Navigate the Journal

Articles Archive

Journal Main Page


Laura Stuff @ LnE

Lance and Eskimo Comix

Inconsistently Detailed Boy Meets World Episode Guide

The Girls' Zone

Rags' Home of Calico and Suffering


Go Home

Lance and Eskimo Dot Com


Contact Laura

Why The Baby-sitters Club Should Have Aged

The Baby-sitters Club books are valued parts of my childhood. I began reading when I was about eight, and continued for a number of years. I collected a complete set of books from one to somewhere in the seventies, plus Super Specials, re-reading each several times. I made a diorama of the club members using multicultural Barbie dolls. I went through my sixth grade year (1997) blissfully unaware that oversized sweatshirts over leggings were not as cool as they had been in 1990, when the classic early books had been written.

I've recently gone back and started re-reading some of the old books, and something that bugged me about them then now bugs me intolerably. After about book ten, the girls stop aging. The first few books take the club through all of seventh grade, and then once they get to eighth, they stay there, thirteen for the next hundred-plus books. This drives me up the wall. Why didn't they age? They should have aged, and I'll tell you why.

  • There's no reason to keep them in middle school. It's perfectly normal and respectable for high-schoolers to baby-sit. The writers could have gotten a lot of mileage out of the girls' high school years. It need not have occurred in real time; they still could have drawn out the series run over fifteen years, guesstimating the rate of aging against how long they thought they would still make books. If necessary, they could have drawn out twelfth grade year over an extra long span of time. That at least would have made sense.

  • They all act like they're older anyway. A lot of the things the Baby-sitters do don't really make sense given that they're all at most thirteen. Allowing them to age would grant more believability to many of the things they already do-- like taking care of newborns, dating, hanging out adult-free, and becoming disillusioned with the popularity-based culture of cheerleaders in school. It would also grant them new privileges such as staying out late and driving.

  • It doesn't make sense to have so many different life-changing events in one year. During the main group's eighth grade year, Kristy's mom gets married, Dawn and Mary Anne's parents get married and divorced, Claudia's grandmother has a stroke and later passes on, and Stacey moves to New York and back god knows how many times. All of these events might-- might-- happen over the course of six years, from seventh through twelfth grades, but they certainly could not all occur in the span from spring of seventh grade to the end of eighth.

  • Would have made all those repeating summer vacations and holidays etc. less noticeably ridiculous. Not only do the girls go through every concievable life-changing event, but they go through once-a-year holidays and seasonal milestones several times in one year. The first ten books follow a pretty normal pattern taking the girls through seventh grade and into the beginning of eighth, but after awhile the writers stop caring, and seasons and holidays and dropped willy-nilly throughout the series. It'll be explicitly stated that it's summer vacation and two books later they'll be back in eighth grade. Valentine's day happens at least twice.

    Ideally, the series would follow the girls through high school with an orderly, chronological progression of seasons, but multiple separate Valentine's days could at least be justified if more than one year were in question.

  • It would have been interesting to see the girls grow and change over time. It's frustrating for the girls to go through life milestones and important lessons, but to never really grow. Sure, things happen (see the point about life-changing events), but the passage of time could have allowed for so much more character development. Some club members could grow disinterested in baby-sitting; others could become even more dedicated, deciding that working with children is their life's work. Relationships could develop; boyfriends could come and go (as it is, only Mary Anne ever has a meaningful relationship, which theoretically is fine as meaningful relationships should be a rarity among middle-schoolers). Kristy could finally realize she's a lesbian. So much possibility.

    I think the writers were afraid of allowing the girls to change too much for fear of alienating their readership, but they also weren't satisfied with keeping the universe stagnant. So they straddled the line and ended up with temporal ridiculousness. I believe little girls would have been able to handle watching their favorite characters gradually age; after all, the girls themselves were aging, and it might have even succeeded in capturing their interest for longer. The books could have gotten more sophisticated in reading level as the characters aged, like the Harry Potter books of today! Of course, since the club did contain some younger members-- and more could have continued to join-- there could still be new books for the younger readers, too. It could have been so great, such an empire.

  • It would have been interesting to see sitting charges grow and change over time. Watching the kids grow up is a key part of being a baby-sitter that cannot be examined in a temporally static universe. The children and their family situations were often just as interesting, if not more, than the baby-sitters' own, and time and aging would only enhance that. Additionally, as some of the core members drifted from the club, they could have been replaced by up-and-coming new baby-sitters from among the neighborhood kids (Vanessa Pike and Charlotte Johanssen are my picks for best new baby-sitters.)

  • It would have made for a more compelling and emotional graduation day. The final Baby-sitters Club book chronicles the eighth-grade contingent of the club reaching their graduation from middle school. They make a time capsule and promise to dig it up in eight years, after college graduation, to see how things have turned out. This makes a lot, lot more sense as a high school graduation plot, with eight years amended to four. After all, why get weepy over middle school graduation? Everyone was going to the same high school and would continue to see each other every day. There was no reason that the club couldn't continue, and, in fact, I believe the girls did plan on continuing. Wouldn't it have been much more weepy and great as a high school graduation where the original members of the club are preparing to go off to different colleges? The younger members could still plan to continue the club, nervous that they wouldn't be able to hold it together without the old officers, and the older girls would be sad to go, and uneasy that the club would continue without them, but they would look forward to moving on to bigger and better things, making for a lovely, bittersweet ending.


- Laura