Scene: 8:30 p.m. The house is silent, kitchen wiped clean. I want to hug the new teenage babysitter.  “Yes, they did everything they were supposed to do, they’re asleep now.”

“So they read aloud for ten minutes and then another fifteen minutes on their own? And Rebecca took the Airborne and Casey trained on his stationary bike?”

Yes,” says the babysitter, smiling straight into my eyes.

I am happy to write a check.

Until the next morning when I ask the kids over breakfast, “So how was the babysitter?”

“GREAT,” Casey says emphatically.

“That’s because we got to do whatever we wanted,” chides Rebecca. Here is when the truth emerges that the babysitter did none of the things I asked, and the kids, being kids, were enthralled to have a night to themselves.

“Are you serious?”

They are completely serious.

I am even more stupefied when my daughter tells me how the babysitter ignored bedtime, shooing them upstairs past the appointed hour, with one instruction only: to turn off their lights the minute they heard the garage door open, signaling Big Mama’s return.

Yowsa. I think about calling to expose this dishonesty and teach a lesson.

But I don’t call or text. I sit patiently and think – for a surprising number of days. I have no intention of hiring the babysitter again, so what’s the point? Will I really succeed in changing this behavior?

The takeaway for me, I realize, rests less with the babysitter and more with my children, who I commend for telling me the truth. Here are the simple lessons our family has been discussing ever since:

*You can’t control what other people say or do, or how they behave.

*Be responsible for your own actions. Don’t wait to be led by a babysitter, or nagged by me, do what you must.

*Honesty matters.

Don’t you agree?

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