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Babysitting is a rite of passage for many teens. It was one of my first jobs, and I only got locked in a closet once, so I think it worked out okay. A recent question on Quora revealed some fascinating stories from former babysitters about inappropriate things they were asked to do. Here are eight of the best:
1. This is horrifying
I was considered a “catch” as a baby sitter, because I had experience with newborns. I was 9–10, and my older sister was living with us because her husband was deployed. I don’t know where or why. At this time we were not at war with anybody, but the Russians were not our friends. I did the “drop&cover” drills at school, but we grew up at ground zero (the Naval shipyard was maybe a mile away across the open water of the bay.) and I knew enough about the atom bomb (my dad had gone in to pick up prisoners of war right after Nagasaki)to know that there were not going to be any survivors if some one dropped one around our neighborhood.
The kids I was sitting for were a boy 6, a boy 5 and a baby girl of about 6 months. The parents lived about 5 miles inland from where we lived. The parents were very paranoid about the Russians, they were sure they were going to be landing in Puget Sound any day now. They had a bomb shelter in the back yard, and every time I sat for them, they would run a drill making sure I knew how to get in and seal it. I though it was kind of fun. I had a big family and a private “fort” that I could sit in all alone was very appealing. On this particular night there had been a lot of items on the news that were sort of scary. The parents told me that they were going to Seattle for dinner and a concert. An hour away by ferry and probably would be home late. Then the mother turned to be with a very serious expression. If there was an attack, she said, she wanted to make sure the baby was not left. The boys would be OK, but she wanted me to suffocate the baby so the “enemy” would not get her. I was horrified, and I told her I couldn’t do that. She insisted that I do it and her husband agreed with her. I finally stammered something about there wouldn’t be any attack and left it at that. We watched TV after they left and everyone was asleep. The baby was a bit fussy, so I rocked her awhile. But looking down at that innocent face, I knew I could not harm her in anyway. Fortunately, there was no attack that night. When they got home, they paid me and they the husband took me home. When I got there, my dad was still up,asleep in his recliner. When he asked me how things had gone, I burst into tears and sobbed out the whole, awful story. He got me calmed down and said I wouldn’t be babysitting for them again. I think he called the couple and talked to them about it.
But asking a 10 year old to kill the baby, if there was an enemy attack. That one gave me nightmares for awhile.
2. Are they hiring?
Let’s see… Inappropriate things done while babysitting…
(I’m gonna leave out the finer details and real names because the father of the children I used to sit was/is an extremely prominent, respected and revered lawyer from my home city).
I digress. The mother of this family (let’s call her Mrs. Z) is about ten years older than myself and grew up two doors down from my childhood home. She used to babysit my sisters and me; we always had a blast and adored her! Fast forward about seven years, I’m sixteen years old and it’s my turn to be the sitter for her two children.
Mr. and Mrs. Z were very wealthy, for lack of better verbiage. They were the type of rich people who were so loaded that they didn’t have to give a fuck about price-tags. Due to this minor detail, they would quite literally give me all the cash they happened to have lying around at the end of the day. I remember being paid anywhere from 350- 500 dollars a day, for a nine hour day. Let’s average that and say I was paid $400.00 a day. That’s $44.00 an hour. FORTY FOUR DOLLARS AN HOUR. That’s me in 2006, sixteen years old and being paid an hourly wage of some veterinarians. GTFO. I remember being handed this wad of cash after my first day, thinking it rude to glance at the bills in front of them but then feeling inclined to do so after realizing the weight of the money. I felt extremely uncomfortable and uncivilized accepting this much money. However, when I opened my mouth to protest they just smiled and apologized that it really wasn’t enough, thanking me over and over again.
