The fact that it’s actually dusk-dark out at 4:30 PM now instead of pitch black gives me hope that eventually these short, cold days will come to an end and once again we’ll be able to go for walks around the neighborhood and visit playgrounds and sit in the backyard and I don’t know, do anything other than rattle around our house during the post-dinner, pre-bedtime zone each day. Just about every evening there comes a time when Riley is running around yelling and Dylan is crawling around whining and everyone is kind of bored and cooped-up but there’s really nowhere to go and our house feels cramped and annoyingly full of clutter and I find myself thinking what a grind this all is, WOE.

Then eventually there are bedtimes and goodnight kisses and almost immediately my little battery light starts going booooooooop! on its way back to full charge. It is brief, my daily moment of anti-zen, but it has surely become a regular 6 PM occurrence, and I’m convinced the weather plays no small part in this shameful fleeing desire to jump in the car, abandon my family, and set up a new life in Cabo San Lucas.

I got a welcome taste of sunlight earlier when I met Ashley and her kids at Cougar Mountain Park, which is situated at a high enough elevation that the cloud cover spread all around us. It was like peering out the window of a plane:

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Riley managed to trip and fall facefirst into the dirt about a thousand times while we were hiking around and spent the majority of the outing howling and/or whining, but despite his lack of enjoyment for the fresh air and blue skies it was a nice break from the unrelenting Januaryness of January.

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justmouse
13 years ago

if i’d had the money, i would have given it to her as well, and then, like you, prayed it didn’t get weird.

you and jb are good ppl. i think you did the right thing. also, DATE NIGHT! woot! that can’t be bad, right?

samantha jo campen
13 years ago

If I had the money to spare I would have helped. I really want to try to get rid of my cloud of skepticism and help people who say they need help, without wondering if I’ll get the shaft or if their intentions aren’t true. Like someone on the side of the road begging for money. Do I really want to pass them by because I ASSUME they’ll use it for drugs or booze? I want to walk away knowing in my heart I took them at their word and did what little I could.

So I hope everything works out, that she gets back on her feet, no one feels awkward, and no pride was bruised. You did good. And enjoy yourselves tonight!!!

Jen
Jen
13 years ago

Smart to pay it directly to her landlord, leaves out the awkwardness between both parties, IMO. I am all for helping out when/if I can in those ways. Enjoy the movie!

Joanne
13 years ago

I hope I would have done what you did. It sounds really legitimate – you have had some effed up weather, you see her all the time, she has two little kids. I hope it can work well for both of you. Does she bring her kids to your house when she babysits? We never have a babysitter come in until our kids are in bed, I just am curious how it works for normal (ha!) families.

Briana
13 years ago

Our babysitter is in a pickle too. With the economy how it is, her husband doesn’t have enough work to make the bills. We gave them a gift card for groceries for a belated Christmas surprise. Not a ton of $$, but enough to get them a week of groceries. Also, I’ve been working a tiny bit more, so we are giving her more $ for that.
Good for you guys for paying it forward.

Anneli
Anneli
13 years ago

It was probably extremely difficult for her to get up the nerve to ask — knowing that the situation could get awkward. Showing kindness of spirit and heart by helping her is a positive thing – and you reap what you sow! Maybe she’ll be in a position one day to help someone else the way you’ve helped her.

Pete
Pete
13 years ago

If she’s a good babysitter I would have paid her for babysitting in advance. That way you have an ‘excuse’ to go out more often. I’ve found that a good babysitter is worth their weight in gold when it comes to helping a marriage.

warcrygirl
13 years ago

I would have done the same thing as you did but I would have gotten the agreement in writing. That way no one can claim that she still owes you X amount of money or that you’re taking advantage of the babysitting thing. Keep track of the hours, though; I had a friendship end because she kept “forgetting” her checkbook when she dropped the kids off. It was a month before I got paid. Which movie are you guys going to see?

Valria
13 years ago

I would have given the money without any hesitation! I usually do when someone I know needs it and I have it.

But hey, I also watched strangers dogs without meeting them first and have helped move more then a handful of people I didn’t know.

You’ll get your babysitter out of the situation and maybe a little extra love for Little D in class. Worth $500 bucks if you ask me.

Bitter Betty
13 years ago

Knowing her the way you do makes a difference so I would have given her the money, but I would only do it once and always consider money lending a gift and not a loan. It’s much easier to handle if the person turns into a weasel.

victoria
victoria
13 years ago

I would’ve loaned her the money. I’m a sucker for nice, underpaid people who care for the small creatures that I love.

Julia
Julia
13 years ago

As someone who had a much-reduced paycheck because of the sucktastic weather at the end of December, I think what you did was really honorable. Obviously it’s never easy to ask for money, especially from somebody who isn’t family (or is it easier? Gulp!), but it does speak volumes that she was comfortable enough about approaching you with her situation. I hope it works out for the best – movies and outings for you guys and a warm apartment for her!

