September 2002
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A Night from Hell
By Sandra Meaney, Age 17, Dartmouth High, Dartmouth, NS

I can still remember the first time I ever babysat. I was 15 at the time. Friends of my parents asked me to care for two children. I was quite nervous since the children were very young and I hardly knew them. I remember thinking ‘three hours couldn't be all that bad'.

I arrived at seven o'clock. The children were smiling and happy. The mother gave me her cell phone number and promised they'd be back by eleven. The babies had been fed and changed and pretty much ready for bed the parents said. The father handed me a few Disney movies ‘just in case'.

At first the kids didn't seem to notice that their parents were gone. Maybe this won't be so bad, I thought. A half hour passed and there wasn't a wink of sleep in their eyes. Things seemed to be going fine.

Right at that moment Ashley began crying and asking for her mother. Naturally, Jessie began imitating his sister. I managed to quiet them down with the help of cookies and apple juice. As soon as they finished eating, however, the crying began again.

After much effort, I talked them into sitting down to watch television. Everything was calm until I detected a foul smell that seemed to linger behind Jessie. I changed Jessie's diapers. While I was doing this young Ashley figured out how to open the back door which was not locked. Frantically, I placed Jessie in his playpen and ran outside to get Ashley. But she decided she wasn't coming in the house and began running down the street in her pyjamas. I finally caught her three houses away. Eventually the two fell asleep at 11:30pm. Their parents arrived home at 12:30pm in the morning and asked if there were any problems. "No", I said as I vowed never to babysit again.

Since that time, I've had better experiences. I've noticed that many young people babysit, but most are not happy doing it. Why do they continue to babysit if they hate it so much. The answer is a desperate need for money.

But there is also a sense of obligation. Once you babysit for a certain family, it becomes a given that you will do it again, and again, and again. Even I find myself trapped into doing it at least once a month, for the same lousy pay.

So be careful. Babysitting can be dangerous.

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