My Fruitless Search for a Teen Babysitter
I've got a problem with teenagers. But it's not their butts peeking out above the waistbands of their jeans, their flip-flops in February or their taste in loud music that bothers me. I don't like teenagers because they won't babysit.
I call and I call, and despite having angelic children who brush their teeth and climb into bed on command (at 7 o'clock!), a wicked entertainment center with plenty of forbidden cable stations and a fridge stocked with soda, I cannot for the life of me get a teenager to babysit.
The boy teens on our street have back-to-back sports practices, the girls around the corner are on science and math teams, and the sweet redhead down the way has a social calendar that would make a debutante blush. Yet I haven't gotten any exercise, read a book or seen an old girlfriend in months. I feel like a prisoner in my own house—a fat, illiterate, lonely one, intimidated by tiny guards who weigh less than my groceries.
Why don't teens babysit anymore? What ever happened to saving up for a car? Are they so eco-conscious that they're happy to bike? Do they all earn so much on their blogs that they don't need after-school jobs?
The real problem is, of course, that grown-up sitters require too much money. They expect "overtime" premiums (because they work nanny jobs elsewhere, as if that were my problem), paid travel time, three-hour minimums—and they charge extra to put away the kids' dinner dishes. Hiring one can double the cost of a dinner "out"—and forget seeing a movie afterwards. All I can think of while watching a movie star like Reese Witherspoon is that she can afford full-time help ... but I'll bet my big-screen TV that the teenagers on her block line up to sit for her anyway!
Some of my best childhood stories stem from teenage babysitting arrangements gone terribly awry. But my kids just have me, boring old Mom. So here I am again on a weekend night, staying up late, drinking way too much soda and snarling at the teens on cable. They won't babysit for me, either.