Recently, one of my friends wanted to take a Saturday night off to celebrate a birthday. When her regular sitter had to cancel, she reluctantly asked me if I could help out. Her daughter and I are very close. I watch her on a fairly regular and arranged basis, and we always have fun together, so I never think of it as "babysitting" or expect payment. This time, however, because of the circumstances — the sitter's last-minute cancel and the fact that it was a weekend night — my friend insisted on paying me money when she got home.
Granted, the amount she gave me was far less than if she had gone with her regular sitter, but I felt uncomfortable taking it. She assured me, however, that she needed to pay me as a token of her appreciation; after all, she said, she'd rather have me watch her tot than anyone else and she was grateful. I finally agreed, but I'm wondering, how would you handle the situation? If a friend helps you out with a sitting emergency, do you pay her, take her out to dinner, or does she flat out refuse to accept anything?