This American Life: Babysitting

This American Life: Babysitting

Thu, 08/29/2013 - 9:00pm - 10:00pm
Photo Credit: Aimee Ray

Stories of babysitters, and what goes on while mom and dad are away that mom and dad never find out about.

Listen in for this encore presentation of one of the most popular episodes in This American Life's history. This American Life "Babysitting" encores Thursday, August 29 at 9 p.m. on AM 1370/FM-HD 91.5-2.


We listen in on a ritual that happens in millions of families every week: kids getting dropped off at the babysitters. Six-year-old Dylan and nine-year-old Sarah explain what they can and can't get away with when they have a babysitter. After that, host Ira Glass has a few words about Mary Poppins, who is the Gold Standard of all fictional babysitters. The movie Mary Poppins contains the classic modern song about babysitting. We hear several versions of the song over the course of the program. The first is by Chicago girl punk/pop band, the Dishes. (5 minutes)

Song: "The Perfect Nanny", The Dishes

Act One. What Big Teeth You Have.

Lots of babysitting is done by family members. Hillary Frank reports on what can happen when a teenaged son is put in charge of his younger brothers. It's not pretty. (14 minutes)

Song: "The Perfect Nanny", from Mary Poppins, covered by Jon Langford, with John Rice on mandolin

Act Two. In The Event Of An Emergency, Put Your Sister In An Upright Position.

The story of several huge companies that accidentally got put into the babysitting business in a big, big way because of snow on December 26, 1988. Every year on the day after Christmas, divorced kids all over America fly from one parent to the other. In 1988, lots of them got snowed in at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Susan Burton and her little sister were among them. (9 minutes)

Song: "Minimum Wage Nanny", The Simpsons

Act Three. Yes There Is A Baby.

Myron Jones and his sister Carol Bove explain what happened when they were teenagers, and they ended up babysitting children who didn't exist. (25 minutes)