Granny I Talk about Babysitters


In Jamaica parents take their job of parenting their children seriously. Jamaican women would much rather stay at home and raise, normal, healthy well-adjusted children as opposed to rearing monstrous ragamuffins. While Jamaican fathers relish the idea of being sole providers for their household, ensuring that their family is properly provided for and fortified.

With the changing times and economic downturns, families worldwide have succumbed to more modern ways of child-rearing. Departing from their old-fashioned heritage and pursuing other options such as Nannies, Mannies and Babysitters.

Granny Gheeta was always opposed to other people raising her children. It was her philosophy that some caretakers often spread a wave of bad examples, which later on down the road became unflattering habits, which are hard to break.

For instance, Granny told me stories about her time when most housewives

stayed home and minded their children. However, there were one or two women in her era that were renegades who decided to pursue challenging careers.

Granny Gheets began re-telling the story of a lady by the name of Mrs. Ramparan who wanted to start her own clothing establishment, therefore she enlisted the help of babysitters on the days that she would be away from home meeting with some of her vendors.  Granny began rambling…….

“At first, everything seemed to work quite smoothly until Mrs. Ramparan decided to utilize the services of a few teenaged girls by rotating their schedules, because her children started calling the usual babysitter “Mother”.

Mrs. Ramparan was mortified at the thought that the woman caring for her children were thought of as their mother. Rotating different babysitters seemed to be the logical choice at the time because she figured the children would not become too attached to any of them. But, once the babysitter named, “Sylvie” arrived at the home. Life for the Ramparans quickly changed.

Initially, Sylvie seemed so agreeable and helpful, until she was challenged by the other babysitters. She soon found conniving ways to get in the good graces of the childrens’ parents by telling fables on the other workers, securing a permanent spot for herself. Once Sylvie was permanently in charge of the Ramparan’s household, her diabolic nature began to surface.

Mrs. Ramparan started becoming suspicious, when her youngest, Jonah was sitting in the parlor with her while entertaining guests. They were talking about some trivial happenings on the island, when Jonah, only three years old, exclaimed, “What the b****cloth you saying to me!”

There was dead silence in the room amongst Mrs. Ramparan’s hoity-toity friends. They could not imagine where Jonah had gotten such perverse language from. Neither herself nor her husband used expletives in the home, so the words that came from Jonah’s mouth were shocking. Jonah was quickly scolded and sent to his room for some alone time. The situation was shrugged off by Jonah’s parents as an isolated incident triggered by work-men around the home, etc.

Several months passed and things appeared fine and the household was running smoothly, until Mrs. Ramparan came home from her Shop unexpectedly. She found Sylvie chastising the children horribly, telling them “Uno go to uno ra***cloth bed.”

 There was no longer any mystery in her mind where Jonah had begun learning his foul language. It was quite clear that Sylvie was tutoring the children inadvertently on a daily basis, while her delinquent boyfriend looked on. Mrs. Ramparan began to detect scents of alcohol throughout the house, but she didn’t understand where it was coming from, then she took a whiff of Jonah’s and

Sarita’s sippy cups and there she found a mixture of fruit punch and Jamaica’s 100 proof white rum. Then to cover up her short comings Sarita gave her a convoluted story that, 4 year old Sarita had fell while the boyfriend was watching her.

She gave them both the white rum to drink to alleviate the shock. Needless to say, that was the last time Sylvie ever watched the Ramparan’s children.”

Granny continued, “It was just a twist of fate that Leela Ramparan came home early that day, because if she hadn’t, perhaps that wretched girl Sylvie and her delinquent boyfriend would have the children smoking marijuana next…..It was just a frightening situation. Thank God there was no permanent damage to either children. It took several months to de-program her children from the exposure of bad language, clandestine frolicking and alcohol drinking. Sylvie was an artist of illusion. It turned out, that she never washed the childrens’ clothes, she only aired them out on the clothes line and packed them away with sachets. Many of the neighbors attested to the fact that she would often be seen running from the house when the children began crying to avoid the stress.  She often styled the little girl’s hair, with honey and vinegar to keep it from being unruly. It was a fiasco! That child had such beautiful hair, all you had to do was wet the brush and braid her hair. By the time Sylvie left, poor Sarita’s hair looked like the bride of Frankenstein.”

Granny shook her head with sorrow, commenting, “You know I could be a rich woman if your Grandpa and I both worked, but the safety and health of our children were not worth the price or sacrifice.”

I figured out that Granny Gheets was trying to tell me that it was important for women to keep their priorities in order when seeking careers. Because even though a person may gain incredible success and financial rewards, if his/her family suffers as a result, then it would not have been worth the effort. The moral of Granny’s story would be, ”If a woman or man wants a good job done, sometimes he/she have to do it themselves and that includes raising proper children.

It is possible to raise good children with help, but today’s working mothers have to be smart, savvy and remain one step ahead of what is going on in their homes when they are not always around.

About the author

Margaret J.Bailey