Saturday, July 21, 2007

You know what I loved when I was a kid?

I loved the Baby-Sitters Club.

Loved them.

One of the (many good things) about having a big sister is that you get introduced to a lot of things a few years earlier than other girls your age. Books are among these things.

My sister was never as big a reader as I was (still isn't...although she DID think the Sparknotes for Wuthering Heights were pretty good) but I did inherit many childhood classics from her...Judy Blume (I have no idea how I possibly could have gotten through childhood and adolescence without my Judy Blume! I have also have reread Judy's adult novel, Summer Sisters every single summer since I was 16. I was recently stretched out in the sun with it, and my sister commented, "Haven't you already read that book?" "Ah, yes," I responded. "I reread it EVERY summer." My sister gave the typical response..."DORK." )

Then there was the Ramona Quimby series...and Charlotte's Web...which inspired me to give up meat at a very young age...The First Four Years, which hooked me on the Little House books, and, of course, The Babysitters Club.

I was hooked.

I believe I began reading them in the second grade, and continued until I was in the 6th...when I was far beyond the reading level (fourth grade, I think) but just couldn't bear saying goodbye to the girls of Stonybrook.

They felt like old friends by then. Ann M. Martin pumped out a new book every month...sometimes more than that...there were Super Specials and Mystery editions, and then there were even books told from Logan's point of view! (Logan was Mary Anne's boyfriend...he was a boy babysitter, and a bit of a social pariah because of it. However, Logan learned not to care about being made fun of by the other boys in the neighborhood, because Logan, like MOST 13-year-old boys, was extremely mature and secure. Yup.)

In the first of the series, Kristy's Great Idea, the girls are in the 7th grade. When you are 7, 12-years-old sounds infinitely old and mature. They would eventually go on to the 8th grade, where they would remain for the next fifty-seven years.

These books made me extremely excited to one day turn 12 or 13. I was sure that I would be able to run the world by then. Kristy, Mary Anne and the gang lead extremely exciting, romantic lives. They got to go on trips to New York City all by themselves (I was a child LIVING in New York City at the time and I wasn't even allowed to walk around my neighborhood by myself), they would go on sailing trips (in one edition where Claudia, Dawn and a bunch of their babysitting charges got stranded on an island), and babysit infants. (I watch infants NOW. And I can tell ' really isn't easy! I doubt I could have handled watching three kids under 5, AND a newborn, at the age of 13!)

They also had boyfriends...ALL of them had boyfriends...even tomboy Kristy and painfully shy Mary Anne. (Who would date Logan for 54 of those 55 years of the 8th grade. They actually broke up once, but found their way back to each other. 8th grade romances really ARE that strong.) Now, when I was 12 or 13, I really had no interest in boys in my class. If I could have chosen a boyfriend back then, I would have chosen Chris O'Donnell...or Harry Connick, Jr.

Even Jessi Ramsey and Mallory Pike had boyfriends, and, as any fan of the series would know, they were "junior" members of the club and they were only ELEVEN!

Heck, when I was eleven, I was still dressing up my American Girl dolls.

The Baby-Sitters Club were jetsetters. I was convinced that junior high was going to be the most exciting time in my life. I would have officially ARRIVED, and life would be grand.

But then it wasn't!

And looking back, I can honestly say that the Baby-Sitters Club had much much MUCH more of lives at 11-13 than I do at 25.

I am not kidding, as I spend my evening watching Lifetime movies, trying out new face masks and conditioners, and knitting sweaters for dogs.

(Yup, still not kidding.)

I recently read a quote from Miss Natalie Portman that I found amusing:

I loved reading the Baby-sitters Club series. They had all types of girls -- the really smart one, the really girly girl, the earthy crunchy girl -- but it confused me. I was like, "Oh, my God, I'm no one. I'm not a type. I don't know who I am." One of the major shifts I felt coming into adulthood was the understanding that there's no such thing as types.

Right on, Natalie. Right on!

I still don't know what type I am...and I'm pretty sure my life never WILL be as thrilling as Stacey McGill's.

However, those books gave me some fabulous memories and hours of entertainment, and I am sure many girls my age feel the same way.

I remember six years ago, I was working in Barnes and Noble, and a college-aged girl came in and said, "Do you have the very last Baby-Sitters Club book? I need to have it! I just NEED TO KNOW HOW IT ALL TURNS OUT FOR THEM!"

Don't we all, young lady. Don't we ALL.

Diana Rissetto

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