Niki P
Niki P
13 years ago

You are good people. I would like to think I would do the same but I don’t know.

Enjoy the movie! I have heard only good things about it.

Penne
Penne
13 years ago

Have been on both ends of the situation and neither is easy, but your end is good for the karma. Trust me, she feels much weirder than you do about it. Since you see her on a daily basis, it will all work out. You did the right thing.

BethanyWD
13 years ago

Definitely good on the karma. I think it’s one of those things you can do once, as long as it doesn’t start becoming a cycle. It’s tough our there for a lot of people out there.

PLUS! Your babysitting is paid for for AWHILE. SCORE.

Donna
Donna
13 years ago

I hate this kind of shit, I guess the only advice I would have given is to have gotten how many times she would babysit for that 5 bills in writing so it would all be crystal clear. Doesn’t she know you blog?
If so, Lisa, if we may call you Lisa, Linda knows people who will come and breaka yor knees, knowhutI’msayin?
Josh? Are you listening? LOL!

Peggasus
13 years ago

When we had our design business, we had a few employees, one of whom was Pat. We liked him very much, he had a great work ethic, we all got along and all that stuff. A few times when he asked us for a loan or advance (for a car, rent, etc.), we gladly gave it to him, and he always paid it back on time and in full. We knew his character. I suppose it is somewhat of a risk and all, doing something like this, but the fact is that we trusted him and he did not disappoint. I don’t know what happened to him, but I know he was a good guy and we remember him fondly, and I hope he feels the same way about us.

So yeah, I would have done it.

Donna
Donna
13 years ago

And you can keep her kids, two boys, two girls, even steven. Win!

Beth
13 years ago

I would’ve done what you did.

And I would’ve had the same concerns.

It’s an awkward situation, but I think you did exactly right.

Ashley
13 years ago

I would have done it too. If you have $500 that won’t really be missed, why not help someone who needs it more than you. It will only get weird if she asks again and you don’t set the situation straight, like that was a one time deal etc. but we are more than happy to help you find help…etc.

Marisol
Marisol
13 years ago

Knowing that there are people in the world like you and JB keeps me hopeful that there is kindness.

I’m going to see The Wrestler tomorrow! Are you going to post commentary?

She Likes Purple
13 years ago

I think you handled this pretty perfectly. You lent it to her, which is just wonderfully kind and gracious, but you also told her she could pay you back in service instead of cash. I think that’s the best solution as I’ve sometimes found the asking to be paid back or the waiting to be paid back or just the $500 looming over everyone’s heads makes things more awkward than the original loan. I would choose to believe it was absolutely a one-time thing and not worry about it becoming a more often occurrence until it does.

kirida
13 years ago

It’s always a weird gray line with the person you entrust with the care of your children. We were in the exact same situation with our previous babysitter two years ago. She asked for an advance, then another one, then another one, which we gave without question. Then she had some troubles with her husband which ended up in his arrest, her moving her family to someone else’s apartment, etc. It became obvious that we were becoming tangled with someone who needed more help than we could give and I didn’t like the idea that she could get into a scuffle with her husband while my son was there. So that was it.

But to answer your question, yes. Yes, I would give the money.

ChrisC.
13 years ago

I have to say, I don’t know that I would have done what you did. That’s not to say I don’t think you did the right thing — it’s just that I don’t think I’m that altruistic of a person. :-) I tend to not especially trust people, especially when it comes to stuff like this. Years of working in retail and having to fire employees for stealing from the store(and of lies, lies, lies from folks who just didn’t want to come to work) may have twisted me a bit in that direction.

I guess I would have done it if I really had the $500 to spare (meaning I wouldn’t really care if I never saw it again), but otherwise, I probably would have said no.

(Wow, I feel like a grinch among you and all your very generous commentators!)

Sharon
Sharon
13 years ago

I say, loan the money, but don’t expect it back. In my history of loaning, I’ve never been fully repaid, so you have to hope that the friendship is strong enough to survive the money issue; or simply consider it a charity donation in your mind. Sometimes it helps to remember that this is no different than giving to the homeless shelter or the food bank or to unicef, except that you can actually see the difference you’re making. That way, if you never see the money or the babysitting that you should, you can still know that you made a positive difference and leave it at that. That’s my two cents.

Jen
Jen
13 years ago

We have a very similar situation with the favorite teacher in the daycare room doing our outside babysitting. I would have gone for it, with one catch. I would have resigned myself to that $500 being GONE the moment it left my hand. Any “free” babysitting I got after that would have been gravy. I make it a policy to never lend anyone anything that I would be heartbroken or financially screwed if I didn’t get back. That way, if she flaked on the babysitting I could say “no hard feelnigs” and mean it.

