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Adventures In Babysitting

These days, raising kids is rougher and tougher than ever — sometimes parents just need a break. And when that break is beaconing, both new parents and old pros look to the ever-reliable babysitter to provide a few hours respite from the many duties of caring for children.

However, parents often have a difficult time locating an honest, trustworthy and reliable babysitter in a pinch. But the Massapequa Public Library’s Babysitter Job Fair aimed to remedy this problem.

Created by Young Adult Services librarian Peter Cirona, the Babysitter Job Fair is just what it sounds like — a chance for parents to meet qualified sitters in an open environment and make the choose that best suits their needs.

“I held my first one in 2003...we hold them three or four times a year,” Cirona said. “This idea was originally done at the Bryant Library in Roslyn...I got idea from the lady that was the teen librarian there.”

Cirona said that the Babysitter Job Fairs are typically held right after he runs the Library’s Babysitting Class; this is a free two-hour course that shows young ladies (or young men, should they choose to attend) the skills they need to be effective caretakers to kids, he said.

“We have two registered nurses from Winthrop University Hospital who work in the neonatal intensive care unit...they’ve been giving the classes for me for the last 11 years,” he said. “They do it as a team, and they teach the kids all the skills they need to market themselves and get referrals, as well how to work with very young children, doing things such as changing diapers, feeding them, as well as some emergency medical training.”

“The turnout for the classes is great...they’re always filled to their maximum of 30,” Cirona continued. “However, the Job Fair afterwards varies tremendously...one time I had 10 girls and about 30 parents showed up, and another time I had about 15 girls and maybe three parents. It goes up and down, depending on what day of the week it is.”

After mastering the ancient art of child care, the grads of the Babysitting class (and any other interested parties as well) are invited to attend the Job Fair, where they get to put their new-found skills on display in hopes of landing work; despite the heavy competition, Cirona says it’s a great way for aspiring babysitters to get their feet wet.

“We have so many younger teens who want to make money as sitters,” he said. “It’s a very good way for people in the community to find very eager, well-trained sitters...a lot of them are beginners, but it’s a good way for them to break into babysitting.”

Morgan Schnee, a local ninth grader, has had previous experience sitting for her two younger sisters as well as her neighbors, and was hoping to drum up some additional business — and money — at the Job Fair.

“I like working with little kids...they’re cute,” she said. “To stand out from the other girls when the parents come today, I brought crayons and stickers...hopefully that’ll help me get some jobs.”

Dena Bam, also a ninth grader, has some experience under her belt, as well. She is looking to peddle her advanced child-caring wares on the open market.

“I want to do this to make some money, and there are not a lot of jobs you can get when you’re 14,” she said. “I took the babysitting class before, and it taught me important things like how to do CPR, changing diapers and other stuff.”

Tatum McMullan, a seventh grader, is another graduate of the library’s Babysitting Class, and even brought her diploma to the Job Fair to show prospective customers that she means business.

“I think the class was very informative, so I now know what to do in any situation...if the child’s choking, I can do the Heimlich maneuver. We went over everything,” she said. “People should hire me because I’m very responsible, and I’m not only good with kids, but I can help them as well.”

Adrianne Upton from Massapequa was one of the first customers who arrived to peruse the assorted talent gathered at the Babysitter Job Fair, and to really put the girls through the paces and gauge their effectiveness, she brought along their potential client — her energetic three-year old grandson, Michael.

“I think this is a great opportunity to meet young ladies in the area who babysit...my daughter relies upon me to watch Michael a lot, and I adore my grandkids, but she needs to have back-ups as well for when I’m not available,” she said. “Each and every one of these girls looks more than capable, and I get such a good feeling from all of them...they’re all so sweet, and it’s going to be hard to pick just one.”