Friday, August 3, 2012

When Does One Become Qualified to Babysit?

I recently read the article Mother Arrested for Using 13-yr-old as Babysitter and just like the many readers who commented on the article, I found the thirteen year age of the girl capable of baby sitting. That, if she was taught responsibility early.

I was babysitting my siblings ages 3 1/2 and 1 yr 8 months, every weekday for like a year when I was 5 years old when our young family moved to Zamboanga del Norte. It´s an island in the Philippines where there was Muslim-Christian fights and many rebels and government military encounters.

We moved to this place when my father was hired by a municipal mayor as a private engineer to mine his land which they thought to have gold stocks. My dad was an experienced mining engineer. However, after less than a year of working for the mine site, my dad found out that it wasn´t gold but coal that the land bears. The income from the coal stock would however suffice to reimburse only the capital. So the mayor and my the mining team decided not to push through the plan. But our young family have already moved at the place. We´ve travelled for two days across the sea to be in this place and we´ve sold what we had back home.

My parents decided to put up their own business selling herbal medicines that were important from another big island, Cebu. Once the medicine stocks would arrive, my mom and dad would go house to house to canvass them and deliver. They would leave early in the morning at six and would come home late at night at around ten. Then started my ordeal.

My parents did not trust to hire anyone as babysitter because of the rampant poisoning in the place. We were instructed to not leave the house and not accept any food from strangers. My parents made me understood that there´s nobody they could trust to take care of the little ones but me. I was five years old but my parents told me I´m old enough. I had to take care of my sister who was three and a half, and my baby brother who was a little over than a year.

I did a really good job babysitting, I was forced to grow up. But up to now when my parents and I talk about my babysitting, I still cry.I was a one year of torture for me. Every morning I woke up early and as I see my parents prepping to go, I´d beg them to stay. But they´d tell me if they stay, we won´t have anything to eat.

My parent prepare our food early at dawn and they´d instruct me hat to feed to my siblings. They´d keep the knives and matches away and make sure that if we have fish for lunch, it´s free of bones. I remember they usually cooked fried eggs for our lunch. They also prepare the milk for my brother so I just had to feed him when he´s hungry.

I dreaded cleaning my brother when he pooed and I hated my little sister for being so lazy, she just wanted to play and refused to help me whenever  I needed help. But what could you expect from a three year old girl? I never learned to smile.

After a year my parents business became big and they had over ten people under their wing. My mom started staying at home every other day. My burden started to ease.

I know that my parents were always proud of me for taking responsibility at such early age but to their surprise, when I was already working and one night after dinner the topic about our life in Zamboanga was brought up for the very first time, I cried like a baby. It was a deep rooted pain from my childhood that was peeled open. My parents never had any idea how much torture the babysitting was for me.

I was able to bring out what I had buried down in my heart and memories for my parents to know. They apologized and explained their reasons. After that very emotional talk, I was able to move on. To date, I no longer cry whenever I talk about my babysitting, and I´ve learned to smile.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you that a 13 year old is young enough. The US military authorizes children as young as 12 provided they take a class to get certified. It really is up to the parent to determine the childs' capabilities as the parent is the one ultimately responsible if something goes wrong.

    I don't think I would personally leave a child less than 2 with anyone not over 15 though. Most children younger than 15 don't have the mental capacity to deal with younger children and it shouldn't forced on them.

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