nannies


I really appreciate the feedback as it helped to get different perspectives as well as validated my feelings that what is going on is not normal. I couldn’t focus my thoughts enough to write all that went down regarding the mark but I have now even though it seems disappointingly irrelevant at this point.

I saw the mark on Bunny’s bottom, early Saturday evening as he was undressing to take a bath. It was such an unnatural color that at at first I was sure it was paint or marker – that he must have sat in egg dye or something. But when I casually asked him what the mark was, he confusedly looked behind himself and exclaimed he didn’t know, almost as though he hadn’t noticed it before. At that point, I looked closer and realized, it was not, in fact, any sort of paint or marker or dye, it was his skin. Not only was it bright, bright red but it was also warm to the touch, much like a sunburn and it was slightly inflamed, the red part of the skin, rising slightly above the fair part. The difference, though not apparent at first, was actually very distinct, as the mark was precisely rectangular. That’s when I grabbed my camera, under the guise that if he could clearly see the mark, maybe it would help him remember what happened, but even though he gamely agreed, he absolutely could not tell me how he got it.

Understanding that he might be afraid, I told him that I would absolutely not be angry with him no matter what he told me, but that it was important that he share with me how he got hurt so that I could keep it from happening again. Bunny didn’t get upset or angry. On the contrary, he was practically disappointed when he couldn’t remember anything, as though he were letting me down. I tried specifics as well. I asked him if a kid had done it or a grown up; he said neither. I asked him if either his mom or his dad hat hurt him or caused the mark. Again, he said no. I knew he had attended a birthday party earlier in the day and asked him if anyone had hurt him at the party or if he had gone anywhere or done anything that might have caused a mark like that. Again, nothing.

I asked him if it hurt, and he shrugged casually saying it stung a bit. Finally, after spending nearly a half hour gently trying to coerce the information out of him, I gave in. I told him to read a book and that I’d be back to help him into the bath in a few minutes. First I called Dr. D’s hospital, knowing it was a long shot (he’s an ER doc, after all) then I nervously called Winifred. Trying to keep my voice light and airy I asked her if Bunny had gotten hurt at the park during the party. Bewildered she said no, not that she knew of. Why? I explained that I had discovered a mark on his bottom.

“Oh that!” She exclaimed. “Yeah, I saw that. He must have gotten it at the party. It’s weird isn’t it? Almost looks like a burn.” Yep, I agreed. She continued that she’d forgotten to have Dr. D look at it before he left for work that afternoon. Completely unconcerned she thanked me for calling and mentioned that if Bunny wanted, after his bath, I could put some calendula cream on it and that was that.

For the second day in a row, I was shocked by the response from this mother, this social worker and was dismayed that this otherwise very caring and intelligent person could be so completely blasé when confronted with information questioning the very safety of her son.

It freaked me out.

And what do scared 19 year old girls do when they find themselves in crummy, overwhelming situations?
I called my mommy.

Luckily, we live only ten minutes away from Calamitous Casa, so I hurried about, anxiously cleaning the kitchen while Buddha rambled in his highchair, waiting for my mom to come save the day.

Unfortunately, gone are the days when simply her presence could make even the worst of scenarios, bearable, but she did hang out with Bunny and kept him occupied while I dealt with Buddha and the dinner clean up. And after their bath (during which nothing suspicious happened) she read books with him while I put Buddha to bed. She didn’t fix it all, but knowing she was there definitely calmed my nerves. I was having visions of calling CPS and them laughing at me and then getting fired only to be arrested for abuse myself and escaping from jail and having to kidnap the boys and escaping to Mexico. (Which strangely enough, my biggest logistical setback to this fiasco was the fact that neither of their cars easts are in my car.) Once they were both asleep, I thanked her for coming over and asked her to please call the therapist friend to which she gladly agreed.

