July 2006

Tomorrow morning I get on a plane to leave the country for three weeks. I’ve been away from home loads of times and spent months abroad by myself but this is the first time I’ve been so reticent about taking a trip. I’m leaving the Buddha, now nine months old, for the first time since he was born. I’ve been with him, literally since he was a fetus, and I was there when he was born. I have never spent more than nine days away from him and now I’ll be gone for three weeks. It sounds ridiculous, I’m sure but I’m scared shitless. What will I do without his cute baby gurgles and his now toothy grin? How will I cope without the constant aroma of spit-up all over my clothes? Miserably, I tell you. I’ve recorded myself singing to him so that he won’t forget my voice and I made sure that they have pictures of me with him so that he won’t forget what I look like. What? I know it’s a bit neurotic but three weeks is a long time in his life okay!? I’ve also uploaded mini vids of him on YouTube so that when I’m really missing his snuggles and laughs I can watch him on my computer.
But I’m still very, very sad and I’m not sure why. Logically, I know he can’t forget me in three weeks. And I know that I’ll have a lot of fun. That this trip is important. But lord how my heart aches to think about leaving him. I’ve done everything for him, short of nursing him. I was there when he was born, when he first sat up, when he ate his first food, when he got his first tooth and when he stood up, bracing himself on the furniture. I was there when he got his first cold and his second and his third. I rocked him and put him to sleep when nothing short of drugging him would work. I’ve walked and rocked, and sang and slept with him in my arms and lord how I love this boy. He’s turned me into an oxytocin junkie. I can’t cope going through a day without a moderate amount of cuddles. I love every inch of him. His soft hair, his big blue eyes, his mile long lashes. Everything, even the way, his chins reek of vomit when spit-up collects and sours in his rolls. Even how he pulls at my hair and tries to eat it. Even how he’s starting to develop a temper or how he screams bloody murder when I set him on the floor. And I know it’s ridiculous. He’s not even my baby right? But I talked to him when he was in the womb and I held him moments after he was born. I even got to touch his umbilical cord and exam his placenta. I’ve changed hundreds of his diapers and given him countless baths. Taken him for walks and played on the floor with him for hours on end. I couldn’t love him more if he was my flesh and blood. And lord how I’m going to miss him. I’m afraid he’ll get a new tooth while I’m gone. Or hit a major milestone without me. And it’s purely selfish, I know, but I’m worried that maybe, he’ll love me just a little bit less when I come back. That maybe, he won’t need me as much anymore. That he’ll realize life goes on without nanny and I’ll be second string somehow. Or maybe, he’ll figure out that I won’t always be there. That I’m not a permanent, inimitable fixture in his life. That I’m not, like I sometimes wish I was, his mother afterall. That I’m just the nanny. And that, I think, will break my heart more than just being apart.


If I wanted to be squished and kicked and unable to listen to my ipod over the din of a temper tantrum then maybe I would have gone to Philadelphia with Mrs. P and Dr. Doormat. Instead, I chose to attend a family wedding this past week. Big mistake. On SO many levels. Of course, the universe had to remind me that my life revolves around munchkins because my seat was directly in front of a family with two children under the age of six. My seat in particular was directly in front of the boy’s seat. Boy looked about four or five and he didn’t stop kicking and/or jostling my seatback for the entire three hour plane ride. Three hours of getting kicked in the back. Glorious. The litttle girl on the other hand, who looked to be three or four had three tempter tantrums throughout the flight. One hour into the flight and my devotion towards humans under the age of ten completely dissipated. I wanted to strangle the little tykes. As I sat there fuming though, I realized that it wasn’t the kids’ that I should be irriated at but the parents. These children had no concept that their behavior was affecting everybody else on the flight. Not only were they disrupting me, but they were loud enough to be heard by every single person on the plane and yet they seemed fully oblivious to this. And the mother? She would simply sigh and mutter soft words of lord knows what to them. The father on the other hand, said absolutely nothing. I know not all parents are cut out to be “bad cops” but for both parents to just sit there and allow their offspring to disrespect an entire plane full of people apalls me. It’s rude and shameful. These parents clearly could not set boundaries nor could they discipline properly. The kids were wild. I’m not advocating corporal punishment but enough is enough. Bunny, for all his faults would never have had the gall to behave that way. And had he lost control of his emotions, we would have instantly been in a tiny plane bathroom having a timeout together and talking about his behavior and it’s effect on the people around him. I know it’s embarrassing when kids act out in public but that’s no excuse for avoiding discipline. Children need to understand that there is a world outside themselves but continually catering to a child’s inherently self-absorbed moods can’t come to any good. Sometimes children need to be humored but any sort of public arena is not an appropriate time to do that. Mr. T knows that if he disrupts other people or is unable to behave in an appropriate manner, he will be removed from whatever social situation he’s in. Granted that’s not possible on an airplane but at four he is already beginning to understand that other people’s needs are valid as well. Humans are inherantly selfish beings. Empathy is a learned trait and the longer children are allowed to behave as though they alone matter, the development of important social skills are delayed. Being able to function in any society involves having a degree of compassion. I see more and more that children are not taught the value of other people’s feelings and it worries me. I hope for the sake of that mother that she comes to her senses because already those children are far too self-absorbed. I wish parents would realize that there’s more to parenting than making your kids happy. Parenting is about teaching and children need to be taught, now more than ever, the art of compassion.

