I worked hard for the money, so hard for it, honey…

When I was 12, I had my first real job. Real in the sense that I was off by myself. Taking care of other human beings. For very little pay. I earned peanuts. Actual Circus Peanuts. Maybe a couple pouches of grape Big League Chew and a Mello Yello if I was lucky. (Nine bucks for three hours work didn’t go very far, even in 1981.)

My job? Babysitting.  I did it to build up my self-esteem, to prove to my parents I was responsible. Plus I wanted to save up enough money to buy Shaun Cassidy’s Da Doo Ron Ron on 8-track. Also, the family I babysat for had cable. MTV was all the rage back then–when they actually showcased music. I thought maybe I could spend the evening sitting on the couch like a zombie, watching ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ over and over while the kids quietly played Tiddlywinks on the floor.

I babysat those hellions for you! It was all for you! And you don’t even care!

I knew I was in deep trouble when I arrived the first night to find three giggling girls–one grinning while ominously holding up a jump rope–their newborn sister crying in her crib in the distance. Ah, but knowing I had to change a squirming baby with safety pins and stinky cloth diapers was the least of my worries. As soon as their parents left, the twinkle vanished from the girls’ eyes, replaced by cold dead stares. They informed me it was time to play Cops and Robbers and would I “pretty please” sit down in the chair and close my eyes for “just a second?”

As I sat there, tied to the kitchen chair by jump ropes while they ransacked the place looking for Kool-Aid and Devil Dogs, a thought crossed my mind: working sucks.

Hey…uh…kids? A little help here? I’ll let you watch MTV and stay up late! Hello?

Babysitting does have its perks though. Just ask Angie Z. of Childhood Relived–she babysat the wrong kids, played a little Mario Bros., ate a disgusting Ritz cracker, and lived to tell us about it. And because of her story, she won my contest. Close to 100 people voted and most thought she had the most embarrassing story.

See, babysitting does get you far in life. She is now the proud owner of a bunch of Maine-ish crap. Maybe she’ll get her husband, Mr. Brady, to wear the cool baseball cap so when he drives them to the Grand Canyon and gets lost, he’ll be able to light the way back home.

Big thanks to the finalists, Pegoleg, Ape No. 1, k8edid and Cassie— I will never look at lederhosen, electric fences, cats and Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast the same way again.

I want to also thank the rest of you for baring your souls for me. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed laughing at you. If you have any other humiliating stories you’d like to share, you know my email. I’m working on a novel and need some good character backstories that would explain their many quirks and neurotic tendencies.

Congrats, Angie!  I certainly hope your babysitting skills have improved now that you have kids of your own. Have you checked them lately to make sure they’re yours?

Angie Z., future Most Clueless Babysitter of All-time, during her innocent ‘I-want-to-be-Nellie-Olsen’ Little House on the Prairie phase.

95 thoughts on “I worked hard for the money, so hard for it, honey…

  1. Impybat

    I babysat starting around age 12. To this day, I can’t believe that people entrusted me with the care of their infants. I generally had some great families and awesome kids, but there were a few UGH moments. There was this one family, and every single surface in the house was covered in an unidentifiable, revoltingly sticky substance. The kids were berserk. The oldest son was in middle school, so he was out of my babysitting jurisdiction. You see, his parents didn’t trust his with the two younger kids, to the point where I was instructed to “go to the police officer who lives across the street if you need him at all.” :/

    1. That is the thing that gets me the most. I could barely handle taking care of myself. Here I was, taking care of four at once. The family in my story was one of the easier ones, too. I’ve got lots more horror stories.

  2. That jump rope story…didn’t happen on a very special episode of Eight is Enough? I always get you mixed up with Elizabeth so perhaps that’s why. At any rate, I demand more babysitting stories. Elyse and Peg have also told some doozies recently.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who voted for me! I’d like to not only thank the Academy, but also stale Ritz crackers and Super Mario Brothers for allowing me to infiltrate a rogue gang of children who responded by ignoring all Stranger Danger lessons that McGruff the Crime Dog taught them and making me one of their own.

    Cassie, Peg, K8edid, Ape No. 1, since I’m the big winner, it’s only classy of me — I got your next therapy bills.