Now this therapist lady, friend of my mom’s, is pretty cool and I trust her because ever since my soon to be 8 year old cousin Pepper started seeing her a while back, he’s slowly become an actually tolerable human being. I’m telling you, this woman is a miracle worker. Anyhow, my mom is friends with her through church, so she spoke to Miracle Worker Therapist Lady on Sunday and shared with her what I had observed the last couple of days. MWTL agreed that the penis incident was rather unusual and a bit too specific and she shared in my surprised that Winifred, a social worker herself, wasn’t more alarmed by the behavior. She continued that because Bunny didn’t say who or what caused the mark or how he got it, there’s apparently nothing I or CPS can do about it. Even though isolated they are strange, and combined they are rather suspicious, the two incidents alone (or together) are not enough to warrant calling the authorities as there is no concrete evidence to support any theories of abuse. She did say that I should continue to be vigilant of Bunny’s behavior in case anything else does occur to further implicate an abusive situation.

So I was rather disappointed and a bit peeved that everyone else seemed to be playing down what happened and shrugging it off as though I’m some sort of hypochondriac nanny. After Winifred left today, I did casually ask Dr. D if he figured out what had happened to Bunny’s bottom. He distractedly muttered that his conjecture was that Bunny must have sat upon or scraped it against something while at the park, but that it was healing fine … and with that he returned to the elusive land of lucid-only-to-himself-and-his-genius-thoughts bubble world that he is a frequent resident of.

So there you have it. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the end of the road at the moment with regards of what I can reasonably do. It sucks, really. I’m stuck in this warped limbo, just waiting. On the one hand, I want to be wrong, I so want to be wrong. I want nothing more to happen, no more touching, no more marks – I want to just be overreacting. And on the other hand, I almost wish something else would happen, that Bunny would exhibit the behavior once more, as it would give me a reason to take action. But as it is, I’ve been gridlocked. I’m playing the waiting game.

Whoever said patience was a virtue needs to be shot – or whatever the pacifist alternative to that is.

What is the likelihood that yesterday’s overtly sexual behavior and this mark today, are two completely unrelated incidents?

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I had one of those days today.  The ones where I just want to go home, get a hug from my mom and curl up in bed and be thankful that unlike other (real) parents, I can go home and detox from the crazy little munchkins that rule my life.

Calling Bunny a handful would be like calling the grand canyon a crevice. If there is one word to describe him, it’s volatile. But no, today I’m not going to get into Bunny’s extensive behavioral issues. No, I’ll save that for when I’m really in need of blogging fodder. Today, there was one main issue that really, well, for lack of a better term, freaked me out.

It was almost time for me to go home and after an excruciatingly long day with the two of them (damn you Easter/Passover!) I was looking forward to collapsing in a heap on my bed. Of course, just when I think that Bunny is really shaping up, he reminds me why it is that I am so thankful for the fact that he has school five days a week now. I was giving Bunny and Buddha a bath this evening, which under normal circumstances would have been a somewhat daunting task anyway. But the fact that Buddha had only napped for 40 minutes this morning was not helping matters. Mostly, however, it was Bunny’s ever increasing hysterics that were beginning to unravel me. Though I had calmly given him a twelve minute warning (and then reminded him again at 5 and 2 minutes respectively) that we would have to collect his toys and head inside, he had adamantly refused to cooperate and instead had insisted on yelling and sprinting wildly through the backyard before finally flinging himself in a small pool of mud that he had previously created with the garden hose. We were already a good twenty minutes off schedule by the time I finally had settled him down enough to be able to go inside and start the bath. Anyway, despite my best efforts at redirection and my reminders that he needed to control himself and settle down, he continued to spiral out of control, only becoming semi-calm for moments at a time – just long enough to fool me into believing that it would stick.

In the immediate minutes following, despite my warnings, threats and directions he pulled Buddha’s hair, took away his bath toys, and poured water on his head. In any other moment, I would have taken him out of the tub and secluded him outside so he could be by himself and calm down, however Winifred had planned on taking the boys out to dinner at five and it was already five after five so I did my best to protect Buddha while simultaneously trying to scrub the mud and grime off of the both of them. So when the incident happened in the tub, I was on my eighth hour at work and frazzled.

“What are you doing?” I asked in my most calm voice possible despite the fact that I wanted to rip him out of the tub and send him outside, mud, water, sand and all.

