today i worked on my carver essay and on my book and i also spent a good amount of time reading slate while a 2-year-old boy slept in his stroller in the middle of my bedroom. i got paid $20 for this difficult task even though i said, “oh no, please don’t pay me” about 15 times.
i feel like i’ve gotten too old to be paid for babysitting. i don’t know what it is but even as much as i love having money i just feel like there is something condescending about being paid for letting a kid sleep in my room while his mom gets lunch with my roommate. i think it goes back to those middle school years when i was tortured all summer long by a gaggle of obnoxious girls and their older brothers. or maybe in high school when i had to hold down the screaming girl who lived up the street while her parents drove away. or the time some evil woman whose kid had to wear a helmet made me feel bad about not having socks on, forced me to help make hors d’oeuvres for her party guests and then paid me $3 an hour for watching 15 of her closest friends kids all through dinner. yes and i didn’t get any dinner at all.
oh and there was the college babysitting job at the home with a 6 month old and no bottles or even, if i remember correctly, cups, and a fridge full of seriously ONLY MINERAL WATER.
i love kids and i am pretty good at taking care of them. [the one slip in my responsibility came when i was 11 and i spent an entire day playing street fighter with david smith and just told the kids to play in the yard. anyway, that one wasn’t really my fault because a) i was 11 b) david smith was the cutest boy in town and when i showed up in the morning he was asleep on the couch with no shirt on and c) those girls were horrible and i let them torment me basically every other day for at least 2 summers. also i was 11. ] but i feel like i am old enough now to recognize that no one is ever going to pay me what i deserve to watch their babies. so if you are a nice person and your kids aren’t too demon-possessed and it fits in with my schedule, i am HAPPY to watch your children, occasionally and for no longer than 6 hours. i can think of many people i would do this for: my cousin, my old neighbors with the baby who is probably now at least in 2nd grade who my mom delivered (baby delivering: a legitimate thing to get paid for), the awesome people in port angeles who i was a nanny for when their kid was just a tiny tiny girl. the super san francisco kid with 2 moms who i watched sleep today.
but getting cash for it makes me uncomfortable. of course, i know i am alone in this and that is okay. i have a really good friend who makes a living watching kids and that is great and perfect and different because it really is her job. but it isn’t mine and i don’t want it to be.
maybe also getting paid makes me feel like i felt when i was younger and had the idea that i was somehow on the verge of seriously messing up. like what if i gave the kid too much ice cream and she told on me? what if she wasn’t entertained by drawing chalk outlines of her little brother or pretending she was a witch? what if i fell asleep on the couch on the night her parents came home late?
if i don’t get paid i feel like i’m doing you a favor. like your kid can hang out with me and it will be fun but i am not required to play with them every freaking second if i don’t want to and i am allowed to do my homework or talk on the phone or even have my friends over so they can play with your kid too. or not. they can just talk to me if they want to (hypothetical friends obviously).
getting paid makes me feel like the parents don’t trust me and they are bribing me so i won’t do something insane like turn on the gas stove and then lock the doors and leave the house for 3 hours to shoot up heroin with my pimp in the back of his car. first of all: i don’t have a pimp. second of all: your bribe is embarrassing everyone.
i don’t know why i am so worked up over this. it was the easiest $20 ever. i think it’s obvious that my 13 years of babysitting experience has had some traumatizing effect on my ability to be rational. i guess i just want to be respected though. i mean, okay, i may LOOK 15 and i may still be doing homework and riding my skateboard to school. and yes there are stuffed animals all over my room. but they are ART stuffed animals and i am 24. i don’t have kids but i could. i am old enough to own a house or a car if i had decided that those were things i needed immediately after college. and i bet if i had those things people with kids would call me up and ask if i could watch them for an hour while they went to the store and they wouldn’t even think of paying me.
or they’d hire an 11-year-old at $3 an hour.
here’s some advice: never hire an 11-year-old baby sitter. especially if you have 3 kids.
and if ask me how much i charge and i say nothing, i mean it. buy me lunch if you have to. don’t give me money unless you are actually willing to pay me what it is worth to you to have your kids really taken care of. that sounds like a threat sort of. but i mean it like this: i don’t think you have that kind of money.