    1. It probably did happen on “…Eight is Enough…to fill our lives with loooooooooooooooove”
      The sad part is, they managed to tie me to a chair TWICE. I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. I was a tool.

      I am so very happy for your win, Angie. Well deserved. And now instead of spending your bloggy break eating chalk, you can spend it sniffing a pine cone and eating some high fructose corn syrup shaped like a lobster. Yay!!!!

      Enjoy yourself and remember me when you come back.

  3. Love that you put that picture of Shaun Cassidy in your post! I had that poster in my room AND a pink satin jacket with his picture on the back. If I had a dollar for every time I sang “Da Do-Ron-Ron” I’d be semi-comfortable! 😉

  4. And that is exactly why I never liked babysitting. Why, oh why did my mother think I would just love to babysit? I hated it and did it as little as possible (with the exception of one summer’s nanny job, that was a fluke). Mowing a lawn always paid much better; the lawn didn’t give me any trouble, and I didn’t have to stay up way past my bedtime to get it done.

  5. Lots of bloggers writing a book at the moment, it gives me hope that the bestseller list may actually be full of things worth reading some day.

    Oh, and I’m writing a book, well plays/short stories. (low attention span)

    1. You’re writing plays and short stories? Fantastic. I agree, the shorter, the more people will respond. God forbid they pay attention to something for more than a few minutes! I’m thinking of writing a whole series of novels that are only 10 pages long apiece. I think it’ll be a huge hit.

      1. It’s my attention span for writing so I need to keep it short. I wrote some years ago I’m gonna go back to and redo. I have an idea for plays, a series of monologues and I have people in mind I know to star in them. It’s great in my head, I just need to get it down.

      2. You would write fabulous plays, no doubt. It is a big challenge for me to write a big sweeping story and to stretch it over over a huge span like a novel. I am very good at short stories. I can see that is my biggest problem, sticking with the plot and characters for a long time. My goal was to write 1,000 words a day. I need to get back on it very soon or I’ll lose my momentum.

  6. You made THREE dollars an hour? I eventually worked up to three dollars from most of the people I babysat for. Actually, there was one family that lived in Manhattan but would come up for weekends. They were writers (“The New Perfect Resume” by Tom and Ellen Jackson) and would spend the weekend working while I took care of the kids. They were…oh, there are many words for what they were. After working for them for over a year, I got up the courage to ask for a raise from $2 to $3 an hour. Ellen made a huge deal over how great it was that I took initiative, blah blah blah. At the end of the weekend, she again made a fuss over handing over my “brand new salary!” Yup, you guessed it; they never called me again. Bastards.

    I never had Shawn Cassidy on my wall. That was reserved for Tom Selleck, thankyouverymuch! Oh yeah, and Rick Springfield. And some other smaller cutouts from Tiger Beat and 16…*blush*

    1. I suppose I did get paid a lot–they were our local vet, so I suppose they had some money.

      Ah, I never had Tom Selleck. (that line sounds so much more than it is..) but I did have Tom Cruise (from his Outsider days) and Rick Springfield. I used to cut out their pictures from Tiger Beat and tape them to my wall. Oh, those were the days…

  7. Shaun Cassidy – that is too funny. Since you’re such a fine, and I know you were always checking out his but … here his is in satin, or maybe even leather, pants:

    hehehe, enjoy!

    1. notcurrentlyblogging

      Thanks MJ, I laughed at this. Shaun had some pretty funky moves to be sure, but alas, as Angie and I have previously discussed Shaun lost my allegiance due to the t-shirt he wore on The Hardy Boys.

        1. notcurrentlyblogging

          At 13, seeing Shaun in the T-shirts he wore on the Hardy Boys completely fizzled out my love for him.How could I possibly keep the flame burning for a guy wearing the same shirts as the 4 yr olds I babysat? Clearly it was time to move on to the Dukes of Hazard guy.

    2. MJ, that is priceless. That astronaut jump suit was chosen especially to be played today for the Mars landing, I’m sure. Shaun was so far ahead of his time.

