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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Out. Of. It.

I cannot find a babysitter. Every teen I know is doing something. Something terribly important. Sports. Dance. Play practice. Student government. Habitat for Humanity volunteer work. Facebook. Blogging. SAT study. None of them have free time. Even to earn money.

This kind of teenage reality is vastly different from the one I knew -- I babysat two to three times a week in high school (and did dance and music and student government and had a boyfriend). But if I wanted some money to spend with said boyfriend, I had to earn it. Hence, my interest in taking care of somebody else's unruly children for a few evenings a week. But I have found no teen like me in this neighborhood, and my personal life is suffering for it!

Surely, some of this difficulty in finding a sitter is due to the kind of neighborhood I now live in -- "well-to-do" my Mother would have called it -- the kind of place where parents scurry around, trying to find all the "right" things for junior to do, because, in theory, doing them (ALL) will improve his chances at getting into Harvard. Well, here, they hold the local University in equally high regard, and, it turns out, it's getting harder and harder to get kids in there, too. So it doesn't even matter that they are only thinking of the local U as their goal -- that's lofty enough, and junior "needs" to do everything if he's going to get in. I understand their angst on one level, but personally, I wish their kids had less to do and more need to earn some moolah. I'd be willing to give them some in exchange for a few hours of babysitting.

I feel out of it. I don't identify with this teenage life (or the child version of it, either). Turns out the child version is equally hectic, because the scurrying around starts really early. Is my four-year-old playing soccer yet? Well, no. Is he swimming independently yet? Uh, no. He has taken several sets of swim lessons, but he hates them and has yet to put his face in the water. So I let him quit. Has he taken an art class yet? Again, no. He plays up in the playroom and in our big backyard, making up his own games, playing with play-doh and Playmobil toys and little toy cars and plastic boats and pretending to be Batman and pretending to catch fish with his older brother's old golf club. That's OK with me, but some people around here think I'm terribly (dangerously) old-fashioned. I'm clearly not getting him PREPARED for the REST of his life.

I feel out of it on other things too. For instance, my 12-year-old is BEGGING for contacts. At 12? Really? That seems young to me. But then she told me that "everyone" has them. I demanded evidence. Christina. Hollie. Rose. Tara. Tessa. God, really? Apparently so. So, the parenting "clock" that I was working with (14 sounded like a young-enough age to permit contacts) is off by two years. Oops.

Then my 12-year-old injured her foot and, for now, wears an ankle brace. With the brace on, she can't put on her right shoe. I offered to let her wear a pair of my slip-ons, a pair that I thought looked kinda nice. Her response? "Ooooh NO! Those are MOM shoes!" Oh, God! Am I that out of it? Do I wear -- eerie music here -- "MOM shoes"? Apparently I do.

I'm going to scurry off now, to pick up my kid at football practice, as soon as the other kid finishes her guitar lesson. I'll be wearing my glasses and my Mom shoes, and I still don't have a sitter.


  1. Elaine: I have been thinking about this, too, as we reconnect with neighbors. Our boys do plenty - but we never have had elots of disposable income. My bias is I think it has helped them build up their interior life, their resourcefulness etc.
    case in point: G. loves moviemaking. But we don't have the money for a Mac for him, or the hundreds of dollars for the editing equipment etc.

    He spent the summer making a movie, borrowing the public library's film-club camera. He figu
    Today he lugged home a MAC someone had donated to the library and that the library didn't need. He found an old disc of mine that can download mac writing software. now all that is left for him to be good to go is the cheap version of the editing software. i told him if he continued to turn in all his homework (hey - three whole days of that!) we would consider this for christmas or sometime sooner.
    Meanwhile we know a young boy with all the fancy filmmaking equipment and an interest in film who has done nothing with it.
    So often, less is more.

  2. p.s. I pay G. to watch L. but only if certain modest chores are done while am gone and the mess isn't worse than when we left...

  3. Have you considered a college student? If the price is right, I'm sure you can find somebody. Perhaps a closing comment after one of your lecturers ... "Oh buy the way, I'm looking for a babysitter. If you know a high school or college student who is interested, have them call me. See you next week."


Politeness is always appreciated.