Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Special Needs Parenting and the 80’s

Parenting a child with special needs is more similar to parenting a typical child than different. After all, each of us worry about our kids and, at times, about our parenting skills. We worry about sleep and school and bullies and wonder how our children will live life once we’ve stopped breathing.

We hope that our children will find and be met with empathy and wonder, inclusion and love. Perhaps the biggest difference is that as parents raising children who have special needs, we’re a bit more sensitive. And, we’re probably more worried about what will happen to these superhero kids once we we’re no longer able to advocate for them.

Friends, before having my son, I’ll tell you that I had no idea whether it was kinder to pretend to not notice a child with differences, to ask about him, or to just say hi to his mom (the answer, by the way is that asking is fine, as is saying hi, but not noticing on purpose? Let me tell you now – you are way less sleuth-like in looking away than you think you are).

When it comes down to it, one of the things I’ve learned about special needs parents is that we worry about what types of jobs our children will have. Will he be able to support himself? Will he find a job that he loves? Will people make fun of him? This question keeps many of us up each night.

I pray that my son will find a crappy first job that he loves and hates and is proud of. That he has a better second and third job. That he’ll be able to support himself. Many people with special needs are not able to work, and so I know how lucky we are that it’s likely that Tucker will be able to.

Speaking of crappy first jobs…


“Please let them cancel,” I thought. As my mom hung up the phone, all I wanted was for her to tell me that Jodi and Julie’s mom had changed her mind. That I wouldn’t have to babysit that night. I hoped that somebody’s mom, my own, maybe, would realize that I was utterly incompetent.

I’d recently earned my Red Cross badge which meant that I was an official babysitter at 11. The two girls who lived up the hill were cooler than I was. Jodi, the older of the two, was in my brother’s grade and a mere 18 months younger than I was. I was much more concerned about surviving the evening and being liked by the girls than I was being in charge, and so when I heard “Please let us stay up! We promise to not tell our mom!” I listened, and let them stay up. The whopping $1/hour I made wasn’t worth a fight.

Of course, the girls told their mother, and the next time I went, her stressed-out, over-hair-sprayed head and too-red lips said with a stiff smile “The girls told me that you let them stay up past their bedtime last time. Please don’t do that again.” I totally did it again, pretty much every time I watched them. She paid me $1/hour after all.


Each day, I’d ride my bike to and from the country club to carry around rich lazy dudes’ golf clubs. I remember some of the bags weighed a ton, were full of extra shoes, a million spare balls, etc. When we weren’t “on a loop” (technical caddy term you see), we played cards in the caddy shack. I was the only girl, which was awesome and scary. That was the summer that I gave my first BJ. But not in the caddy shack. Instead, it was at a boy named Boo’s basement while his mom made us lunch upstairs. I also never did find a good way to ask the golfers if they’d like me to wash their balls.

Later in high school, I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Talk about nasty. Once, I dropped an entire tray of chicken on the greasy slimy floor, and my boss had me serve it up anyway *shudder.* Once you got past the disgusting brown polyester uniforms and always smelling like chicken, it was a fun job. Pretty much everybody who worked there was about the same age, we all went to the same high school and often times, at night, work was like a party. We’d answer the phone saying “Kenfucky Tried Chicken” really fast. At the registers, we’d say “How! Hi are you?” It’s amazing how many people didn’t catch it.

KFC Can I help you

I dated two of the guys who worked there and am friends with both of them on Facebook today. Plus, I know how to make biscuits from scratch and that sometimes, there are tiny feathers on the chicken wings.

I drove limos. Billy Idol wanted to sex me. Maybe I should have, but, as sexy as his lips and his accent are, it’s likely that I’d have wanted more from him than he’d have been willing to give, and been disappointed. Plus, ew.


Limo driving in the 80

Here’s me and my limo boss working a bridal show in a mall


I got a career in marketing, and canceled it once Tucker was born. I stayed at home with him for three+ years, and now work part-time. Somewhere between making $1/hour and today, I realized that money doesn’t matter as much as I thought that it did. I’d rather hang out with this little dude. Except for when I’d rather work.

But mostly, this guy.

Tucker is six


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post and the sentence is “My first job…” And here, I talk about Special Needs Parenting and the 80’s.

Me, Kristi from Finding Ninee,
Kerri, sentence thinker at (Un)Diagnosed but Okay
Kelly Just Typikel and Deborah

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  • Sandy Ramsey - You always, always, always take me down memory lane, Kristi. I remember babysitting and my first summer job, the career I wanted and the one I ended up with, then giving it up to stay home and be mom.
    Money is nice but it’s not the end all. Not anymore.
    Wonderful words. As always.July 9, 2015 – 10:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks Sandy. That’s extra kind because I posted it totally unfinished in a hurry and so tired. Anyway, I changed it and I’m still editing but appreciate your kindness!! And yeah, totally with you on the money being nice but not everything at all! xoJuly 10, 2015 – 7:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - You had some cool first jobs (except the babysitting). I was drafted for that one summer, it was good money $25 a week for a boy the same age as my brother to come over all day while his dad was at work. My brother had somebody to play with instead of bugging me so it was the easiest money made ever.

