From Our Readers

Lies The Baby-Sitter’s Club Told Me

Between the grades 3 and 8 I read the entire Baby-sitter’s Club series.  Before school, during school, after school, at home…you get the idea. I even read the books Mallory narrated (even though I really didn’t want to).  The more I read about this group of young teenage girls the more my imagination began to confuse these stories with expectations for reality. I began to daydream about what I would be like at the mature age of 14. So you can imagine my surprise when I find myself in middle school looking and acting anything but mature, beautiful and chilly. Chilly meaning being awesome, not that I was actually cold!

To my relief middle school is over and I have grown out of that awkward phase in life. A phase I thought I would bypass entirely as it seemed to with my mentors, the girls of Stoneybrook, Connecticut. Now that I have matured for realsies, I am able to take a fond look back at my beloved childhood story heroes and call them out on some of their sh*t.

Lie #1: Unless you’re Mallory Pike, you will not go through an awkward phase.

This allusion probably wasn’t helped any with the cover art that was put on the front of the books. With all the girls and their long, shiny hair hanging all over the place. Not to mention all the descriptions we’ve endured reading about Claudia eating endless supplies of candy and junk food with not a pimple to be seen. Yes, I turned a blind eye to reality here and thought for a mere moment that I too would be tall, slim and acne free at age 14. Not so my friends! I too wore the dreaded glasses and braces combo a la our good friend Mal Pike.

Lie #2: Traveling sans adults to Hawaii, Europe and NYC is plausible if you’re with a group of other 14 year old girls. Nothing bad will happen.

Of course when I was reading the series, all these trips abroad, on cruise lines, to giant metropolis without any supervision didn’t faze me. “Oh the things I get to look forward to,” I probably thought with a smile as I turned the page and read about Abby staring in an advertisement for a foul-smelling sun block. Granted at the time I was barely allowed to walk around the mall without an adult, never mind vacationing with my friends. Damn, I’m a full grown adult and I still haven’t taken a vacation with my girlfriends yet.

Lie #3: Even if you’re Mallory Pike, you will land yourself your first boyfriend between the ages of 11-14.

Nope. This did not happen. And it would continue not to happen well into high school. By this time I had grown so desperate that I was this close to becoming the school slut and getting handouts when I could get them. Thanks, BSC.

Lie #4: You will reach maximum maturity level by the eighth grade.

No matter how much you try to fool yourself when you’re 14, you will not be mature. You’ll want to be a mature adult in every way possible, you’re about to be in high school for goodness sakes! But once you find yourself five years later getting sick at a friend’s house from one too many shots of Captain Morgan the night before Thanksgiving, you’ll realize it’s all been a sham. Mature people don’t get hungover on Thanksgiving.

Lie #5: The children will always behave and listen to you when you babysit (And the parents will always return home by midnight; ten on the weekdays if you’re under 13).

Truth be told my babysitting career ended around the age fourteen or so. Besides my younger brother and sister, I babysat for maybe three families in my neighborhood. One time I never got paid, another family didn’t ask me back and I’m pretty sure on one occasion I simply blew it off. The last event happened right around the time I was looking to get out of the babysitting field and I wasn’t quite sure how to go about ending things with my employer. Turns out, babysitting wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.  But I also didn’t have a Kid Kit to work with either.

You can read more from Ashley Horning  on her blog and twitter.

Image via Child Starlets.

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