Monday, March 18, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: FIRST JOB

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

Here are March's prompts: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.


We were given lots of household chores in our family, both indoor and out. One I particularly remember was Saturday mornings spent "picking up sticks" in the front yard of our Folsom, LA house. We rotated jobs, and I always enjoyed the dusting and cleaning mirrors best. :)

When it came to jobs for other people, the first and most consistent thing I ever did was babysit. I loved babysitting. For several years in high school I babysat the Mann girls: Phoenix, Noel, Merry Lynn and Alaina. I adored those girls! (Still do.) It was so much fun to watch them grow up and to be loved by them. What an honor! It was also great preparation for becoming a mom. I remember getting lots of praise for how I handled the girls -- we had a lot of fun together! -- except for one time when I carried the girls with me to take one of my mom's foster babies to the doctor. Oh boy, was Jana mad! She did NOT want her girls picking up some something in that doctor's office. I've never forgotten that.

Other jobs I had (for pay) were working as a cashier at Krystal's (nothing like fast food to teach you a thing or two about people), working in Sears (hardware department, about which I knew virtually nothing going in), and as a Mother's Day Out teacher (which is basically babysitting, but with a curriculum). 

Anyhow, here is a poem about the kind of babysitter I tried to be, and the kind of babysitter I wanted (and had! Hi, Jessica!) for my boys. My ideal *might* be a little bit influenced by one Mary Poppins. :)

The Best Babysitter

The best babysitter
hardly ever sits –
she invites us to climb
her like a jungle gym,
then she tickles us to bits.
She reads us
stacks of stories
and makes mealtime fun.
Her fingers are puppets
and she knows the best songs
to get the chores done.
She keeps us safe and clean.
She warms our chilly toes.
Everyone who meets her
says the same thing:
I want one of those!

- Irene Latham


  1. Loved reading this! I worked at Montgomery Wards, hired to work in the furniture/soft goods, but eventually worked almost every department. My boss would hire me any time I was home from college. Lots of learning at that store. And I loved babysitting too. I think I might have to write about first job sometime, but I'll have to figure out what my first "real job" was.

  2. My only job besides teaching was working in a jewelry store, cleaning the counters! Idid babysit some, but mostly my cousins that lived across the street, no pay, but fun. My own children's favorite sitter was one who told them stories, & included them in them! I love your poem, especially about "fingers are puppets", delightful!


Your thoughts?