17 September 2013


Reading Diary: BSC #11: Kristy and the Snobs by Ann M. Martin

"You guys, those kids are terrors . . . They are spoiled rotten. They're demanding, they're rude, and they're snobby. We're watching TV, right? And at the commercial, Amanda says to me, 'Get me a Coke.' Just like that. 'Get me a Coke.' No please or anything. And so I say, 'What do you say?' . . . And she gives me this look and says, 'I say, "Get me a Coke."' Can you believe her nerve? Then Max says, 'Get me one, too.' So I do, but Amanda says, 'Where's the ice?' and I get ice and then Max doesn't want it. And then later they order me to put the empty glasses in the dishwasher and to answer the phone. Which I would have done anyway. But you don't expect an eight-year-old and a six-year-old to order you around."

"Why did you let them?" asked Stacey . . . "[There] are ways to get around those kids. Believe me . . ."

If you were a baby-sitter, would the income level of your clients be a factor in whether or not you take a job? When I think about what a holy terror I was as a child, when my family lived in a two-storey 750-square-metre house that I thought was small because we didn't have our own swimming pool and had to park most of the cars outside the garage, I really wouldn't blame anyone from drawing a class line in the sand.

Kristy Thomas's real problem is that the rich kids aren't just the Baby-Sitters Club's newest clients, easily palmed off to more amenable members, but also her new neighbours.

"Nice outfit," called the one non-blonde, putting her hands on her hips.

I blushed. Too bad I'd chosen the jeans with the hole in the knee that day.

But if there's one thing to be said about me, it's that I have a big mouth. I always have. I'm better about controlling it than I used to be, but I'm not afraid to use it. So I put
my hands on my hips and said, "Your outfits are nice, too. You look like clones. Snob clones."

When Kristy narrates a story, there is usually a business spin to it. Kristy's Great Idea is about the founding of the club; Kristy's Big Day covers the problem of how to keep it running after she has to move to a new neighbourhood; and this one sees the established baby-sitters of that new neighbourhood accusing her of taking away their jobs, and then sabotaging her when they know she is working. How can you fit in when the people in your new home won't make room for you? 

The key, as the cover suggests, is a shared love of dogs. And the subplot with Kristy's faithful collie Louie is a lot more emotional than I thought a BSC book could be.

But the baby-sitting is great, too. The next time the snobby Amanda and Max Delaney need a sitter, Stacey McGill takes the job--and it makes sense that she'd be the one to tame the shrewlets. Remember her favourite film? Well, the scene in which she gets them to clean up their room is definitely a Mary Poppins moment! I also liked seeing that the Delaney children's first baby-sitter, a fellow rich kid, has her own highly effective way of handling them. Baby-sitting--like, you know, tutoring--is a mix of personal style and savvy strategy.

And it's not just rich kids who can be demanding, as Claudia Kishi learns when she has to watch over the seven youngest Pike children, five of whom are down with the chicken pox. They run her ragged without ever meaning to, and I think I myself would rather look after two snobby brats than a small army of sick kids who ring little bells whenever they need something. "I felt like their maid," Claudia writes in the baby-sitting record book. It certainly makes an interesting parallel! Which job would you prefer? 

Image Source: BSC #10: Kristy and the Snobs by Ann M. Martin


Angie Tusa said...

Wait, the kids are bed ridden because of chicken pox? While I remember being forced to stay home so I didn't spread the disease, and having to fight the constant itching, I don't remember it being the kind of disease that would keep a child bed ridden. While I've no doubt Ann Martin was trying to find a disease that all the kids could catch easily , I'm mostly curious if the young me who read this novel also found that to be unrealistic!

Also, to answer your earlier question, as a young babysitter I would have been anxious to take on jobs from the higher income level simply because it would mean their parents would have more money to give me for the task. Selfish perhaps, but isn't the extra cash what babysitting was all about?

Sheila said...

I hated babysitting for rich people. It was embarrassing. I felt like a charity case sometimes, when my boss would give me her old clothes. (Which were nicer than anything I owned.) And at the park or birthday parties or any other social events, I had to hang out with all these toned, highlighted, spiffily dressed moms who couldn't seem to talk about anything but their newest remodel or whatever. I was getting $12 an hour, which was good money, but it didn't feel worth it when my boss would call me out there for a single hour of work when I lived 45 minutes away.

Most of all, though, I just found those people to be lazy because they were stay-at-home moms who still had nannies. (I might change my tune now. I could use a part-time nanny. Though a maid would be better.) I resented leaving my own mother sick at home with three kids crawling all over her, so I could push another woman's kids up and down steep hills in a stroller ... while the mother herself was jogging on a treadmill! I think I got better exercise than she did.

Sigh, what can I say, I guess I'm biased against the conspicuously wealthy. I like money, but the ways they used it seemed so pointless and wasteful.

But anyway, that job ended prematurely because the family found someone else, and I went to work for a poor lady who ripped me off two weeks' pay. I guess you can't win. Maybe the money wasn't the real issue... being hired help isn't always fun, no matter who it's for.

Enbrethiliel said...


Angie -- The sick Pike kids are not really bedridden, just confined to their rooms. Now that you mention it, though, it does seem like an odd arrangement when Mr. and Mrs. Pike aren't concerned about the two youngest children catching the chicken pox, too. Why are the girls and boys stuck in their respective bedrooms, sharing the portable TV on rotation, when they're not "quarantined"? (Answer: to make it harder for Claudia? LOL!)

Extra money did occur to me, too! But I guess the BSC charge all their clients the same rate, so that isn't a factor.

Sheila -- I have no shame, so if some rich boss wants to give me some of her old clothes which are still nice, then I'll take them and run!

Your stories about baby-sitting are calling back all my memories of tutoring. There was at least one mother who had the time to help her sons with their homework herself, but I think the reason she didn't was that she felt inadequate to the task. Where I live, education is seen as something left to the professionals. If your kids are having trouble in school and you can afford to hire a tutor but instead do it yourself, then you're perceived as a little reckless! It would be like saying you want to do an injured child's physical therapy yourself. Now, there's no reason a parent can't learn the specific techniques needed to treat his own child's specific injury (and it has been done many times before!), but apparently, I live in a culture of outsourcing!

While I don't mind being hired help on principle, I hated being in a position where the children could play me off their parents or play their parents off me. It really brought the plight of the 19th century governess home to me. I read a lot of "governess novels" during the years I was tutoring. =P