September 20, 2011

baby-sitting buddies

No. 10: The members of the Baby-sitter's Club by Ann M. Martin

I've heard people say you shouldn't go into business with your friends. They obviously never read the Baby-sitter's Club books by Ann M. Martin. In this series, a group of best friends decide to form a club/ business to care for the apparently endless stream of children living and playing in Stoneybrook, Conn. Despite a few spats along the way and changes to their line-up, the crew remains good friends and runs a successful business.

So there you go. You've been proven wrong, naysayers.

The history

The originals — Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacey —  form a baby-sitter's club after Kristy notices her mom struggling to find a sitter for her little brother one night. Instead of having to work their way through a list of potential baby-sitters, parents can call the BSC during their Monday, Wednesday and Friday meetings and be connected to several potential sitters.

More friends join the BSC along the way, but most of the books I read included the original four plus Dawn, Mallory and Jessi.

Favorite scenes

There are so many books — more than 100 not including the specials, mysteries or spin-offs — so, in the interest of not going crazy, I thought I would list my favorite books from each of the seven girl's perspectives:
•  The Ghost at Dawn's House (No. 9) — the first book I read in the series
•  Logan Likes Mary Anne (No. 10)
•  Stacey's Mistake (No. 18)
•  Kristy & the Walking Disaster (No. 20)
•  Claudia & the Sad Good-bye (No. 26)
•  Jessi & the Superbrat (No. 27)
•  Mallory & the Mystery Diary (No. 29)

After book 30, I intermittently read the books, so that's probably a good place to stop.

Favorite lines

I sadly — well, sadly for me, not for the children — donated my BSC books to a local elementary school a few years ago.  Without being able to sift through all of the books, I'm not comfortable naming any. So, no quotes this time! This was a one-time fluke. Promise!

Why I love them

Each of the girls in the BSC is good at something and unique in her own way. I loved that then, and I dig it now. The books taught me that it was OK to be different, and that you can still be friends with others even if the only thing you have in common is the fact that you like to make money watching other people's children.

The girls had great principles, too. They were rewarded when they worked hard and did well. They were punished when they misbehaved. They also seemed quite smart about the way they ran their business. I mean, I haven't read the books since I was in elementary school, but their business model made sense to me. They all paid dues. They paid part of Claudia's phone bill and gas for Kristy's brother to drive her across town. The only thing I don't recall them paying is taxes, but I never did when I baby-sat, either.

The books were also available through the Scholastic book order and through the monthly club, which my parents allowed me to join. Every month, I could count on three new books arriving in the mail, until I had about 50 of the books and we decided that was enough. My school's library  had a decent selection. This was great for me, because I ran through those books, and others, at a ridiculous rate.

I credit this series and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder for beginning my love of literature. I am a writer, and reader, now, because books like these existed when I was young.

The only disappointment for me was that at 7 and 8 years old, I wasn't a good candidate joining their club. No one took me seriously when I offered to watch their children in exchange for cash. Not that I didn't try a couple of years later. I hung up a handful of seriously ugly fliers around my neighborhood one day and sat by our phone at the time designated on the fliers hoping someone would call.

No one did, and in hindsight I should be glad. What was I thinking posting our family's phone number in public for all to see? I now consider myself lucky some crazy person didn't call our house a million times. Not then, I felt like a failure. I had set out to start a business and make some money for a car or college. Instead, I had to take out loans for both and pay the monthly principle and interest with part-time jobs. Oh if only I had successfully formed the Lincoln chapter of the baby-sitter's club. Can you imagine where I would be? (sigh)

Fortunately, I had something else to ease me disappointment. The series produced one of the best film adaptations ever made. That's right, I'm talking about the 1995 masterpiece called, you guessed it, The Baby-Sitter's Club. You might think I'm being sarcastic, because I tend to have a dry sense of humor, but in this case I'm totally serious. I loved the crap out of that movie when it came out. Heck, I asked my mom to bring it for me when she came to town for the Husker game this weekend. Check out the trailer here. Then, watch as many of the suggested clips after like I did.

Did you do it? Yeah, I know. It's awesome. I bet you're jealous that I have a VHS copy sitting on my coffee table. You probably want to come over and watch it with me. That's cool, just bring your own beverage and a snack to share. I'll bake cupcakes or buy some candy. I don't know yet what I'm hungry for, so we'll just have to wait and see where my cravings take me. We can clear the dust from my VCR and pop that tape in. The kittens will be here, so you'll have a cuddle buddy at some point. I have extra pillows and blankets for those of you that prefer to snuggle with something less alive. I'm painting a pretty appealing picture, aren't I?

Oh, and if any of you need a baby-sitter, give me a call! I have undergone CPR and First Aid training (though, I'm not technically certified). I am a licensed driver. I am an EXCELLENT fort builder, can do various accents while reading out loud, and excel at Arts and Crafts. Plus,  I'm great with kids. And dogs. Plus, I just read Ann M. Martin's tips on baby-sitting. Price is negotiable, but I can be bought pretty cheap if your kids or dogs are cute. Just kidding. I'll still want a cheese pizza and a few bucks for watching them, too.

That wraps it up for the first installment of Project Best Friends Forever. Check on Thursday to see who will come in at No. 9. You can also read more about the series by visiting the "Projects" page, posted on the bar at the top of the page.

Please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message on Twitter. Follow me @lmchap. Click here to read more about PBFF.

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