You know that scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta opens the briefcase that probably has like, Marsellus Wallace’s soul in it? Yeah. That’s what it feels like when you’re just barely legal to drive and you’re stuffing a roll of dead presidents into your faded, pink PacSun shorts before riding back home on your bicycle. Yeahhhh…
Let me back track so I can give a proper idea of what a babysitting day comprised of. During the summer both of the children attended camp; the eldest went to the park district and the youngest was enrolled in an academic-type program for autistic children. Mrs. Z would be gone by the time I arrived in the morning (she was taking college classes) and Mr. Z would leave shortly thereafter for work. The only responsibilities I had were as follows: put the little boy on the bus in the morning, drive the girl to her summer camp a few minutes up the street, retrieve them both at the end of the day, make them dinner. The parents weren’t the “here’s a list of exactly what to do/make the kids for dinner“ type. They were more of the “Dinner? Oh yeah, uhm… Chicken nuggets? Brownies. They like brownies! They should eat, right” type. Like, who doesn’t want brownies for dinner? Fuck it, we’re all eating brownies for dinner and don’t you complain! And we did. A half an hour in the morning and an hour for when the kids were back from camp- they told me to just stay and hang out for the time in between.
So I had just turned sixteen and didn’t have a car. No problem! The Zs had a few to lend me. The first morning of babysitting Mr. Z was running a little late and hurriedly pointed to a set of keys on the counter as he flew out the door. I knew of three cars they owned; the red Corvette wasn’t parked in the garage, Mr. Z sped away in his BMW, leaving the new, dark silver Hummer H-3 sitting on the street all by his lonesome. I panicked. There was no, “okay we’re leaving you the new Hummer, be careful“ conversation. Nothing. These people gave the keys of a 54,000 dollar vehicle to a sixteen year old Chicago kid with mismatched socks. I remember calling the mom like, “hey, uh, Mr. Z left me the keys to the Hummer… but like, I could just walk Mary (alias) to school…” She said something to the effect of, “what? Are you insane? Take it! Go shopping while the kids are away!!! Go get some coffee or a manicure”! Just like that. Like it wasn’t shit. Like I were crazy for even hesitating.
So that’s exactly what I did. For a kid like me, a teenaged girl growing up in a working class household in the city, this was totally unreal. I felt special as all hell. To be honest though, I was probably the best person to trust with all this stuff. I was very responsible and though at times a bit of a shit-head, would never take advantage of privileges given to me. I remember driving that thing through the well-to-do suburb they lived in- I’d pick up a couple of my girlfriends and we’d ride around, smiling and waving at guys like we were the most badass things in existence. It was good times.
The Zs were always kind and really, overly generous with me. For the following two New Years they offered to take me on vacation to help out with the children. I of course accepted and it’s been one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It was an unimaginable opportunity for me, especially at that age. They paid for everything of mine (airfare, hotel room, meals, drinks) and even paid me at the end of the trip.
I should add that I did in fact have to do a lot of work on these trips and at home when the kids didn’t have programs or school. The little boy was autistic, so many every-day tasks were challenging. He was a very sharp kid and was quite sweet, I just had to learn different ways of communicating with him in order to break through his sensory issues. Caring for him required a lot of patience and deep breathing, ha. When he would get agitated or tired he would throw horrendous screaming tantrums and it would take an hour at times to calm him down. It was unnerving, but he’s doing a lot better now and is getting all the help he needs. The little girl was cute and all that, but she was quite spoiled and pretty precocious for her age, she was a handful!
I found it a little unconventional that Mrs. Z bought me a lot of expensive things on vacation. It was thoughtful and charitable of her, but did make me feel a little uneasy to accept these gifts. Mr. Z was the breadwinner of the household so Mrs. Z was given hefty allowances. Mr. Z wasn’t too frugal, but would make it obvious when he felt like his wife’s spending was unnecessary. On one occasion while out with the family, she asked him to look at a pair of ridiculously expensive leather boots she was dead-set on owning – I don’t remember the brand but it was either Gucci or Burberry. He kind of whined and said, “C’mon, it’s the recession”. To my horror, she and her daughter immediately started laughing and mocked him, “it’s the recession, it’s the recession”! I was embarrassed for them in a way and felt so out of place. He caved and bought them for her. Ehhhhhhh…
So yeah, IMO the above listed (and some not included) are not really common or appropriate things to offer to a babysitter. However, I am absolutely NOT complaining! It was fantastic; but personally, I would never trust a sixteen year old with a fifty-four thousand dollar vehicle… Or pay them four hundred dollars for doing two hours of work… Shiiiiiit. I wish I could quit my job and go back to babysitting for the Zs; unfortunately the kids are able to look after themselves now.
