Back to the Future, 1968

back to the future, babysitting, 1970I needed the money, so I accepted the request. The two little Beemer boys were hellions, but the good news was that Dr. Beemer and his wife didn’t need me until 7 o’clock. I’d let the kids watch their favorite show – Gilligan’s Island – feed them some cookies, and then get them to bed by 8.

Gulligan's Island, babysitting

So this is the tale of our castaways,
they’re here for a long, long time.
They’ll have to make the best of things,
it’s an uphill climb.
(Gilligans Theme Song Lyrics | MetroLyrics)

I walked over to their house at 6:55. Hard to believe that that they lived right next door. Once I went inside that house, it was if I were miles away. Mrs. Beemer came to the door a second after I rang the bell. I was sure she couldn’t wait to get out of there. She was not in control of that household. Neither was the good doctor.

Even though it was May, 1968, Mrs. Beemer dressed like 1955. She wore a lime green shirtdress that was tight at the waist with a thin belt, and the skirt billowed out to two inches below her knees. Her brown hair was cut short and rolled into tight curls.

Her husband, a Ph.D. psychology professor, looked even odder.  He was a small man, but his bald, shiny scalp made him look taller. His thick, stubby body was covered in a suit two sizes too big. His brown leather clown shoes emphasized huge feet, and his round face was highlighted by pale blue eyes enlarged behind clear spectacles.

I looked at husband and wife as they struggled to calm down their two sons, 8 and 7. It was obvious they were late-in-life parents, and they didn’t have a clue about how to raise children.

Worse, Dr. Beemer was a child psychologist so he spoke knowingly to me after each of my babysitting nights about the way to rear children: never raise your voice, never discipline, never disagree with your child. I had Tastykake, babysittingascertained at the young age of 15 that I would do the opposite when I became a mother.

Just as Mrs. Beemer finally got Jimmy down in front of the T.V. with a Tastycake – I guessed blackmail was on the “to do” list of childrearing – the telephone rang. As she ran into the kitchen to answer it, Dr. Beemer looked at me with a tilt of his head and asked, “Have you ever read Erickson’s work?” As I shook my head no, not surprised by his question since this was how our conversations generally went, he continued, “I left a copy of his newest book here for you,” and he pointed to the living room coffee table, dirty with stains from the kids’ latest finger-painting project.

Mrs. Beemer returned from the other room, looking stricken. “Aunt Maude is in the hospital. I have to get there immediately.”

“Yes you do,” Dr. Beemer agreed, nodding his head. “I’ll call and cancel for tonight’s event.  He dug into his pocket and brought out a five dollar bill, handing it to me as he said, “We’re sorry. Now your evening is ruined.”

I was immensely relieved. The house seemed stranger than usual. “I can’t take this,” I said, not accepting the money. Considering I was lucky if I made $3.50 when I watched the kids for three hours, $5.00 was exorbitant.

He kept the money out as he walked me toward the front door. “You know, Pam, I saw this coming in my dream last night. Well, not my dream exactly. I disassociated while in my light stage of sleep. Have you done that yet? I leave my body with just a thin string attached to my soul, for a want of a better word.”

out of body experience, babysitting, Erickson

“Um, no, I don’t think I’ve done that yet,” I answered, grabbing the five dollars from his hand and dashing away from the door, away from the front yard, and back to the safety of anywhere else.

Ah, babysitting memories – what’s your favorite one?


39 thoughts on “Back to the Future, 1968

  1. I think my favorite worst babysitting memory is when I agreed to spend my summer babysitting full-time for a single mother of two boys from church. In her instructions before she left them with me (more like, left me with them!) the first time, she said in passing, “Don’t spank them because child services is coming next week and the boys will tell on you and then there will be another investigation.”

    I only made it three hours with these “boys”.

    • Oh my, that definitely fits the handle of a ‘horror’ babysitting job. Fortunately you were smart enough to get out of it sooner rather than later! I had to laugh at your first comment – we tend to sugar-coat the past, but yes, people were just as weird ‘back then.’
      Thanks for your comments – wonderful.

    • Babysitting was a great way for me to earn some money, and to discover as a young teenager that not everyone lived as my family did. It’s also a great natural method of birth control – you know you don’t want kids for a LONG time!!

  2. For a while I babysat with two kids who had just moved here from Sweden, or Norway, or one of those… They couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak any of their language. Wish I had used that opportunity to learn that language!

  3. Love the detail in this story…I can really “see” this couple.
    My worst babysitting memory is when the electricity went out when I was babysitting (I was in my teens). Unfortunately what came to my head was the “Halloween” movie; I was so scared I had to call my mother to come over and sit with me. I never got hired by those people again! LOL!

  4. Sorry for laughing and spewing coffee all over your post. No disrespect intended.
    My life was school and babysitting. My worst experience was babysitting for a couple who didn’t come home all weekend. I had not expected that. The kids’ beds had no bedding and the fridge was empty except for a few eggs.

