Leila Case: My babysitting perils

Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2022

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By: Leila Case

When I heard the price of babysitting had soared to as high as $23 an hour I went into a state of shock.

What? Certainly NBC-TV wouldn’t report incorrect news but I still doubted the fact so I looked it up on the Internet and there it was in black and white. Goodness, inflation has also affected the cost of babysitting? Inflation has hit an all-time high. The price of gasoline at the pump changes daily – not from low to high. If it keeps rising we’ll all be walking.

Ridiculous I say.

The going rate for babysitting was fifty cents an hour when I was a teenager and stayed that way for eons because I don’t remember paying our baby sitters more than that.

I was only 13 when I landed my first paying job – babysitting my sister’s two children, Lollie and Sam (Bubber). There is only 18 months between their ages with Lollie being the oldest. Sister and her husband Sam and the children lived around the corner and I spent as much time at their house as much as ours because it was in walking distance.

My baby sitting was usually limited to weekends when Sister and Sam went out and I was paid the huge sum of fifty cents for the entire evening. I thought that was glorious and I saved every cent to spend when I went shopping with friends or the movies on Saturday afternoons in downtown Atlanta.

At the time, cashmere sweaters were all the rage. And your popularity depended on how many cashmere sweaters you owned and how many Varsity cards you had collected but that is another story. I remember the cost of a cashmere sweater then was a princely $12 to $15. I thought I would never have enough money saved to buy one. Suddenly I did.

I remember walking into J.P. Allen, a swish department store downtown, one Saturday afternoon after the movies and admiring the luscious cashmeres that came in a riot of colors displayed in a glass case. I selected a lovely blue cardigan and paid for it with my baby sitting money. I wore it for years and years.

But I digress. I enjoyed babysitting my niece and nephew and then Phillip joined the family and he increased my responsibilities to caring for three children under five. When Philip was about a year old they bought a registered Boxer puppy.

One Saturday afternoon Sister asked me to keep the children while she went to downtown. They were building a larger house and she needed to select some building materials. When I arrived she warned me not to make loud noise because Philip was napping in his crib and the puppy was sleeping in the backyard. I can still hear her words, “If they both wake up you’ve got trouble. Philip will cry and so will the puppy.”

She was right. The telephone ringing woke up Philip and his crying woke the puppy who started yelping as Sister predicted.

I solved the problem by putting Phillip in the stroller and the other two by hand and left the puppy yelping to walk to the corner and sit on the steps of a neighbor’s house, waiting on Sister’s return.

When she finally turned the corner driving the grey Chevrolet she saw us sitting on the steps and stopped the car, rolled down the window and asked me why we weren’t at home and I told her.

Returning to my house shortly afterwards, I found daddy and my brother in the kitchen and I told them about my traumatic experience and declared, “I’m never getting married and if I do I’m not going to have any children.”  Famous last words.

Sister and Sam had another child, Tom, but by that time I was in college and never baby sat him. My baby sitting days were over until I married and had three children of my own with whom I experienced many, many more upsets. But because of that afternoon of babysitting when I was a young teen I could manage.

Later after my children grew up, I was blessed with four grandchildren who I baby sat on occasion. The best thing about babysitting grandchildren is you can give them back to their parents.