Thursday, February 21, 2013

Smile! You're on Nanny Camera!

I received a rather odd phone call tonight. My parents actually took the call, as it came to the land line. The call was from the father of two children (and a two-month-old niece) that I had  babysat one night in early January when the two couples went out for dinner and a movie with Scott and Jillian. The man's brother  and sister-in-law (or sister and brother-in-law; I can't even remember which) brought their baby to the house of the two little boys so that one babysitter could manage all three kids. The baby was young enough to sleep comfortably virtually anywhere. Both couples paid me, so I wasn't taken advantage of financially.

Many homes with young children are now equipped with nanny cams. I'm a little surprised after the fact that this one was, as the mother is a stay-at-home mom, and they  rarely have babysitters, as the woman has a mother and four sisters who live within easy driving distance who do the vast majority of their babysitting, and the couple supposedly only rarely goes out without their two little boys, anyway.

I don't know exactly when the couple got around to spying on me through their nanny cams, which are apparently strategically posed all over the house. The father is sort of an amateur techie; I can see him being far more creative than buying one of those teddy bears that everyone  recognizes and would not be fooled  by in the least.  It's been just about seven weeks since I babysat there. Maybe they have twenty of the devices, and it took them a long time, even fast-forwarding,  to get through the footage from all the nanny cams. Or perhaps they saw it a long time ago and just got around to calling. Or maybe the wife saw it relatively soon after but didn't think to show it to her husband -- the one who was most concerned or intrigued by the footage.

Some nanny cams just have video. This couple, with their amateur techie status, of course,  would  have to have audio on theirs as well as video. One would want to know if a babysitter was cursing at the baby as she was beating him, I would suppose.

I've never known for a fact that my image was ever before caught by a nanny cam, and had never given a great deal of worry to the prospect, but my friends and I had long discussed it in terms of  how it would be uncool for anyone to have footage of one of us picking our  noses or adjusting wedgies, or any other such thing on camera, preserved for posterity, or perhaps even posted on YouTube. (I'd like to think anyone with sufficient stature in life to be a parent for whose children I would babysit  -- I'm picky -- would be above such pubescent behavior, but one can never know for certain.). The idea of worrying about being seen stealing the homeowners' possessions, much less harming or even being unkind to a child, isn't something to which I've ever given  a moment's thought. If I didn't want to be around children, I wouldn't babysit. The essence of the matter is that even when the parents pay generously as babysitting wages go, it's not very much money involved. If someone doesn't enjoy babies or children,  much more lucrative ways of earning money can be found.

My friends had brought up the idea of nanny cam abuse, as in strategic placement in a bathroom in order to photographically catch nubile young females in states of partial nudity. I have no doubt that such happens, and again, maybe I'm naive about my clientele, but before I was eighteen, my parents were practically OCD-cautious about anyone for whom I babysat. I didn't do all that much childcare anyway, as I was busy with sports, and I had enough musical gigs, including one that was technically a half-time job, that my time was more valuable to me than the wages I would have earned from babysitting. Still, I did some sitting, but only for families my parents knew well and trusted.  When I took care of the children from the two young families in Utah in January, even though I had already turned eighteen,  Scott and Jillian would never have allowed me to take the job had they not known all the parents well enough to trust them thoroughly.

I didn't answer the phone when it rang even though it was within easy reach of the recliner in which I was sitting because I never answer the home phone on principle. It's never for me anyway-- my friends reach me by cell phone -- and I choose for the most part not to function as my parents' receptionist.  They were mildly hostile to my laziness at first, but their attitudes eventually improved to within an acceptable range.  They have an actual answering machine. Why should they require a human answering machine as well? My father answered the telephone when it rang tonight. He vocally considered letting the answering machine get it (my father thinks only out loud, so everyone within hearing range of him knows every single thought that ever pops into his head) , as he didn't recognize the number but thought that chances were good that it was one of our many Utah relatives, and as likely as not, the person wanted money. On a whim, he took the call anyway.

I don't pay a great deal of attention to my parents when they're talking on the phone because 99.9999% of the time whatever they're saying is almost terminally boring, but the third time my name was mentioned in my father's end of the conversation, my interest was piqued.  I was able to decipher from the context who it was with whom my dad was speaking.. Hearing one end of a phone conversation is similar at times to putting together a jigsaw  puzzle. Sometimes a puzzle doesn't go together just right at first. My initial thought was that I had been accused of wrongdoing of some sort. My mother, too, had grown concerned by the single end of the conversation she was hearing, and picked up an extension to the phone.

