Maya is getting to the age when she would like to start babysitting, but unlike when I was sitting for neighbor’s kids, here in New York she is up against professional nannies and babysitting services who screen their sitters and use mostly college students majoring in Early Childhood Education with minors in Theater Arts and such. So at only 11 years old she is at a disadvantage.
However. She is her father’s daughter, which means she is nothing if not determined. So when she heard from a friend that the Red Cross offers a class in babysitter training, she was all over it, thinking (and rightly so) that parents might be more likely to leave her with their child if they have proof she’s had some basic first aid, etc. I never had any such training when I began babysitting at around the same age, but the statement “she’ll just use her common sense” is not going to get you hired these days – even if maybe it should.
Anyway, the class was today at the Red Cross building on West 49th St. It started at 10am and was over at 4pm. That’s a lot of hours sitting in a room, especially for someone who has never seen the inside of a traditional classroom except in the movies or on TV. And let me tell you, the frenetic energy level in our apartment for the first hour or so after coming home from the class was through the roof. Sitting in a chair listening to a teacher all day is counter to the natural state of a child, and boy does it show. Imagine what it’s like for schooled children who sit in classrooms 7 hours each day, 5 days of the week!
The post-class briefing she gave me was mostly positive; there were a lot of videos, there was CPR training (a bonus due to the small size of today’s class) basic first aid and general tips on babysitting. For instance, always follow the rules set down by the parents, even if you think they are ridiculous. (I added that last part.) Most importantly, the girls were given a certificate of completion which they can now present to any prospective clients. The Red Cross also provided a cd-rom with business card templates that indicate their completion of the course.
Because of Maya’s age, she is realistic enough to know that her clients will probably be in our building and will be people who know me and Joshua. And that’s more than ok – it’s appropriate for her as a newbie babysitter. But knowing her, if she gets a taste for the business it won’t be long before she’s got others doing the actual sitting – she’ll be the one running the service and taking a percentage of the fees.
Did I mention she’s a lot like Joshua?