One afternoon, Bunny, Buddha and I were playing outside in the backyard. Bunny was off with his vehicles and Buddha and I were enjoying the fun grass. Upon seeing Buddha attempt to rip out pieces of grass and put them in his mouth I joked that already he was a vegetarian, like Bunny, myself and his parents. We played awhile longer and not long after, I noticed that Buddha was now trying to put fistfuls of dirt into his mouth. I quickly scooped him up and wiped him off, trying to supress giggles. Bunny just shook his head and with an air of superiority explained to me that “he just doesn’t know that vegetarians don’t eat dirt.”
Oh Bunny, it’s a good thing you have such a wise older brother to teach you these things. Silly, Rabbit. Dirt’s not for vegetarians!

Name: Cherub
DOB: May, 2001
Sign: Gemini
Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue/Green
Trademark: Golden curls
Likes: Super heroes, rescue heroes, Thomas the Tank Engine, puzzles, books, animals, pizza, mac and cheese, organic horizon chocolate milk and hugs.
Dislikes: Vegetables, bedtime, getting his hair washed
Idiosyncrasies: Likes to Wear his shoes on the wrong feet.
Personality: Fairly easy-going. Good-natured. Preternaturally patient. Behaves best when one on one. Loves human interaction. Is very affectionate. Has no problem with solitary play-time. Loves to be read to. Is a people pleaser. Likes to wrestle and to be tickled. Enjoys playing with water. Has more emotional than verbal maturity. Is very trusting.

Cherub was the first baby I ever truly took care of on a continual basis. He was fiteen months old when I started with his family. His sister was three. No matter how many kids I get, this one will always have a special place in my heart. He was the first child to tell me he loved me. (More importantly, without any outside instigation.) We grew up together. I was still very much a child when I first met him and he’s helped me grow in ways I can’t even fathom. He’s taught about love, devotion, compassion and caring. He continues to suprise me, constantly.
The moment I knew he was a little devil.

Don’t let his gorgeous curls and innocent green eyes fool you. This little one always has something up his sleeve. I remember one afternoon when he was 18 months old. He was busy playing with his Thomas trains and his big sister, Pipsqueak, was coloring across the room. With an air of casual nonchalance, he toddled over to where she lay on the floor, picked up the box of markers she had been using and off-handedly through them to the floor, scattering them. He then proceeded to scamper right back to his train table after giving me a sly grin. I was schocked an in awe of the little guy. Already, at only 18 months, he knew what and how to make his sister tick. More importantly he knew it was wrong. Upon receiving his three minute timeout sentence, he didn’t even throw a tantrum but merely stood in the corner, patiently waiting for his punishment to be over. I was floored. I still have to remind myself not to underestimate him.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to be so completely devoted to these little ones that it becomes unhealthy. Frequently, my shrink has joked that I’ll never find a nanny like myself when I have my own kids. Honestly? I don’t want one. If the parents knew how much I love their children, I don’t know if they’d want me around anymore. I think every parent wants their nanny to like and possibly even love their charges but me? I absolutely, completely, unequivocally adore them. I would take and keep any one of them if asked. I can’t imagine my life without them. In fact, I joke that I go through “baby withdrawals” if I ever get more than two days off. But it’s not really a joke. Everytime I get a new kid or new family, I think that I’ll never be able to like them or care about them as much as I do my others. And everytime I prove myself wrong. I’d easily give my life for any of them. Every. Single. One. Their pain is my pain. Their joy, my joy. Their sadness, my sadness. We’re connected in a way that is indescribable and the more we spend time together, the more I need them. Need them to laugh, to cry, to feel. Without them, I’m empty. Without Purpose. And it scares me. Scares me that our relationship has become so utterly symbiotic.

