Babysitting is the first job for countless teenagers, but just because everyone does it doesn't mean that it's easy. In fact, Babysitting ain't an easy job to do. There's always something - a sick kid, a kid who won't listen, parents who stiff you on the pay, and parents who don't come home at the previously agreed upon time. But all of those still don't compare to the stories found in this collection of awful babysitting tales.
These sitters were asked some of the strangest requests by these parents and made them wonder how their children were surviving in these households. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"I would say the most inappropriate thing I was asked to do was hit the children. It was never going to happen, but I knew in the first minute and a half of that job that I would never go back.
I was either 12 or 13 years old at the time. The woman called me after another woman I babysat for every once in a while had recommended me. The first woman was no delight to sit for either. She once counted popcorn kernels in a paper bag with each child's name on it. Each child could have no more than 50 kernels in their microwaved lunch bag of popcorn.
It was a weird vibe just walking in. The mom was sort of wild-eyed hostile for no apparent reason, and it was chaotic from the get-go. She had two beautiful little girls, one of whom was a young preschooler who didn't speak. The little girl saw me, toddled partway over, stooped to pick up a dead squirrel by the tail, and held it up so I could see it. Without hesitation or a single word, the mom backhanded the child across the face and sent her flying. She kicked the squirrel aside, picked up the girl, smacked her on the bottom, and told me to follow her into the house. At least one time, and probably more during her instructions to me, she told me to 'just smack 'em' if they did anything wrong.
Yeah, no, I'm not doing that.
The fun part of all of this was that after she gave me my instructions, she placed a big stack of cash on the microwave. Then, she turned around, pointed a finger at my face, and told me that if any was gone, she'd know I had stolen it. Her husband ended up getting home before she did, and he paid me from the microwave cash before driving me home. I was never asked back. I wouldn't have gone, but I always wondered if she went back and saw money missing and yelled that she knew it."
"I looked after a baby for an entire night without pay when I was 8 years old. I did a bit of babysitting and was asked to look after a baby, so I rode my bike about 10 miles to get to their place. The kid was a lot younger than I had been used to looking after, and she showed me how to change the diapers.
Then, she left and didn't really say when she was back. So, I fell asleep on the couch, woke up a few times, and checked on the baby. It was the '80s, so there were no mobile phones, and I just assumed this is what I was supposed to do.
She turned up at about 8 the next morning, thanked me for the babysitting, and I waited awkwardly until I realized I wasn't getting paid, so I rode back home. In retrospect, that is some next level irresponsibility, even by '80s standards. I also still don't get how she thought that it wouldn't be paid."
"I was considered a 'catch' as a babysitter because I had experience with newborns. I was about 10 years old, and my older sister was living with us because her husband was deployed. I don't know where or why. At this time, we were not at war with anybody, but the Russians were not our friends. I did the 'drop and cover' drills at school, but we grew up at ground zero (the Naval shipyard was maybe a mile away across the open water of the bay), and I knew enough about the atom bomb to know that there wouldn't be any survivors if someone dropped one around our neighborhood.
The kids I was sitting for were a 6-year-old boy, a 5-year-old boy, and a 6-month-old girl. The parents lived about five miles inland from where we lived. The parents were paranoid about the Russians. They were sure they were going to be landing in Puget Sound any day now. They had a bomb shelter in the backyard, and every time I sat for them, they would run a drill making sure I knew how to get in and seal it. I thought it was kind of fun. I had a big family, and a private 'fort' that I could sit in all alone was appealing.
On this particular night, there had been a lot of items on the news that were scary. The parents told me that they were going to Seattle for dinner and a concert an hour away by ferry, and would be home late. Then, the mother turned to me with a serious expression. If there was an attack, she said, she wanted to make sure the baby was not left. The boys would be OK, but she wanted me to suffocate the baby so the 'enemy' would not get her.
I was horrified, and I told her I couldn't do that. She insisted that I do it, and her husband agreed with her. I finally stammered something about there wouldn't be any attack and left it at that. We watched TV after they left and everyone was asleep. The baby was a bit fussy, so I rocked her awhile. But looking down at that innocent face, I knew I could not harm her in any way.
