Tag Archives: childcare

Sometimes I listen to people. It’s rare, but it happens.

For the 3/4 of a person that cares, I am once again quite sorry for disappearing for the last few weeks. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say or the time to say it, I’m just a horrible horrible person.

I kid.

No, it’s just inertia working against me. The less I write the harder it is to get back into the proverbial saddle and wride on (get it? get it?).

But, anyway, I’m here now, trying to get my mind-at-rest to stop staying at rest. I’ve been struggling for an hour or so to organize my thoughts and decide what to say and what is unimportant, and then I remembered that once upon a time, I had readers; and once upon a time, one of my readers gave me some advice. On one of my lazy posts, someone left a comment saying:

“You should write in bullets more often. They’re much more entertaining.”

Well, I aspire to someday be considered entertaining, so reader and friend, these bullets are for you.

  • Several weeks ago I retook the GRE (Graduate Record Exam for those of you lucky enough to not have taken it on yet) and improved my score since the last time I struggled through that POS test, so I am now one step closer to going to graduate school. About. Fucking. Time. Now I just have to apply, get in, get grants and financial aid and loans, and actually GO. Not exactly a done deal. But this will all happen eventually, I just know it.
  • September 2nd officially marked my last day as a nanny. The babies are growing up: Edy started 5-day-a-week preschool this week, and Graham will be entering Montessori in just a few months. It’s bizarre and sad not seeing them everyday, but this change was very very necessary.
  • After fearing that I’d be unemployed for weeks after leaving the kiddies, and going so far as to start planning a road trip that would fill a month’s time while I waited for new work, I landed a job before even saying farewell to the babes. Last week I began working at an after-school Academic Center as a “Coach” (a.k.a. tutor). I’m working with younger students on math and reading, high schoolers with writing essays and the like, and I’m also an ACT prep coach. It is a job vaguely in my field (Praise Allah!), and I also feel like I’m doing something good for the world: in a few weeks we start working with children in the No Child Left Behind program, and I’ve already been assigned one very troubled student who just needs someone to push him, yet be patient with him. I already feel so much more fulfilled doing this than I did watching Sesame Street with the babies, and it’s only been one week. This is where I’m meant to be for a while, I suspect.
  • I hate, so much, living at home. I have officially reached my breaking point with my parents and thus try every waking moment to be…not here. The hours of this new gig (11AM-7PM) are awesome for avoiding the parentals, but I’m still constantly looking for reasons to escape the homestead: drinking on a Tuesday, eating sushi I cannot afford, visiting my BFF in East Lansing literally every weekend, working to have walked aimlessly around every Target in Southeastern MI, etc. I really like my new job and don’t want to leave it for a while, but I am still applying for any and all work that requires me to make Billy Joel proud and declare that, “I’m movin’ out.”
  • My self-esteem, for several weeks, was taking a sharp nose-dive, and I was having difficultly stopping it from just crashing completely. But then I realized that the magical thing that got my self-esteem high a few months back–high enough to, say, walk away from a bad relationship and to wear a roller derby outfit in public so as to catch the eye of the lead singer of my favorite band–I had forgotten altogether: my mantra– BE BRAVE. I was caught in a vicious circle: the less brave I behaved, the shittier I felt about myself and thus the less brave I wanted to act…and so on and so on…but I think I finally got myself out of this negative feedback loop and my confidence is on the road to recovery.
  • After bemoaning for weeks that I was emotionally broken and all I wanted was to feel something, now I may be experiencing feelings again and it’s freaking me out. I don’t know if I should be happy that I am fixed (or, rather, getting there) or if I should just re-break my emotive bone to keep from doing something stupid…like maybe being happy. GASP!
  • I am getting back into Paleo pretty hardcore. All I want to eat is tuna steaks and salad anyway, so why ingest other stuff that’s bad for me, right?
  • I feel pretty good right now. How often can I say that?

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The Good, the Bad, and…the HORROR!

In the last two hours, I have heard a two-year-old girl scream at the top of her lungs for 15 minutes straight and then mere moments later hug me and say embarrassedly,  “I love you, Pammy”; I have been kicked (hard) in the gut, the ribs, and the boob by a tiny yet strong little dude; and I’ve cleaned up the equivalent of half a can of peaches, a small pancake, and a cup of Cheerios off the floor.

