What are your ambitions, besides babysitting?
I play guitar. And write. And I’d like to get into acting. I used to play at coffee shops by myself. But since I’ve been in New York, I’ve been in a creative slump. My first goal is eating, paying rent. I’d like to go to India. Sometimes I think I should start a daycare center. There are so few good ones. But I don’t have the money.
How do your parents feel about you being a babysitter?
They’re not surprised. I’ve always done stuff with kids, even when I was little. I have a sister who’s eleven years younger than me and my mom and dad both worked, so my older sister and I took care of my little sister a lot. This has been fun. I mean, I’m an adult, but I still like to play. And you totally see rewards from spending time with these kids. The other day I was at Willy Bee’s waiting for this little boy to arrive and checking the mail on my phone and all of a sudden I hear, “RYAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” It made me so happy, that this kid likes me that much.
How many kids do you take care of now?
I have two four-year-olds. One kid that’s two and a half. And then I babysit off and on for other families. Another kid who just turned two. Another girl who’s four. Another boy who’s four and his brother, who’s, like, nineteen months. Those are the main ones. My usual age range is five months to five years. They’ve all come word of mouth. I don’t even know how they got my number. When I moved here in 2003, no one wanted a guy, so I wasn’t expecting much, but then it just exploded. So I’ve stuck with it.
Do you make a good living?
I do okay. But I have a lot of student loans and bills, so not great.
Do you find that you have a lot in common with the parents whose kids you watch?
Yes! It’s so weird. Where I’m from, I babysat kids and it was so different. That was probably the hardest thing when I moved here – getting used to families who weren’t insanely conservative and clashing with me on things. I’ve always been kind of paranoid, because when you don’t get along with parents, babysitting is a lot harder. But here, all the parents I deal with are so cool. They’re just trendy Williamsburg parents – really, really nice and sweet. It’s made my job so much easier.
Do you have the same musical taste?
Yes, totally. I went to a Regina Spektor concert and one of the parents whose kids I sit for was also there. I was all, “Hey!” It’s really cool. We also share morals. It’s good to be on the same page with parents when you’re watching their kids. I was the oddball out when I lived in Minnesota, because I was liberal.
Are parents more permissive here?
Yeah, I think that probably is true. Not all of the parents are, but definitely more so in the city than in Minnesota, where parents are really strict. Too strict, usually. I think it all comes out in the wash, though. I was just walking with a boy I was sitting for and we passed a girl from his class and he called, “Sadie! Sadie!” and when she walked by he said to me, “That was my girlfriend.” And I said, “Really? That’s cool.” And then he said, “My boyfriend’s Hayden.” His mother told me he came up to her once and said, “Mom! Someone at school told me I couldn’t marry Mori.” And his mother said, “That’s not true. You can marry anyone you want.”
photo courtesy Nicole Marie Polec