“I’m putting my penis in Buddha’s bottom.” He informed me in a rather pleased tone. And indeed he was attempting to do just that. Sitting directly behind Buddha he had scooted forward and was tugging at his penis directing it straight towards Buddha’s unsuspecting little heiner crack.

“That is not okay.” I replied in an as matter-of-fact tone as I could muster.
“Bunny, stop.” I instructed him, giving him a moment to acquiesce before continuing.
“That is not alright. You need to keep your penis to yourself.” And with that I put my hand on his shoulder and urged him to the other side of the tub.

Maybe if it had ended there, I wouldn’t have worried, however, less than a minute later, as I was reaching for the shampoo behind me, I caught him, yet again, straddling Buddha while touching his penis to his bottom. Perhaps  too harshly, I  again demanded that he stop immediately and reiterated that he keep his penis to himself.

“Why?” He asked me defiantly while laughing.

Refusing to be baited into one of his classic arguments I simply repeated that he needed to control his behavior and keep his body away from Buddha’s. This is the same mantra I use whenever he is physically aggressive towards Buddha (hitting, kicking, pushing etc.) When he refused to back off, I picked up a fussy, sudsy Buddha and placed him on the opposite end of the tub, instructing Bunny to stand up while I finished rinsing him off.

Finally, after a full blown tantrum during which I had to physically drag a kicking and screaming Bunny out of the tub and out of the bathroom itself, and after I consoled, dried and dressed a cranky Buddha and had buckled him into his car seat, I dashed inside to have a quick word with Winifred while Dr. Doormat was helping Bunny into the car.

I’m not sure what I expected from her, but considering she’s an LCSW, her off-handed reaction was certainly not it. With a nonchalant scoff and a roll of her eyes she explained, unperturbed that some of “the kids at school are playing that game” and that she herself had previously witnessed a similar interaction with one of his friends in the showers after swim class. Flabbergasted I shared with her what I had said to Bunny about keeping his body/penis to himself and she nodded, adding that that was practically verbatim what she had told him earlier. And with that, she brushed me off and hurried out the door.

Maybe I’m completely overreacting. Maybe my radar is too sensitive to these things, but something does not sit right with me about this at all.
Last October we found out that one of my other moonbeams, little Abuelito, had been sexually abused by a young male, teenage sitter and the way it came to his parents’ attention was due to his acting out the molestation with another child.

So perhaps, I’m simply overly cautious  from that experience, but I just have a bad feeling about this.

My father has seven brothers, of which at least two were/are excessively friendly with some of us female nieces. One of my very first memories, albeit fuzzy, dark and faded, is of being an underwear clad four year old exclaiming “no” to my uncle MoFo in response to his behind-grabbing invitation to sit in his lap. I learned very quickly to try and avoid him at all costs. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to deem it abuse, especially as I have no definitive memories of him doing anything more than simply touching inappropriately and making lewd comments, it definitely makes me that much more inclined to want to protect Bunny and Buddha at all costs.

I’ve been pouring through my child development textbook and reading all I can online and haven’t been able to find anything definitive regarding this type of sexual play in children. On the one hand, play acting and exploration are a normal part of a child’s burgeoning sexuality, but the incredibly specific nature of this incident doesn’t feel like ‘normal’ playing to me. It’s not as though I don’t have experience with the sexual explorations of young children. I’ve been witness to preschool boys comparing penises and of young siblings touching themselves or each other in the bath, but I have never seen anything to this extent before and it unsettles me. And what’s worse is Winifred’s off-handed reaction to it all. Up to this point, I haven’t really disagreed (and if I have, I’ve kept it to myself) about any of her parenting choices, but it makes me uncomfortable that we have such drastically different points of view about this.

And again, it’s very likely that I’m overreacting, but I talked to my mom about it today when I got home and asked her to please call a child therapist friend of hers so I can get an unbiased, professional opinion about it. I guess I’d just rather be safe than sorry.

