When you’re thirteen years old there’s a small but very definite list of things that you hate with ferocious intensity: homework and rules.


That means there are few worse things to be told when you’re 13 than, “Do your homework!” Especially by someone who is being paid to look after you.

But that’s exactly what happened in California this week, where according to Gawker a 13 year old boy threatened his babysitter with a kitchen knife when she asked, more than once, if he’d started his homework.

Let’s be clear about this: homework might be a pain in the behind, but babysitting is no piece of cake either.

As anyone with experience in babysitting will tell you, everything is just fine until the front door shuts. The house is full of light and air, the kids are quiet and say hello to you. The parents, so happy and grateful for the opportunity to be leaving the house, can’t seem to thank you enough. Even the dog is wagging its tail outside the back door.

But then the parents leave and that’s when things start to get real. As the babysitter you’re not the boss. No matter how many lists the parents write out for you or how many times the hallowed bedtime is spoken about, once that car is out of the driveway, you and the kids know, pretty much none of that stuff will happen.

Here’s what happens instead. The television goes on and it goes up. The children, only moments before pleasant enough, lie on the floor and completely ignore any of your requests to do anything. Bedtime is completely irrelevant and invariably the dog starts running around the house or sitting on the couch with muddy paws.

And that’s how things will stay until hours later when you’re woken by the sound of the car coming up the driveway.  You open your eyes to find the kids fallen asleep on the floor, and suddenly for the first time that night, you’re a team with a clear mission: don’t tell mum and dad.

Everyone makes a desperate scramble up from the floor and scoot to their beds in record time. Even the dog’s ears prick up as you manage to drag him out the back door.

The parents walk in, a little bit flushed and drunk, and you look them in the eye and lie barefaced: “Yep, they went to bed at 9pm”.

And when the door shuts behind you, and you’re clutching those twenty dollar notes in your hand, everyone knows you’ll be back.

Comments close on this piece at 8pm AEST

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26 comments

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    • Chris L says:

      11:24am | 30/08/12

      Have you checked the children?

    • martinX says:

      02:13pm | 30/08/12

      HE’S IN THE HOUSE!

    • nihonin says:

      02:50pm | 30/08/12

      *ring ring*  *ring ring*  *ring ring*  0.0

    • acotrel says:

      11:33am | 30/08/12

      I wonder if I get my web cam working, you will be able to see this ten month old tyrant sitting on my kknee with the headphones on her head ?

    • Alfie says:

      12:24pm | 30/08/12

      There should be a law against brainwashing children.

    • che says:

      12:07pm | 30/08/12

      Worst baby sitting experience was being left with a one year old baby for a whole day when I was 17. The kid cried all day, wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t sleep, pretty much hated me for a 12 hour period. I thought I was going insane, it completely put me off having children. Anyone wanting to discourage a teenager from getting pregnant should use this method.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      12:49pm | 30/08/12

      you were left for 12 hours with a one year old? The mother must have hated you, really hated you. You poor woman! Where was she, at the casino?

    • Lilly says:

      01:12pm | 30/08/12

      Oh yeah. My extended family did that to me except they failed to tell me until they walked out the door “Oh she’s been a bit sick” 8 hours of vomiting and exploding nappies, eight hours of constant screaming and crying.  I’m pretty sure I’ll never be a mother because after that I know I can not and do not want to have to handle that ever again.

    • sami says:

      01:14pm | 30/08/12

      @che
      I agree entirely. I was about 13 when I had to babysit a neighbours kid for a day. Not only was she spoilt and whiny, she also had psychological issues about pooing. Previous constipation had apparently left her confused so any urge to poo was then met with tears and trauma because I guess she supposed it wasn’t ‘normal’.

      I still remember being promised money for that day, and receiving nothing. It was a day of hell and I had no control. I’m 29 now and still not keen on kids! My sister is due to have her first next year and I am FREAKING OUT.

    • Kate says:

      12:42pm | 30/08/12

      I used to babysit our neighbour’s 6 year old. He pretty much wouldn’t go to bed, and his mum knew this. The night would be hour after hour of tricking, persuading, threatening and just plain getting mad at this kid for getting back up after going to bed. His mum ended up putting a slide bolt on the OUTSIDE of his bedroom door to keep him in there, which I was encouraged to do. His older brother would make dinner and there was never any offered to me even though I’d be there all night. I was not even offered so much as a glass of water. All for $2 an hour! Went on for about 6 months and I told the mum it was far too much work for an evening for eight bucks. I know she struggled to find a babysitter afterwards.

    • nihonin says:

      01:14pm | 30/08/12

      Who’d want to sit on babies, wouldn’t that be uncomfortable.

    • Chris L says:

      03:02pm | 30/08/12

      They’re soft and squishy, perfect cushioning.

    • Mayday says:

      01:27pm | 30/08/12

      ” As the babysitter you’re not the boss.”

      The first assumption is wrong.  If you are not the boss why are you there and why are you being paid?

      I warn the parents before I take the job to expect a call from myself if the children don’t follow instructions.  If I have to call the parents they get an hour to get home and then I leave never to return.

      Be a responsible babysitter and you’ll get a better class of client.

