What happened to babysitters? That’s what I want to know. Back when I was thirteen years old, I was babysitting to make extra money. The parents of the children I watched trusted me completely—even when my boyfriend would accompany me, which was the case most of the time.
I remember thinking, even at that young of an age, it was my responsibility to not only care for these children, but also entertain them. We’d fill the night with games of hide and go seek, dance to MTV, or even bake cookies together. I’d make sure they’d eaten a full meal, taken a bath, and stayed up just late enough beyond their bedtime to think I was super-cool, but not interfere with their next day.
The first time I hired my babysitter, I thought I’d hit the jackpot. We lived several states away from any family, so going out was a huge to-do. She was in high school, so I was a bit nervous but knew how badly my husband and I needed a night out. So, I ignored my gut and went out anyway.
Lifetime TV was also on and blaring when we walked in the door that night. We paid the babysitter a hefty $12 an hour (highway robbery in my babysitting days!) and she took off without a word. Although both children were asleep, I noticed my son’s jar of baby food was still sitting on the counter, untouched. Weird, I’d left plain instructions on the counter with his spoon and bumbo, ready for him to eat. It appeared she ignored my list, but no big deal-my son was also on bottles, so we knew he’d live. I also noticed the kitchen was spotless! Hey, she did my dishes. Even if she starved my child…my kitchen was clean! Hooray!
The next time we went out, I made sure to explain in detailed instructions how to feed my son. He was at the age he also needed to have baby food in conjunction with milk, and he always ate at the same time, every day. He usually ate a whole jar of baby food, so I left two out just in case.
We came home, paid, and I went straight to the kitchen. Yes! The baby food jar was on the counter and opened, which meant he’d eaten! But, when I looked inside, only a spoonful or so was gone. What? Well, maybe he wasn’t hungry for a stranger I told myself. When I went to get a glass of milk from the fridge I noticed that my fridge was empty! Someone didn’t have an issue with hunger; that was for sure! When I looked in the garbage, I saw empty boxes of Nutrigrain bars, empty wrappers from frozen breakfast burritos….I was thinking…how in the hell does one girl go through that much food? But again, my kitchen was spotless!
Well, the next babysitting trip, we figured it out. She called to ask, mid-dinner might I add, if her boyfriend could come over. A boy?? Okay, calm down I told myself. I used to babysit with my boyfriend all the time. It would be okay. But, I couldn’t shake my worry.
It would be another six months before we’d ask her to babysit again. I know what you are thinking, again? Well, my choices are quite limited, as again, we live in state with zero family. It’s not like we have babysitters coming out of our ears.
This time, my son was on solid foods, and I knew it would be sketchy waters so I made chicken fingers and some other finger foods, knowing he could digest the food and she wouldn’t have to help too much. I felt pretty good by the time I left, and when we got home, both my four-year-old and my nearly one and ½ year old were lying on the floor of our living room, watching Lifetime TV. I noticed my son’s face was covered in fuzz and sticky, which meant he’d been eating something like candy. I paid our babysitter and said goodbye, heading to clean up my kids’ faces.
A few minutes later my husband came downstairs with twenty sucker sticks in his hands. He was pissed off, and quite frankly, so was I. Suckers, really? Twenty? Are you kidding me! I made dinner, I provided snacks; all you had to do was sit on your skinny little butt and make sure my kids were safe! I didn’t even expect her to entertain them—no, that was beyond $12 an hour! I just wanted to make sure they ate a solid meal, and then she could plop them in front of a TV and do nothing more (other than make sure they didn’t have a huge sugar high when I got home).
So, we are back to square one: limited babysitting options. I’m wondering what happened to the good ol’ days; the days when we actually cherished the chance to make a dollar and took babysitting at a serious level and an actual means of making income.
I’m telling you all this as I feed my smallest one candy corns before breakfast just so I can actually get this post up. A double standard maybe??