Childhood nostalgia is in. And back then, we all wished we could be as awesome as Kristi, Mary Ann (and especially) Claudia, and Stacey, the 1980s fab four who started the eponymously-named Babysitters Club. Three times a week, they – and later other friends – met in Claudia’s room, took calls from prospective clients, and set up babysitting jobs. Then, these four seventh-graders … babysat. For real kids. Not all of which were siblings, cousins, or over the age of five.
This, clearly, could never happen today. The halycon days of Stoneybrook are over, friends. The Babysitters Club is closed for business.
You’d go to jail if you hired them. Though state laws vary, some wouldn’t allow a 12 year old to stay home by themselves, let alone watch other kids. You’d get a call from Social Services faster than you can say “middle-school babysitter”. Think I’m exaggerating? This mom was arrrested for letting her thirteen-year-old babysit siblings. I guess junior members Mallory and Jessi are having fun in foster care.
No one lives that close together. Half of the BSC was predicated on walking: walking to Claudia’s house for meetings, walking from school to babysitting jobs. You’d have to live in a high-density urban area for that to work these days, and that means Social Services would scoop up your kids for walking around alone. And no mom is going to drive her kid to Claudia’s house three times a week, in the middle of the dinner hour.
Because that mom is already hauling her middle schooler to soccer, dance, yearbook, lacrosse, or basket-weaving club. Kids these days do things. They don’t sit around on their butts after school. They’ve got scheduled activities, people! If you don’t play lacrosse in sixth grade, you’ll never get that UVA scholarship.
And if that middle-schooler isn’t bulking up her extracurriculars, she’s studying for the latest standardized test. Homework’s a beast, as any parent will tell you. Kids don’t have time to babysit for someone else, what with the onerous homework requirements these days. And remember: if you screw up middle school, say goodbye to Harvard!
The club would close for lack of clients. No one’s going to hire a twelve-year-old these days. Not only is care.com a click away, but we don’t see kids that age as responsible enough to cross the mall alone, let alone supervise smaller children. The National SAFEkids campaign says they shouldn’t even be left alone by themselves. And heaven forbid they try to, say, use a stove or walk to a park.
Insurance would prevent them from doing any of the following: running their own day camp, entering haunted houses, coaching a baseball team, or entering a sailing race and getting marooned on a desert island. No super-specials for these girls. Especially if they tried to do this stuff while watching other kids.
The internet would have killed them. Care.com, craigslist, and other upscale nanny finders out there mean you never have to call an untrained twelve-year-old to watch your kids. That twelve-year-old is too busy snapchatting selfies to her friends, anyway.
Would you have hired the BSC to watch your kids?
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