  5. Ah, the delights of babysitting. It could be scary at times, but I spent my final year in high school caring for 3 very sweet children, and a lovely family. Other jobs were not quite so satisfying. I started when I was 12/13, and my pay was .25/ hour. That was definitely a long, long time ago. 🙂

    • I don’t hear of teenagers babysitting as much as we used to in ‘our day.’ I remember being so happy when my rates went up to 75 cents an hour. Hey, I saved for my prom dress that way!

  6. What a couple of “expert parents” for sure! Maybe this is why I never had an interest in babysitting – it’s not the children, it’s the parents who need help. Looking forward to perusing your lovely blog! Be well. ~ Karen~

    • I’m thrilled to have discovered your blog. Your writing is heartfelt and as honest as it gets – which of course is the best kind. Yes, many times as a teenager, while babysitting, I thought, “I can do much better than these parents.” I do think those experiences helped me in my own parenting – many years later!

  7. Never raise your voice?
    Never discipline?!
    Never disagree with your child?!!

    After all that, the “string attached to my soul” thing sounds perfectly normal.

    Yowza. You deserved at least ten bucks from that crew.

  8. Oh Pam that sure brought back memories – Wasn’t there a barking all the time dog too??? mom

    Please note: message attached

    • Forgot about the poor barking dog. Yes, they left him outside with no attention, ever. That’s why I wanted to babysit there. As soon as the parents left, I let the dog into the house!

  9. When I came to the US my first job was babysitting two children for a full time working mom. I had the children for five hours every day. I had a wonderful time improving my English skills and playing with them in the pool. It was a great experience learning the American way of life.

    • Now YOU were a wonderful babysitter. Weren’t they lucky to have you? Did you teach the kids some German? And do you still have contact with them? Thanks for stopping by here – enjoyed your artichoke recipe!

  10. My last babysitting duty was on 7th July 1968. I remember it distinctly as the BBC was screening The Seekers’ farewell concert. Goodness knows if the poor child was OK or not 🙂

  11. I used to sit for the woman next door who had absolutely no sense of smell (it was a medical condition) and the aroma of the dirty nappies would nearly knock me over every time I walked into the house 😉

    • Ohhh, yuck! Reminds me of the babysitting job I had with a family who had a St. Bernard, who slobbered over every single living and non-living thing in that house. And his slobber smelled much like dirty diapers. I had to throw my clothes in the washing machine after each babysitting job there.

  12. I didn’t babysit anyone else’s kids enough to have any horror stories. My brother is 11 years younger than I am so he was about 5 when I started dating. I used to take him with me everywhere I went. At that age I did not look 16, I looked 20 and my little bro looked exactly like me so people use to think he belonged to me. “Your little boy is so cute!” and I would say, “Yeah, he’s my little brother!” to which they would respond with a wink and say, “Oh…ok” Whatever……I got tired of correcting people and he was a perfect child and beautiful so I let people think whatever they wanted! My boyfriend at the time didn’t appreciate it though! ha ha ha!

    • That is a very sweet story of big sister and cute adorable little brother. However, I certainly can understand why your boyfriend might not have been too thrilled. Chuckle chuckle.

  13. Haha, what a great babysitting memory! My worst was babysitting for a very wealthy Wayland family in their very elegant mansion … the family dog decided he didn’t like me and proceeded to take a big poop on the living room rug. After getting the kids to bed, I scrubbed and scrubbed but couldn’t get the stain or the smell out of the house…they never hired me again.

    • You bring up another good point about the challenge of babysitting – the scrubbing and worrying about the messes. And the fact that half the time we had to ‘babysit’ the dog and gerbil and rabbit too.
      I think that family did you a favor, not inviting you back. Jeez! xo

  14. Oh goodness, great story though! I never really did babysitting as such, not in a paid way. But there was one occasion when, hmmm, I guess I was maybe 11, and I was asked to look after my maybe 6 year old cousin for the day at my house. I lived in London and I was used to traveling around London on my own on the underground train and buses and whatever, so I decided that’s what I would do with my cousin. So we spent the day on and off the underground, walking around central London, having lunch out, browsing the shops etc, it all went fine, and I thought nothing of it. But my cousin’s mother (my aunt obviously!) was horrified later that evening when she came to collect her daughter to discover we had been doing that, when she had imagined we were just safely at home watching TV and playing board games. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why she was cross that we had done that without telling or asking anyone, I had always roamed the streets on my own from a young age, so it didn’t occur to me that it wouldn’t be ok. It wasn’t till tears later when I became a parent myself and looked back, I thought “Oh right, THAT’S why she wasn’t happy about it.”

    • What a story. The sad thing is that your ‘little’ cousin probably doesn’t remember the fun and then the drama of that babysitting day.
      I see both sides of the story: the bewilderment from your 11-year-old self, and the total fear/anger on your aunt’s side. Sure hope the aunt/niece relationship recovered!

    • Babysitting must have made a big impact in my teenage years, because I could sit here and write at least 3 other “can you believe it?” babysitting stories. Don’t worry, I won’t. :-0
      My man’s main response when he read this was, “Did you really take the $5?” Jeez, people sure respond to stories in different ways, don’t they?

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