Mary Grace Garis
September 24, 2015 6:44 am

There was a (dark, friendless, but culturally rich) time when a shelf of my book case was dedicated to The Baby-Sitters Club. I was fresh out of fourth grade and dreaming of the inevitable magic that would come with being a teenager, and with the BSC series window into junior high life was open. Now, the true focus of the books was on the bonds of female friendship, the value of adolescent entrepreneurship, and the different ways Claudia could wear a bungie cord in chapter three. Make no mistake. But past all of that, all the baby-sitters had rich, covetable dating lives, and for a generation and a half of tweens, it was the first place we developed #relationshipgoals.

Think about it. In spite of their busy baby-sitting schedule, those crazy kids sure found a lot of time to date. Mary Anne and Logan were the perpetual BSC golden couple, Stacey had a longterm boyfriend with the likes of Robert, and even Mallory Pike had Ben Hobart.

Mallory Pike, guys.

Suffice to say I could write 131 books about every love lesson learned from the series. But you know, I consolidated. So here’s everything I’ve learned about older guys, going steady, and wearing blue eyeliner in a movie theater from The Baby-Sitters Club.

Make sure to establish your independence early in the relationship

A minor detail, but I always loved how whenever anyone went on a movie date or something they’d let the guy pay for the tickets but they would pay for the popcorn or something. That’s a small move that screams,  “I can handle the Rodowski boys, I can handle anything.” There is no uncertainty that these 13-year-olds are career women who don’t need a man. So progressive, Baby-Sitters Club, so inspiring.

Age is just a number…unless you’re in junior high

How many times does the series tackle this? Off the top of my head, it’s in Boy Crazy Stacey, Dawn And The Older Boy, Stacey’s Big Crush, the Super Mystery Baby-Sitters Haunted House with Claudia and Georgio…even the MOVIE has a plot like this with Stacey AGAIN (girl, plz).

Listen, I get the appeal of older men. But if nothing else, BSC history shows that it’s not going to work out when you’re still in junior high and he’s, like, your math teacher. Just wait it out, one day you CAN date someone 4 to 9 years older without it being socially unacceptable/potentially illegal.

The best way to get a guy to like you is to be yourself. Or, failing that, Madonna

In Dawn’s Big Date she suddenly decides her California Casual look isn’t bold enough to impress Logan’s cousin Lewis, so she grabs a stack of fashion magazines to put together a slew of new outfits and create the New Dawn. And even after 49 books of Claudia, those clothes are something. Like, the Desperately Seeking Susan collection at Zingy’s exploded on her. Ultimately Dawn learns that Lewis was attracted to the REAL her that he met in her letters, so the kiss and stuff. He’s never heard from again, but you know, stay true to who you are and all that jazz.

There’s a difference between loving someone and smothering them

Worlds were shattered when Mary and Logan broke up in Mary Anne Versus Logan. You know what, though? Mary Anne had a busy schedule and Logan was disrespecting her boundaries. Also, at one point he’s wearing a tuxedo for a homemade dinner? I don’t know, guys, that’s just way too much commitment for 8th grade.

You’ll probably get back together with your first boyfriend more times than you’d like to admit

Ok, but literally five books later they’re back together again. SIIIIIIIGH.

It’s ok to not be ready for a relationship

Kristy + Bart = nothing. Several books deep the ghost writers scrambled for ideas and decided to address the Kristy/Bart flirtationship. Bart is more than game to take it to the next level and he pretty forcefully makes out with her at a few intervals in the book (which makes me feel all sorts of uncomfortable). Kristy talks to Mary Anne about it, Mary Anne suggests that maybe Kristy isn’t ready for a relationship, and Kristy tells Bart “Nah, bro.”

Either way, in spite of the books’ assertions, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to capitalize on your youth by being a carefree, independent, friends-first, business savvy single. Own it, Kristy. Own it.

[Image via Columbia Pictures]

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