Monday, April 25, 2016

Maybe... Splurge on That Babysitter

I have collections of the once upon a time thought of as perfect examples of child-rearing. Not just two or three sets but shelves of volumes numbered I-X of vintage parenting books filled with Teach-You-A-Lesson-Today- Child. Stories that will make you sh*t your pants with fright if you're a kid. Enticing illustrations set you up, and then before you know it you're assaulted with the 1950's era finger wagging if you do this, my child, you might just lose an eye or finger or be lost forever on a nature trail.

Though the titles were couched in "Suzy's Sunday" or "Johny Makes Jam" these stories might as well all been called "Here's What Will Happen To You If'n You Don't Behave."

I showcase these volumes front and center in the kid’s reading room downstairs. They’re harmless fun and give us all a good laugh.

Or so I thought.

Our house has a big kid in it, a teenager. He babysits for his younger brothers. One of these vintage books has a story in it about Joey, the little boy you see pictured above. Joey has a behavior problem, as children do.

Joey likes to sneak around and satisfy his curiosity when no ones around.

I found out one night that my oldest son used to read about Joey to my then sweet baby four-year-old-boy at the beginning of each babysitting session, like this:
Teen BrotherslashBabysitter: "One day, when Joey’s mom was gone and his big brother was in charge, Joey sneaked away and did sneaky things without telling his brother. That’s not a safe thing to do, is it? Do you know what happened to Joey?” [At this point, my heart seizes as I imagine my wide-eyed four-year-old baby chewing his fingernails to the nub when his brother gets to this part.]

Teen Continues: “Well, here’s what happened to Joey.”

And my teen babysitter presses THIS picture into my baby's face. Then he adds:

Teen: "That's not jelly on Joey, either."

Free is free when it doesn't cost you anything. Free is expensive when it comes with therapy bills for a little boy who would hide the jars of raspberry jam in the cupboard because the sight of them had him out cold on the kitchen floor. Suddenly the $8 an hour for a non-free babysitter didn't seem so outrageous.

I could've used that cautionary tale on free babysitting in my vintage collection.

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