    I remember the BIlly Idol story. LOL!July 9, 2015 – 10:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I did have some cool first jobs, and just edited this to include Kentucky Fried Chicken (posted before I was done – ahhh the pressure of 10pm on Thursday nights). That’s awesome that your first babysitting gig was better than mine. I remembered one little boy locking me out of his house for HOURS. Seriously. Ugh.July 10, 2015 – 7:17 pmReplyCancel

  • ivy - I was totally that kind of babysitter too! Worse, is that I let him stay at the second time to even after the parents asked me not to. And I have always wanted to be a limo driver. Although I hear it’s a really crap job!July 9, 2015 – 11:01 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Me too! I changed this to say that (posted before done). The limo driving was both fun and horrible. It had its moments for sure but one of them was me locking a bunch of drunk guys in the back and calling the cops on them!July 10, 2015 – 7:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I am with you on giving up the job and money for being a mom is truly the best job I could have ever gotten even in the craziest of moments I wouldn’t trade it for the world here either. 😉July 10, 2015 – 7:09 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks Janine and yeah, I feel like I’d miss too much if I worked full-time. Plus, when Tucker was younger, I really wanted to spend time at school and do all of the stuff I could! Happy Friday, friend!July 10, 2015 – 7:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Blooming Autism - I wanted a change of career and during my later 20’s I trained as a nurse. Qualified in 2007, Eliza born 2009, Nursing career over 2012. It was not easy giving up something I really wanted in some ways but because it was for my child I could handle it. She needed me, no childcare could offer the right support at that time so I chose her and never looked back. I will look for my next career once the boy is at school but it will need to fit around them both, her especially. Thank you for sharing. You are an awesome mummy! xxxJuly 10, 2015 – 2:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Kelly McKenzie - Your pal Don better read this. Ha!
    You’ve reminded me of the time at 12 I babysat two little guys and they tumbled down a full flight of stairs. Backwards. Both of them. Cried themselves to sleep. Ouch.July 10, 2015 – 2:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - Oh how I love your stories — especially those from the 80’s and 90’s which I can so relate to. I was an incompetent babysitter too. I used to babysit for these twin boys up the street.The parents knew how incompetent I was so they’d put them to sleep before I even arrived and told me the boys wouldn’t (or rather shouldn’t) wake up the whole time. Well, one time one of them did and he was crying and I just sat there, and didn’t even go into his room, because I had NO IDEA what to do with a crying baby. Pathetic, I know…July 10, 2015 – 5:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Here’s to incompetent babysitters, Emily! Once a boy locked me out of his house for HOURS. No cell phones back then of course!!! And nah, not pathetic, I mean what would you have done? I’d have freaked out too.July 10, 2015 – 7:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Clark Scottroger - hi! (yes, I am, in fact, at work….) but what the hell is the blogosphere for, if it’s not publishing Posts on ‘hops and such!July 10, 2015 – 7:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I didn’t know what a BJ was until college! You savvy, caddy-shack girl.
    I was 11 when I babysat and I don’t know what those parents were thinking!July 10, 2015 – 8:00 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Like you didn’t even know what it was For Real? In 3rd grade, some boy named Brandon told me what it was. I think you’re luckier.July 10, 2015 – 11:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - Oh this just was SO much fun to read Kristi! I am gupling my coffee down and absolutely LOVED learning all about your jobs! Just so cool. I wish I got on this FTSF…. it would have been so much fun to revisit my first jobs… Oh do I have some stories!!July 11, 2015 – 1:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Bev - That picture of you in the tux is just priceless! My first job out of college paid crap and I could barely pay my bills living in Boston, but it was a really good learning experience. I’ve also had my fair share of babysitting jobs over the years, from preteen until about 4 years ago. Though I do sometimes babysit fellow mom’s kids as a swap and it’s interesting to see other family’s bedtime routines now that I’m a mom!July 11, 2015 – 4:17 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks, Bev!!! I could barely pay my bills for years and years too. I wish we all remembered that better. I wish I had friends I could swap sitting with now!!July 11, 2015 – 11:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Mardra - That was a ride! It’s kind of funny how, as parents we may worry about jobs for our children when they are too young to think about it, while still learning ourselves where the real value in life comes in. So much else to comment on too – KFC…the good old days. But, I’ll keep it short. Loved the visuals and craziness and I think you may want to delete this post before your son starts digging up these links. HA!July 11, 2015 – 11:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG Mardara, he’s going to totally dig up these links. Crap. And thank you.July 11, 2015 – 11:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - Kristi! I totally forgot about FTSF:(. I am in Florida – it’s a long story, one which I will write about soon. Also, I’m locked out of FB. Something happened while I was on the road and I’m in no hurry to try and get my access back. It’s kind of nice, getting lost for a while. But, I do feel very out of the loop!!!

    Last night I took the kids to a restaurant where I had my first job, but it was for my dad. I washed dishes at his Italian restaurant – by hand. It was nasty (washing by hand). It was so surreal being there.

    I hope you’re doing well. Miss you.July 12, 2015 – 8:46 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Allie! You’re in Florida???? I thought you were supposed to be in South Dakota right now! Hope you’re doing okay (and that everybody else is as well). That’s awesome you took the kids to the restaurant where you first worked. I’ll bet it was totally surreal. Wow. I look forward to catching up with you soon!!July 12, 2015 – 11:06 amReplyCancel

  • Dana Montenegro Hemelt - I had one of those lovely polyester uniforms, but mine was blue and white checked from Friendly’s. Very sexy.

    I miss you…let’s have a playdate when you get back from BlogHer, okay?July 12, 2015 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - What a fun trip down memory lane! I always admire how you are able to find photographs of yourself when you were younger — I still remember some of the snaps from when you were in Mexico! It sounds like you had some interesting jobs as a teenager; I don’t think that I would have been cool enough to be a caddy or a limo driver. To be honest, there weren’t any limos around where I was growing up. I’m sure they were around somewhere, just not near my house. Sounds like a great job, though, especially the part where you got to hang around with rockstars!!July 12, 2015 – 9:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Rabia @TheLiebers - I worked at KMart. I still have my red vest and nametag. They don’t have to wear those anymore. They don’t know how lucky they are!!July 20, 2015 – 1:12 pmReplyCancel

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