Courtney’s Boys

Courtney's Boys
Image provided by
Emily Hildebrand @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilyrachelhildebrand/

When I’ve talked about my life as a kid, people have said that my life must have been sheltered because there weren’t any earth-shattering catastrophes, at least not until I was seventeen. (I won’t go into that now. I’ll tell that story another time.) My personal opinion is that I think they are dead wrong. I have many stories to tell to prove my point. Today I will be telling you about one that will show abilities to take on tasks that others would have ran from.

Harrison and Courtney moved into the house right behind us on the next street the spring before I turned ten years old (a September thing). They were a relatively young couple but were considered older parents of a one-year-old boy named Chip. Yes, it was a nickname for the formal name of Clarence. Although I thought at the time that Harrison and Courtney were foolish to give such a name to their son because of the jokes that would eventually fly left and right, I kept my mouth shut. What did I know? I was just a kid.

Courtney was pregnant with their second son, Larry (Lawrence), who was born in July of that year. Because Courtney was so outgoing and flamboyant, by the time this happened, our two household were chummy. If I couldn’t find my mom at home, I was pretty sure that she was across that back fence having coffee with Courtney. (No, my mom didn’t usually climb fences, and neither did Courtney. My father had put in a gate between the two yards several years before because we were chummy with the previous family too.)

Harrison and Courtney received seasonal football tickets from Courtney’s parents later that summer. Courtney being Courtney had the ‘perfect’ plan so that she and her husband could make good use of the tickets. She employed me to watch her little boys on the Sundays when the team was playing in town. For a ten-year-old this may seem like a lot of responsibility. However, Courtney had been prepping me for my duties as a babysitter ever since those tickets had arrived.

I knew how to make baby formula and prepare food for Larry, as well as how to put a diaper on his little butt. Chip had been taught to mind me and I was well-informed about the shenanigans he could pull. (Is any kid good all the time?) There weren’t any tears from either of them when Courtney would walk out the door. They must have been comfortable with me.

Every football season after that for the next five years was pretty much the same. I would be at Courtney’s back door on numerous Sundays at approximately twelve noon to take my role as babysitter.

Chip and Larry were close. This is something I had never experienced with my own brother so I would often smile at them as they would play. Wherever one was, the other one would be there too. And talk about conniving – the trouble they could get into multiplied as they grew. Chip was the leader of course, but Larry had the brain that went at warp speed. I would hear them playing in the backyard as I would clean up after their mid-afternoon snack, but when I’d walk out to check closer, usually they couldn’t be found. Most of the time they were sitting on the ground behind the short cement wall of the driveway or just beyond the covered patio that was hidden by the far wall. There were a couple of times when they had me scared to the point that I was seriously thinking of calling my mom. Both times I found them in the neighbor’s backyard playing with Joe, the Labrador dog who lived there.

Because of their shenanigans, I had to start doing the ‘timeout’ routine. My version of this was to send one to the bedroom that they shared and the other one would have to sit behind the big overstuffed chair in the living room. This spot was reserved for the one who would start the trouble. The bedroom was for the one who willingly followed the other’s lead. All in all, they were good kids. Rarely did I ever have to do the ‘timeout’ thing more than once during a babysitting session no matter how many hours it was.

Sean was born when Chip was five years old. Despite all of the experience I had by that time, he was a handful. That football season (the sixth one I babysat through) was rough because of Sean’s attachment to his mom. I would spend most of my time holding Shaun so he wouldn’t wail nonstop. I know he didn’t mean to be such a pain, but nevertheless, that’s what he was. He was attached to Courtney in a way that the other two boys weren’t. I was aware that there were kids who just had a hard time with separating. In most instants, it wasn’t the fault of the parent. It was just the way the kid was. Still, because of how tiring it was, that was my last football season babysitting the boys.

Despite my resignation, Harrison and Courtney continued to use my services for evening events.

Anthony (Tony) was born a year later. By that time, I was beyond my babysitting days and had a part-time job at an insurance company. Still, when Courtney would come over for coffee, if I was around, I’d spend a few minutes with Tony while the other three played outside.