In the words of the late and great Tupac –
“Better days, better days, better days
Got me thinkin’ bout’ better days”
3. Poor kiddo
In high school I once babysat just one night for these strange parents who were friends of my (former) grandmother (who was not a nice woman, and didn’t have nice friends). (By former I mean I’ve detached from that side of the family, but that’s not the point here)
The children were two five year olds within a few months age of each other. One was adopted.
The parents told me that their biological son, X, was allowed to play Grand Theft Auto in his bedroom for as long as he wanted (well into the night) and that they had a stash of candy for just him and there were no restrictions. Yes, he was a brat.
But then the parents told me about the other 5-year-old, Y, who they adopted a few months prior. They actually told me “he’s not allowed to leave the living room, because he’s adopted”
And that was their only reasoning. Their only explanation.
Because he’s adopted.
Y had to stay in the living room and just watch TV while X, the biological son of his new parents, played video games in his own bedroom.
It was shocking and to this day I can’t fathom or understand those people’s reasoning…
Also, I can’t imagine what else he was denied or how else his treatment was altered just because he was adopted.
4. Just smack ’em
Oh, there were a few things.
I would say the MOST inappropriate thing I was asked to do was hit the children. It was never, ever, ever going to happen, but I knew in the first, like, minute and a half of that job that I’d never be back.
I was either 12 or 13, very young. The woman called me after another woman I babysat for every once in a while had recommended me. The first woman was no delight to sit for, either…she once counted popcorn kernels into a paper bag with each child’s name on it. Each child could have no more than fifty kernels in their microwaved lunch bag of popcorn. Wild stuff. Anyhow.
It was a very weird vibe just walking in. The mom was sort of wild-eyed hostile for no apparent reason, and it was chaotic from the get-go. She had two beautiful little girls, one of whom was a young preschooler who didn’t really speak. The little girl saw me, toddled partway over, stooped to pick up a dead squirrel by the tail, and held it up so I could see it. Without hesitation or a single word, the mom backhanded the child across the face and sent her flying. She kicked the squirrel aside, picked up the girl, smacked her on the bottom, and told me to follow her into the house. At least one time and probably more during her instructions to me, she told me to “just smack ‘em” if they did anything wrong.
Yeah, no, I’m not doing that.
The fun part of all of this was that, as I mentioned in some other weird-babysitting-anecdote answers, after she gave me my instructions she placed a big stack of cash on the microwave. Then she turned around, pointed a finger in my face, and told me that if any was gone she’d know I’d stolen it. Her husband ended up getting home before she did, and he paid me from the microwave cash before driving me home. I was never asked back (I wouldn’t have gone), but I always wondered if she went back and saw money missing and yelled that she effing knew it.
5. A bit of a sad story
I would babysit for a friend of my parents when I was between 12–15 years old. The parents were pretty big partiers, but I actually liked the fact that they stayed out late because I was paid by the hour. They would come home pretty drunk and eventually the father started asking me to drive myself home in his new BMW. He would sit in the passenger seat while I drove and drive himself back to his place after dropping me off. I’m sure he thought this was a safer alternative to him driving me home while completely drunk, but not only was I under age, but not a particularly good driver.
Unfortunately, years later his wife did kill herself in a single car accident involving alcohol. It was very sad that her children lost their mother and I always liked her despite her issues.
6. Eight seems a little young
Look after a baby (nappies, bottle fed etc), for an entire night, and without pay, at the age of 8 years old. 🙂
I did a bit of baby sitting, and had asked to look after a baby, so I rode my bike about 15km to get to their place, the kid was a lot younger than I had been used to looking after, and she showed me how to change the nappies etc.
