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The Rhode Less Traveled: How to Babysit for a Professor

It’s that time again. After one too many meals at Central, perhaps a shopping trip to Urban, and those darn sorority bills, you’ve depleted whatever money you managed to save this summer, and are officially broke. Done. So Flat out of money you couldn’t pay for a cab ride home from Zinnie’s even if you wanted to. Ah, the life of a college student. Your work study is, well, paying for your study. A job in Memphis seems too mature and bold and… real. And after that last experience, you are never selling your blood to the blood bank again.

Without any other options, you’ve got to go big or go home. The big kahuna. The golden egg of college jobs: babysitting for a professor.

As if tax free income wasn’t enough of an incentive, you are literally getting paid to sit in your teacher’s plush house, away from the stench of the dorms, raid their fridge, and watch Dora the Explorer with a genius child before putting the kid down for his or her 8:00 bedtime, and then proceeding to watch TV and raid the fridge by yourself while getting paid the same (most likely, more than minimum wage) rate until the parents get home. Plus, the extra out-of-class time with the professor certainly can’t hurt your grade. It’s a win-win situation; you’re getting paid to receive a better recommendation for grad school. Hello, cash money. It’s good to see you again.

However, like anything worth having, a steady babysitting job doesn’t come easy. No matter how charming you are, or how well you’ve been conjugating verbs in French class, even the most laid-back professor does not respond well to someone barging into their room during office hours and exclaiming, “Yo! Lemme watch your kid.”

Oh, you could build up a steady rapport with the professor, subtly drop hints of past babysitting and nannying experience over the course of the semester, show a genuine interest in their children during your individual meetings, and perhaps, at exam time, briefly mention that you would be available if any of their regular babysitters fell through and hope that they ask for your cell phone number to have on reference. But that process is not only time consuming, it’s also no guarantee. Four months later, you could walk away with a dismissive wave and an (still) empty wallet, as some other far-inferior student rakes in the big bucks weekend after weekend, practically taking the money from your hands.

If you really want the gig, you’ve got to be bold. You’ve got to be brave. You’ve got to be dedicated. And you’ve got to be a little crazy. Basically, your goal is to convince the professor that you are the only babysitter for them. This process is not for the weak-hearted, or reputation-savvy. But if completed correctly, you’ll be spending every night with a child*.

Firstly, you need to appear poor. No more double-Frappuccino’s from the Middle Ground before class. Donate that handbag. If you didn’t buy your jewelry at Claire’s, leave it in your room. The professor needs to be able to tell that you desperately need employment to the point that they actually begin to feel bad for you.

Second, begin showing your motherly tendencies in class. Treat your fellow classmates like children. Refer to them only as “sweetie,” “honey,” or “buddy.” If they have a cold, offer to wipe their nose, or just do it without asking. Screw lids on all their drinks so they don’t spill. Help them spell words, like their name, even if they don’t ask. And most importantly, at the end of each class, make sure you stand by the door, zipping up everyone’s coats so they don’t catch a chill walking between buildings.

Thirdly, make your obsession with babies and children alike known. Screen saver a picture of a baby from the internet? Good. Notebook decoupaged with images of kids you tore out of Parenthood magazine? Great. Extra diapers shoved into all the pockets of your bag, just in case you happen to see a random infant crawling across campus in need of a change? Perfect. You want your professor to know you think, sleep, and breathe tiny human.

At this point, you should have the job. You’ve made it unbelievably clear that you’re poor, good at parents, and obviously (almost creepily) love children. However, if your professor ignores all the hints, it’s time for the final punch.

Step Four: get pregnant. Nothing shows responsibility like caring for your own child, right?

*There are no promises that the child you spend every night with will be a professor’s child. It might not even be a child with parents who pay you. This process has never been tested. I made it up. For real babysitting advice, go to a Red Cross Class.

A sassy small-town blogger who thinks she's a princess and loves the color pink.
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