Friday, July 15, 2011

Can Babies Baby-Sit???

A few weeks ago, our neighbor's 11-year-old came over to sell me some cookies. Long-time readers will recall I am a SUCKER for solicitors, so of COURSE I bought some.

This was also around the time we were faced with a big change: our daycare provider announced she would need surgery and would be out for 6 weeks. We were debating whether we wanted to try to find a nanny or whether we wanted to start really looking at other daycares.

We had been seeing a lot of fliers around the area for summer helpers, and it was a consideration. Then this girl came to my door. She didn't even bring up baby-sitting!

So I don't know why my reaction was the way it was.

I just looked at Scott and said "no way."

Now, this girl is awesome. She's smart and sweet, she gets great grades, she's responsible enough to be left at home for a few hours each evening.

She's me at 11 years old.

When I was 11 we moved into a new neighborhood and I papered the area with fliers. Using my mother's very new Print Shop program, I created adorable little diapered-baby covered business cards with my name and address and phone number.

Would you ever allow your kid to do this now?? Of course not! It's like an invitation for a pedophile, right?

It was a simpler time.

Within weeks, I had three different gigs. One was for a 6-month-old infant down the street.

At 11 years old.

You guys? I looked at this neighbor girl and thought "absolutely not." This little person hasn't even gone through puberty, she's going nowhere near my daughter.

And it's not just me.

When Wee 'Burb was in center daycare and I took my dad, he got a little flustered. When we got in the car, he whispered "she's kind of...young, right?"

She was probably 19. At 17 I was working in a daycare center, running an entire kindergarten-age room by myself.

But he was right. She was kind of young.

I can't figure out why this reaction was so visceral. I feel awful about it. I was a great baby-sitter. I took the Red Cross Baby-Sitting Course. My mother was down the street. I was great with kids. They loved me. I wanted to form my own Baby-Sitters Club right then and there.

What are your thoughts? Do you let your older kids baby-sit? What age is your baby-sitter? Am I just being insane?

18 comments:

Bonnie@TheFragileXFiles said...

I guess it depends on the babysitter -- some 11 year olds might be responsible enough. Some might not be. I know I couldn't leave my kids with an 11 year old, though! They'd run all over her!

Julie @ Pickles and I Scream said...

I babysat when I was 11, dad & stepmom even left my newborn sister with me on a fairly regular basis (so much that she called me Momma for awhile, much to my stepmom's dismay). Now that I have my own kid, I don't think I would even consider leaving her with another child, not even a responsible teenager - who am I kidding, I don't like leaving her with anyone...I'm that Mom, the one who thinks no one is responsible enough to take care of my child. It's hard for me to leave her at daycare every day!

Brooke said...

I think this is a totally normal feeling...I too babysat very young kids at a very young age but am not about to leave my girls with an 11 or 12 or 13 or 14 year old. My babysitting qualifications are that they need to be able to drive and can at least pick up and carry my 2 year old without extreme effort!

Aleta said...

I didn't start baby sitting until I was 17 and wished that I started sooner. At least, that's what I remember thinking back at that time. Kids are good with kids. If I had a daughter and she was 11, would I allow her to babysit? ONLY if I knew the people really well and if it was down the street. But.. yeah, most likely I wouldn't. Because there are a lot of very weird people out there these days.

Life As Wife said...

Totally guilty of this! I babysat at a young age and there is no way in hell a teenager is watching my kid. Period.

Maybe when he's old enough to tell me what happened during the day and basically fend for himself. But even then, probably not because I'm crazy like that!

toi said...

I was responsible at 11 as you and baby-sat my younger brother who is 5years younger than me. I didn't really want to but I had to do it. But if I have the choice I wouldn't let a child that young look after my baby or let my 11 year old go and babysit that young. So, I don't think you are overreacting.

Sparkling said...

You were me at 11!! I was watching infants, any age. No one even batted an eye. And for $2 per hour, mind you!

I teach 11 year olds. There are many that I would absolutely trust with kids and some I would not. Check her out. Have her be there with you for a little bit one day, watching them while you blog or something and see how she acts. Seriously. Think about us at 11!! No one thought we couldn't handle it!

Rach (DonutsMama) said...

I'm just like you (but we've already established that, haven't we?). Baby-sat at an early age, took the class and all. And now? I don't think I'll let anyone younger than college age babysit. And she better not have a boyfriend either. I have only left Donut w/ either my hubby or my parents. That's it. Although I may start small, like with our church nursery.

Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

If you would have asked me a this time last year, I probably would have said, "sure! it's NBD!" but now? Not for FREE would I let an 11 yr old babysit by herself. No offense, I'm sure they are great, but this is the most precious thing ever to me.

Mama Insomnia said...

I babysat at 11 for some pretty rich families and made $10 an hour!! (plus $$ for pizza)

I worked the "babysitting" room for Market Day at our Catholic School and scored my "clients" this was.

Now that I'm a mom, no way I'd let an 11 year old babysit. (Does that make me a hypocrite?)

Kat said...

Oh, goodness. I think that I started babysitting when I was 12. It's a tricky age because I think that 12-13 year olds are probably able to watch 5-8 year olds for a few hours in the afternoon, but I would never trust them (or anyone younger!) with younger children.

Times have changed, in so many ways.

Charlotte said...

I don't really remember how old I was the first time I ever babysat, but I definitely think 11 is a bit on the young side. I think you have to go with your gut on this one. You'll know when you meet the right person to trust to babysit.

Kristin said...

I've had an 11 year old help me out as a mother's helper. I'm able to get a lot of work done but I'm still around for an emergency. I do think 11 is too young - the sitters we have if we plan to be out are at least 13 or 14 and my girls are 4 & 8.

Wanna Be Balanced Mom said...

You are totally NOT insane. I understand your concerns completely, and you're right, back when we were younger it WAS less scary. My husband and I were just talking about that today, imagining our daughter as a teenager and how on earth are we ever going to let her do things with her friends without parents supervision in this crazy world.
Anyway, if you feel good about this little girl, I don't see anything wrong with it. The youngest babysitter I've ever used was a 12 year old, I admit I was a little nervous because I wondered if she knew what to do in emergencies. We just tried to be extra cautious. Told her not to answer the door, only play in the backyard with the kids and I called every hour to see how things were going.

Jackie said...

In my opinion, I think it depends on the maturity of the kid in question. I was babysitting at 12 and by the time I was 13 I was doing overnighters for a neighbor that worked night shift. I let my daughter start babysitting at 12 after taking the red cross babysitting course. Now my son, I didn't let him babysit till he was almost 16. He didn't mature as fast as my daughter.
I do think some kids are ready for the responsiblity of watching others.

Ameena said...

I know that at 11 I was definitely in no position to babysit anyone...least of all my 4 year old brother. And now at 35 I'm barely capable of taking care of my 6 year old child! But I happily handed over Maya to a fabulous 21 year old nanny when Maya was 9 months and I never thought I'd do that...desperate times call for desperate measures.

Did I spell desperate right??

Mama Spaghetti said...

Things really seem to have changed! Recently, I was hanging out with some kids I used to babysit who are now 12 and 14. I started babysitting them when I was 11. Their mother -the same mother who left them with me when they were as little as 4 months old -still doesn't let them stay home by themselves! It seems crazy!

C (Kid Things) said...

I think I was about 12 the first time I called up an ad out of the paper for a babysitting job. Except I knew absolutely nothing about watching kids at that age. Heck, I now have 3 of my own and most days I still feel like I'm clueless.