Fortunately, there was no attack that night. When they got home, they paid me, and then the husband took me home. When I got there, my dad was still up, half-asleep in his recliner. When he asked me how things had gone, I burst into tears and sobbed out the whole, awful story. He got me calmed down and said I wouldn't be babysitting for them again. I think he called the couple and talked to them about it.
But asking a 10-year-old to kill the baby, if there was an enemy attack - that one gave me nightmares for a while."
"I would babysit for a friend of my parents when I was between the ages of 12 and 15. The parents were big partiers, but I actually liked the fact that they stayed out late because I was paid by the hour. They would come home wasted and, eventually, the father started asking me to drive myself home in his new BMW.
He would sit in the passenger seat while I drove and drive himself back to his place after dropping me off. I'm sure he thought this was a safer alternative to him driving me home wasted, but not only was I underage, but I was also not a particularly good driver.
Unfortunately, years later, his wife killed herself in a single-car accident involving drinking. It was sad that her children lost their mother, and I had always liked her despite her issues."
"My big sister and I both had to grow up pretty quick, so by the time I was 11, I was already getting requests for babysitting. These were all people from the estate and my parents knew them, so it was deemed safe enough for me to go down the street for a few hours on a Friday or Saturday night. My rates were $10 up until midnight, and then $3 for every hour after.
I was watching some kids one night and their parents called at midnight.
Parent: 'Oh, do you mind staying another couple of hours? Somethings come up.'
Me: 'Don't worry, that's fine, what ti-'
Parent: 'Oh that's great, oh, and if anyone knocks on the door, ignore it.' Click.
What? I brushed it off and thought, hey, that's another $8.
At 2 am, they weren't back yet, but I decided to give them another half an hour before I started calling. I tried calling them at 2:45, but couldn't get an answer. At 3 am there was a knock at the door. It wasn't the children's parents or my parents (they have a key and would have let themselves in), so I did my best to ignore it.
A few minutes later, at 3:05, there was a knock at the window, which was followed by 15 minutes of knocking and shouting to let some man in the house because he knew we were in there. The kids woke up, and the man knocking turned out to be their dad, but there was no way I could let him in. I herded the children back upstairs and waited it out.
Several hours and multiple unanswered calls later....
At 7:30, the kids woke up and kept asking, 'Where's our mum?' I had no clue, so I told them, "Oh, she just had to bob to the office, she'll be back soon.'
Their mom finally walked through the door at 8 am, wasted off her bum with her phone in her hand. I put her to bed and took the $40 out of her purse and put on a DVD for the kids.
Obviously, I never babysat for her again."
"When I was around 13, I babysat occasionally for a couple kids. When the parents returned, the wife would stay with the kids while the dad drove me home. One night, as we were approaching my house, he started telling me how pretty I was and what a gorgeous chest I had, meanwhile pointedly leering at it. He pulled the car over just down the street from my house and asked me if he could touch them.
Being shocked and totally naive, I had no idea what to say or do. I felt really uncomfortable and creeped out but I told him, 'OK.' He fondled them for a moment and, while he was doing that, I opened the door and stepped out, told him goodnight, and hurried off to my house. I was glad that they never called me to babysit for them again.
When my own daughter was old enough to babysit, I told her there was no reason ever for the husband or any male to drive her home alone. I told her that if that was ever to be the case, to politely decline and tell them that I wanted to pick her up and she was supposed to call me when she was ready for a ride."
"In 1972, I was in my late teens. I was living with my (crazy) mother, cats, our dog, and on welfare with very little money. I cleaned house once a week for an old Romanian woman and her crazy, perverted adult son, but I needed more money. I was asked to babysit three kids, while the mother was in the hospital for surgery, and the father worked. The parents were bearded and toothless, and that was just the mother. She was the type who lived in a housedress, had a huge, sagging chest, no bra, slippers, and gray, bedraggled hair. The father was almost invisible as he was mouselike and cowed by his shrew wife. The three children were Dickensian, pale, skinny wraiths with lank hair and dead eyes. The girl was the eldest, at 11 or 12, still completely undeveloped, and looked about nine. The two boys were 10 and 6.
