What’s The Babysitter Up To?

Fascinating piece on Salon.com about Miriam Forman-Brunell's new book "Babysitter: An American History."

For generations, parents have fretted about how their kids were being cared for while in the hands of teenage babysitters.

Most of our babysitters have been wonderful and responsible. One often brought fun DVDs to share, and always made sure the kitchen was clean after she and Matt had dinner. (A rare thing, that kitchen cleaning!) Another, accomplished in music, encouraged Matt's interest in piano. A third played silly games that left Matt in giggles.

But there were the ones who spent more time yacking on the phone with their friends than interacting with our kid.

Back before nearly every teen had a cell phone, we even had teens calling the house after we'd returned for the evening and the babysitter had gone home — because she had given out our home number to half the kids in the local high school, it seemed.

And we had a babysitter remain in the upstairs den, doing homework, while she allowed our young son to go downstairs and answer the door at night, open it and allow a strange man (a solicitor) into the house. This was after we had included in our house rules: "Don't open the door to anyone." Let's just say she didn't get any future calls.

I have my own confession from my babysitter days: I babysat for a sexy single mom who had a stack of Cosmopolitan magazines at home. After the kids were asleep, I'd devour the magazines, knowing full well that my parents would not have permitted such reading material for their 12-year-old  daughter.

(Funny, though… The first magazine sale I made when I became a freelance journalist was to — you guessed it — Cosmo. And no, it wasn't about sex!)

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One Response to “What’s The Babysitter Up To?”

  1. ecajka@verizon.net says:

    Kathy, I can’t believe you had a sitter give other kids your home phone number! “you’re fired” for sure! I had a sitter use my computer after I specifically told her in a nice tone “I need you to not go on my computer”. Thanks to being able to check the website “history” I knew she had and never called her back.