Jen
Jen
13 years ago

“no hard feelings” though, that would be a bunch of bullshit…ugh

Sunny
Sunny
13 years ago

I would have done the same thing. Husband and I had a friend in a money crisis last summer(he was in real estate and realized it was time to make a career change). We loaned him $3000 to keep ahead of the bill collectors. He’s paying it back over time and we’ve had no regrets. It actually made me feel good to help him out and ease some of his stress. No doubt your sitter will be forever thankful for your kindness. Have a fun night out!

Alyce
Alyce
13 years ago

If I were in a position to do so, I would have done as you did.

It was well-intentioned, which matters most here. I hope it works out and that she follows through.

Kim
Kim
13 years ago

I’ve also been on both sides of that situation and if she’s anything like me, asking was pure torture. You guys are so awesome to help her and I think the situation will work out really well.
The other day a lady was hanging around outside the grocery store I shop in and had two small kids with her. She asked me for some money as I was walking inside. I hesitated for a minute, but seeing those kids was all it took and I gave her a twenty. I thought my husband would call me a bleeding heart, but he said he would’ve done the same because of the kids.
Thinking about kids being hungry or cold makes me ill.

Nicole
13 years ago

We have a friend who’s been working on cleaning up his credit – he had some problems years ago, and the last bits are just coming off his record. He got a new job which required a reliable car. He scraped together the cash (literally, every last cent he had), got the car (and a good car), paid rent and came up short on the bills and groceries. Now, he’s single, but was in a bit of a squeeze. So we gave him some money so his power wouldn’t be turned off.

That was about a year ago; he hasn’t paid us back and we don’t care. What he’s given back in friendship and willingness to help out (like driving Darren to get his car after it had been towed because of a parking issue) has more than paid itself back.

So yeah, I’d do the same thing. When you open yourself like that, you get paid back many times over, directly or indirectly.

Swistle
13 years ago

I really like your solution, because you can take ACTION to get paid back. Like, if you loaned her cash and you were waiting for cash, and the cash kept not arriving, and then she asked for more, or even if she didn’t ask for more but just didn’t make a move to pay it back—well, that would suck. But this way, you can kind of control how you get your money back, and make sure that you do, by continuing to ask for babysitting and by keeping a tally. And it seems like it would be good for her, too, since she can probably find time more easily than money. But if it’s NOT good for her, she could always pay back the money instead. Really, it seems genius to me.

Gina
13 years ago

I would have helped her, too. Having to ask SUCKS and was probably very hard for her. And as someone lucky enough to be surrounded by family and always having help available, I would have been heartbroken by her need.

sooboo
13 years ago

I would have done it too. You and JB have good boundaries and bullshit meters. Even if it got weird (which it sounds like it won’t) y’all could handle it fine.

Mrs. Who
13 years ago

1. Time will tell you if you did the right thing, but I believe you did. It will be easy for her to pay you back since she can work it off!

2. Just a suggestion about filling up that boring evening time. One thing my grandson (3 yrs. old) absolutely ADORES is housework. He loves setting the table, helping me cook, cleaning the kitchen, helping with laundry, etc. Put Riley to work! He will love it.

nonsoccermom
13 years ago

That’s a tough situation, but I probably would have done the same thing.

I HATE the witching hour, by the way, it seems so tedious at our house too.

Enjoy your evening out!

Heather B.
13 years ago

Well yay! You got a babysitter though really I would’ve come the 3,000 miles, ;-) And I give MAJOR props to parents who treat their babysitters like they aren’t just the help but like they’re real people who genuinely love the children they care for. Because I’ve had families help me out before (not with money but other things like one let me stay with them for a week and in return I babysat in the mornings and evenings so the parents could work a bit later without worrying), I would think I would do the same thing you would do.

mair
mair
13 years ago

my gram used to say there are 2 things in life don’t ever forget. don’t ‘loan’ money and expect it back, and don’t EXPECT a thank you for something you have done. remember these and you will never be disappointed. so, im with you. ‘give’ the money and know that you were able to be a blessing to someone else. I love your blogs!

mair

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

That is awesome that you had nice weather today. It was -11 this morning on my way to work!

As far as the money loaning, we don’t have a penny to loan anybody, but if we did I’m sure my husband would loan the money and I would say no. Because I am a huge bitch.

Katherine
Katherine
13 years ago

If you could spare it without hurting yourself or your family, I think you were right to lend it and graciously offer a feasible way for her to pay it back. I agree that if you haven’t already, you should put a number on the hours due to pay it back so both you and she can keep track. And I agree with those who say you should (privately) consider the money gone and the payback babysitting gravy. Not only does that emotionally protect everyone if she doesn’t come through, but also relieves you of any self-imposed pressure should you ever become uncomfortable with the way she cares for your children.