I was supposed to watch them, feed them (bologna sandwiches on white bread), and wait for their father to get home and take over. The time-frame was from 3 p.m. to 7 or 8 p.m. for a full week. The first few days were uneventful, with the kids being loud and generally obnoxious, but not offensive to me personally. However, the food ran out pretty quickly and I began to supplement it by using my money to get something beyond bologna and bread. I asked the father for grocery money. He claimed he had none, but said his wife would pay me back. As the week wore on, these things happened:
The girl asked me if I have ever made love. I told her no, and she asked, 'Why not?' I explained that I did not want to get pregnant. She said, 'You could use a Rubber Johnny.' I was shocked that she not only knew about them, but had a slang name for them. The older brother would try to rub up against me and cop a feel at my chest. On the last day, the three of them were out of control - screaming, running around and behaving worse than usual. I locked myself in the bathroom to go pee and, while I was in there, they barricaded the door with a portable wringer washing machine, so I could not get out. When the father came home, I was finally released.
The father asked me if I had ever posed for photographs. Birthday Suit photos. Meanwhile, I had spent a week cleaning, doing laundry, watching his spawn, and feeding them out of my own money. I was furious.
When the mother came home, I went to their house to get paid ($15). She refused to pay me, saying I had done nothing, that I had eaten the bologna left for her kids, had not cleaned, or done laundry. I told her I had even used my own money to buy groceries for her brats. I explained that I needed the money for food for my mother and myself. She just laughed, while her children danced around her like imps of Satan, laughing along with her. As I ascended the three flights of stairs from their apartment, they threw garbage at me, saying, 'Here, eat this if you are so hungry!'
Note: the eldest daughter had 'accidentally' thrown an infant sibling over the third floor railing and killed it one year earlier. Another child was in an institution, though I never found out why.
When I had my baby girl a few years later, I crossed paths with the girl. She wanted to see my baby, but I refused to let her, and whisked the baby carriage away quickly and made away from this little golem in haste. The house where they lived was eventually torn down. I expect that no good came to any of them."
"I babysat this family's little girl from infancy, to about 8 years old. The family was weird. The little girl was always difficult to put to bed. She'd whine and cry and stall to prolong nighttime.
One day, while getting her ready for bed, she pointed up at the medicine cabinet over the sink and said, 'Tussin?'
She was almost 2 years old. At first, I just nodded my head, 'Mhmm, yeah.' She gave me this look of frustration and thrust her finger into the air, again pointing at the medicine cabinet and shouting, 'TUSSIN' TUSSIN' TUSSIN'!'
I opened the cabinet and there it was: a bottle of liquid cough syrup. Not just the regular kind either. This was Robitussin-AC. It contains codeine. She was clapping as I stared at the bottle. I closed the cabinet and shook my head as she wailed over and over, 'TUSSIN' T-UUUHHHH-SSINNN!' That particular night, it took a piece of chocolate and five books to get her to fall asleep.
I couldn't let it go. I swear, nothing is creepier or more sickening than to hear a young child beg for Robitussin. My mother never gave us cough syrup or any of that rubbish (Tylenol, Motrin, and prescribed antibiotics only). I would never in my life ingest that stuff, let alone give it to a toddler. Let alone give a toddler medicine that contains narcotics! I looked the mother dead in the eyes when she came home that night, told her what her daughter was saying, and that it was really strange. She just laughed and said, 'Yeah! It helps her sleep.'
What is wrong with that lady? How do some people make it into old age? If she makes those kinds of decisions, what else is she messing up? Inevitably, she and her husband were divorced and he, not shockingly, obtained full custody of the kid. They were both bizarre, but she more so than he. ROBITUSSIN. C'mon."
"From the time I was 11 to 13, I babysat for a couple who lived eight blocks away from my house. They had one child and both parents were doctors. They were in their late-30s when they had their kid, which was considered old in the '70s. They were nice people, and I babysat for them almost every Saturday night. Their kid was usually in bed by the time I got there, so I didn't do much. When they got home, they would pay me a dollar an hour.