    3. Welll well well! I DID enjoy that! Thank you! Yes! Those were some pants he was sportin’ there, huh. I love that his shirt was barely buttoned. Just enough so we could peek his gold necklace. Yowza! My fave part was when he told the audience “I’m gonna clap now”

  8. This was such a perfect Angie-esque homage to lead into announcing her victory. Congrats, Angie!! And did you really check to make sure they’re your kids? (That picture of you is priceless.)

    Darly-Pants – are you really working on a novel?! I hope this post wasn’t fiction where that’s concerned. (Wow. I’m off my game. This is what happens when I fall behind on reading good blogs and just write my own. ;))

    1. Thanks, Jules! I thought maybe Angie would appreciate all the ’80s references. True story: We first met on WP a long time ago when we talked about our shared love for Shaun Cassidy (this was Angie’s pre-FP days…yes, we go waaaay back, almost a whole year)

      And yes, I am working on a novel! If by working you mean not writing anything at all. OK, well, I have about 10,000 words so far. Still got a looong way to go. I hear novels are long?

      1. Although I first met you on Freshly Pressed, I believe it was from the Good Greatsby’s page that cemented our friendship — I mentioned Rubik’s cube in a comment and lured you over to my blog from there.

        Maybe my love of Shaun Cassidy is when you realized how utterly cool I am.

      2. Hmm…I thought for SURE Shaun Cassidy was involved, Angie? No? Well he should of been.

        I do remember you left me a comment on my FP and it was a genuine comment, like you weren’t just leaving a comment to promote yourself like all the other hundreds of comments. And I saw your avatar and went to your blog and Bam! You had a post about Super Mario Bros and I was hopelessly hooked forever.

  9. This brings back some very embarassing moments! My first concert? Shaun Cassidy (young girls are so easily fooled by blonde, feathered hair and a modicum of success). If I remember correctly his expression while singing was pretty much the same as his expression while acting…non existent.

    My babysitting experience? Being locked out of the house by the lovely darlings! I had to go get my Mom to help (we lived right next door so they knew my Mom meant business). The best part is I totally ratted them out when their mom got home! 😀

    1. Wha? You SAW him? Gasp! His feather hair was astonishing, wasn’t it? It was perfect. I could never get my own hair to look like that and I sprayed so much hair spray on it, it was like a helmet.

      Oh I have similar babysitting stories to your locked out one. I think I’ve blocked most of them out but with time and therapy, I hope to relive them so I can use them for more blog fodder.

      1. Yes I saw him in person and his hair was a perfectly feathered as it was on TV.

        I feel your pain on the hairdo. I could get one side to be absolutely perfect and the other side looked like it should have been on Quasimodo. My head was Jekyll and Hyde!

      2. I’m more than a little embarrassed to say that I had the Shaun Cassidy Da Do Run Run album. Ok. I still have it.
        (I’m thinking about going on Antiques Roadshow with it. Ya know, just to see.)

      3. John Erickson

        Jackie- Let me know how much money that album is worth. I’ll give you my copy to sell, and I’ll throw in the 2 8-tracks of “The Best Of The Partridge Family”. 😀

  10. Darla, that is a fabulous babysitting story. I hope the parents untied you soon after… But $2 an hour? I got 50 cents!!!! INFLATION SUCKS WORSE THAN WORKING.

    Sign me up for an advance copy of your future best seller. (And I am a great copy-editor if you need one.)

    1. Well… to be honest, I’m guessing on the pay. I have no idea what they paid me. It was 30 years ago! Do you know how depressing it is that I can say, “It was 30 years ago!”???

      And I know you’d be the one to proofread my manuscript (ha! manuscript! that sounds so professional!) after working with that boss of yours all those years.

  11. That was MY Maine-ish crap! MINE MINE MINE! Oh, yeah, congrats to Angie for her victory. I’m sure the best entry won. Hers was a beacon of stale Ritz crackers in a sea of crappy stories about pathetic losers.

    You got $3 an hour, Darlineator? Wow! I’ve been tied up for WAY less than that in my day, let me tell you, and I’m not talking about little kids. OK, that may be TMI.

  12. If you are looking for more babysitting stories, it’s always fun to babysit kids who are pottytraining… especially when they pee in your lap while you’re reading them stories. Towels do make lovely sarongs though. And who cares that you didn’t remember to shave your legs for two weeks. (And aren’t blonde.)

