Boys, Braces and Babysitting #AtoZChallenge

B is for Boys, Braces and Babysitting. Second of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

A sure sign that adolescence was upon me was an endless stream of boys and crushes that began to populate my diary. My age-12 entries were infrequent, mostly in pencil and often about family events or vacations.

But when  I turned 13 all that changed. I began writing in pen every day in bolder cursive — and the main subject was boys.

https://pixabay.com/photos/people-retro-male-man-men-boy-4086431/
Retro footwear on teen boys. When I turned 13 in 1963, I wrote in my diary daily in bold cursive  — and the main subject was boys. Photo: Pixabay

Who I had a crush on, who my friends liked and the seemingly endless list of places where we could and did run into boys — at school, at skating parties and dances, at ice cream socials, at our lakeside camp, at sports events, when they came down to our block and even at church!

None of these literary meanderings resulted in an actual boyfriend — I was still too young for that in my early teens. But I began taking a new look at my male Maine Endwell Junior High classmates who were once mere school chums at Hooper School elementary.

Braces

My first school photo with braces (c. 1963). No toothy grins for me! Those would have to wait  until the braces came off in my late teens. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Alas, my romantic musings were thwarted by the need for braces to correct wayward teeth — which meant getting a metal grill that glinted brightly when I smiled and required periodic orthodontist adjustments.

At first I was excited about getting braces. Lots of my girlfriends at school were getting them, too, so it seemed like the in thing.

But as my teen years progressed, the braces became an impediment to socializing with (you guessed it) boys — and I longed to get them removed. While I waited, I adopted a discrete smile for my annual school photos, as shown above.

Babysitting bonanza

Another major development in my early teens was getting my first babysitting jobs. No longer would I have to subsist on my meager 50-cents-a-week allowance (later raised to $1.00 after my siblings and I protested). Now I was paid by the hour — a veritable bonanza — and fervently hoped the adults would stay out late so I could accrue overtime.

Babysitting. Another major development in my early teens was my first babysitting jobs. No longer would I have to subsist on my meager weekly allowance. Now I was being paid by the hour — and  hoped the adults would stay out late so I could accrue overtime. Photo: Pixabay

In my early teens I mainly babysat on our street, where help from my parents was just a phone call away. Most families were large, so there was plenty of work — and it was much like a payroll job.

I’d get an orientation from the parents. “Bedtime is 8:30 pm. They can watch TV until then. There are games in the cupboard. Here’s where to reach us if needed,” they’d explain. Then, the magic words, “Help yourself to anything in the kitchen.”

I even became privy to mini-scandals, like which dads read Playboy or which moms read sexy novels — details we babysitters whispered about among ourselves during off hours!

But best of all was the influx of cash — badly needed in my early teens to purchase records by my favorite pop and rock stars at Woody’s Record Shop in nearby Endicott (more on this in Letter D).

Up next: Confirmation and finessing the Pledge. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!

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20 thoughts on “Boys, Braces and Babysitting #AtoZChallenge”

  1. I wish I had kept my diaries… what fun it would be to read about the boys and all I did. Sadly I threw my three diaries in the trash when I was getting married. I can still see them in the trash can! I was so silly! 😂 hope no one ever found!!! Oh the babysitters that snoop… I didn’t babysit too much but I remember one couple had lots of albums – beach music – and I liked to listen to them after the boy went to sleep. Think I snooped a bit… haha!

    1. I do sympathize. I tossed my college diary because I found it too pretentious — now I wish I hadn’t. But luckily my teen diary survived.

  2. Sounds like you had a good social life even with the braces and without the boyfriend. I had very, very little experience or opportunity to babysit so had to wait until about 16 or so to earn some cash.

    1. I think I lucked out in the babysitting department with large Baby Boom families on my street. It certainly helped keep me stocked with records and, later, books.

  3. I only babysat one summer. It was for my two year old cousin the year her little sister was born. Most kids on my block had older siblings or were about my age.

    1. Babysitting, like any job, depends on the available market for your skills. As I got older, I started babysitting off the street for friends of my parents, since the neighborhood kids were growing up — like the ones where you lived.

  4. I spent an entire summer babysitting every day so I could save enough money to go back to school shopping and pick out my own stuff. I still remember buying those corduroy overalls and being so proud that I had earned the money myself. Weekends In Maine

    1. Yes, there’s just something about earning one’s own money that sparks a sense of pride and independence. Maybe that’s why I still have the Dion and Dave Clark 5 albums I bought back then.

  5. Again – fantastic memories of adolescence Molly! I didn’t have braces but I can imagine parents thinking they were an ideal “contraceptive” of sorts 😉 Definitely babysitting but because I was an only child I didn’t really get an opportunity to be asked until I was probably a lot older than other girls – about 16 from memory. Like you, lots of crushes but no boyfriends until later teens.

    1. Never thought of that about the braces 🙂 Glad to know I wasn’t the only one with endless crushes and but no real boyfriend in the early teens.

  6. Molly,

    What a fun entry! I never kept a diary for long. It seemed pointless at the time but I always regretted not doing it and then I tried to journal as an adult which failed miserably. In some small way I hope the share memories in my posts where it fits in. I enjoyed your contribution for today’s A-Z Challenge.

    Stop by to see my latest Looney Tunes A-Z Art Sketch, Bugs Bunny on Curious as a Cathy when you can. Happy A2Zing!!

  7. Interesting memoirs there …. I have never worn braces but may be I should have coz my front teeth are very slightly protruding when viewed from a side angle but look perfect when I am facing the camera … ha ha
    In India it was rare to see kids left with baby sitters at least in the localities I grew up in… except for working women who had to make some arrangements during office hours kids were usually taken along…I mean almost every outing was a family thing …or if required there was always an aunt or grandmother who would pitch in to help.

    1. Our parents were just as social as we kids were in the 1960s, so babysitters were always needed to give parents some free time. Also, many of us lived away from our families — so hiring one anothers’ daughters seems to have been a good substitute.

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