Monday, June 9, 2014

First Jobs--June

 I'm beginning a new series, First Jobs, in which I ask people about their first work experiences.
Today, I am going to tell you about the first work I did when I was a teen.

Like many teen girls, my first work for pay was babysitting. My older sisters paved the way for me by being responsible, good babysitters. Thus I didn't have to look for work. Jobs came looking for me.
Clip Art - Babysitter, Illustrative Technique. Fotosearch - Search Clipart, Illustration Posters, Drawings, and EPS Vector Graphics Images
When I first started, I sat with older kids—meaning no infants. As I became more experienced, I also cared for younger kids who needed their diapers changed and bottles warmed. I remember during one of these early jobs of watching a baby when there was an unfortunate incident with an overflowing toilet. I won't go into the details, but let's just say there were several things that needed dried out after I left. The parents blamed themselves for not telling me everything I needed to know, but not surprisingly, they never called me back.

The most regular customer I had was a little girl named Sue. She was an only child and loved to preform. She often grabbed a hairbrush to use as a mike and belted out a song. One of her costumes was a set of pigtails her mother fashioned for her out a towel and two rubber bands. She thought she looked glamorous in this long, straight “hair” which was nothing like her short, curly hair. She also loved books, however her mother, a kindergarten teacher, didn't believe in teaching kids to read until they were school age. So Sue didn't learn to read until she started school even though she really wanted to. One day when Sue was four, she asked me to read her a particular book, but she couldn't find it. She said, “Oh, well. I'll read it to you.” Then she accurately recited the entire book. This was not a picture book. This was a chapter book and she knew every word. When she finally learned to read, she was soon reading at a fifth grade level and not long after that jumped to an eighth grade level. Sue had the biggest vocabulary of any child I knew (and bigger than many adults.)

You Don't Have A Hamster Anymore
There was one bad babysitting night that I remember vividly. I was watching a little boy named Oliver. His family had several pets and actually ran a tropical fish store in their basement. On that dark night Oliver burst into the room crying, “Max killed my hamster!” Max was the cat and he had indeed somehow unlocked the hamster cage and “played” with the hamsters in there. One was dead and I nursed the other one along until the parents came home. That was not a night I wanted to relive.

Even though babysitting was a more informal job than some, my mother said that I should treat it like a real business. She had me send out letters stating my rates and policies. One I remember was that my rates went up after midnight. At first, I didn't want to do this, but I did, and it taught me that being professional and having things in writing are very important. Knowing this has served me well since then.

I had many other adventures in babysitting, but that's enough for now. Another time, I will tell you about the important job that I didn't get paid for.

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