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I’m a total lactivist: a “breastfeeding nazi” if you will. There are few things I think are more important that breastfeeding education and when I’m an OBGYN I will make it my mission to ensure that my patients are well informed. Whether it’s a socio-economic thing or simply a result of the type of people I surround myself with it just so happens that all two dozen of the children I take care of have been breastfed. (With only one exception and that is a result of a very serious metabolic disorder.) As a result, I guess I took it for granted how lovely breastfed babies smell. Sounds kinda odd, doesn’t it? Well, if you’ve never smelled an exclusively breastfed baby’s breath you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. But for a full seven and a half months (that’s how long Winifred exclusively breastfed Buddha) Buddha had the loveliest breath imaginable. The three musketeer’s mom calls it “applesauce breath” and it really is: it’s soft and sweet and subtle. Even when he was immediately post-sleep or completely congested, Buddha had the most wonderful breath. So his sweet, gooey baby kisses? Well, they were that much sweeter. Now, this isn’t just a Buddha thing because Aramis was also exclusively breastfed for seven months and he too had delicious breath. Even now, both he and Buddha (who are both still nursing) continue to have lovely breath. Though, not quite to the extent that they did when they were exclusively nursing.

Up until now, this lovely aroma of theirs I totally just chalked up to the fact that they were brand new babies and it makes sense that nature would make babies smell good because really, when they’re tiny and scrawny and ugly and all they do is scream and poop and pee, you kinda need something to make you want to take care of them, otherwise the entire species would have gone extinct by now, right? Well, kinda. I don’t actually know why breastfed babies smell yummy, all I know is that formula fed babies do not. In fact, they straight up stink.

And yes, I’m fully aware that as a lactivist, I’m completely biased against formula however, I think there’s something to this. As if anybody needed any more reasons not to formula feed; here’s another one: formula stinks!

I make no secret about my disdain for baby formula and my contempt for formula companies and the uneducated parents who feed their kids that crap. (Before I’m attacked by all the formula feeders, let me just say that I fully understand that formula can be helpful in some situations and that it’s not entirely evil – just mostly so.) In any event, I think it’s a testament to the amazing parents of the children I take care of that in the past four plus years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve never actually had to mix up baby formula before. It sounds a bit bizarre doesn’t it? A nanny that’s never put together a bottle of formula? The thing is, it never actually occurred to me that I would be expected to know how to do it.

Well, I took care of my neighbor’s ten month old twins on Tuesday and guess what I had to do to? Fix them some formula. The last time I babysat for them, the mom had already had the bottles ready so this time it was all up to me. Well, I knew where the bottles were, I read the directions on the back of the can, I then dutifully scooped three ‘unpacked’ scoops of the nasty stuff into each bottle and then filled it with water to the six oz mark before I put my finger on the nipple and shook them. Woot! For me! I did it.

Only a little while later, after downing the entire thing and then rolling around all over the living floor, Thing 1 decided it would be lovely to spit up all over himself. Now, Buddha had some serious reflux issues until he was about a year old. I’m talking goob everywhere! I honestly don’t know how he got so fat, so fast because he spit up so much, I can’t imagine he had all that much to fully digest. So, basically, goob doesn’t phase me – at all. It’s just another of the lovely bodily functions that I’m so frequently privy too. Except that I’ve never been exposed to formula goob before! And formula spit up is way different that breast milk spit up! Seriously. It’s not really something I had ever thought about before, though it makes perfect sense. See, I’m quite accustomed to breast milk spit up. It’s a bit sour and kinda yucky, but it’s completely sterile and easily washable so whatever, I’m used to it. But formula spit up? Is absolutely fucking disgusting. No, seriously. That shit is gross. And quite frankly, I’m not sure it’s all that worse than the straight up formula. They smell pretty much the same because after they had their bottles, those babies stunk! They reeked of formula. I love to cuddle and that’s partly why I love my job so much; I get paid to cuddle. But I honestly didn’t want to get all that close to these kids because they were stinky little dudes. Yes, I did cuddle and read to them – I’m not completely heartless- but I did so holding my breath.

I don’t know how formula feeding parents do it. I mean, first of all, it’s a hassle. Who has time to deal with cans and powder and water and shaking? Yech. But the smell! Oh, that smell. Just rinsing out those bottles was nearly vomit-inducing. Eww.