I am glad it’s nap time.

I enjoy my job…most of the time. But there is no denying that caring for children can have its share of headaches, backaches, and brainaches. And since I am busy thinking about all the pros and cons of my job, I figure, hey, let’s put it in writing. And thus we have

The Good, the Bad, and…the HORROR! Oh, the HORROR!…of Nannying

The Good

  • Innocent Affection: I had been taking care of Edy and Graham for about a month when I first knew I was making an impact on the kiddies’ lives. Their mom informed me that during the weekend (when I don’t work) Edy had awoken in the middle of the night, and after calling for Momma and Daddy for about 10 minutes, she started up with calls of “Pana! Oh, Pana!” Pana meant me. My heart just melted. Days later I got an offer from another family but even though they were offering me a bit more money, I turned them down instantly. I belonged to those babies. I have never looked back. Now that Graham leans out of his mom’s arms towards me, and both of them just light up when I walk in every morning, well, I know I made the right choice sticking around.
  • A Walk Down Memory Lane: The first time I pulled Where the Wild Things Are off the shelf to read to Edy before her nap, I started crying–happy, wistful tears– before I even opened the cover. These old favorites of my own childhood just make every day so joyful. I giggle uncontrollably each time I read “My shoe is off, my foot is cold” in Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Blowing bubbles outside, I am just as mesmerized by the iridescent orbs floating away over the rooftops as the tots are. And don’t even get me started on old school episodes of Sesame Street. OH MY GOD, do I love Sesame Street.
  • Simple Minds: I very much appreciate when creators of children’s programming slip little jokes in here and there for the poor, suffering grown-ups (that’s the #1 sign of a good kids’ show), but now that Edy is in the “Why? Why Why WHY?!” phase, any time I so much as chuckle she demands, “What’s funny?” And then I proceed to try to explain why a book called “The Wonderful World of Concrete” on a particular show tickled my funny bone. It’s impossible. But after my explanation, she always fake-laughs, which is my favorite. I also love her naive little view of the world. She said to me last week, very seriously, “I have nipples. You have nipples, too, Pammy.” And just yesterday I had to try to explain why you can’t unscramble an egg. It can’t be done! It really can’t! But I adore her inquisitive nature.
  • Candid Moments: This morning (before the screaming fit) I stood in the corner and watched Edy spin around the the center of the living room singing, “You do the Hokey Hokey and you spin spin spin spin spin spin spin spin spin.” She didn’t know I was there, and she would have gone on forever if I hadn’t interrupted. And little Graham, who’s not so little anymore and getting so smart, has dozens of moments a day that amaze and amuse me. After using loose socks as chew toys for weeks, out of the blue he picked one up, set it on top of his foot, and then clapped. He didn’t need my praise: he knew he had just figured out what that thing is supposed to do and praised himself. It was perfection.
  • Constant Motion: An inch fell off my hips after I started this gig. I am on my feet at least seven of my nine hours every day, and that ADDS UP.

The Bad

  • Self-Neglect: On my really hectic days, when Graham won’t nap and Edy won’t eat and everybody is cranky–me especially–I will go six hours before I realize how badly I need to pee. A few times I’ve just forgotten to eat or drink anything all day. Their tininess and their close ages make them quite the handful on even the best days, so on fussy days, well, I won’t get a second to breathe or sip water until nap time…and even then sometimes that doesn’t even happen.
  • NO PRIVACY: I have never been able to pee without having one or both of them in the bathroom. NEVER.
  • My Poor Clothes: I am forever being covered in drool, spit-up (well, not so much now, but when I started and Graham was two-months-old with acid reflux…you better believe it), carrot and green bean mush, marker (wielded as if it is a sword by a certain little lady), strawberries (they are surprisingly aerodynamic), and formula. Most of the stains have come out…but not all of them.
  • The Burn: I poured scalding water on myself one morning. I was making tea for myself, Edy called for me, I turned with the mug of boiling water in my hand, and my hand hit the wall. The water splashed onto my face, my chest, and my stomach, and the mug shattered. I was HURT and I knew it, but I had to put the babies first. I cleaned up the broken mug before Edy could traipse through it, I tried to sooth a shocked, screaming Graham, and put something hypnotizing on TV so Edy would sit still before I had a chance to get cold compresses onto myself. It only took a total of 4 minutes, but with serious burns, literally every second counts. With any other job I would have gone to the doctor, or at least home to care for myself, but there’s no “I” in nanny. So I was in pain, awful pain, all day, and for days and days following. And today, I have a lovely scar that takes up most of my left breast and a couple scars that look more like peculiarly shaped tans on my abdomen. Huzzah.