They moved a few years later.

Courtney’s boys were special to me, even after I resigned my services to them. Learning so much about being a caregiver from that experience served me well when I had my own son. These days, I don’t hear about or see many teenagers taking on the responsibility of babysitting. Parents I’ve talked to say that teenagers aren’t ‘old enough’ for the responsibility, or the teenager has so much to do as it is so that any type of job isn’t feasible.

I don’t think their reasons are warranted. What is your opinion on this?

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12 Replies to “Courtney’s Boys”

  1. I was never around kids growing up and there weren’t many kids younger than me in the neighborhood to babysit, so I was never offered that job opportunity or responsibility. Personally, I think it’s a great idea, if the babysitter is mature and there are rules in place.

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    1. Some teenagers are good at this type of work, others aren’t. My great niece (oh, that makes me feel old) is a natural at this. She is the only babysitter her uncle (her mom’s brother) will use with his 3 children. I was at the youngest kid’s first birthday party earlier this fall. The mom got to enjoy the party because the niece was taking care of all the kids there. And she just turned 13.

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  2. When I say never around kids growing up, I mean to say – much younger kids – my cousins were my age, my brother was older, my friends were my age, etc.

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  3. I used to babysit as a teenager, it was the thing to do back then to earn some money. I didn’t really enjoy it as I wasn’t that maternal which was strange as I was so different when I had my own children! Enjoyed reading about your babysitting adventures Glynis 🙂

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    1. Babysitting isn’t for all teenagers. Even with me, there were some kids that just weren’t compatible with me. Courtney’s boys, at least Chip anyway, got to know me before I became his babysitter. He knew me first as Aunt Eleanor’s daughter (Courtney insisted upon showing respect. My mom was not actually his aunt.) Also, because my family was just across the back fence, I didn’t get anxious as easy. I’m sure that the boys picked up on that.

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  4. I babysat a little bit, but we lived in a rural setting without many houses nearby. It seems that babysitting kids are younger and younger nowadays. I didn’t start until I was 13.

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    1. I was 10 when I started but was only allowed to day-sit until I was 12. When I was 14 I started taking jobs where I spent the night. The farthest away I had to go to babysit was 3 miles from my house and that family belonged to the same church I did so I knew them pretty well.

      From what I have seen and heard, kids just aren’t even considering babysitting as an option to earn their own money.

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  5. Last year I was reminiscing of you and Sheila Jenkins who took over after you ‘aged out’. Sheila was from Joe the laborador house. My daughters are now 12 year old twin girls(then 11). Last year my daughters wanted an extra 2 week session at their sleep away camp. Beside the fact that I didn’t like the idea of our daughters being raised for 1 month of their 11th year by 17 year old camp councilors, it was also a lot of money. They love the camp and have really grown each year. One of their schemes was that they would help pay. I latched onto this immediately. There was no way they could pay for the session but maybe if they worked and participated with the fees then they could get a grounded understanding of money and values.

    Legally, they have to 13 before they can babysit. One of my daughters walked the neighbors dog 2 times a week for the entire school year. The other did projects around the house like painting rooms, organizing a crazy garage and helping design a logo for my business. This year only one of my daughters wants to return. She has been certified to referee 7-9 year old soccer games which pays about $20/game. This is sort of messing with the economics of babysitting.

    The little jobs have been a priceless experience that we could never teach as parents and gives them incredible pride and confidence.

    Love this post!!!

    Chip…the good child:)

    Ps. You resigned at the right time the next few years were indeed more hectic and mischievous. 🙂

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    1. Hi Chip

      I wasn’t completely sure that I had found the right Chip when I sent you the message through Facebook. But that photo of yours looked so much like your dad that I had to give it a try. You wouldn’t believe how often my mom and I talk about those years when your family lived across the fence from ours.

      Yes, I know who Sheila is. For some unknown reason, Brian and I never knew her and Jimmy very well.

      As for you being the ‘good child’, are you kidding? Both you and Larry was mischievous monsters. Yet, I loved those Sundays. Obviously this is true because why else would I miss you so much to write a post about those times. 🙂

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