Ready to Launch

Sometimes I think I that even now, at age 38, the Baby-Sitters Club figures too much into my daily life.

When Georgia struggles with her handwriting and spelling, I remind myself that Claudia Kishi was a poor student but a brilliant artist.

When Ruby grapples with having to live so far from her dad, I try to remember that Dawn Schafer and Stacey McGill also saw their fathers infrequently and Kristy’s dad wasn’t even in the picture at all. (I don’t even allow myself to think about the fact that Dawn ultimately moved out to California in Book 88.)

From ages 8 to maybe 11, I was an avid reader of the series. On my deathbed, I will be able to name all of the Pike children and accurately pick each baby-sitter’s distinct handwriting out of a lineup like a forensic document examiner.

And so I’m really having a hard time wrapping my brain around Ruby turning 12 – the same age the original four sitters are when the series launches with “Kristy’s Great Idea.”

She seems too young to baby-sit, let alone have crushes or a steady boyfriend like Logan Bruno (Book 10). I know I baby-sat at that age – almost every Friday and Saturday night in middle school was spent watching my two main charges, Heather and Andrew (both of whom now have kids of their own), building Legos, binging cartoons on Nickelodeon, eating pizza, and talking to my friends on the phone (only once the kids had gone to bed because I was a good baby-sitter). I socked a small fortune away in my jewelry box and would occasionally use the money to buy presents for the kids, telling my friends matter-of-factly, “Well, you have to spend money to make money.”

Ruby is every bit as capable and mature as I was at that age … and yet I am somehow reluctant to leave her home alone – and definitely not in charge of someone else. This, despite her having her own cell phone and laptop, far more than I had at my disposal for emergency situations back in 1992.

I don’t know if this is because we’re all over-parenting our children now or if no parent ever fully feels ready for this step. Mostly, I’m following Ruby’s lead. When she tells me she’s confident in her baby-sitting abilities, I’ll start exploring the possibilities.

Until then, I might try to decide if she’s more of a Stacey or a Shannon Kilborne, but I know in my heart, she’ll always be my baby and not my baby-sitter.


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