08/22/2012 10:27 am ET Updated Oct 22, 2012

My Bad Baby-sitter Years

When my son turned 6 months old, I began looking for a baby sitter. Not just any baby sitter would do: I imagined a modern-day governess. A brainy, artsy, warm college student. Part of me wondered if my desire to have the "perfect" baby sitter was just another form of helicopter parenting. After all, I could easily hire the high school kid down the street for half the price.

Then again, I was the kid down the street many years ago. And I remember what that was like.

My baby-sitting career began one early summer day in Rockville Centre, Long Island, circa 1986, when I posted an index card advertising my services on a corkboard at the neighborhood market. A mother called me a few days later. Her baby was 8 months old - I had just finished the eighth grade. Looking back, I'm not sure what she was thinking, hiring a kid to baby-sit. Probably something along the lines of, "Please, God, get me out of this house."

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