Being a Parent Just Got TougherI don’t think that anyone will disagree that being a parent is a tough job. Even though most of us enter into the job willingly, it doesn’t come with any type of instruction manual, and the molding of a human being is a huge responsibility. And, unfortunately, as history demonstrates, some folks fall a little short in their efforts to raise useful and productive members of society. Speaking from my own experience, you just never know where the next big “parental moment” is going to come from. Helping your youngster navigate the gauntlet of friends, school and the myriad of activities that now comprise what you used to refer to as the “weekend” is a 24×7 proposition and don’t we all sometimes wish for something easy to deal with? Well, based on recent events, our jobs just got a little bit harder. As a couple in Virginia found out after returning home from a night out and finding their two pre-teens sporting brand new tattoos, vetting the baby sitter just jumped up a few notches on the our “things we need to worry about” list.

For those of you who might have missed this one, apparently the kids’ parents entrusted the unblemished bodies of their progeny to a family friend while they took a sanity break…I mean went out for the evening. At some point in the evening, the sitter, and her 35-year old mother and 32-year old boyfriend—came up with the bright idea that rather than whip up a batch of Jiffy Pop, why not take the kids out to get inked at the local tattoo parlor? While certainly a novel idea, I think their parents would have been happier with something a little bit more mundane—Parchessi, for example. Apparently, even the sitters must have had second thoughts about age appropriate activities as they allegedly tried to burn the tattoo off of one of the girls. For those of you looking for examples of two wrongs don’t make a right, look no further. Naturally, the returning parents where not to happy about the situation—“We paid $10 an hour for this?”—and the sitters have been charged with felony child abuse and malicious wounding.

I don’t think that I am alone in wondering how the simple act of obtaining an evening’s worth of childcare has now become the launching pad for behavior that can get someone 3-5 in the state penitentiary. I guess the days of baby sitter background research consisting of asking your neighbors how they liked the 13- year old girl with the braces down the street are over. Certainly there were potential pitfalls to this method of vetting—the junior high boyfriend popping over (although one of your kids would inevitably drop the dime on that one), or excessive food consumption might arise, but the potential for felonious assault really wasn’t a major issue.

This is not to say that concerns regarding the supervision of your children while you and the Mrs. enjoyed dinner and a movie haven’t increased in recent years. People don’t buy things like nanny cams for no good reason. But didn’t we chalk that up to those “helicopter parents” whose kids wear those “water wing” things in the pool until they reach puberty, or mega rich folks who were just using in-home child care to bridge the gap until they could send Johnny and Janey off to boarding school?

I don’t know about your childhood, but the baby sitters my parents used to use for me and my sister might have had their faults but a rap sheet wasn’t one of them. Unfortunately, now that we have to worry about coming home to find our kid’s sporting a “full sleeve”, I guess evaluating the suitability of little Haley to watch our kids is going to require determining if she has a juvenile record. As I said, parenting is a difficult job but when your list of important numbers for the baby sitter includes the number for the local Dr. Tatt-Off I think a line has been crossed.

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