeding. It has (unrealistically) pert breasts in almost every scene. Every shot seems framed to include boobs. Which I have absolutely no problem with.
    @Tim — Thanks for the vote. Should I do it to curry favor with the babysitter? I don’t know. We treat her well otherwise, I think. It was unfortunate to make her cancel the playdate on short notice, but that’s really all she gave us…

  8. Cassandre says:

    December 1st, 2010at 11:05 am(#)

    Sorry, the censorship was because of the topless women ! I still have difficulties to think like a good censor…

  9. Cassandre says:

    December 1st, 2010at 11:12 am(#)

    By Michel Ocelot, same great director, starting at 6:30 :

  10. Nathan says:

    December 1st, 2010at 11:13 am(#)

    @Cassandre: you’ve still got a point, though: it’s dumb censorship. It’s all form and no content, presuming a sexual context for everything that kids watch. Particularly in the case of teens, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  11. Cassandre says:

    December 1st, 2010at 11:19 am(#)

    I have no difficulty to admit the post-colonial issue (and xenophobia, racism, antisemitsm, sarkozysm…)in France but Michel Ocelot is far away from it ! And Kirikou is a big figure in western Africa since almost 20 years.

  12. Nathan says:

    December 1st, 2010at 12:13 pm(#)

    Yeah, I’m not trying to impugn Michel Ocelot, whom I don’t know anything about really. It’s a just that Tribal Africa is such a huge genre in France. I was a little weirded out by the movie Babies earlier this year (I wrote about it here) for a bit of the same reason. The movie focuses on the most traditional African tribe perhaps on the entire continent. So it’s always a balance: do you portray the way people are living now (in a somewhat fallen world) or do you portray them as these Edenic traditionalists? Which is weirder?

  13. Cassandre says:

    December 1st, 2010at 2:13 pm(#)

    I agree and must recall here that in Paris no one drives DS cars, none of us wear any beret hat anymore, we take a shower (or 2) a day cause we like to screw the environment as well as any western citizen, the Eiffel tower is not located at every corners of every streets, I don’t hold a baguette under my arm for every stroll I take in Paris, accordeon is for tourists, I (hum) shave, and at the beach I don’t (always) practice topless. But I must admit that I eat stinky cheese :)


  14. Barbie says:

    December 2nd, 2010at 5:00 am(#)

    I babysat 3 kids for a couple of years part-time. While the norm was homework, sports practices, play dates and general playing in the yard or computer, TV, or toys in the basement, there are times when there is a need for a change of pace! Days when school is out are good times for special outings because even the babysitter gets bored!!! Movies, bowling and the like are expensive but I think its a bargain if you can get someone else to take your kids.

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