As we know, Mike had been dragooned into babysitting the Nichols’s children. Suffice to say, the first instance did not go well for him. Despite threatening to kill children smaller and weaker than he was because he could not cope with them, he was defeated by the same sort of dirt-ordinary children he used to be. The upshot of this exercise in foreshadowing his hapless incapacity to relate to the small demi-humans that for reasons he is unable to determine demand his attention was to prove two rather ridiculous points. The first ridiculous point was covered in my entry “Why Anne Failed” and relates to Lynn’s belief that Annie’s permissive parenting, Steve’s absence and her being Catholic was why Christopher, Richard and Leah were demonic little horror freaks. The second ridiculous point was that being male immediately disqualified Mike from being able to watch over children. Lynn’s need to hammer home her self-hatred, misandry and religious bigotry would have been a minor irritant had he not done so over again. The second time around, he’d done much the same thing that Lynn likes to have babysitters do: bully and blackmail them into compliance with his arbitrary demands. When he complained to Elly about how he’d expected more than a thank-you and a twenty, she’d exclaimed that she’d been doing it for years without getting any cash or thanks out of the deal.
This, I should think, is what the real point of showing the Pattersons’ dealings with babysitting is. Not only do we get to deal with an irritating reminder that the fragile woman writing this daily exercise in maundering negativity can’t understand or deal with children without squealing about the horror of it all, we have to have our noses rubbed in the fact that the underlying premise of this atrocity is that we are meant to pity Elly because she has no help and is allowed no time to herself and is expected to not expect or want to be thanked or appreciated in any way for all of the hard work that they only notice when it’s not done. As I have said before, she seems to be transfixed by the belief that the only time it will occur to her family that she might actually have done things worthy of praise is when she’s been dead twenty or thirty years and even then, the notion would be rejected out of hand because working herself to death is what a mother is supposed to do.