Adventures in Babysitting
As a 16-year-old in the valley, I’ve been legally allowed to baby-sit for five years. However, in between those five years I have learned a thing or two about being in the business of looking after a child. Mostly, it’s no easy money.
Although my first experiences as a baby sitter were horrendous, from the kid who wouldn’t listen at bedtime, or cry and cry as the mother left, it was just one headache after another. From the moment those parents leave, I become the reigning adult, in charge of an entire life for several hours a least. It’s an odd feeling being alone in a house with someone else’s kids, but if you don’t like Barbie or Power Rangers you’re in trouble. What is required of a baby sitter is often far more than simply feeding, clothing, and keeping the child safe during the time you are in charge. I have found myself on the floor, in a costume, glue on my hands and in my hair, many a time.
At first I expected baby-sitting to be more of a mutual agreement. Yes, your parents are gone, and I am here to watch you. This means I am in charge and you will listen when I say don’t hit your sister, this is the last cartoon before bed, and no, you didn’t finish your dinner so there will be no dessert.
Surprise, surprise, it doesn’t work out this way. The more I expected the children to obey my authority, the funnier it got to rebel and make babysitting the horrible business I had so hated for so long. I tried and tried to both be willing to play the games and expect respect when it came to laying down the law. In reality, I never really found my stride in babysitting. The right balance between playtime and timeout eluded me for so long I practically gave up altogether.
Recently, however, baby-sitting has become somewhat of a more enjoyable experience. Maybe it’s the different kids, maybe it’s a change in me. Overall, I have found that once it is known who is in charge of whom, playing games and watching movies gets a little easier and less of a battle. I even admit playing make-believe isn’t so bad, as long as when I say it’s time to go inside, the hustle of little feet is all I hear in response.
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Bianca Gordon is a junior at Vail Mountain School.