Britney the baby-sitter chats animatedly on her cell phone with one of her high school friends while her charge, a baby boy, sleeps peacefully. "Did you hear the latest? Vincent and Marcia! Eww!"
Suddenly, infant Michael wakes up and begins to wail, interrupting Britney's train of thought. "Shut up!" she yells at the baby.
"Just shove it in the fridge," her friend on the other end jokingly suggests.
"I don't know where its jacket is," Britney replies, then goes on with her conversation as the baby continues its cries.
This scene is from an original show titled "Baby-sitting: The Bitter and the Better," written and performed by students at Great Neck North High School's Repertory Theater Honors Class at the request of Schneider Children's Hospital of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. The performance celebrated a donation from Kohl's department store that funds the hospital's baby-sitting training program.
"I've had baby-sitting jobs, but this pointed out all the little things that you could do wrong," says Julia Levy, a 16-year-old sophomore, after completing her role as Britney. (Baby Michael, rest assured, was played by a doll.)
Here's how to sign up for the hospital's training program, as well as other baby-sitting training programs offered on Long Island:
Schneider Children's Hospital of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, 269-01 76th Ave., New Hyde Park
The Children's Hospital Consultation Center, 353 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Commack, 718-470-3352
For ages: 11 to 16
Cost: $20 a person
The four-hour program taught by pediatric nurses covers basic first aid, baby care and safety. Participants get a baby-sitting certificate and booklet at the end. "Baby-sitting is a great job for teenagers to make money. But with that job comes a very big adult responsibility. The baby-sitting program prepares children for that responsibility," says Debora Riccardi, director of community outreach for Schneider Children's Hospital.
AMERICAN RED CROSS BABYSITTER TRAINING COURSE
For ages: 11 and older
Cost: $60 a person
The daylong class covers first aid, professionalism and other basic skills in caring for children. Participants get informational pamphlets and a certificate of completion. The Suffolk Chapter of the Red Cross is not currently offering a baby-sitting program.
Next classes: Jan. 17, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Feb. 17, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
DeMatteis Center of St. Francis Hospital, 101 Northern Blvd., Greenvale, 516-629-2036
For ages: 11 and older
Cost: $90 a person
The daylong class concentrates on medical issues for children. It covers CPR for children, infants and adults as well as how to use the Automatic External Defibrillator (known as an AED), basic first aid and how to handle choking and other medical emergencies.
Next classes: March 13, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; May 15, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
GETTING READY TO BABY-SIT
For ages: Grades 6 to 8, though older children can participate
Cost: $195 for up to 10 participants; $15 for each additional participant
The three-hour course teaches safety, diaper-changing and "the business of baby-sitting," such as advertising and interviewing. A library, after-school center or YMCA contacts the extension to book a program. Check with your local library to see when it might offer a session and sign up through that library.
Next classes: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9 at Smithtown Library; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 16 at Harborfields Library; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 23 at Bay Shore-Brightwaters Library; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 30 at East Islip Library