Facial expressions and tones of voice gradually changed, and my dad handed his extension of the phone to me. What the man told me was that  his wife had reviewed the nanny cam tapes. He came up with the not-terribly-credible excuse that he and his wife review the nanny cam videos because everyone always tells them that their boys behaved well, but they want to see if such is really the case, because they like to hold them --especially the older boy -- accountable for their behavior while the children are in the care of others, Whatever. I suppose it was more diplomatic than coming right out and saying, "We wanted to see if you were a child-beater or a pervert or a thief." For that matter, maybe he was telling the truth.

Anyway, the man said his wife had been telling him for weeks that there was a part of the video he should see and hear. She said it wasn't urgent and could wait until he had time. Last night he had time.

The two little boys - one a seven-year-old  and one a two-year-old -- went to bed relatively easily. There were the usual requests for just one more story and another drink of water, but as boys of those ages go, they fell asleep quite quickly. I gave the baby girl what was to be her last bottle of breast milk, burped her,  rocked her for  a few minutes, then put her into the portable crib that was set up in the living room. She cried. I gently rubbed her tummy for a few minutes, then gave her a brief time to soothe herself to sleep, but her cries grew louder and more distressed. I didn't want her to wake the boys, and I didn't want to ignore an obviously uncomfortable baby.  I picked her up and check her diaper, which was fine.  I gently burped her again for a few more minutes, which produced a slight belch though nothing all that impressive.  As I was holding her and patting her back, I began to sing a really lame Josh Groban song to her, I  have no idea why I chose the particular song; it just popped into my head. She must be a  fan of Josh Groban's music, because she was asleep by the time I finished the song. I very carefully placed her back  into the portable crib, and that was the last I heard from her all night, other than the soft sounds of her breathing and the sweet little sucking noises she made. I sat in a chair barely an arm's length from her, so I could hear her without even getting up to check.  About two hours after she went to sleep , the couples returned and I went home with Scott and Jillian.

The father of the two boys, whose nanny cams captured all the action, is a professional musician. He composes and arranges music for movies, although he does a few other odd projects on the side.  He found the footage of my singing to the baby "precious" (his word, not mine), and said  I have a very sweet voice. He wants to use me for the vocals (just the singing; the dialogue will be done by someone else who apparently doesn't sing very well) for a cartoon feature for which he's composing and arranging the score. A little might be done during spring break,but the bulk of it will happen in June when I'm on summer break. (I'm not taking summer term classes.)

I will be paid, but not so much that I should be giving up  my day job if I actually had one. This is what I would consider a "Don't count your chickens before they hatch" situation, All sorts of things could come up which could cause this not to materialize. If it happens as planned, great. If something throws a wrench in the works, I'll have a little more time off this summer. I'm trying to look at it as a win-win situation.

And, even if there were no other consolation, at least the man didn't have his nanny cam set up in the bathroom in order to catch pornographic shots of me . . . or at least I think he didn't.

I should have been asleep hours ago, but the excitement is keeping me awake, and I have a father who does not want me to turn into a benzo addict, so I'm stuck with counting sheep. I hope I'm not still counting at 8:30 a.m. when the tele-conference is scheduled to begin.

Dobrou noc. [Czech for "good night," or what's left of it.]


  1. That's exciting, Alexis. I hope something cool and lucrative comes from it!

    Most of the people I used to babysit for were lawyers. I had one accountant who complained because I asked for $2 an hour instead of the $1.50 they wanted to pay me. And their reasoning for not paying $2 an hour was because I "didn't have much experience"... That didn't stop me from leaving me for 10 hours with their two kids, then one and two years old... and paying me $15 the first time. The second and last time, they left me for five hours with their kids. I guess it's more important to be thrifty than hire an "experienced" babysitter, right? Their daughter's diaper was the first one I'd ever changed and I had to call my mom to get instructions.

    I'm a much better singer than babysitter, anyway... ;-)

  2. Strange tale. On this side of the pond, you have to be informed if you're being recorded unless it's some kind of sting operation. In this case it worked out ok but still a little creepy.

  3. What if you'd been caught picking your nose and belching and farting like an old Navy deck hand.

    1. Paul, that freaks me out after the fsct. I don't THINK I did any of those things, but would I remember for sure if I did?

  4. Hahaha! That's wonderful! And mildly stressful! I would feel very embarrassed by whatever was recorded even if it wasn't too bad I'm sure. I'd fart for sure. *sigh*