Babysitters Club Meeting

By Hannah Holbert

“We’re totally going to talk about menstruation.”

Hi, I’m Hannah Holbert. I’m the mother of two great kids who, despite being partially raised by their iPads, have turned out brilliant! I also have a good husband (I mean he’s no Watson Brewer…)! My husband has a job, which is nice since I don’t (sorry Elizabeth Thomas-Brewer). He is some kind of an academic though I’m not quite sure what he does. I know he plays with stuff and pops stuff so I’m guessing he’s in the field of… I wanna say balloon research? Whatever. Balloons are not what I’m here discuss. Indeed balloons are lightweight compared to the enormity and importance of my task. I am here to talk about The Babysitters Club (BSC).

That was my introduction, which is an integral part of a BSC book or episode.

As a middle schooler in the early 90’s I was a fan of the BSC  books. As a 41 year old mom in 2023 I’m an even bigger fan of the Netflix series based on the BSC! Sure, the families depicted on BSC can all afford to live in Stonybrook, Connecticut, which isn’t exactly representative, but at least they go to public school (unlike those assholes on Gossip Girl)! And while the depiction of economic diversity is laughable, the kindness and respect given to most other social issues is, like, totally woke! There are so many times I cried watching the show: tears of nostalgia, tears of happiness, and occasional tears of woe—“Claudia’s Sad Goodbye” much. 

I can’t talk about all the tears—we don’t have the time and I don’t have enough gatorade to stay hydrated—so I’ll focus on two issues, friendship and starting your period. Unless I change my mind! Which is also ok, because changing your mind is like saying you’re sorry and actually meaning it, it’s something demonstrated on BSC in every episode.  It’s better than never allowing or admitting you can be wrong! That’s how fascists, dictators, Putins, and Trumps behave…I guess extremists and men in general. [That sounds right Hannah, you are great at knowing words!] OMG my inner cheerleader just manifested! Thank you BSC! 

Sorry for the rant, I’m probably PMSing or something [Focus Hannah! Stop letting your emotions interfere with your work]. I’m just kidding I’m ovulating not premenstrual.

Ok, back to menstruation!

The embarrassment and stigma that surrounds such a perfectly normal aspect of life for half the population is the epitome of the misogynistic and patriarchal system that has demonized us witches throughout history. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-men, I respect and I’m attracted to some men (see Watson Brewer). I just don’t think periods need to be discussed in hushed voices and given ridiculous code names, even when talking to other women. I was so embarrassed when I started my period at 11, that I kept it secret from everyone, including my mom and my best friends. The fact that in the very first episode of BSC Claudia is working on an abstract art piece about menstruation made me so happy! 

The last episode of season one, “Kristy’s Big Day,” is probably my favorite. It is also probably the best example of girls supporting one another through puberty, and of girls being open with each other without embarrassment. When Kristy starts her first period at the end of her mother’s wedding to Watson Brewer [Jealous!], the girls all follow her to the bathroom with supplies and hugs. Kristy, who was always the one that was the most uncomfortable with girl stuff, isn’t ashamed. Then, before her mom (Alicia Silverstone! Classic!) leaves for her honeymoon, and after an amazing mother-daughter convo in the driveway, as an after thought Kristy shouts, “By the way, I started my period”! Then the BSC all hit the dance floor and giggle and hug and dance with abandon like you only can do with your best girlfriends. I definitely cried at that part!

Friends and periods. Not a lot of “kids” shows deal with the reality of what it means to be a young girl—or if they do, they either hide it in cute metaphors or over the top drama. Being able to talk, dance, giggle, and hug about being a girl matters! Hell, being able to talk, dance, giggle, and hug about being whatever you are, whoever you love, wherever you live, matters! And that’s what the BSC is all about. For my nine year old daughter Maisie—who is my BSC binge buddy—the world is a place full of all kinds of people who should be valued and treated with kindness. And that makes me cry happy tears.

The show is not perfect (the only representation of “poverty” is a kid at an expensive summer camp without a credit card), but little by little BSC pushes out judgement and reminds us about compassion. It’s like an introduction to wokeness…and menstruation.