Focus: Working Isn't Worth It

March 29, 2008
The world we live in today is constantly shifting and fluctuating. New means of pleasure are being invented and introduced everyday - ipods, cell phones, gameboys - the list goes on and on. The new millennium has countless more means of enjoyment than our parents had, but is that really a good thing? Kids live to earn money. Our perhaps I should rephrase… kids live to get money. For those innumerable adolescents who can’t get a job, but want some cash on the side, nature has provided a simple solution: babysitting.

I remember when I thought the most important thing in the world was having a new pair of pants from the GAP. You know how it is, love at first sight I mean. Strolling down the crowded walkways of the mall you happen to glance at a store window. Immediately, the contents have you hooked, with just a simple glimpse your attention is grabbed and every other issue takes backseat to you getting this item. For me, it was a simple pair of jeans. The cut was cute, the wash was wonderful and I promptly sprinted into the store to bag them… until I saw the price. With three other siblings in my family, my mother didn’t find my need for pants as pressing as buying shoes that actually fit, so, I reluctantly trudged out of the store. It was a pricey item, but you know what they say. People want what they can’t have.

The solution to my problem came to me at the dinner table when my parents suggested earning the money myself. Of course: babysitting! Eager for the chance to work I had my dad call some friends and ask if they needed any help with their offspring. Being the over-protective people that they were, not just anyone was suitable, so that by the time we had narrowed down the possibilities, there weren’t any left. I proceeded to sulk around the house for a week until I got a call from my grandmother. She knew a close friend from work with two children who needed to be watched. Her fiancée was an artist and participated in the city’s artwork once per month. The children were three and seven years old, and I would be getting 5.50$ an hour. It wasn’t exactly the price I was aiming for, but I gladly accepted regardless. I had no idea what I was getting into.

The big day finally rolled around the corner, and I was ready. The woman’s boyfriend picked me up from my house and drove me to their abode. I didn’t like him at all, he talked too much and he kept on patting me: on the shoulder, on the back, etc. Nothing that ever made me feel uncomfortable though, his personality just irritated me. Nonetheless, I remained polite and courteous.
Their home was wasn’t exactly what I had expected. The pale yellow paint was peeling off in some places and the browning bushes needed attending to. Broken, plastic toys littered the lawn and the windows were a dirty mess, but I held my chin high. After being introduced to the children, the parents proceeded to hurry away and leave me with their supposedly precious, daughter and son. It was a nightmare! For the entire duration of my stay, they little boy ceaselessly pounded on his little sister and trashed everything in sight. The little girl complained she was hungry constantly and made up lies about any and everything. It was out of control! When I finally got them tired and tucked in bed, the small girl, Amy, threw a tantrum and went into convulsive hysterics, all the while, begging for her mother. The same cycle of events continued for several months, each time I visited the level of bad behavior escaladed. The last night I was there was particularly awful. Little Amy would simply not go to bed. As a last resort I called her mommy’s cell phone and asked her what to do, I simply couldn’t handle it. Her answer? “Go ahead and spank her then, I don’t mind.” I was mortified, I had known these children for a long time, but I couldn’t bear the thought of hitting that poor girl. When they finally got home I quit. It just wasn’t worth it. I had had enough of those horrible children and their mother.
That was the last I saw of them for a lengthy period. I hadn’t made a lot of money and I preferred not to dwell on the memories. A few months later I was lounging on the couch with my mom when the phone rang: it was my grandmother. Amy and her brother had been removed from the custody of their mother and stepfather. At her daycare a teacher had discovered a multitude of bruises on Amy’s back when she bent over. After further investigation on the matter, the police had found that the parents were starving them. A common punishment consisted of revoked meals for as much as a day at a time. Not only were they cruel and horrible parents, but the new stepfather was a sexual predator. As soon as I heard the news my insides spilt and tears came to my eyes. I couldn’t have possibly felt any guiltier. I was sure that I should have noticed something, some sign of abuse or neglect, but I hadn’t. And to think, it all started over a lousy pair of pants. It kind of puts your priorities in perspective. Needless to say, I don’t baby-sit any more.

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