Baby crawling on floor yelling in front of crib

Why Your Cleaning Lady Is Not Your Babysitter

I hate the word maid.  I’ve never considered myself one, with the word evoking images of black and white clad servants taking coats at the door or serving tea to rich, blue-hairs barking orders at them.  So I just call myself a cleaning lady.  I come into your house once a week or every two weeks and clean (organizational jobs aside).  That’s about it.  I don’t make you dinner or drop off your dry cleaning.  I’m not walking the dog.  And I’m certainly not watching your children.  That is why, dear reader, my next client is a cleaning lady’s nightmare.

Enter the Yippies, a hippie/yuppie couple with 2 small children, ages 4 and 7.  The Yippies are a Generation X couple who lament not being alive during the Summer of Love to appreciate bell bottoms and patchouli, so they celebrate their own brand of enlightenment with yoga pants and essential oil dispensers.  The VW Bus has been replaced with the Volvo station wagon and Timothy Leary with Deepak Chopra.  They shop at Whole Foods and smoke the occasional joint to remind themselves how hip they are.

And their children are the spawn of Satan.  We’ll call them Dweezil and Moon Unit, although their real names are equally offensive to societal norms.  Dweezil, the eldest boy, is as entitled as his parents and delights in telling me the exact way he would like his bed made.  I told you, Mr. Wags goes on the bed and Mr. Elephant goes on the chair.  Moon Unit, the little girl, is just as horrendous..  If she is not screaming at decibels that would break glass, she is throwing all of her toys down the toilet to see if they can swim.  Mrs. Yippie calls her a “free spirit.”

I go there once a week.  Mrs. Yippie would like me to come more but I would rather stab my eyeballs out with hot pokers.  And it is a big house, four bedrooms, three baths and a kitchen you could park said Volvo in.  It takes me a good six hours to clean, depending on the state of things.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I was there alone, but Mrs. Yippie works from home on some enlightened soccer mom newsletter and gives her Free Spirit the run of the house while she is locked in her office writing about Peaceful Parenting.  I usually just give the little twerp my phone and put on some kid’s movie, like Rosemary’s Baby or something.

I start in the kitchen as this is the biggest job (hint: tackle the worst part of the house first so everything else seems like a walk in the park).  The Yippies juice in the morning so one whole side of the kitchen is covered in green kelp sludge and grapes that rolled free from their macerated demise.  Mrs. Yippie insists I use only Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap to clean the whole house.  Which is perfectly fine.  It’s all-natural and so versatile you can wash your floors and brush your teeth with it (if you do this at the same time, you’re a boss).  And the lavender scent takes me to my happy place.

I work feverishly to get as much done as I can before Moon Unit loses interest in the movie and comes to “help.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m emptying the dishwasher.”

“I want to HELP!”

“No, sweetie, there’s sharp things and glass in there.”

“MOMMY let’s me do it!”

I’m sure she does.

“MOOOOOMMMMIIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!!”

Before Mrs. Yippie can pop her head out of the door I lean down and offer Little Screamy $5 to go clean her room.  I hear the door to the office open. “Is everything all right out there?”

“Fine,” me and little Moonie say in unison. We squint our eyes at each other as she holds out her hand awaiting payment.

“Okay, cause I have a big deadline this afternoon and I’m way behind,” Mrs. Yippie says and shuts the door.  I wonder who she is directing her comment to, me or mini Godfather?  Am I being reprimanded like a 4-year-old while being extorted by one?  Feeling defeated, I hand over the $5 and she runs upstairs.

At least I can finish the rest of the downstairs now.  This is the game, playing psychological warfare with an overachieving snot whose mother thinks that because she has “help” she has a built in babysitter too.  Obviously, they will be short lived clients of mine.  And they were.

When I go upstairs, Moon Unit is drawing a picture of me, on the wall, with crayons.  It is a perfect representation of my mood, as it has fangs and horns.  “How pretty,” I say, and whip out my trusty Magic Eraser.  She proceeds to tell me that Mommy said she could draw on the walls because it is her “creative expression.”  I say, “Five dollars and I won’t erase it.”

“Nah, go ahead.  I’ll just draw another one.”

Low growling sound.

I move on to elder spawn’s room. I have to clean it before he gets home from school.  If I don’t, he judgingly watches my work and gives me unconstructive criticism.  On his desk is a note to me.  It is a list of things he would like me to do.  This little brat left me a list?

  1. PLEAZ FOLD MY CLOTHS LIKE MOMMY SHOWD U.  U NEVR DO IT RITE.
  2. PLEAZ PUT MY TOYS IN RITE BINZ. SPIDR MAN WAS IN CAR BIN LAST TYM.

And so on. At least he said “PLEAZ.”

Then Moon Unit comes in. “I’m hungry!”

“Go tell your Mommy.”

“Mommy said not to bother her.”

“Then go get something yourself.”

“Ooookaaayyyyy.”

I stopped in my tracks, picturing an extra hour of scraping peanut butter and jelly off the walls.   I roll my eyes, slunk downstairs and find her some left over Chinese food.

Then Dweezil walks in the front door and throws down his back pack.

“Hi, how was school?”

“Whatever.  Did you find my list?”

“Yes, it was very…constructive.”

Then he runs upstairs to check my work.

I leave Moon with her Lo Mein and go upstairs. I still have to clean the bathrooms and master bedroom and I really want to get out of bizarro world at a decent hour.  I pass by Dweezil’s room as he is spouting some tirade about his books not being in alphabetical order.  I ignore him and lock myself in the master bath.

Thankfully, the rest of the time goes by without much incident.  I hear Dweezil and Moon Unit fighting downstairs so I turn on the vacuum.  Finally, I finish and gather up my things.

“Mrs. Yippie?” I say as I knock on the office door.  “I’m finished.”

She opens the door and hands me my check.  “Thank you dear.  I hope the children weren’t too much trouble.”

“No, ma’am, they were a delight,” I said through clenched teeth.

“O.k., see you next time,” she says and returns to her fortress of solitude.

As I bolt to the front door, I hear in unison, “Goooodddbyyeee Miiiissesss Cleaaannninnng Laadddyyyyyyyy.”  I shutter as I leave.

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