Back when I was 15, my good friend Stacey and I were asked to take on a challenging babysitting job: eight dollars an hour to supervise eight children in one house for four hours. My memory, now hopelessly entangled with my imagination, informs me that all the children were less than eight years old.
Stacey and I were not inexperienced babysitters. We both were veterans of numerous Saturday nights and, by the time of this story, had the theme music of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island (Saturday night staples of the pre-cable era) by heart. Green we were not. Still, we were shocked when two of our charges, ages three and four, locked themselves in an upstairs bedroom and were unable to escape. After prolonged negotiations concerning the workings of the lock, we considered our options. The door hardware was old and hopelessly painted over, and we had no idea where the tool box was anyway. The small people behind the door were now deeply distressed. The other children were engaging in unsupervised and potentially troubling activities. Finally, in an act of desperation, Stacey climbed out the next door bedroom window, shimmied along the roof and let herself into the window of the locked room, thereby freeing our hostages. Proud of our problem solving, we reported the incident to our employers. We were not asked back.
I was reminded of this story when I saw a recent video advertisement produced by the American Red Cross encouraging potential babysitters to make use of their new Babysitting Basics Course. The course is offered online, can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection, and, according to the ad, will help earnest young teenagers like Stacey and I avoid difficult situations with young children. (We also offer a classroom based course.) In the ad, the not so innocent victims of incompetent babysitters talk directly to the camera in a breathtakingly adorable way. If you are a young person interested in babysitting to make extra cash or if you are the parent of a young teenager who wants to help his or her child be prepared to babysit, watch this ad, or that one, and then take the course. Trust me; it is well worth your time.
In other cute video news, the American Red Cross is not the only organization using humor to encourage people to learn important skills. In order to encourage participation in first aid trainings, the Australian Red Cross released this advertising video, which uses animation to tell a rather drastic story about the importance knowing how to help someone with a small problem before it turns into a big one. The video is extremely well made, amusing and also worth a few minutes of your time.
The point is the American Red Cross and the Australian Red Cross and all the chapters all over the world are here to help human beings become more helpful, useful and supportive of one another. We will use humor to get your attention. It is less painful than showing you endless footage of what really happens when things go terribly wrong due to weather or war. But we want you to know, we conduct trainings in first aid, babysitting, life guarding, nursing assistance and disaster relief. Please take us up on these opportunities to learn how to help others. Check out all the options on our website and find out how you can become the one who knows what to do.
— Posted by Sarah Peterson, Communications Volunteer