The worst part? The husband would ask me if I could walk home by myself. He was always tired and not in any condition to walk or drive. What was I supposed to say? 'No'? So, I would bolt home, scared out of my pants. If my parents were home, I would call my dad to come get me. Sometimes, he was sleeping and he had to get out of bed. The doctors would make me wait out front for him, too. They needed their sleep. Other times, my parents were out, too.
This made my parents furious - that this couple would not provide me with transportation home at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night after babysitting. It also bugged my dad that they never rounded up my pay. This went on for about six months. Finally, my mom had enough. The next time the doctors called me to babysit, she scolded them for not escorting or driving me home. This was all unprompted by me. My mother is a lovely woman who everyone likes. She is a great listener, is very optimistic, has a good sense of humor and is a genuinely kind, good person. But don't cross her, her husband, or her children.
'Listen, Dr. N,' she told him, 'my daughter is no longer going to babysit for you if you will not drive or walk her home at the end of the night. My husband and I don't think it is our responsibility to pick her up. We raised three daughters and had plenty of sitters over the years. We always gave them rides home or put them in a cab. Always. You need to step up and take this responsibility.'
I was floored. My mom was full of calm, but righteous indignation. It was beautiful to witness.
'And for the record,' she added, 'I know this is your first child, so you may not know these things, but it's customary to round up when calculating the pay. The quarter hour payment is ridiculous. Especially because you're not driving her home. Surely you can spare a few quarters for your son.'
My mom schooled the doctors! It was beautiful. Mrs. Doc apologized profusely and thanked my mother for letting her know. She said that she and her husband were grateful that I was always available and that I was close by. From then on, they would drive me home and round up. I continued to babysit for them until high school. Then, I got a life."
"The mother of this family (let's call her 'Mrs. Z') is about 10 years older than me and grew up two doors down from my childhood home. She used to babysit my sisters and me. We always had a blast and adored her! Fast forward about seven years. I was 16 years old, and it was my turn to be the sitter for her two children.
Mr. and Mrs. Z were wealthy. They were the type of rich people who were so loaded that they didn't care about price tags. They would give me all the cash they happened to have laying around at the end of the day. I remember being paid anywhere from $350 to $500 a day, for a nine-hour day. Let's average that and say I was paid $400 a day. That's $44 an hour. That was me in 2006, 16 years old and being paid an hourly wage of some veterinarians.
I remember being handed this wad of cash after my first day, thinking it rude to glance at the bills in front of them, but then feeling inclined to do so after realizing the weight of the money. I felt uncomfortable and uncivilized accepting this much money. However, when I opened my mouth to protest, they just smiled and apologized that it really wasn't enough, thanking me over and over again.
You know that scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta opens the briefcase that probably has, like, Marsellus Wallace's soul in it? Yeah. That's what it feels like when you're just barely legal to drive and you're stuffing a roll of dead presidents into your faded, pink PacSun shorts before riding back home on your bicycle.
During the summer, both children attended camp. The eldest went to the park district and the youngest was enrolled in an academic-type program for autistic children. Mrs. Z would be gone by the time I arrived in the morning and Mr. Z would leave shortly thereafter for work. The only responsibilities I had were as follows: put the little boy on the bus in the morning, drive the girl to her summer camp a few minutes up the street, retrieve them both at the end of the day, make them dinner. The parents weren't the 'Here's a list of exactly what to do/make the kids for dinner' type. They were more of the 'Dinner? Oh yeah, chicken nuggets? Brownies? They like brownies!' type. Who doesn't want brownies for dinner? Whatever, we're all eating brownies for dinner and don't you complain! And we did. A half an hour in the morning and an hour for when the kids were back from camp - they told me to just stay and hang out for the time in between.
So, I had just turned 16 and didn't have a car. No problem! The Zs had a few to lend me. The first morning of babysitting Mr. Z was running a little late and hurriedly pointed to a set of keys on the counter as he flew out the door. I knew of three cars they owned. The red Corvette wasn't parked in the garage and Mr. Z sped away in his BMW, leaving the new, dark silver Hummer H3 sitting on the street all by its lonesome.