    • M says:

      02:08pm | 30/08/12

      I used to baby sit two boys who lived over our back fence. It was great, we played in the back yard, then we all shot aliens on xbox for a bit, watched whatever movie mum had rented for the night, and then they put themselves to bed!

      The secret to good baby sitting is to tire the little buggers out. Physical excercise in the back yard is great for that.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      02:31pm | 30/08/12

      did you have to remind them about what was sitting in the glass cabinet back at your house, freshly cleaned and oiled, in case they tried any funny business? wink

      he he!

    • M says:

      03:20pm | 30/08/12

      Why would my motorbike have anything to do with baby sitting?

    • Jenn says:

      02:36pm | 30/08/12

      I started babysitting at 13. At 15 I started babysitting a 3 month old baby (who leaves their baby with a 15yr old?!) At the same age I was babysitting up to 5 kids at a time. (again - who does this?) I babysat/ nannied all through my degree.  I look back and realize that people sure were trusting! I don’t know if I would let the same happen. One of my worst experiences was having a dad come home before his wife and crack onto me when I was 19 - I didn’t know what to do! Ive had so many wonderful experiences. Even though I have a grown up job I still love a bit of babysitting on the side!

    • Scotchfinger says:

      03:17pm | 30/08/12

      Fathers cracking onto teenage babysitters brings up so many issues - it’s practically incestuous. Dads out there, not a very good look.

    • KimL says:

      02:54pm | 30/08/12

      I baby sat 2 small children aged 3 and 4 for their mother while she went hopping. I was in the kitchen getting lunch when i started hearing strange noises then crash and bang. Wen i went to the lounge room where they were supposed be to coloring in, they has used my cd’s as Frisbee’s and broken glass and ornaments were everywhere. Their mother laughed when I told her, that was the last time I ever baby sat anyone else’s children. The cost to me was way not worth it and I never even charged her to mind her 2 little horrors

    • xar says:

      02:54pm | 30/08/12

      can’t say I’ve ever had a problem babysitting nor looking after other peoples children. Children are not inherantly evil,  and even bad behaviour is just another way of communicating, it always tells you something if you are paying attention. So much of working with kids is about being self reflective and realising that behaviour doesn’t happen in issolation. Personaly I think it is such an increadibly important thing to be given responsability for the care of children that you have to honor that. kids deserve carers who care about more than the paycheck.

    • macman says:

      03:23pm | 30/08/12

      Four Rooms - Room 309 - the misbehavers with Tim Roth and Antonio Banderas - hilarious
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b30ibdmPd4o
      link shows the end scene but whole sketch excellent
      infact whole movie prety good - room four with willis and tarrantino great.

    • Anonymous Coward says:

      03:49pm | 30/08/12

      I’ve had heaps of experience looking after kids….from the nappied variety up to only a few years younger than myself….I think my first go I was about 10 and the other kids in the area knew it was my first time babysitting and hung round the house making weird animal noises scaring the living daylights out of me. But my worst experience was with an only child 2 year old who had been angelic on all but one occasion with me.  This day she would NOT do anything asked, I was unwell and had a migraine and she was a total little monster. In the end I spat it and for the first time ever, raised my voice at her.  It was probably the second last time I ever looked after her - whether it was because her aunt upstairs was home or because her mother changed jobs I don’t remember.  But I got a great reference and seriously, the only time while baby sitting that I’d had a problem….now I have multiple children of my own, speaking quietly is the threat grin

    • Scotchfinger says:

      04:10pm | 30/08/12

      hear hear, the more pissed off I get, the quieter my voice gets - it’s the only way I know to avoid yelling, which usually has a deleterious effect on very young children.

    • RELB says:

      04:02pm | 30/08/12

      I had the experience of babysitting my 2 year old niece and a one point her and one of her little friends (a 2 year old boy).

      A lot of nappy experiences and the little guy turning on the oven decided me to not have kids. The little boy had some fixation with the oven and I was not warned about it, I found the hard way when the hear emanating from the thing caught my attention.

      I am a guy and recently married. I have been trying to keep an open mind regarding children since I do not want my wife to miss out on the experience. Thank god that it seems she does not like them either.

      I have certainly found the best woman for me.

    • Grumpy Pants says:

      05:19pm | 30/08/12

      I hate loud noises and I hate children. Never ask me to babysit your spawn!

    • Loulou says:

      05:39pm | 30/08/12

      Bad experience #1 - At 15 I babysat the school janitor’s kids (2 and 6mo).  He & his wife bolted out the front door when the 2yo wasn’t looking, shortly after telling me they’d never used a babysitter before.  The poor tyke stood by the frosted glass at the front door whimpering the whole time (about 4 hours) and wouldn’t be distracted by anything.  Meanwhile the 6mo woke up and screamed bloody murder for the remaining 2 hours.  It’s the only time I ever rang my mum whilst babysitting!!

      Bad experience #2:  I babysat 2 little shites every Tuesday after school so their mum could go to night shift.  Once the family dog had puppies just as I arrived (ok, so that was kind of cool!) and another time I went to the toilet and the boy (10) went out trick or treating with his friends without telling me, leaving me with his sister (8) and no way of figuring out where he was!!  His father marched him over to our place to apologise later that evening…

 

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