Putting the “e” in BSC: Emily Heddleson on how reading the series started her career
By Guest Blogger on November 21st, 2012
It’s been so gratifying hearing from so many of you — here, on Facebook and on Twitter — about your Baby-sitters Club experiences. We’re still celebrating the announcement that the series will be released as ebooks next month, and today, Emily Heddleson, an associate manager of conventions and author events, shares her BSC story. What you need to know about Emily:
- She started reading the BSC at age 8 (on her birthday!)
- Her favorite BSC book is Baby-sitters On Board!, the Super Special when they went to Disney World (Cruise ships! Jewelry! Secret admirers! Swimming pools!)
- When Emily grew up, she related the most to Mary Anne
There are few things that have impacted my life more than the Baby-sitters Club books. My story is not unique for women of my generation—these series was beloved by so many girls and was so ingrained in our coming of age that it remains a touchpoint even 20 or so years after we stopped reading the books. At one recent party, I made two new friends when we found out that we had a mutual love of the Baby-Sitters Club series (they are still in my phone as Chelsea BSC and Taryn BSC).
But the Baby-sitters Club has had far more than just a cultural and social impact on my life—I would say without hesitation that the Baby-Sitters Club helped to shape who I am personally and professionally too.
I got my first BSC book at my 8th birthday—I remember the high gloss white paper over board cover with the four girls who looked like the best friends you’d ever want. I soon convinced my mother to buy me the rest of the series from my friend’s older sister (she was REALLY cool, and if she liked these books, they had to be great). It didn’t take long for me to get hooked. I loved Kristy’s vision, I identified with Mary Anne’s shyness and parental restrictions, was in awe of Claudia’s brave fashion choices, and even a little intimidated by Stacy’s cosmopolitan sophistication.
By third grade, friendships were just starting to get tricky (and cliquey), school was getting harder (I had to write page-long essays!) and I was becoming more aware of the challenges life might hold (from friends with cancer to friends with divorcing parents). In reading the BSC books, I had a companion and a guide to the tough times I knew (and didn’t yet know) were ahead. I knew all the signs of diabetes and convinced myself that I would be able to inject a friend with insulin in an emergency. I felt Mary Anne’s pain at the loss of her mother and felt better prepared to empathize with friends who had lost loved ones.
But in the face of all these uncontrollable circumstances, these girls always had the constants: their friends and their profession: babysitting. I just knew that I would make a great babysitter, even when I was eight. So when I turned 11 years old, I took the Red Cross Babysitting Course. I learned how to do infant CPR, read articles on how babysitters saved lives, and talked to everyone I knew about how I wanted to be a babysitter. I got hired on as a mother’s helper just before I turned 12, and that started an epic career that has spanned almost 18 years. I got my first job babysitting on my own when I was 12—watching three boys (4, 7, and 9 years old) who all had ADHD and were like a triplet version of Jackie Radowski. And I loved it. I threw footballs with them like I imagined Kristy would; when they (inevitably) got scrapes and cuts, I bandaged them up like Mary Anne; and I put together my own version of a kid kit—with loads of picture books, board games, and activities.
Of course, I didn’t rely just on the BSC books to teach me everything I needed to know about babysitting. Eventually, I read child psychology texts and parenting handbooks as well, but my interest in these started with the series by Ann M. Martin. By the time I was in high school, babysitting had become a profession for me. I had information sheets in a big binder on every family I had babysat (with allergy and medication listings, emergency preparedness plans, and disciplining techniques). It was my first foray into business and it was extremely successful. And while there was certainly much that I learned from other sources about handling money, negotiating salary, and manipulating (I mean handling) tough kids, the Baby-Sitters Club characters modeled so many of the traits that I needed to be successful, like perseverance and responsibility.
Upon graduating from high school, I had 20 regular families I babysat for, over 100 sheets in my binder, and significant savings in my bank account. I’ve continued to babysit through college and adulthood, though not as ferociously as when I was a teenager. My professional aspirations turned towards other things, I eventually made it into publishing, where I still use some of the business skills I once learned from books that I now work on at Scholastic.
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