In advance, I apologize for the possibly gendered nature of this article. It happens to be that women more often find themselves in the roles of temporary child caretakers than men. Regardless, this is meant for babysitters and nannies in general; I do not intend to limit it to only women, hence my use of plural pronouns.
When you graduate from college with a degree in something beautiful and occasionally semi-useless, your options are pretty limited — unless you intend to go straight to graduate school. Maybe you have a family connection, maybe you studied economics and are prepared to do whatever it is people who understand economics do, but odds are you are living with your parents to save money and half heartedly looking at the pre-requisites for a masters program. So, you fall back on what got you through junior year of high school and what paid for your half of your prom dress; you watch over children.
I think there is a weird, under the table disdain for older babysitters. “You graduated college,” the world seems to say, “don’t you have better things to be doing? Why are you making bad mac’n’cheese for a five year old when you could be writing your dissertation on something complicated related to Beowulf?” Both of my sisters, graduates of Barnard and Smith, have spent considerable time post Women Studies and Psychology degrees nannying and babysitting for various children in the Manhattan area. While they are earning money, they are giving themselves a break from forced academia, and when they are ready, they will start looking at graduate schools.
To be fair, I am just beginning my college career, but I am entirely confident in this opinion. There is no shame in becoming a nanny when you graduate. No one should be judging anyone for their choice to take a job shepherding an eight year old boy around the upper west side so that they can move out of their parents house and afford their own tiny room in a shared apartment. They’re not taking the easy way out because there is no easy way out. Every road, every version of every story, is difficult enough. That eight year old needs someone to pick him up from his ten-person, private, third grade-only school he goes to, why shouldn’t it be you? You can make him smile on the subway home, and you keep him safe when crossing Columbus, so tell everyone around you who has been asking you about graduate school since sophomore year to chill out. You’re making money. You’re preparing yourself for the next stage of your life at your own speed. And I don’t see a problem with that.
Image credit: Stouthon Youth Center