There’ve been a handful of odd jobs I want to hold in life first to satisfy curiosity, second to use as material in a series of paintings, drawings and writings. With last January, there came such a one. That of part-time nanny. Good friends needed childcare and I needed extra money. No sooner did I begin nannying, than a plum freelance design job fell into my lap as it was, but not wanting to leave Eric and Denise high and dry, I plugged away doing both for months. My charges being the precocious 3 year old Kiana and her easy-going little brother Korban, 1&1/2 years of age. Aside: Guess what Kiana’s first word was …”book!” Yes, “book.” Neato! She so loved storytime that that word won out over even “Mama” or “Dada.” This was a munchkin after my own heart, I tell you.It was good to have someone near who knew what it was to still be working towards something, not quite there.
Among the concerns I had, was whether I’d find myself going loopy from the lack of adult contact as the days passed by. Enter Aaron. Aaron was boarding with Eric and Denise, after getting out of the Navy, still in the reserves, with the intent to finish up school. It was good to have someone near who knew what it was to still be working towards something, not quite there. The days began to roll by and if I was lucky, I’d arrive early enough to find the kids, one per knee, perched on Aaron’s lap at the piano keyboard, all three still in jammas while he played a bit. Quite on the other hand, the kids and I, we plunked. Plunked away, loud and raucous!
If you’re a part of my life with any frequency, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll end up with a nickname or three, from me. I frequently called Kiana beautiful, as in “Hey, Beautiful.” One day, she had a playdate over and I made the mistake of using HER name on the playdate. I could feel the words trip on my tongue on the way out, as I tried to retract it, knowing that only Kiana is “Hey, Beautiful.” Her little head whipped around and she stated “Hey, that’s MY name, Debba.” Guess she told me! Kiana’s dad, Eric, joked that she was our resident lawyer as she loved to negotiate her meals. “One bite of peas and three more chickens,” or “Two more carrots and one of mac n’ cheese. Then I can have a tweat!”, she’d say.
Korban with all his strawberry blondness, so cute I could’ve eaten him. Munch on his cheeks or just kiss him to death, kisses equaling fits of giggles. Note: Do NOT wear, red, red lipstick over to homes containing munchkins. Grabbing, wiping, smearing, a clown face, I had, in seconds flat! Among other playtime activities, was a huge tub filled with every kind of bean imaginable so that the kids could scoop and pour, pour and scoop to their heart’s content. Like sand, without the sand. Korban loved to pluck off his socks and wade in the tub of beans. Often I’d look up to hear clickety-clacking along the floor and there he’d be standing perplexed tapping his little foot, clearly hearing the sound, but not yet comprehending why. He’d tottle a few more steps, stop, tap, and finally plop down on the floor to investigate.
It occurred to me early on, the kids had no toy cars! Quelle horreur! I promptly brought over a container of cars to introduce them to the joys of vroom-vroooom-VROOOOOOMING! I taught them both “Mountain,” as I teach all little munchkins. As a kid, I’d take a blanket, stand up, hold it out in front of me with one hand on one of its corners and drop it. Voila! Insta-mountain. The blanket falls into a pile with all sorts of folds and curves perfect for roads to drive along and under, while parking in “caves” and stopping just short of “ledges.” Speaking of cars, when heading out to lunch or errands together, or the YMCA for Kiana’s swimming lessons, I was often given the use of their big black SUV complete with tinted windows. I felt like Batman! Denise doesn’t believe in minivans for families either, thank God. Hail the mighty, albeit, gas-guzzling, environment-havoc-wreaking, *grimace*, all-in-the-name-of-style, SUV!
As a little kid, did anyone else ever consider their mom’s or grandma’s or other female’s chest pillows? ‘Cause I totally did and liked to point that fact out to them basically thinking, “Score! You’ve got a built-in bonus!” resulting in their silly embarrassment and my unjust punishment. Well, my turn. Kiana and Korban were jockeying for a position amidst one of our many daily PIG PILES and all at once they both collapsed on my chest, Kiana pats me, and says “You have nice pillows. Mommy doesn’t have any pillows. Will I have pillows?” To which of course, one says, “Well, thank you. Your Mommy’s pillows are just a bit smaller, and YES! You will have pillows one day. Okay, let’s watch Elmo.” Random tip: I’m thinking all the overworked parents out there should most certainly own a dog when living with little ones. I never had to bend down and pick up the bits of food that slipped off bibs, rolled off plates, or dropped from waving utensils. The dog gets a very light snack, and all are happy!Of a bit more substance, fears that my former rotten temper would rise once again
So, now that I’ve been done with the whole nanny experience for some time and I thankfully no longer find myself humming Someday My Prince Will Come while standing in line at stores from one too many listenings, it’s time to reflect. I’ve never been one anywhere near the front of the line for having munchkins early on in life, wanting to put it off until I myself felt like a grown up. As in, not so selfish, you know? For the longest time, I had the most shallow fear. Most shallow! Fear that I’d have an ugly, homely, unattractive child. I longed for some test where you could gage a likely visual outcome based on the chosen couple. Of a bit more substance, fears that my former rotten temper would rise once again, that I’d be constantly exasperated, annoyed and snapping at the kids existed. The meanness, the over-controlling, all the evil little things I was raised with would come up to haunt me and live through me again. (Insert Mwuhahahaha here.) I’d rather be childless than ever inflict all that on any new little being. Ultimately, two thoughts kept me on track in the nanny endeavor: “Always remember what it’s like to be a kid” and “I am responsible for their memories.” Despite hectic days, spilled juices, super runny noses, burnt toast, ringing phones, often all at once, we had a GREAT time! More than a great time. I’m now confident I’m not doomed to relive the harmful patterns of my parents when one day it will matter. Not bad for a part-time job: Money, munchkin love, art inspiration and peace of mind. ♦