Like most college students, I need to supplement my loans with extra money to pay for school—in this economy, everyone to some extent has to work to go to school. But, after all, I came to Regent to learn, and the challenging but edifying curriculum, along with my non-salaried internships, often left me wanting to relax, not job hunt. After sending out 10 applications that came to nothing, I asked God to send the perfect job my way.
He did. He knew I wanted more than money. I wanted to be challenged, energized and restored. I wanted my job to be both a learning experience and an environment to practice my education. So that’s what He gave me.
At this dream job, I am served five-course meals at a fancy restaurant. I become both evil stepmother and fairy godmother in a pantomime Cinderella, eat fluorescent ice cream made from Play-Doh, watch PBS Kids, and even have time after a few hours to read my Modern Literature assignment.
I am a babysitter. During the past year, I babysat eight kids ages nine months to 12 years. Most of their parents are Regent students and graduates. All of the children are sweet in their own way. Some are outgoing, some shy; some willingly listen, while others need persuading. The five-year-olds, with their active imaginations, create stories more brilliant and fantastical than any I read in my literature classes, while the babies’ wide-eyed smiles alone speak volumes.
I come from a big family, so I’ve been babysitting since I no longer needed a sitter myself, but coming to Regent changed the experience again.
Babysitting fights off homesickness. I was used to being around little siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and neighbors. At college, I was on ‘kid withdrawal” until I started babysitting. Twenty-year-olds are just too tame; I need some chaos to calm down.
It heals my stress. Nothing cures that midterm exhaustion like the wild, buoyant, infectious, untamable, scampering, choking, shrieking laughter of a toddler.
It changes my perspective. My own stress about living expenses and a heavy workload was caricatured in the personal gravity of one four-year-old girl. For her, every decision was important, from the doll she played with in the afternoon to the pajamas she picked out at bedtime. Every small moment was inflated with her immense appreciation, and I too could be grateful for misty mornings and warm cookies, for cold popsicles and sunny afternoons.
We play dolls and make-believe and pirates and trucks. The world becomes new again as old experiences are presented as if for the first time. When a two-year-old and I saw, right in the heart of suburbia, a small rabbit nosing in the grass, we shared a wide-eyed, wordless wonder.
Babysitting allows me to apply my lessons from Regent, too. In Communication and Popular Culture, we learned how to pitch a project or story idea to an employer in less than a minute. I had to do use the same technique, only faster, while babysitting. Creative executives may have short attention spans, but three-year-olds have no attention span at all.
I step away from the battle of grade-point-averages, textbooks and Blackboard posts and enter a different crusade. I learned logic in Philosophy, argumentation in Research & Academic Writing, and persuasion in Public Speaking, but this mighty arsenal of rhetoric failed to convince one charge to eat all her dinner. I used instead a mightier weapon that Regent arms every student with: prayer.
In this new world, child A is in a tattle-tale, child B is a possessive three-year-old, and child C still requires frequent diaper changes. So while A snitches on B for stealing A’s toy, you don’t have time to intervene and stop the ensuing fight before C remorsefully announces, “Poo-poo…”
But oh, what triumph when they settle down and play together nicely! I could hear triumphant fanfare when they cleaned their plates. I rejoiced when they fell asleep at bedtime. And when their parents came to drive me home, I was grateful for the job that paid more than money.
Babysitting strengthens me for college. Regent enriches the experience.
How do you coordinate school and work?