There are a lot of people in financially precarious situations right now. I think that calls all of us to err to the side of generosity if we can. But current circumstance also put otherwise good people in situations where they might make bad decisions. So cautious generosity seems right to me.

Victoria
13 years ago

My best friend at work is in the reverse similar situation. Friends of hers loaned her money and she’s paying them back with babysitting. I hope it all works out and think you’re kind and good to help out.

monkey
13 years ago

I’m torn between my bleeding heart and my ultimate belief (drawn from experiences) that mankind is mostly made up of a$$holes.

I probably would have done it as a one time thing but had the number of babysitting hours with a per hour rate spelled out in a written contract. Also, I’d probably insist on some form of notation as to hours worked/left with initials etc.. Just so everyone is on the same page. But I’m a lawyer (and a transactional one at that) and so I’m probably wee bit more obsessive about this stuff than others. Also, I’d be extremely concerned that in case things went south she started pulling the whole “they overworked me and underpaid me” bit. I don’t think it’s too late for you to ask her for something like that and it might be something to consider given that she’s in your life on the daycare front.

Then again, me bitchy lawyer and paranoid harpy with extremely cynical view on mankind. YMMV.

One of my friends STILL owes me money for a plane ticket. Even after she claimed she didn’t have the cash for it I saw her drop money on comic books etc. in front of me. She has since stopped mentioning the cash. I’m now writing it off as a gift. The thing is that I’ve known her since college and I still like her…but it has changed my perception of her. The last time she was in CA at a city a couple of hours away I did not make the effort to go see her.

Hillary
13 years ago

I like your solution because you’re loaning the money she needs, but you almost managed to take the money out of the equation. You paid the landlord directly and she’s paying you back in services. Cash is what people get all awkward and weird about, but there isn’t any cash to really change hands.

You’re good people.

Jennifer
Jennifer
13 years ago

I’m not in your situation and I don’t know Lisa or your relationship with her, but since I’ve been burned 3X by this in the past, I would have felt pretty squeamish about doing it. I’ve willingly loaned money to a cousin (as soon as she got the check, she cashed it then moved with no forwarding address, didn’t send back the IOU etc.) as well as to a sister-in-law, and the SIL came back a second time asking for more (my husband gave her the second “loan” because she’s his sister after all).

The main thing I hope is that even if Lisa doesn’t quite pay it back via babysitting or whatever, that she doesn’t come back to you for more. That would end up being the really awkward situation I’d think. But hopefully the weather will stay decent and she’ll get enough work hours to get a bit ahead so no risk of rent default again! :-)

Enjoy your babysitting nights out while you can! Have a great time at the movie!!

jee
jee
13 years ago

We once loaned an aide at the school where I taught $1400 for her tuition so she could register for her last quarter at the university. She is now an outstanding teacher in that school district…many commendations and recognitions. And she paid us back. You did the right thing.

erin
13 years ago

I would have done what you did. One time is one thing. Everybody needs the benefit of the doubt one time. I think what you did is tremendous. I hope it works out the way you said.

LOVE the pics of Riley with muddy face! Hee!

Jeff
Jeff
13 years ago

Early in our marriage, we, no – check that – I made the same decision to help out a “Friend”. Some guy at work that I knew, was in a bad way, and was – according to him – on the verge of losing his kids. I don’t really know how things got to that point and I didn’t really need to know any of it. I knew that I liked the guy and despite is sordid past (don’t we all have at least one of those folks in our lives?) I was on board with giving him whatever he needed to help HIM out.

I actually now remember offering to loan him the $2000 (!) thinking that he would never take me up on the offer, and was pretty surprised when he did a few days later.

My wife FREAKED – more so over the amount of our newly blossoming nest egg that I “just handed over to someone”. I remember she and I taking definite sides – the amount being loaned to someone I kind of knew with a sordid past vs. us being in a position to help someone who needed it and was asking for it.

I lived under a microscope that next month – during which the guy mapped out a payment plan and THANKFULLY stuck to it. I could feel my wife just waiting for a scheduled payment being missed- when just the opposite happened when he paid us back early.

He expressed his eternal gratitude, and I felt GREAT having set out and accomplished what I had set out to do.

I’d be interested to her my wife’s account of the story today. It DEFINITELY an “I told you so” scenario – one of very few – that I have on her.

Amanda
13 years ago

I would have said no. My professional experience (8 years in the conference room giving financial advice to couples) is that if this works out? You’ll be the exception to the rule. In fact, my advice to you at this point would be to consider it a gift and think of the free babysitting as a temporary perk of your extremely kind generosity.

I realize your heart is totally in the right place, but I’ve seen enough of this to earn my cynicism. Money stuff is so tough!

steff
steff
13 years ago

as long as you can give it with no strings its all good. i would have certainly done it. the best part is your know exactly where it went. sometimes with *donations* i wonder how did my money actually get spent?!?!

One point for you all in your act of kindness tally! :-)