Babysitting the New Generation

I’m 38.  I’ll be 39 next week, actually.  I babysit.  I can’t decide if that’s lame or not – I mean, I should have other plans or something right?  Something to do on a Saturday night other than hand out with toddlers?  But, since I gave up dating…oh wait, that only freed up one Saturday night…per year. 

The point is, several of my close friends have started families recently – and being a complete kid friendly person with a small obsession for toys…Babysitting and I sort of reconnected.  I guess it’s a good thing, really – I’m a grown up, responsible, unfazed by screaming children, own my own car…and can share cocktails at the end of the night.

I think I fell back into it accidently – and then found it to be enjoyable.  At someone else’s house, I’m not bothered with thoughts of “I should do laundry” or “I need to vacuum.”  The dog isn’t bugging me to go out. I’m not fighting the cat for couch space.  It’s like a one night vacation.

Plus, there’s nothing quite as fun as raiding someone else’s cabinets…especially since mine are generally filled with stupid ‘healthier’ food.

But here’s the thing.

Babysitting has changed!  First off, from what I hear – kids rake in the CASH babysitting.  When I was a teenager, I felt loaded if I got five bucks an hour to babysit three or four kids for a night.  I hear the going rate now it ten dollars plus.  Which, in my opinion, is ridiculous for a gig that mostly involves watching tv.  Man, give me a hit of gas money, and I’m golden.

More importantly, where the hell did this Diaper Genie thing come from??  Back in the day, when I had to walk to my babysitting gigs in three feet of snow wearing stone shoes (yes, it was uphill both ways)…there were no such luxuries.  I had to change a diaper – and then walk the used one outside to the garbage.

So you can only imagine my excitement at my first chance to use the DG. 


I had no more idea how to use that thing that I would to actually birth a baby.  I thought I could just drop the diaper in there and it would go to some magical powdery smelling utopia. 

Nope.  Put the diaper on the hole and it just sat there. 

I pushed it down a bit thinking I must have to trip some kind of suction that would grasp the diaper from the brink of humanity and take it to a place where it could make nice with its dirty friends.

Nope.  No suction.

Of course I then tried spinning the diaper myself – shaping it into a bullet like object.  When you take a packet full of poop and try making it more narrow, guess what happens?  Genie, my ass.

Another wonder of 2010 Babysitting?  The video camera monitor.  Again, in my day…if I wanted to check on the sleeping child…I’d have to unwrap myself from the throw, peel myself off the couch, run through the cabin and up the ladder to see if all was well (this was when Ma and Pa Ingalls were out for the night). 

And I had to do all of this during a commercial break.  There was no pausing the television – we worked on real time in those days.  If I was lucky (and I wasn’t always), I wouldn’t bite it coming  down the stairs on the way back in my rush to beat the break. 

But alas, no more. Right about the time I stopped babysitting back in college, the monitors starting coming out.  They were little speakers that let you listen in to the baby to make sure he or she was breathing.

Now?  There’s a whole mini-tv dedicated to the crib.  I’m not too proud to say – I totally dig it.  The first few times I used it – I was turning it on every three seconds to see what the kid was doing.

Mind you – I’m also obsessed with the San Diego Zoo’s Panda Cam…I watch and watch just to see what that little ball of fur is up to.  This is not unlike Baby Cam.  Turns out, babies don’t do a whole lot of interesting things when they are sleeping. 

I did spend a whole lot of my first Baby Cam experience trying to figure out why the little light that allowed me to see my little friend didn’t wake her up.  I turn it on and off really quick to see what happened – imagining it being like a little baby strobe light. 

Then I realized you could move the camera around – in case, I guess you wanted to see what was happening in the rest of the room?  So, I played with that a bit and then totally freaked out with one of those weird, “What if I see someone standing in there?” thoughts. 

One of my friends even showed me how you can change the monitor channels and view other babies in other houses.  No, do not call the police – this was in the D.C. area…in a townhome complex…you’ll never catch her and no harm was done…it was just an accidently viewing. 

I no longer think of babysitting as lame, really – it’s more about keeping up with technology.  I mean, there is still a tiny bit of hope that I might have my own kid one day – I just want to be prepared.  I can say for sure I’ve mastered Baby Cam.  Diaper Genie – still no clue…but there’s hope…I’ve got some free nights coming up for more research. 

This time, though, I’ll be bringing long rubber gloves.

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