  • “Headstrong and Intelligent”: Have I mentioned Edy is two? Yes, I have, but I need to say it again…SHE’S TWO. Guess what? That “terrible twos” thing? Not a myth. At all. And this two year old, well, on certain days she could be the poster child for what you don’t want. I have seen her slap her father across the face. She’s hit me more times than I can count. When you tell her “no” one too many times, she will get right in your face and hit the highest note she can as loudly as she can. She has sass down to a science. And she’s smart, so tries to work the system. I remember when she told her first lie. It was a few days after she had had the stomach flu, and I had announced that TV time was over. She had spent two days on the couch doing nothing but watch TV, so that was not happening. She screamed “NO NO NO!” and pulled her hand back to hit me, so I grabber her hand and scooped her up to put her in time out. When I set her in her crib and went to leave the room, she hollered, “I’m GONNA THROW UP!” I knew she was lying. I knew it. But I couldn’t risk it. So I carted her back downstairs, where she brightened up and said, “I want a snack.” Little lying brat. She’s trouble, that one. Trouble with a capital “T” that rhymes with “E” that stands for “Eden.” Or “Evil.”
  • #2: I don’t want to go here, but I have to go here. Did you know that babies learn very early on that touching themselves is enjoyable? I didn’t. So seeing a little girl hanging out with her hand in her diaper was a bit disconcerting. Turns out, it’s normal. But it also can cause messes. Diaper+hand= Figure it out. I have had a few baaaddddd days when Edy’s hand has acted of its own accord at the very worst time.
  • Sleep Wars: First, it was colic. Now it’s downright stubbornness. Graham will not nap for shit.  He is one, He should still be sleeping 4 hours during the day. NO. No, he is happy with one 45 minute nap. You wish you could reason with him: “Hey buddy bear, I would give anything to be expected to nap twice a day, everyday. For the love of all that’s drowsy, GO TO SLEEP.” But his rationality hasn’t developed yet. So now it’s just endless singing of “Golden Slumbers” and lots of praying to the Sandman. Oh, lovely, he just started crying. Well, at least today it was a little over an hour.

Sooooo, clearly, being a nanny ain’t the fab life. I do get to use the washer and dryer here, which sorta rules, and I can mooch as much coffee as I want (but I’m not drinking coffee these days so there goes that perk), and, yes, I love the babies. But, sometimes, oh, what wouldn’t I give for a job–any job— where I don’t get rice cereal sneezed all over me. Seriously.

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Down the Chute

I realized I’ve never talked about what I do on here. And since this post is going to talk about leaving that job possibly, I probably should go into it briefly.

Call it what you will–nanny, baby-sitter, “in-home child-care provider”–I take care of kids for a living. Two kids, to be precise. Two babies, actually. Today, Graham, the baby, turns one, and I doubt his mother is much more surprised and saddened by how fast time goes by than I am. I started watching Graham and his big sister Eden last July. So, for over 9 months, I have watched these two grow and learn. Edy wasn’t yet two when I started, she spoke in one or two-word sentences and she had a very round squishy face. Graham was still technically a newborn the day I met him: he couldn’t lift his head, he had that flat, googly-eyed-ness that lingers for a while after being squeezed through a tunnel much too small for your cavernous head. Now she talks…a lot…all the time, and her face is more oval than round, and she’s potty-trained, and she says a whole bunch of the snarky things I didn’t even realize I say around her. And he is one today, and he is walking, and he knows some sign language. *gasp*

Nothing makes you take notice of your own aging as watching other humans–particularly tiny humans–change before your very eyes.