When I tell people that I’m a nanny, they ususally ask me one of five or so questions. First, how much do I make? $10 an hour. Second, have I ever slept with any of the dads? Not yet. ; ) Third, am I crazy? Probably. Fourth, Is it fun? Absolutely. And fifth, how manky kids? Two dozen. No, I don’t nanny for the Duggars.I have a regular part-time, 30 hours a week job for one family with two children, but I also babysit for several different families, in addition to them. Over the past four years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve acquired apprx, a dozen families and two dozen children that I take care of regularly. Regularly, meaning, I see them at least once every month or two and have gotten to know them very well.
I organize them in my head in different ways. By gender. By age. By length of time I’ve known them. etc. Here is what I’ve come up with.

  • The Ones that Stole My HeartPrecocious Pipsqueak and her younger brother, Cherub. They are seven and five respectively and they are the first children I ever officially cared for on a continuous basis. Cherub’s recent fifth birthday marked four years that I’ve been caring for them.
  • The Mild Mannered Munchkins Thing 1 (Girl) and Thing 2 (Boy) They’re not twins, but are only 15 months apart and are the sweetest most docile pair I’ve ever met. They adore each other, rarely fight, and are ridiculously good-natured. If they weren’t so loving and doting, I might suspect them of being Children of the Damned. They are now five and almost four respectively and I’ve been taking care of them since Mrs. Stepford (their mother) was pregnant with Thing 2.
  • Yin & Yang Little Miss Motormouth and her younger brother Tender Tyke, couldn’t be more different if they tried. She is tiny with huge dark eyes and a shock of dark curls. He, is tall, blonde and blue eyed. She’s precocious and sassy, full of opinions and not afraid to voice them. He’s quiet and timid, ever the people pleaser, and oh-so-very senstive. They are five and three respectively and I’ve been taking care of them since Tyke was eight months old.
  • The Three MusketeersAthos, the big brother is intense, serious and focused. Porthos, the middle brother idolizes his big brother, is fairly easy-going and has quite a temper. And then there’s little Aramis. The golden child. The third and last. He was a welcome surprise and is incredibly wise for being 13 months old. He loves people and connects with everyone. They are five, three and one. I’ve been caring for them since Porthos was about ten months old.
  • Seditious SquirtsDennis the Menace and his little brother, the Tazmanian Devil have some of the most angelic faces ever. Big blue eyes and soft blonde hair and cute round cheeks but boy are they trouble makers. Dennis was walking at ten months and hasn’t taken a break since then. He can climb into anything, no matter how small or high up. He’s not intentionally contumacious, but boy is he a handful. His brother Taz is following in his big brother’s footseps. At twelve months and twelve lbs he can zoom around so fast, you’d think he was a super hero. Taking care of them is always an adventure in gravity defiance.
  • Princess – She’s three and a half, quiet, timid, shy but incredibly observant. She rarely talks to anyone but people she’s really close to but when she does talk, it’s usually very profound. And she hears everything. She and Bunny are good friends. I’ve been taking care of her since she was 18 months old.
  • The Only Child – Like Princess, Maddie (short for Madness) is an only child. Unlike Princess, she is spoiled beyond belief. She’s bossy and pushy and very vocal. She knows what she wants and intends to get it. If she weren’t six, I’d ask her for some tips.
  • Ragamuffin – Adopted from China at 15 months, this little one has been through quite a bit in her five years of life. Currently, her (single) mother is fighting brain cancer and it’s threatening to orphan the poor girl for the second time. Despite her severe abandonment issues, she’s made tremendous progress over the past four years and has developed into quite a little sassy individual. She loves Disney princesses and is a total girly girl.
  • The Endearing DivasMr. I and his baby brother Mr. J are two hilarious little dudes. At two and a half, Mr. I definitely inherited his mother’s dramatic flare. He’s little and squishy and so funny. Nothing is ever boring with him as he constantly adds spice to everything we do. His three month old brother is already showing signs of a similar personality.
  • Bilingual Babes – Super white, with blue and green eyes, respectively, it always cracks me up to hear them ask for “agua.” Abuelito at four is like a little old man: very quiet, soft-spoken and incredibly perceptive. Deep and thoughtful, he always keeps me on my toes. His sister, Prima Donna, is a firecracker. Loud and boisterous, at two, she is very clear about what she does and does no want. They are IVF babies and have two mommies. I’ve been taking care of them since Donna was six months old.
  • Struggling Rays of Sunshine – Unfortunately, I don’t spend as much time with these two as I used to. Champ is about to turn three and has been in and out of the hospital since the day he was born. He suffers from two incredibly rare genetic disorders which threaten to take his life at any time. His big sister, Bella is an incredibly beautiful little first grader who somehow manages to cope with her little brother’s illness as well as the fact that she gets shafted for attention. Despite the horrors that they’ve gone through, they manage to be two of the most affectionate loving children ever. I’ve taken care of them off and on since Champ was first receiving his diagnoses during his first year and I hope we have many more.
  • My Main MenBunny and Buddha. Mrs. Pinochet, their mother, poached me from Princess’ mother about two years ago. I’ve been with them ever since. At almost five, Bunny is more than a handful. He’s precocious and defiant and super spunky. He’s one of the most difficult and charming children I’ve ever met. His younger brother, Buddha is eight and a half months old and is just brimming with charisma. I’ve been with them through so much, their father says I’m like their third child. Ha. I spend the bulk of my time with these two little ones. I couldn’t love them more, if they were my own flesh and blood. Together, the three of us brave life and the trials and triumphs that it brings.
  • Miscellaneous Munchkins – I have several other children that I take care of, but since I don’t spend as much time with them, I’ll introduce them later, if the need arises.

