The first precious few weeks back to school filled with the customary syllabus readings, textbook distribution, and icebreaker games have been kissed goodbye and the glorious reality of essays, presentations, and tests loom in my imminent future. After my first truly arduous week back, I spend my Friday night babysitting. It’s 8:30 and I just wrapped up the bedtime story ritual complete with disagreements over the book selection for the evening and plenty of giggles over Dr. Seuss’s beloved classic, Green Eggs and Ham. The kids are tucked in and soundly asleep upstairs.

Soon, I lounge comfortably on the couch, catching an episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network, and munching on a few Oreos I happened upon in the Coopers’ pantry. Amidst watching my wildly entertaining show, I pause for a moment and seriously consider opening my backpack to get a head start on the mounds of homework due next week. However, as many students can relate to, the little voice inside my head saying, “Take a break and relax because you know you deserve it after a long week,” persuaded me to leave the zipper closed. Instead, my mind slips into an intense mode of contemplation.

Flash back to about six years ago when I had a babysitter. Those nights were surely a treat for my brother and me. It meant an excursion to the grocery store to select our favorite Kid Cuisine TV dinners, endless games of hide and seek, and schemes of convincing our babysitter that bedtime was more of a “guideline.” I recall my fascination with our babysitters and persistently bombarding them with questions about how they managed life in that big, scary high school or how late they stayed up on school nights. They seemed so cool and grown-up with all that freedom! As I reminisce on these memories, my stomach begins to feel uneasy. I am not a kid anymore. I am the babysitter — not only am I responsible for myself, but for these other young humans! At their age, I similarly yearned for a nonexistent bedtime and a car to drive. Now, overcome with nostalgia, I envy them. I miss those nights of going to bed at eight o’clock, now postponed due to work or school. Although driving is certainly liberating and convenient, I treasure the days when I sat in the passenger seat next to my mom or dad (especially with all the crazy drivers in this town)! I yearn for vacant afternoons spent with my best friend biking and exploring the spectacular forests in our backyards, free of all obligations.

While some of the kids I babysit for will walk the halls of Middlebrook or Wilton High School for the first time next year, I will be hugging my family goodbye after moving into a dorm somewhere — a time in my life that I couldn’t begin to fathom as a kid. Despite my immense nostalgia, I fully recognize that growing up requires plenty of responsibility and independence. However, while babysitting I notice something that never fails to leave me awe-inspired — a child’s untaught ability to be curious, compassionate, joyful, hilarious, and brutally honest (like when they mention that you really should get your split ends trimmed). No matter the obstacles that await me this year, I hope to fully embrace them by balancing my 17 years of wisdom with the wonder of keeping in touch with my inner child. After all, we can learn a lot more from children than we think.


Shelby Connor is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.