MomZette

Supervising Tweens and Teens

When are the kids too old for a babysitter?

“We don’t need anyone — we’re fine.”

This past summer, my girls made the case that they were too old for a “babysitter.” Delaney, age 14, actually babysits three young kids herself. Teegan turned 12 in August. They are home alone after school, and on weekends, but the problem was the summer. Tennis lessons, doctor appointments, plans with friends.

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I pictured those months with the girls sitting on the couch, headphones on, eyes glued to their phones as they racked up countless hours watching reruns of “Glee.”

Not happening.

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So the search began for a — what? Caregiver? Helper? Ugh!

I ended up going to a website that connects people looking for babysitters with college students looking for part-time jobs and placed an ad.

I pictured those months with the girls sitting on the couch, headphones on, eyes glued to their phones as they racked up countless hours watching reruns of “Glee.”

“Looking for summer help for two girls — must be able to drive, chat about all things ‘girlie’ and have fun!”

Seriously. That’s what I put in the ad.

I got dozens of responses. Then we met Jess.

Bubbly, adorable, chatty, and super fun, she was perfect. I explained the job would entail driving them to tennis, to the pool, dropping them off at friends’ houses or picking up their friends to come over, going to the mall, hanging out with them, making dinner, and so forth.

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She was enthused, we worked out the details, and the deal was done.

“What should we call her?” Delaney wasn’t thrilled.

“Just Jess.”

“No, I mean when people ask who she is, what should we say? She is NOT our babysitter. Can I call her our driver?”

“Just say she’s our college friend helping out for the summer.”

“She is NOT our babysitter. Can I call her our driver?”

“Well, I’ll be nice to her, but I’m not going to be friends with her.”

That pretty much summed up the rest of the summer.

The girls were perfectly polite, said please and thank you, and answered whatever questions she asked them. But they didn’t have any kind of relationship and kept our new employee at arm’s length.

Related: Tips for Parenting Your Teens

Jess seemed a bit disappointed at first about the lack of connection with the girls, asking me what else she could do to get to know them. But after a few weeks, she gave up and accepted the fact they weren’t going to be close.

When I told the girls I was letting Jess quit two weeks early, they were excited. “We just didn’t need her hanging around with us. We would have been fine on our own,” they explained.

Maybe. But if the last two weeks of summer were any indication, “fine” would have meant sleeping until noon, spending an hour on the couch, then taking the hammock out into the woods for the rest of the day.

I’m guessing that’s a preview of next summer because we are officially done with “sitters.”

My kids were right. They would have been fine on their own.

My kids were right. They would have been fine on their own.

Maybe I was the one who wasn’t quite ready to let go, not quite ready to admit they are perfectly capable of taking care of things without anyone (meaning me) to supervise.

Maybe without anyone there to supervise them all day, they’ll come up with new ways to entertain themselves.

Although, since Delaney will be taking driver’s ed next summer, she’ll need a ride to the school.

Maybe I’ll just call Uber.