Then she left, didn’t really say when she was back, so I fell asleep on the couch, woke up a few times and checked on the baby.
It was the 80s so no mobile phones and I just sort of assumed this is what I was supposed to do.
She turned up about 8am the next morning, thanked me for the babysitting and I sort of waited awkwardly till I realised I wasn’t getting paid, so rode back home.
In retrospect, that is some next level irresponsibility, even by 80s standards.
I also still don’t get how she thought that it wouldn’t be paid…
7. Her mom stood up for her
When I was 11–13 yo, I babysat for a couple that lived 8 blocks away from my house. They had one child and both parents were doctors. They were in their late 30s when they had their kid which was considered way old for the late 1970s.
They were nice people and I babysat for them almost every Saturday night. Their kid was usually in bed by the time I got there so I really didn’t do much.
When they got home, they would pay me to the quarter hour. No rounding up for good measure. I earned a dollar an hour.
The worst part? The husband would ask me if I could walk home by myself. He was always tired and not in any condition to walk or drive.
What was I supposed to say? No? So I would bolt home, scared shitless. If my parents were home, I would call my dad to come get me. Sometimes he was sleeping and he had to get out of bed. The docs would make me wait out front for him, too. They needed their sleep. Other times, my parents were out, too.
This made my parents furious – that this couple would not provide me with transportation home at 1am on a Saturday night after babysitting. It also bugged my dad that they never rounded up my pay.
This went on for about 6 months. Finally, my mom had enough. The next time the Drs. called me to babysit she scolded them for not escorting or driving me home. This was all unprompted by me.
My mother is a lovely woman who everyone likes. She is a great listener, is very optimistic, has a good sense of humor and is a genuinely kind, good person. But don’t cross her, her hubs or her children.
“Listen, Dr N. My daughter is no longer going to babysit for you if you will not drive or walk her home at the end of the night. My husband and I don’t think it is our responsibility to pick her up. We raised 3 daughters and had plenty of sitters over the years. We always gave them rides home or put them in a cab. Always. You need to step up and take this responsibility.”
I was floored. My mom was full of calm, but righteous indignation. It was beautiful to witness.
“And for the record, I know this is your first child so you may not know these things, but it’s customary to round up when calculating the pay. The quarter hour payment is ridiculous. Especially because you’re not driving her home. Surely you can spare a few quarters for your son.”
My mom schooled the docs! It was beautiful. Mrs. Doc apologized profusely and thanked my mother for letting her know. She said that she and her husband were grateful that I was always available and that I was close by. From now on they would drive me home and round up.
“I appreciate that. Thank you. Here’s Mary.”
I continued to baby sit for them until HS. Then I got a life.
8. Ignore the door
Me and my big sister both had to grow up pretty quick, (c’est la vie) so by the time I was 11 I was already getting numerous requests for babysitting. These were all people from the estate, so my parents knew them so it was deemed safe enough for me to go down the street for a few hours on a Friday or Saturday night.
My rates were £10 up until midnight, and then £3 for every hour after.
12:AM: “Oh, do you mind stopping another couple of hours? Somethings come up…” “Don’t worry, that’s fine, what ti-” “Oh that’s great, of and if anyone knocks on the door, ignore it.” Click. What? I brush it off, think, that’s another £8 for me.
2AM: No mother in sight, give it a half an hour
2:45AM: I start calling, there’s no answer.
3:00AM: Knock at the door. Not my parents, they always had a spare key to let themselves in. IGNORE.
3:05AM: Knock on the window. This followed with fifteen minutes of knocking and shouting to let him, that he knew “we” were in there. The kids wake up, it turns out to be their dad but there’s no way I can let him in. I herd them back upstairs and wait it out.
*several hours and multiple unanswered calls later*
7:30AM: Kids just now waking up again “Where’s our mum?”
i have no fucking clue “ohh she just had to bob to the office, she’ll be back soon” (or she is dead in a ditch somewhere)
8:00AM: She walks through the door, drunk off her arse with her phone in her damn hand. I put her to bed and take the £40 out of her purse and a DVD in for the kids.