...The mothers of my babysitting children have been saying this to me since back when I still used Maxi-Pads (see above circa 1992). Naturally, I assumed it was true and couldn't wait to have a kid of my own. As a result, I developed what I now realize was a very unrealistic fantasy of my future pregnancy. I imagined that (insert whatever boyfriend I had at the time) would accidentally knock me up. We'd totally freak out, cause we were like, totally not prepared! He was a (drug dealer, neurotic vitamin salesman, wifebeater, great-grandfather) and I, a poor child care professional with no health insurance. Months would go by while I deliberated whether or not to redeem the free coupon I'd earned from my frequent buyer card at the Abortion Clinic. Would I, or wouldn't I? Pitcher after pitcher of margaritas would be drained, but nothing could quench the fire of uncertainty in my belly. Then: a phonecall. "Hello? Yes, this is she. General hostpital? He what? Instantly, you don't say... I'll be right over." My boyfriend - dead in a mysterious accident! ...and the last lingering piece of him on this earth was living in my womb...
Of course, I would have the baby. How could I not? His family would be so grateful to me for bestowing this miracle upon them that they wouldn't say anything when I named the baby Claudine in hopes that she'd turn out to be a slutty French Gypsy. Why, they'd probably even let me live in the pool house rent-free for as long as I wanted! Yes sir, I thought, having a baby of my own was going to be pretty sweet...
Then, I failed at dying before age 28. Friends and cousins started having babies that weren't pretend. I started to see things... horrible things. Mistakes were made. Relationships fell apart, dreams were killed and vaginas were ruined - sometimes forever. Pregnancy, childbirth and the ineveitable parenthood were revealed to be not a generous scoop of Cream Dream, but a cantankerous bottle of old breastmilk curdling in the sun... precariously perched on the windowsill and just waiting for you to walk past without a condom.
Nowadays, I have a much more realistic perspective on what having my baby would really be like. Here is a photo-realistic depiction:
My name is Jenni and I am a babysitter. I have been since age 11. See, I grew up in the 80's. Microwave popcorn had just been invented, and it was perfectly normal for parents to hire an 11-year-old to watch their 3 kids in exchange for $2.50 an hour and unlimited access to fruit roll-ups. If there were no pre-teens available, they might even leave their children in the station wagon with the windows cracked while they shopped for groceries or knocked back a couple of Sea Breezes at the bar.
Even though times have changed, I like to think I've retained some of the old fun-lovin' spirit of the 80's (but with a LOT less cocaine) and incorporated it into my style of babysitting. I've simply added a few safety precautions to update it to modern times. For example, it's great to slide down the stairs on air mattress toboggans, but only if you can pass a comprehensive coordination test that involves running through the house in socks holding an egg in your mouth.
All in all, my babysitting success is due not only to a youthful zest for life and light ESP, but to a genuine love of kids... as long as they are someone else's.*
I'm a darn good babysitter. The best, some might say. I'm often asked by a curious mother what the secret to my success is. Then, while I'm seriously contemplating my answer, I'm occasionally asked by her friend how a babysitter like myself can afford Prada wedges. That's when my answer becomes: "I'm sure your husband could tell you in better detail." I then toss my hot dog into the pool, which is the youngest child's cue to light me a cigarette and say, "We'd better hustle if we're going to make that Centerfolds audition," quickly leading me and any lingering siblings out of the country club. But that's only happened once or twice, three times tops. I'm not necessarily looking for an excuse to lose a hot dog, if you know what I mean, but please... do not mess with my outfit or suggest that it was purchased with means other than gold bullion or babysitting cash.
Dressing for success is a very important element to my job satisfaction. I like to be authentic, play to the imagination a little. While babysitting, I tend to dress like a cross between an irresponsible au pair from 1980 and a high school ceramics teacher with a fondness for ferns. Every element, from my wooden platforms to my elephantine handbag, emulates this style. It doesn't matter to me if the shoe was last season's Balenciaga or a mutilated huarache that was traded for a ham sandwich next to the dumpster behind Trader Joe's - if it fits, I'll wear it. Whether a nun or a dope pusher, I think everyone should put a little care and effort into the way they dress for the work week. It makes the daily grind a lot less grindy, and that's an improvement I think we all can agree on!