Anyway, I’ve been watching them for a while now. And while he is a little tornado with a quest to destroy everything and meddle in everything and slobber on EVERYTHING, and she is two going on 17 with that attitude and hardheadedness of her, I love them more now than ever. (For the record, let me say I love them like an aunt or a big sister or…a nanny. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep a certain distance when I took the job and…I have. Huzzah.) But in loving them so much, it’s easy to think about sticking around. But I don’t want to stick around, not for any significant amount of time. Because if I stick around too long, then I’m stuck. And that CANNOT HAPPEN.

So a while back I told myself I’d leave in the fall. Edy will be going to school so she won’t need me so much, and their parents (who, I need to say, are great people) cannot afford both a full-time nanny and preschool, so it’d be a good time to make a clean break. That gives me 4 months to find something else or get into a school or…something. I was totally content to ease into the change.

Until last week.

My dear friend told me about some jobs at a company–that I will not name because I am selfish and do not want you to apply for the jobs, too–that would be perfect for me. And I heard her, I listened to her describe the great environment and the interesting view they have of the world and how that would mesh well with my unique outlook, blah blah blah, but I was still sort of blowing her off. I was all, “But I’m finally content with where I am and I’m not itching to get out, like, tomorrow, so…” Word vomit.  I was just talking. Whatever.

But I looked into the company, and the jobs, and I thought, “Oh! God, I have an awesome friend who I totally blew off. I suck!” because, damn, she was right. So I applied for a couple jobs knowing I’m not technically qualified even if  I’d kick ass at them anyway, and was ready to just start casually looking into new jobs. A good, “No rush, but 4 months will fly by so let’s start now” sorta mindset.

THEN. Oh, but then. Then I read about one job at this still-unnamed-because-you-need-to-stay-the-fuck-away-from-my-dream-gig company, and my world stopped. And suddenly I was ready to say goodbye to the babies and my house and Michigan and get up and go to (I won’t even say the city because I’m that much of a shellfish) to *&^%$#@ and start a new great life at this new great job. I haven’t wanted anything that bad–rather, this bad–in a long time. I just…I knew that I couldn’t just apply for this job. I had to do everything in my power to get it.

The problem with wanting something that bad is, you start taking yourself way too seriously. I wrote all my writing samples up and was very pleased and was ready to send it along with a kiss and a hope but some part of me spoke up and said, “Wait!” So I did. I waited. And I edited, and then I deleted a whole section of writing with no way to turn back and no new idea, and I waited.

Now, this waiting only spans a couple days, but it felt like an eternity. And in the working world, a job can be there on Monday and be gone come Tuesday, so I was really risking just complete doom by waiting that long.

So last night comes, and I’m not working on my application, and the boyfriend is asking me, “Are you going to send in that job app or what?” and I just keep hiding my nose in my book. But then my book grew a hand, which then reached out and slapped me in the face. The book is Bossypants by Tina Fey (go buy it! Tina, I’m plugging your book! You owe me!) and it was some kinda bat-shit cosmic something that made me read this quote mere moments after the boy bugged me.

I read this:

“You have to try to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go.

You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.”

It was…spooky. I’ll say this, the job involves humor, so this wasn’t just spooky because of the general message of just do it. No, this was spooky because it was dead on. I blinked at the page a couple times, and then I announced to the boy that I would finish the application and send it tomorrow.

Well tomorrow is actually today, and I sent it. I edited my writing, I wrote a whole new section, it made me chuckle, and I pressed send. And as scary as it was, “letting go” actually made this a much easier process. A day ago, I would have been sitting here, wracking my brain, wondering if I should have said something more, something less, something crazier, something saner, something…else. But I decided to let go. I did the best I could, and I am happy with that. And I actually think that I deserve this job, too. It’s scary, but I’m letting myself think about what it will be like to go to a job where I don’t get bitten, drooled on, screamed at, sat on and generally used as a bean bag chair that can make mac ‘n cheese. (I love those children, I really do, but they sure know how to beat me up.) And now if I don’t get the job, I won’t spaz about it.

OK, I’ll be upset for a while, but it won’t end my world.

Ms. Fey communicated something very important to me: not everyone is going to like what you write (not that I haven’t always known this, it’s just a good refresher). Not everyone is going to find you witty or intelligent or even coherent. So doing your best is important, but in the end, someone is going to think you failed. So as long as you don’t think you’ve failed, just let go. Go down the fucking chute already.

I went down the chute. It was fun.

Thanks Tina.

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