When I was in the sixth grade and turned twelve I was permitted to take a babysitting course at our local hospital. In the 1980’s it was permissible for a twelve-year old to babysit. Honestly, I could never imagine leaving any of my own children at home alone, let alone watch someone else’s children. I generally don’t even let them use the stove or microwave without some supervision. But, leaving kids at home, at a younger age was permissible, “back in the day,” and things are different now.
I was beyond thrilled to take this course and begin my babysitting career. My prospects were already lined up and these parents were just as eager as me to get my official babysitting certificate. The course was on a Saturday morning and was the most important four hours of my pre-teen life. This course provided me with the basics I would need to be a competent babysitter. Or, so I thought.
My first family was a family I adored. They lived down the street from us. The father was a dermatologist and his wife helped with the practice. In fact, that is how they met and eventually married. They drove a Volkswagon bug convertible and I loved convertibles. I adored this family for so many reasons. I adored Mrs. Willams above all.
When I was a child, Mrs. Williams would humor my adolescent boredom. I would show up at her side door daily. She would chat with me and give me a chocolate popsicle (or two). She talked with me like I was one of her friends. I knew, without any doubt, when I grew up I was going to be just like her. Just a note, I was also going to be Miss America. Mrs. Williams was absolutely stunning in all aspects. She had the most lovely, pure blond hair and she could most certainly model for any magazine I had seen. Their home had two kitchens. This was also very impressive to me. The first kitchen was on the lower level and they used it for everyday cooking. The second kitchen was upstairs and it was used for gourmet cooking. She was also a gourmet chef.
I babysat for them for many years. From that job many other jobs came. I would get referrals through my school, other clients, word of mouth and one lead in particular came from another family who saw me babysitting at a local fast food restaurant. Later in life I would find referrals through executives I worked with during my full time job.
The story this family focuses on is the one I met at the fast food restaurant in the playland. The mom approached me asking if I was babysitting. “Yes,” I replied. She was impressed with my skills and inquired if I might be interested in other jobs watching her children. I agreed and we exchanged numbers.
My first family meeting, my first paid job with this family, was while the entire family was at home. They paid me to hang out with them for the evening. The purpose of this exercise was so they could get to know me.
I was in my early twenties at the time. However, this was the first time I ever “hung out” with the parents. Yes, there were times I would watch children when their mom was home. But, the mom wasn’t chatting with me over a cup of coffee and a diet soda. We weren’t girlfriends. The moms were making dinner or, as on one occasion, preparing for Passover. On occasion I would help clean or set up parties and even help with dinner. The bottom line is I never really spent time with the parents.
I found this “forced” fraternization to be odd. I found it even more peculiar when they asked if they could have my social security number to add me to their payroll. I didn’t watch their children with enough frequency to make it to the payroll. I wasn’t quite certain of who else might even be on this payroll.
On that evening I ate pizza with the family, played with the children and watched an entire movie with the dad in the family room. I rather enjoyed the film and the dad was thrilled to show off his new entertainment center. He owned one of the few laser disk systems with these enormous record-like things. It was a far cry from a VHS cassette.
Over time I grew quite fond of the children in this home. Their daughter was about three and their son was one. Ages three through eight are my favorite ages. I absolutely adore little girls too. And this little charmer was a princess before it was commonplace for every little girl to be a princess. Much fun was had watching these precious children.
My favorite moment however was one afternoon I was helping her go potty. She was just learning to use the potty and had a little girl potty in the kids bathroom just to herself. I walked into the bathroom attempting to help her. She looked up at me, the look of distress and irritation painted across her face and firmly said to me, “Samantha, I need you to leave. I must have my privacy.”
“How darling,” I thought to myself. “She is such a big girl now.” I walked out of the bathroom and went to the family room. Patiently I waited for her to finish. Minutes passed by and now my patience was growing into concern. “Was she okay,” I asked myself. “Does she need help,” I thought. But, respecting her clear request and right to privacy I waited for her to finish.
Suddenly, there was a loud and curt yell from the bathroom. “Samantha, come wipe my butt.” I chuckled. I walked into the bathroom. I wiped my princesses’ butt and waited. Again, she looked up with disgust and said, “You need to leave; I need my privacy.”
While I had just completed the most “un-private” job I could imagine, I was required to exit the bathroom. My service was done. That was my first lesson in raising a true, demure princess.