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The Pioneer

Bouncing babies to balance the checkbooks

Illustration by Dina Arakcheyeva/The Pioneer

Illustration by Dina Arakcheyeva/The Pioneer

Veronica Hall,
Layout Designer

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I used to have baby fever, until I started babysitting.

I’m not talking about a once-in-awhile babysitting gig for date nights. No, I mean eight-hour shifts, multiple days a week for three different families. Sometimes for two families in one day, all consisting of children six months to four years old.

I’ve made myself my own babysitters club.

But being a one-woman show isn’t always the easiest while also keeping my ‘hyphy’ 22-year-old wild ways. Babysitting can make me a little scatterbrained and an abundance of thoughts run through my head, sometimes not always the most becoming of a babysitter. But it’s a good thing my actions don’t show it. Here’s what a typical day can look like with my imaginative reflections included.

 

Getting ready, arriving

Whenever I prepare to babysit, I get ready to be pulled at constantly. Although I love my big hoop earrings and wearing my hair down, it’s a guarantee that they’re going to be tugged on in a surprisingly painful manner. When I arrive in the early afternoon, I pray for quiet time or at least for the thought of a nap to cross the child’s mind.

 

Babysitting

But why nap when ‘Onica’ is here? Not only can these children not pronounce my name yet, I’m so cool that they don’t want to sleep. That is, I’m cool only until I make a snack a different way or place a toy in a new area — then it’s waterworks city. Who knew toddlers had such bad OCD? Hearing children cry has now triggered a response in my brain to want to cry too.

We can’t forget the best part, going to the bathroom! Now, I still want to cry, but I also want to throw up. These kids may be the healthiest eaters, but they also take the most massive dumps I’ve ever seen.

At this point, I think about slamming a beer and taking a breather, but there is no time for any of that. It’s time to answer about fifty questions of “Why?” Best believe that any answer will be gracefully repeated so there are no whispering of curse words because the last thing I want is for the parents to come home to their child chanting words that are usually bleeped out.

By this time, I opt to go outside to run around and make the kid tired or put on a show or movie that will allow for some small amount of distraction and as a result, momentary peace.

 

Wrapping up

Usually I get an “omw” text from the parent, which allows me some time to clean up and make their child look like the little blessing the parents believe their kid to be. Once they walk in the door, it’s my favorite time of day: payment time. I accept cash, Venmo, PayPal, checks; any way that you want to give me money, I’ll work with you. I give a rundown to the parent of our time together, what they ate, when we went outside, and if or when they used the bathroom. There’s some small talk and then I’m blasting out the door, blowing kisses to the little girl and trying to shake the smell of baby wipes from my clothes.

 

This is just a brief snippet of my day, but every child I watch is different and growing constantly. I never know what I’m going to walk into, especially when it comes to a child’s emotions. There are plenty of times that the kids look at me and immediately start bawling. But I’m becoming a part of their lives, one day of babysitting at a time. An understanding develops between the two of us and I help them to grow up.

I’ve worked with kids through potty training to the time they prepare for preschool. As they get older and more talkative, I can see my influence on their young souls. These kids have gone from grabbing my nose ring and shoving their fingers up my nose to telling me they want one because it looks cool. It’s a huge responsibility and something I never thought I’d be doing as my prominent source of income.

I babysat sporadically in high school but it was nothing like babysitting in college. While parents trusted me enough with their kids then, it was a more relaxed atmosphere. Being older and in college, there’s a stronger connection between the parents and me. They don’t look at me as just a babysitter anymore; I’m older and wiser and therefore a trustworthy specimen to trust with their precious angels.

I’ve built a reputation for myself using sites like Care.com but also from word of mouth, thanks to my mom jabbering to everyone with a child about how I’m available to look after them anytime. Also, being from Alameda, many people know each other, and so when one family likes me, they refer me to other families they know.

While some days can be hard, I wouldn’t change my schedule for anything. I get a great, untaxed income, have some downtime to finish homework, and I’m playing a major role in a child’s blossoming life. I’ve become a more patient and understanding person in all aspects. As a communications major, I see the importance of childhood interactions and even some entrepreneurship factors within my own self. Such as setting my own schedule and deciding what works best for me.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am definitely nowhere near ready to have a kid, but babysitting has become a birth control that I don’t mind. I don’t see myself going into childcare as a profession, but it’s a great experience with constant demand.

In the meantime, I’m cool with being ‘Onica’ and I look forward to the future for both myself and the children I look after.  

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California State University East Bay
Bouncing babies to balance the checkbooks