A few weeks ago I wrote about the jobs I held as a teenager, but I forgot one of the first ones: babysitting for several families in our Bountiful, Utah, neighborhood.
I suppose because I was the oldest of ten kids, some neighbors thought I must naturally make a good sitter. And with my parents quite consistent in their weekly movie night, it’s true that by the time I was twelve or thirteen, I had already done a lot of babysitting at home. Sure enough, I proved to be a responsible, dependable sitter for hire—in fact, I was even the type of sitter who tidied up before the parents got home.
One of my first clients was the Pope family down on the corner. One night, their twins both started puking in their cribs, and I had to call my mom to come help me.
Another night, a strange, wild-looking, long-haired man knocked on the locked front door and claimed he lived there. Adrenalin spurting in my veins, I tried to block the door and prevent him from entering. Finally he appealed to the little girl standing behind me, and she confirmed that he was her adult brother. He was a black sheep who didn't attend church or anything, so I had no idea he existed. I felt extremely embarrassed, but they complimented me on trying to defend the house.
The two other families I babysat for most often were the Paxtons and the Lewises, but I don’t remember any particular adventures at either one. I believe I earned a whole dollar an hour. I can’t remember how I eventually stepped off this career path, whether I started turning people down or they just stopped calling me. I suppose that, on some level, the more a male progresses into puberty, the less comfortable you feel about leaving him alone with your kids.
It seems like my kids now are a lot harder to deal with and put to bed than the kids I used to babysit. In fact, Ann and I are currently trying to retake control of our household, which has been dominated in recent months by demanding, uncooperative, selfish, lazy kids. (In case you can't tell, I honestly don't enjoy parenthood very much, especially now with four kids in the house all the time. I really do think I'll be mostly relieved once they're out of my face so much.)