A good babysitter has many things: patience, serenity, good hygiene. But does she also need a spotless driving record?
It seems parents are divided on the issue. There are some who would never even consider letting their babysitter get behind the wheel. Others go so far as buying the sitter a carseat for her car.
Both have their drawbacks.
The other day, my sitter took my children to a museum on the subway for the first time and I was a nervous wreck. Of course when she did it again, I felt better. We moms can be hopelessly paranoid, which is something we need to combat, not feed.
But no sitter has ever driven my children.
This is not because I have a policy in place. My current sitter has no interest, she would rather take the bus or subway. But I interviewed a sitter last summer who said it was her policy never to drive the children.
I kind of get that, too.
For some parents, it's just a safety thing, period. We all know children are far less safe in cars than anywhere else.
According to The New York Times:
The five things most likely to cause injury to children up to age 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are: car accidents, homicide (usually at the hands of someone they know), child abuse, suicide, or drowning.
“Parents are just bad at risk assessment,” said Christie Barnes, a mother of four and the author of “The Paranoid Parents Guide.” “We are constantly overestimating rare dangers while underestimating common ones.”
We shouldn't be worried about kidnapping and the random thoughts that plague us and keep us up at night. We should be worrying about the little things: the 15-minute drive to ballet class, the 10-minute traffic-laden schlep home from pre-school.
It's a scary world and I know I'm a very bad driver. This little fact makes me seriously doubt the skills of any other driver. I live in the city, not in the suburbs, and I have access to a great public transportation system. Why does my sitter need the keys to my car?
But others aren't in the same position, and as one fellow mom pointed out: "If we trust her to care for our children, it seems natural that she would be a careful driver with our children as well."
The fact is, the world is a dangerous place and my kids are probably just as (if not more) likely to get into an accident with me behind the wheel as with her. If my sitter wanted to use our car with the seats properly installed and a tutorial on strapping the kids in, then I would probably say OK.
Do you let your nanny drive your children?