Posted by: Hannah | 06/12/2012

recognition

There is a mom at preschool who consistently calls me a babysitter.

“It must be exhausting, being a babysitter”.

“Oh, this is Ron’s mom, she’s a babysitter”.

“Look at all those kids! I don’t know how you babysitters do it”.

And so on.

I know she doesn’t mean anything by it. I know that the many people I encounter in the run of a week who call me a babysitter don’t mean anything by it, either. Hell, Pixie’s mom calls me a babysitter and she knows what I do here very well.

It grates, though.

To me, a babysitter is the teenaged me – the one who got paid $2 an hour to keep bums clean and kids alive. I counted the minutes until bedtime and then cheerfully raided the fridge (if given permission) while watching anything I could find on cable, which was a huge indulgence for me since my parents had two channels.

These days, I still don’t get paid a whole lot more per hour ($3.30 per for a nine-hour day, praise the lord) but what I do with those hours is much more intensive. I sing songs. I read stories. I kiss boo-boos. I teach manners and sharing and gentleness with pets. I go for nature walks and play Simon Says. I push swings and cheer the littles down the slide. I comfort. I wipe noses (and wipe noses and wipe noses). I toilet train.

As I say on my professional website, I provide a stimulating, loving environment where you know your child will be safe, happy, and loved while you’re at work.

But, me being me, I never correct anyone who calls me a babysitter – I just crack a pained, unnatural-feeling smile and go on with my day.

I asked this question on Facebook and got some hilarious suggestions. I’m combining several and will have business cards printed up, and possibly T-shirts, because DAMN am I tired of being called a babysitter.

Pleased to meet you. My name is Hannah, Saint Awesomesitter, Toddler Whisperer, B.A.

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Responses

  1. One of my commenters called me, as she called her own daycare provider, a “daycarista”. I rather liked it. It seems a respectful term which somehow indicates the art of the job. I also really like Toddler Whisperer. I think I’m going to steal that one. Mwah-ha.

    Possibly because I’m damned near old enough to be your mother (and the mother of many of my clients), I *do* correct people, at least people I’ll see more than occasionally. Or possibly I’m just not as nice as you… 😀

  2. I don’t blame you. I know most people don’t think of it one way or the other, and it’s just a word, but REALLY. It doesn’t encompass what you do.

  3. I think I would make a point of introducing myself as a day care person (what is your chosen term, other than of course Her Saintliness? When I was a child I was looked after by a child minder, which is a step up from babysitter here) before she can tell anyone else what you do. Make a polite point of it!

    • It’s a good question. When I have the chance, I always introduce myself as “running a dayhome” or “I run a small dayhome” or that kind of thing. I never introduce myself as a babysitter. Unfortunately, in the case of the preschool mom in particular, it’s gone on too long – it would feel (to me anyway) really forced to correct her now. Like Mary, I should have done it much sooner.

  4. I hear you, sister! In my work, I still cringe whenever I am referred to as the “ALT” (Assistant Language Teacher), even though I am the one completely responsible for planning and teaching all of my English classes. The homeroom teacher is there for disciplinary purposes (when necessary) and to sometimes help me model dialogue; if anything, they act as MY assistant. My classes are English-only, so the Japanese teachers do not even have to play the role of interpreter! I have gently suggested ELT (English Language Teacher) as an alternative, but the term “ALT” seems to be firmly entrenched in the Japanese lexicon. I know it’s a matter of semantics rather than disrespect, but it still bugs me. What else to do but sigh and go on with my work…

  5. I don’t think there’s any way to correct people without sounding a bit douchey (I still remember the time I asked a woman which midwife had delivered her baby and she very snottily said “Celine CAUGHT her – I delivered her”, which, you know what, when you’re telling the story use whatever terms you want, but when someone else innocently uses a term that’s NOT offensive, just not what you would have chosen, roll with it or risk sounding like a bitch). That said, her calling you a babysitter makes her sound like a twit. Eve only went to daycare one day a week (wait, is ‘daycare’ offensive? Why do you prefer dayhome?) and I called her caregiver The Goddess.

    • In NS, anyway, a ‘daycare’ is a licensed facility with multiple caregivers. In-home unlicensed care is officially termed a ‘dayhome’.

  6. A fellow child care provider has a sign hanging in the entryway of her home that says “I’m NOT a babysitter as I don’t sit on kids!” The picture is of a woman in a robe and hair curlers actually sitting on a child. Another says she can’t be called a “sitter” as she doesn’t sit all day (said with good (false?) humor) What I find more offensive than the term “babysitter” is when people will say with mock adoration “I could NEVER do what you do! Not in a million years!” I’ve never understood why anyone would think it’s polite to say that to a provider? They wouldn’t say it to a lawyer, doctor, business executive, etc. even though it would be more of a truth 😀

    • Ah, yes. The “never in a million years!” thing, always said with a look of faint horror / disgust / disbelief. For pity’s sake, people. It’s child care, not brain surgery or pediatric oncology. Grrr. If I were crafty, I would absolutely make such a sign and hang it by the front door. Gift idea, people!

  7. I prefer “babywrangler” myself.

  8. I get the “never in a million years” shit about homeschooling my sons. I definitely believe it’s all wrapped up in a shit load of judgement.

    Here in BC, “daycare” is used interchangeably for big institutional settings and in-home care. In fact until I started reading your blog, I’d never encountered the term “dayhome.”

    I don’t necessarily see a babysitter as a teenager, but I apply the term only to people who care for a child on a casual or infrequent basis. As an aside: it annoys me when “teacher” is used to describe a caregiver at a daycare or the owner of a preschool. If they don’t have a Bachelor’s in Education and work in a school, they’re not REAL teachers. And yes, I homeschool my kids — that doesn’t make me a teacher, either.

  9. […] the complete and utter disregard for timeliness. Not the disrespect for the job that I do – I am not a ‘babysitter’, thank you so very much. Not even the fact that at drop off time yesterday Luna’s dad assumed […]


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