From the Nanny Jo Diaries

Dear Diary,

Worry of the Day: Sometime in the murky future, this sweet little tater tot kidlet will discover that the only reason I hang out and party with her is because I’m getting PAID to do it.

And then she will hate me for the rest of my life.

Nobody warned me about this. Now I’m nervous. Now it’s….personal.

Perk of the Day: Kidlet thinks I’m an amazing cook. It doesn’t matter what gourmet lunch mom has prepared for her, the kid wants what I’ve packed in my own bag.

Today we had day-old cornbread muffins and made a delicious glorious mess of them.

Rant of the Day: Comatose parents!

I took the kiddo on a field trip today to a place that is designed specifically for toddlers through maybe six year olds.

It’s a “discovery” play place with both indoor and outdoor stations meant to encourage theatrics, scientific dialogue, gardening, and waterworks engineering. There were bubbles, legos, musical instruments, a climbing structure, book nooks, and a playhouse and play market, complete with little grocery carts and plastic produce.

I stood there digesting this for a minute before I said, “So, it’s basically just like home…but it comes with built-in siblings and I don’t have to clean it. Cool.”

Unlike home, my kidlet had to share this free-for-all with two busloads of kindergartners, one birthday party, and several exhausted new mothers who huddled in the picnic area, breastfeeding with one arm and slicing bananas into non-choking bits with the other.

There were only two supervisory eyes on the kid tornado that was blowing through the place, and they were both mine.

One eye stayed trained on the actual kid I had brought through the door, and the other eye helped me intercept the objects hurtling through space at her.

Kidlet is two years old now and becoming quite the little butterfly.

She went flitting between stations, considering all of the options, before settling on the slide.

Up the carpeted stairs, across the landing, and down the slide….over and over and over and over for a solid half hour.

If a little one sat on the slide ahead of her, she waited politely until it launched.

The larger ones would come along, pass her by, nudge the little ones out of the way, and help themselves.

She was very confused by it.

Eventually I lured her off and outside with the idea of bubbles.

“Bubble” is one of her first words. It’s what she called her contact lens.

There were five vats of bubble solution outside and multiple long wands for dipping and wafting through the air to create large bubble clusters.

It was fascinating for two dips.

Then another big kid came along, snatched her wand right out of her hand and walked away.

She and I looked at each other for a long minute before her face melted.

When kidlets cry, they begin with the lips, then the eyes follow, then the cheeks give way.

We decided that some kids are crazy like that and found her another bubble wand.

But inside I was steamed.

“Where are your parents?!” I mentally hollered at the kid wandering off.

As I turned back to my kidlet, another excitable kid waved his wand in the air and whacked her right on the head.

She got an instant shampoo and I was ready to wring out a few adults.

I looked around.

The adults were either scrolling through cell phones or talking to each other in corners, baby slings attached.

No one was going to claim the free-range shampooer.

Who does that??

Maybe this is the new parenting norm.

Confusion of the Day: At my house, the kids are either glued to computer screens or sitting in corners talking to each other and completely ignoring us adults who are running around “playing at real life” and occasionally bopping each other on the head.

Today’s Conclusion: If the adults and the teens are happily comatose, then society is currently being managed by bubble-wielding kindergartners. And we should be very afraid.

Nanny Jo Rides Again

My kids insist I’m a dinosaur.

When they were four years old, I cheerfully went along with it.

Now that they’re twenty, it’s not so cute.

They tease me that they can make me a grandparent whenever they feel like it and there’s nothing I can do to stop them.

They say, “We’re not going to call you Grandma though…we’re going to promote you straight to ancestor. You can teach our kids about the Stone Age.”

I’m pleased to report that although I am nowhere near the grandparent zone, I am officially a nanny to a sweet little one year old girl. I began as a babysitter but she quickly promoted me to Nanny Jo, a title I don’t take lightly.

When I was approached about watching her on a regular basis, I balked. I’ve raised my five kids past the age of 13 years old now and going back to “square one” is not my idea of smart.

Every time my youngest passed a milestone, I was ecstatic.

I couldn’t wait to toss the crib. The sad two-seater stroller had a ripped canopy, a broken wheel, and was faded from multiple washings. Kicking it to the curb was such a good day.

When your youngest has finally potty trained and you don’t have a single diaper in the whole house…this my friends, is freedom.

But her mama was ready to start back to work part time, and I’ve been vaguely considering rejoining the workforce (ie: having a paycheck).

Don’t ever ask a mother if “she works”.

First, she will laugh hysterically. Then she will go all crazy in the eyes and come after you with a bulb syringe.

I agreed to try it for a while and see if everyone involved still thought it was a good plan after a few weeks.

The drooling, squirmy package was placed into my arms and mama waved good-bye.

The moment the door closed, we had a little sit-down.

She sussed me out immediately, the bright thing, as a lady who was rather no-nonsense.

“Look kid,” I told her, “this isn’t my first rodeo.”

She patted my face and babbled on about her morning.

She took some time to explain that her mama very likely didn’t mean it about naps. That basically naps were for sissies, and there were plenty better things to do. She offered me up to half of her little kingdom if I wouldn’t lay her down in the crib.

Thankfully, I speak fluent eight month old.

When I explained that napping was basically heaven in a pillow, she saw it differently.

I had to demonstrate a couple of times to prove it.

But she got the message.

She showed me around her home, pointing out the particularly great refrigerator door handles they had and took me to every spot that was naughty or unsafe within the first half hour.

She really made sure I understood the job.

She is very helpful like that.

She admired my shoes. She admired my jewelry. I admired her extensive hair bow collection.

We chatted over lunch about her taste in music (I lean toward classical, she likes dad’s stereo system) whether Barney still exists (Oh I hope not) and why, if you baked four and twenty blackbirds into an actual pie, did they get away and bite off a lady’s nose?

It doesn’t make sense.

We planned some tea parties, a couple of field trips, maybe a play date or two.

We discussed the pros and cons of siblings, and what the definition of “toy” is.

And then I rocked the wee bundle of charm to sleep and placed her in the crib.

I stood there, suddenly speechless and shook my head.

Now we know how I ended up with five.

I did have the last word before backing slowly out of her room:

“You are kind, you are smart, and you are important.”

Courtesy of Aibileen.