    Oh, and you’re going back to school? I feel like there should be a welcome wagon for that… Are you going back full-time or part-time?

    1. Oh yes. I’ve had my share of getting peed on. And pooped on. And thrown up on. And all three at the same time. This is what makes me think I’ll be a good nurse one day.

      And, thank you for the welcome wagon! I appreciate that! I am going back to school after (cough) years. I have a bachelor’s degree but will be changing careers and going into nursing school if all goes well. I am going full time this fall (yikes!) I have a post about it all ready to go this week.

      1. Ahhh, ditto on both. My first BA was in English, and I start full-time this Fall. Since I went part-time for the science pre-reqs it took me two years to get to the point of clinicals!

        So if you ever need someone to commiserate on life in nursing school while raising a family… Yeah, we’ll probably both be too busy for that!! 😀

      2. That is awesome! I am currently enrolled in a medical assistant program (the nursing school has a 2 year wait) so I can get all the basic anatomy classes, etc. out of the way. Still don’t know if I will even be accepted into nursing school (competition is fierce).

  13. John Erickson

    See, I’m at a disadvantage, ’cause I never worked FOR PAY. I did lotsa jobs – re roofed our house, poured a concrete garage floor, kept a 1970 and 1973 Chevy running, mowed 2 acres of yard, cut up firewood (yes, including splitting logs), all that fun kinda stuff. I had a cheap boss – my father. And he could squeeze a penny so hard, the Lincoln Memorial would shrink, all the way over in DC! 😀
    That’s why I had no good embarrassing childhood stories. I was too busy being my dad’s “go-fer”. I had to get a real job (while living at home) before I could get into REAL trouble – and I did an EXCEPTIONAL job of it!
    No, I will NOT tell you now. I’m waiting for the next contest. 😉

    1. Oh, yeah. I’ve heard about this. Parent making their kids do chores–for zero pay! It’s crazy! It’s insane! It’s something I’m bringing back as a parent. My kids are doing the dishes right now so I can blog.

      I really really want to do another contest now, John. Either that or you could…actually start…your own blog…?? and mine those stories for us readers?

      1. John Erickson

        Hey, “chores” are doing the dishes or taking out the trash. Have YOU ever mixed concrete with just a shovel? Or sat on a 50-degree slanted roof during summertime temps of 90-degrees PLUS? I STILL have bare patches where I burned off my butt hair. :p (That oughtta create some horrific images!)
        And why would I mine my stories? I would want people to read them, not get blown up by them. (What? WHAT?!?) 😀

      2. Whoa! You really did work hard for no money! Once, my dad let me help him destroy the kitchen cabinets with a hammer during demo. That was the last time he trusted me with a sharp instrument.

    2. Well John, you’ve been making up for it ever since. Or do you just embarrass yourself in blog comments?

      (Sorry, John, Darla, I simply couldn’t resist. Sue me.)

      1. John Erickson

        Sue you? Wouldn’t that make you a girl named Sue? I don’t think it’ll scan as well, but as a Johnny Cash fan, take your best shot! 😀
        As someone once said in a movie, “It’s my life, I may as well use it for good stories”. Or words to that effect. After all, if I don’t embarrass myself, I gotta trust someone else to. I’d rather do it myself and get it right! 😉

      1. True enough. While it’s nice to win a contest, it’s even nicer to have a built in topic to write about. If it weren’t for the many contests, I’d have to come up with new blog topics out of thin air! Lord knows what I’m going to do when I reach the last of the deadly sins!

      2. My problem is, there are so many great writers out there entering all these contests! It’s all too much pressure now. I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy! (my best Wayne’s World impression)

  14. Yeah, Angie! That was an awesome story indeed. Congrats to the others for being brave enough to enter embarrassing stories and NOT get anything (but grief) for it.

    I find it appalling that today’s teenage girls ask for $10/hr (yes, that’s greater even than minimum wage, and they can’t even multi-task yet, but they HAVE taken a crappy baby-sitting course) – 1.5 times that for TWO sitters to handle my four kids. GEEZ!! Times sure have changed. We simply don’t do it. It’s cheaper to drop them off at a professional part-time-care place, and my house is still clean when we get home.

