I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by adult relatives who can watch my child on almost no notice. I've rarely had to scramble to find a neighborhood teen or grandmother from the neighborhood. But I've always thought that if it came down to it, I would let 12- and 13-year-olds babysit.
It's a rite of passage for everybody. Your kids can learn to win over -- or manipulate -- a young sitter and get used to not having adults around to solve every problem. The sitter learns responsibility and earns a few bucks. And a few bucks is it. You can get away with paying a kid five bucks an hour instead of the comfy wages we feel compelled to give adults.
It's how I made my candy and Depeche Mode record money in junior high, and it beat the hell out of mowing lawns.
But learning that a 2-year-old was dead and a 3-year-old hospitalized in Ohio after they ran and hid from their babysitters -- aged 12 and 13 -- sure makes me think again.
The scenario is just so easy to picture. Trying to ditch your sitter is part of the fun for every kid. As the cops in the story say, it happens all the time, and the kids are usually found under a pile of laundry.
These kids just made the mistake of hiding in a car on a hot day. (I hope I don't need to say don't leave your kids anywhere near a hot car on a hot day, or remind you to lock the damn thing when you're not in it.)
Of course it's not impossible, but it's really hard to imagine this happening with a wary and responsible adult in charge. I'm thinking they might be worth the 12 bucks an hour.
And while I considered myself an awesome sitter, I think of what a careless little snot I was at 13 and I wouldn't trust me with my kids.
How young do you think is too young to babysit?
Image via ElliotBrown/Flickr