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One of the most perplexing things for me when I was a new mother, was when people told me, “Trust your instincts!” I often wondered, ‘If I have a feeling of foreboding, is that my gut telling me there really is something wrong?’ When you’re inclined to worry about everything, it’s very hard to distinguish the difference and follow your instincts.

Thankfully, the further down the parenting road I got, the easier it became to parse through any given situation and determine what warranted legit concern and what was just garden-variety mommy-angst. I’m quite proud at how sharply honed my intuition and “gut-instincts” have become through the years. Which explains why I was especially disconcerted as the events of yesterday unfolded…

As with most things in life, the situation started out benignly. Early in the day, Gracie received a text from the ex-husband of a regular babysitting client. He asked if she could watch his baby later that night, offering to pay extra and apologizing for the last minute notice. She accepted the gig. Later that day, she expressed concern over babysitting for him, as he had subsequently sent her a “friend request” on Facebook and commented on one of her photos. She said she was a little “creeped out!” Jimmy and I weren’t terribly concerned, as Gracie has a hyper-sensitive CREEPOMETER and is “creeped-out” at the drop of a hat. Our finely-tuned parental instincts told us that her friends probably scheduled last minute plans, rendering her unenthusiastic about an actual income-producing activity. We instructed her to babysit. We trusted our gut.

Nevertheless, I did prudently plug the guy’s address into my GPS and kept my cell phone handy, on the off-chance there was indeed a problem. Later that night, I received the dreaded text from her saying that “The Dad” called to say he was “running a little late,” but would “be home soon” adding that he’d “love to take her to this restaurant” sometime soon. I jumped in my car and was in his neighborhood before you could say “Cagney and Gracie.”

Once I arrived, I realized I didn’t really have a formal action-plan. This guy is probably just a harmless idiot, I reasoned. He mistakenly believes, at the ripe old age of 32, with one divorce and a baby under his belt, he still has a shot at a 19 year old college co-ed. What he failed to understand is that she continually referred to him as, “The Dad.” He had crossed-over a metaphorical bridge; he doesn’t even have a First Name in her world.

Never one to over-react, I considered my options and decided to merely conduct a Stake-Out from my vehicle. This could’ve been me being “chill,” or could’ve been due to the fact that I was already in my pajamas.

A little information and advice about Stake-Outs, for those of you who don’t yet have this covert operation on your parental resume:

-They start off titillating, but can hit quite a dull lull before the excitement picks back up. So, take your cell phone along.

-Make sure your cell phone is fully charged. I speak from experience when I say, you don’t want to run down your battery texting and chatting with your friends. When the “moment of truth” arrives, it’s stressful to be dangling on 3%.

-Don’t park under a street light. The neighbors can see you there, in your PJs fiddling with your cell phone, understandably arousing THEIR suspicion and concern.

-The Suspect will probably have zero regard for your bedtime. Sketchy people are sketchy that way.

The Perp/Perv pulled in his driveway a little after 10 pm, which is well past my bedtime. I yawned 3 times, before Gracie appeared at her car with a check and a to-go box. As we caravanned out of the neighborhood, she called me.

“He paid me $100 for 3 hours and brought me a piece of Key Lime Pie. I’ll take the money and you can have the dessert!”

Motherhood – it may not be a piece of cake, but it’s easy as pie…