On Friday, Cherub came over and had a playdate at Bunny and Buddha’s house. Cherub is three and a half months older than Bunny and they are a perfect match for each other. What Cherub lacks in verbal skills, he makes up for in emotional maturity. And Bunny, on the other hand, may speak like a Princeton scholar but he is very much lacking in his ability to verbalize and comprehend his feelings. And so, I was rather reticent about having them interact. They are both active, fun-loving and snuggly but their temperaments and personlaties are incredibly different. So, I approached the day, with some measured optimism. Once the Buddha was down for his morning nap, Cherub’s mom dropped him off and Bunny immediately gave him a tour of his room. Much to my surprise, they got along famously. Sure there were a few momentary squablles regarding sharing of the Thomas Trains but no meltdowns and no acts of violence, so I was thrilled. Later that morning, Buddha woke up and Cherub adored him much to Bunny’s chagrin. Eight months after the babe was born and he still harbors great feelings of resentment and jealousy towards his little brother. Cherub, on the otherhand, is the youngest of two and is used to being the baby so he relishes any time that he can be the big kid and act as the nurturer. It was beautiful to see him in such a caring role.
Buddha is a boy. A Beautiful boy, with huge lashes and pink pouty lips, but a boy nonetheless. Cherub had a hard time understanding this and kept referring to him as “she.” Bunny, ever the reational little fellow, immediately corrected him every time. This became the basis for their biggest argument.
“Boy. Boy. He’s a boy.” He would say, everytime Cherub referred to his little brother as a girl. I merely smiled as I overheard their conversation from the kitchen, where I was preparing lunch. Though they were arguing, they were “using their words,” so I let them be. Finally, they came to me, the all-knowing Solommon, to fix their little dispute.
“Nanny!” Cherub called. “Is it a boy?”
“Yep.” I nodded. I received a smug grin from Bunny and a doubtful look from Cherub. A few moments later I heard Bunny explaining to him.
“He’s a boy, Cherub. He has a penis.” He declared to his friend. A momentary pause from Cherub. He sat, contemplating this new revelation for a moment.
“Let me see it.” He muttered skeptically. Bunny obliged and quickly peeled the velcro from Buddha’s cloth diaper.
“See? A penis!” He announced proudly.
“Oh.” Cherub murmured. And with that, they continued to play in harmony.
They did it. They used their words, their communication skills and their logic. I was fully impressed. I’m so proud of them.

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