    Back in the day, I was happy to take away a fiver for a whole night with three kids (6p until midnight), two of them crazy twins, and then walk home afterward, still wiping the sleep from my eyes and the drool my cheeks. And all I could do was talk on the phone all night (no texting, gaming, movies, etc.)

  15. I am crushed to have missed winning that pile o’ goodies…I wanted that lobstah lollypop. How you and Peg could hold contests, put me in the finals, and carry on so while I was in the hospital – fighting for my very life (well, flighting for the remote control, anyway)…

      1. Oh, I’m getting around pretty well. I take a walk every day…it’s been rainy so sometimes it’s just the loop through the living room/dining room/kitchen. Confuses the heck out of the dog. I spend my days doing pretty much what she does most days…napping, stretching, scratching, scrounging for scraps…

        1. Dogs have quite the life, don’t they? That is good you’re doing so well, Katy. And you’re eating ok? Taking pain pills? I am not good with Vicodin, made me so sick and I would shake a lot.

          1. I eat tiny amounts – can’t even drink a cup of coffee I am full after a few sips – but for my type of surgery that is normal…took me all day to eat a small plate of fruit yesterday. But I perservered.

            I can take pain pills – they do make me groggier and sleepier so I have been trying to avoid.

            Yes, Shelby has quite the life. She takes about 12 naps a day, has people to do her hair and prepare her meals, and has an arsenal of entertainment (squeaky toys). She never asks “Does this bandana make me look fat?”

          2. I can imagine it’s hard to eat anything at this point. A little at a time.

            I want Shelby’s life! I remember in B-man’s interview he asked what would I come back as in another life and I chose a dog. They have it made in the shade.

  16. Congratulations to Angie. I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
    And congratulations to Darla re writing a book. It seems as if many bloggers are putting out books right now. Very inspiring 🙂

  17. My feelings about those early babysitting jobs were so conflicted. I felt grown-up, which was great, but I was really self-conscious. The best/worst part was after the kids were in bed — I’d watch the TV, which was always better than the TV we had at home, but I’d be really careful not to disturb anything in the house. And I’d never eat anything. I was more like a ghost than a babysitter.

  18. Running from Hell with El

    And thank you for giving us so many laughs!

    It’s funny . . . I look back on babysitting and I was so scared of messing anything up, you know? And I never did change anyone’s diaper before I had my own children . . . but I did sneak junk food at the places where I babysat. Which is kind of silly but inevitable I guess. Inevitable for me.

    The thing is, babysitting was not so much hard work as it was boring work, which reminds me of a lot of the jobs I had, including some of the lawyer jobs. But those paid a lot better!

    1. I used to bring my own snacks (junk food) babysitting, too, El. The families I worked for were all health nuts and their fridges would be filled with nothing but soy milk and tofu (to a 12 year old girls that spelled: YUCK)

  19. Darla, this was a really interesting babysitting story. 🙂 And best wishes on your book, which you are currently writing. Waiting for that one, and it’s going to be a huge success. Do not ever forget that, I am the first one to predict that for you. 🙂

  20. cooper

    my babysitting history consists of one episode where the two year old female in question would not go near me and sat on the baby toilet seat the whole time. A quick call to my mother (just next door thankfully) and I was done. Done finished, over and out with the babysitting thing. Gimmie some dogs to walk…

  21. Congratulations to Angie for winning these Maineiac goodies.
    The kids I babysat were really pretty good, however getting them to bed, I always missed bedtime. Then there was the babysitter who “watched our girls.” Imagine our surprise when we got a wopping long distance bill for the night she sat on the phone calling who knows who who knows where. My wonderful husband called her parents and we were kindly reimbursed.

    1. YIkes! I would never think of using the phone when I babysat. We’ve never used a babysitter for my own kids yet, but I’m sure once I do, I’ll be worried she’ll be sitting there texting the entire time.

  22. singleworkingmomswm

    Congrats to Angie! And, I babysat once. Once. I was 12, also. Once. That’s all I have to say about that. 😉

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