It wasn't until years later, when I became a parent, that I came to realize that those parents had to have been either crazy or desperate. I mean, who, in their right mind, would leave their child completely in the care of an 11 or 12 year old? I have been an 11 and a 12 year old, and let me tell you, they don't have the best judgement or decision-making or coping skills. It's not their fault--they just haven't had enough time to practice. Even as an adult I come across situations allthetime that I have no idea what to do with. And children? They're precious. And they depend on us to keep them safe.
At the absolute minimum, I decided, babysitters of my children would need to be able to drive or have on-site back-up who could drive. And that has been true for all of these 12 plus years of parenthood. We have never left our children with people who can't drive, except for on-site child care during church events when we never leave the building. We have never left our children in the care of a minor without on-site back-up.
The problem with this, of course, is that once teenagers can drive, they can get a real job, and they're not quite as interested in babysitting anymore.
It's not even about the driving, really. I mean, having a means of escape in case of emergency is awesome, but... but for me, it's more about the fact that my children are terrors. I love them very, very much, and they're terrific kids, better than most, but they can be horrible, too. And unleashing that on a 12 year old? Yikes.
As you may be able to surmise, we don't get away from the kids very often.
Now, my friends, I know. I know that those parents were both crazy and desperate. I know because last night, we hired our very own 12 year old babysitter to keep our kids from killing each other while the two of us left to decompress so we wouldn't kill them either.
He did a fabulous job. No one was dead or even injured when we returned.
No one was in his pajamas, either, but that we can work with :)