Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

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Tell us your babysitting tales

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 4, 2002

Babysitting is hard work. You have to be responsible, and able to think on your feet -- like when a kid stuffs Cheerios up his nose, or eats her cocker spaniel's food.

One 15-year-old Pinellas County girl faced a much scarier babysitting challenge recently: Sheriff's deputies, responding to a house alarm call at the home where she was sitting for a 3-year-old and an 11-month-old, mistook her for a burglary suspect, drew guns and ordered her to the ground, where she was handcuffed.

Amanda Savas, a freshman honors student at Countryside High School in Clearwater, understandably was shaken by the experience but said she would return to babysitting.

Would you, after something like that?

We'd like to hear your babysitting tales for a possible Xpress story. Have you had any harrowing experiences? Have any of your charges been such handfuls that you've hung up your sitter's hat for good? Tell us why you like, or don't like, to babysit. What makes you most comfortable, and safe, when you are sitting? What advice do you have for the parents who hire you? How well does it pay?

Please send your stories via e-mail to floridian@sptimes.com (put Babysitting Tales in the subject line); regular mail to Babysitting Tales, c/o Gretchen Letterman, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 Please include your name, age, grade, school, city you live in and phone number, in case we need to talk with you.

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