Now that the school year is over, it’s time to either start or search for a summer job. If your schedule doesn’t allow time for any big commitments, like being a leader at a day camp or perhaps a desk job, you might want to consider a job in which you choose when you work — the job of a baby-sitter.
Despite the misleading title, the job of a baby-sitter is pretty much anything besides sitting on “babies.” In fact, sitting is the exact opposite of what you will be doing (until the kids go to sleep). You will be running and jumping and tagging and hiding and seeking and reading and anything else the kids want to do. Some call it “easy money” while others consider it a pain, but either way, your role as a baby-sitter is an important one.
I didn’t realize how big of an impact my childhood baby-sitters had on me until very recently. As a little kid, you tend to notice everything about “big kids.” I noticed the baby-sitters who sat on their phone instead of playing with me and my sister, the ones who left dirty dishes in the sink and didn’t wipe down the counter after feeding us dinner, the ones who said “bad words” out of habit. More importantly, I remember the ones who went along with our made-up games, the ones who suggested going outside instead of watching TV, the ones who used “please” and “thank you.”
Now, I don’t usually play favorites, but as kids, my sister and I had favorite baby-sitters: two sisters who lived at the end of our cul-de-sac and took turns baby-sitting us for at least five years. There is the same age difference between them as there is between my sister and I, and they were both excellent students and athletes who were involved in all kinds of activities, so naturally my sister and I wanted to be just like them — in some ways, we still do. I can honestly say that my experience with baby-sitters as a kid significantly helped shape me into the kind of baby-sitter, and person, I am today.
I began baby-sitting in seventh-grade, probably a couple months after I stopped needing a baby-sitter of my own. That’s when I realized how scary baby-sitting is — parents are trusting you with the most valuable and precious thing in their lives. For most of us, baby-sitting is the first time we are responsible for a life other than our own. It’s a little taste of what it must feel like to be a parent: to be in charge of feeding someone and putting them to bed and keeping them safe. If that isn’t stressful, I don’t know what is.
Whether you have realized it with your past baby-sitters yet or not, baby-sitters make an impression on little kids’ lives, often one of which they are not even aware. This summer, or any time in the future when you land a baby-sitting job, remember to set a good example for the kids you watch over — you never know which one is thinking that they want to grow up and be just like you.
Mari Andreatta will be a senior at Notre Dame High School in Belmont. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at firstname.lastname@example.org.