I panicked. There was no 'OK, we're leaving you the new Hummer. Be careful' conversation. Nothing. These people gave the keys to a $54,000 vehicle to a 16-year-old Chicago kid with mismatched socks. I remember calling the mom like, 'Hey, Mr. Z left me the keys to the Hummer, but I could just walk Mary to school.'
She said something to the effect of, 'What? Are you insane? Take it! Go shopping while the kids are away! Go get some coffee or a manicure!'
Just like that. Like it wasn't anything. Like I was crazy for even hesitating.
So, that's exactly what I did. For a kid like me, a teenage girl growing up in a working-class household in the city, this was totally unreal. I felt special. To be honest, though, I was probably the best person to trust with all this stuff. I was responsible and, though, at times, a bit rude, I would never take advantage of privileges given to me. I remember driving that thing through the well-to-do suburb they lived in. I'd pick up a couple of my girlfriends and we'd ride around, smiling and waving at guys like we were the most boss things in existence. It was good times.
The Zs were always kind and generous. For the following two New Year's Eves, they offered to take me on vacation in Aruba, to help out with the children. I, of course accepted and it was one of the coolest things I've ever done. It was an unimaginable opportunity for me, especially at that age. They paid for everything of mine (airfare, hotel room, meals, drinks) and even paid me at the end of the trip.
I did have to do a lot of work on these trips and at home when the kids didn't have programs or school. The little boy was autistic, so many everyday tasks were challenging. He was a sharp kid and was sweet, I just had to learn different ways of communicating with him in order to break through his sensory issues. Caring for him required patience and deep breathing. When he would get agitated or tired, he would throw horrendous screaming tantrums and it would take an hour at times to calm him down. It was unnerving, but he's doing a lot better now and is getting all the help he needs. The little girl was cute and all that, but she was quite spoiled and precocious for her age; she was a handful!
I found it a little unconventional that Mrs. Z bought me a lot of expensive things on vacation. It was thoughtful and charitable of her, but it did make me feel a little uneasy to accept these gifts. Mr. Z was the breadwinner of the household, so Mrs. Z was given hefty allowances. Mr. Z wasn't too frugal, but would make it obvious when he felt like his wife's spending was unnecessary. On one occasion while out with the family, she asked him to look at a pair of ridiculously expensive leather boots she was dead-set on owning. I don't remember the brand, but it was either Gucci or Burberry. He whined and said, 'C'mon, it's the recession.'
To my horror, she and her daughter immediately started laughing and mocked him, 'It's the recession. It's the recession!'
I was embarrassed for them in a way and felt so out of place. He caved and bought them for her.
So yeah, in my opinion, the above listed (and some not included) are not common or appropriate things to offer to a babysitter. However, I am NOT complaining! It was fantastic, but personally, I would never trust a 16-year-old with a fifty-four thousand dollar vehicle. Or pay them $400 for doing two hours of work. I wish I could quit my job and go back to babysitting for the Zs. Unfortunately, the kids are able to look after themselves now."
"In high school, I babysat just one night for these strange parents who were friends of my grandmother (who was not a nice woman and didn't have nice friends).
The children were two 5-year-olds within a few months of each other. One was adopted. The parents told me that their biological son, 'X,' was allowed to play Grand Theft Auto in his bedroom for as long as he wanted (well into the night) and that they had a stash of candy for just him and there were no restrictions. Yes, he was a brat.
But then the parents told me about the other 5-year-old, 'Y,' whom they had adopted a few months prior. They actually told me, 'He's not allowed to leave the living room because he's adopted.'
And that was their only reasoning. Their only explanation. Because he was adopted. Y had to stay in the living room and just watch TV while X, the biological son of his new parents, played video games in his own bedroom.
It was shocking and, to this day, I can't fathom or understand those people's reasoning. Also, I can't imagine what else he was denied or how else his treatment was altered just because he was adopted."