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To the Teenager Who Babysits My Kids

To the Teenager Who Babysits My Kids

Do you have a babysitter you adore? This is the letter you've always wanted to write- an ode of thanks and a way of saying "I see you" to the teenagers we entrust with our greatest gifts.

Hey, sweet girl. I know you have a lot going on in your life right now—school, sports, friend drama. You’re worried about fitting in, making the team, applying to college, covering that horrible zit you think everybody is staring at (they’re not). I get it. I was you once, too.

I appreciate you.

I want you to know that. Because right now I know you’re wading through a murky swamp of self-doubts and anxieties and pressure to be who your parents and friends and teachers expect you to be. And in a lot of ways you don’t really know who you are yet, so how are you supposed to measure up, right? 

Listen to me. You are a beautiful work in progress. Yes, I said beautiful, in every way. God doesn’t make junk. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

I know you have a lot of options for how to spend your time, so thank you for choosing to spend part of it here, with my children. Babysitting for us might be just a job to you—an easy way to make some gas money or mall cash, I get it. But to me it’s way more than a job. And it’s not easy. Not at all.

For the three or four hours I am gone and you are in charge, in my house, with my children, you are everything. Do you realize that? You think you just show up at my door like a fun diversion so I can escape unnoticed while my daughters start rifling through your nail polish collection, as if I’m giddy to make a mad dash toward sweet freedom for a night. And okay partly that’s true, but understand no matter how desperate I might be for a break, every time you arrive I rip myself away from two pieces of my own heart and place them in the palms of your hands to supervise, entertain, feed and protect. That’s not just a job. That’s sacred.

So please, please, please—put away your phone. Turn off the TV. Forget about your boyfriend for a little while. Take this precious opportunity to look my children in the eyes and experience the wonder of being in their world. 

Do you have any idea how much they admire you? How much they love being with you? You are a rock star in their view. Seriously, if you’re sick and tired of chasing popularity at school then just spend a couple hours in my house because here you are the homecoming queen, leading role and varsity captain all rolled into one. You are a fierce influence in my children’s lives, for better or for worse. 

So please choose your words and actions wisely when you’re with them. Be kind, be gentle, be encouraging and engaged. Their eyes are watching, their ears are listening, and their crazy sticky memories are capturing these moments with you—no joke—for a lifetime. 

I don’t hand off my children to just anyone, you know. You’ve been entrusted with a precious task. God gave these kiddos to me and now, for a few hours, I’m giving them to you. That’s no small job. Who you are and what you do matters to our family. You make a difference. 

So thank you for being you. Thank you for loving on my kids. One day, I hope God gives you a wonderful family of your own. By then, who knows? Maybe my daughters will be old enough to babysit your children. And I’ll make sure they keep their noses out of their phones.

Much love,

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