the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Leave the lemon at the door

Recent experience (the direct result of my main babysitter being in the middle of exams) has led me to come up with a coupla hot tips for anyone looking to get paid to watch a kid (known in literary Hebrew as being a babyseeeeter [ בייביסיטר], though in a pinch an actual Hebrew word - metapelet [ מטפלת] - will do too.)

Tip #1. Show up.

This may be one of those things that seem kind of, well, obvious, but I have had no less than three women claiming to want to be paid to (in part) show up at a specific time, like for instance, when I need to leave for work. And yet they have proven this desire by... not showing up. And don't think they called to cancel, I might add.

Tip #2. It wouldn't kill you to smile.

So I admit it was a bit of an awkward situation. On Friday I agreed pretty much right away to take on the first babysitter I had spoken to who I really liked. She was at our apartment, where she had come so I could meet her and she could meet the kid. All was going well - and then the next interviewee showed up. I had thought I spaced them far enough apart, but the first one stayed longer than expected and the second came earlier than expected and, well, you know how it is (both of them apparently read Tip #1).

There are people who take a non-ideal situation well, but Applicant II was not one of them. In fact, I've never met anyone who fit the description "sourpuss" quite as precisely as she did.

She wasn't showing much of a happy face when I opened the door, and after I explained the situation in the most diplomatic way I could (including the fact that I had already picked the other girl to be my main alternate, but that I was always looking for other babysitters to keep in the pipeline), she went into serious bad sport mode, making these bitter comments the whole time. Like, "Well, I would have thought you'd want a mother." (The babysitter I chose is 20 and living with her parents.) And, after catching a glimpse of her: "She's obviously not very experienced, but whatever." And then, as she was about to walk out the door, "So do you think you made the right decision?" Well, if I hadn't been sure before you opened your mouth, boy was I sure as soon as you did.

Anyway, my new babysitter has only done her duty once as yet (tonight), but so far she's met both of my strict criteria. Not to mention, the kid didn't cry but did eat and sleep! Let's hear it for the first native Israeli (and an Iraqi yet) to be named Lynn! Eh, excuse me, Leeeeeeen. (No joke!)

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Blogger Little Jezebel said...

You're hilarious! And is that your kid?

April 14, 2008  
Blogger QuietusLeo said...

Strictly speaking מטפלת means "caretaker" which could apply to someone taking care of the elderly as well as children. A more appropriate word is:
שמרטף (shmartaf) which is a combination of the roots:
לשמור - to guard or watch over
טף - toddler.
I'm very lucky, my babysitter has a black belt in Karate, and is a national champion in her age group. I know my kids are safe.

April 14, 2008  
Blogger Shoshana Kordova said...

little jezebel: Yup. Ain't she smunchy?

quietusleo: The thing is that while I have seen the word 'shmartaf' in writing, I have never actually heard it used by an Israeli, so I'm a bit nervous that it might be a close relation to 'ayefet' - or as Israelis would say, 'jetleg.'

April 14, 2008  
Blogger Little Jezebel said...

A total smunch! I love the blog, it's such a fun & fresh read!

April 14, 2008  
Blogger Shoshana Kordova said...

awww, thanks, little jezebel!

April 14, 2008  

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