Never mind the inimitable qualities of breast milk; the countless health reasons why it’s so incredibly superior to formula. Forget about how much smarter, healthier and better well adjusted breastfed babies are. Immune systems? So what? IQ? Whatever. If there were ever a reason not to formula feed it would be this: the smell. Seriously. That stuff is rank.

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Buddha is an incredibly verbal child. He especially loves to sing. Not a waking hour goes by that he does not spontaneously burst into song. It’s one of my favorite things about him; his unabashed merriness. As far as widely recognizable words, though, he’s largely uninterested in those. Since his first birthday, however, he’s been making considerable progress in the area of communication.

Agua – “Oooah”
All Done – “Gah Gah” + sign
Baby – “Beh beeh”
Ball – “Baah”
Book “Buh”
Bunny – “Eeeoh”
Bye bye – “Buh bah” + wave
Car – “Cgah”
Daddy – “Dah dah”
More – sign
Shoe – Ssssh
Star – sign

So far he can say/sign half a dozen words, which just absolutely thrills me to no end.
You’ll notice, however, that neither “mama” or “turtle” are on that list of words he knows. This has perplexed me for quite some time since he’s been saying ‘Dah Dah’ now for about six months and has recently (within the last two months) begun referring to Bunny as ‘Eeeoh’. I found it to be rather odd that he wouldn’t even attempt to refer to either of us, ever.
Winifred, of course, is bent on teaching him to say ‘Mama.’ She refers to herself in third person when talking to him and repeats the sounds ‘mamamamama’ with him over and over again. Well, I, obviously, have been trying to get him to call me by my name. And recently this past week he began saying, but only with a lot of prodding, the first consonant in my name when referring to me. This was supremely exciting for me and I’m not ashamed to say, really the highlight of my entire month.

Except today he called me “Maahm” and then “Maah”

Twice.
Completely out of the blue and both times specifically reaching his arms out towards me so there really was no doubt as to whom he was referring to.
Thankfully, Winifred wasn’t home when this happened but it kind of unsettled me anyway. When she did get home, I specifically exclaimed “Look! It’s mom! Mama’s home!” in hopes that he would get the queue and use his brand new word on the correct recipient.

No such luck.

The thing is, I have made zero attempt to refer to myself as mom and in fact, have been somewhat overly zealous in trying to get him to say the real world equivalent of ‘Tortuguita’. I don’t really understand why or how he has suddenly decided to use the word on me, instead of Winifred.

The real problem is that part of me feels strangely pleased, as though, in his own Buddha way, he’s acknowledged my importance to him and has validated my role in his life.

Except the moment I’m done thinking this, that stupid, obnoxious voice that always interrupts the protagonists in cheesy movies kicks in and condescendingly exclaims –

“That is way creepy. As in totally ‘Hand that Rocks the Cradle‘ kind of creepy.” And I immediately feel incredibly evil but defend myself anyway with.

“No! I just love him, that’s all.”

“Right.”

“And besides, I spend just as many waking hours, if not more, with him than she does.”

“Creeper.”

“So why wouldn’t he think of me as his mother?”

“Yeah, okay, Peyton.”

“Shut up, that is so different. I’m not trying to sleep with Dr. Doormat or destroy Winifred out of revenge.”

“Maybe not but you wouldn’t exactly don a black veil if she croaked.”

“Just because I don’t like her very much doesn’t mean I want her to die so I can raise her kids.”

“Whatever you say, oh wicked one.”

“Go to hell.”

“After you, Empress of Evil.”

“Go away.”

“Sure thing, Corrupt Caretaker.”

“Stop.”

“Execrable employee.”

“Oh brother.”

“Sick Sinful Sitter.”

“Cut it out.”

“Malicious Mentor.”

*sigh*

“Baneful Babysitter.”

“Are you done yet?”

“One more. Nasty Nefarious Nanny.”

At which point I realize that despite her nauseating synonym savviness, my incredibly irksome alter ego has a bit of a point and I am left feeling altogether very unpleasant because not only is there a good possibility I am evil but I’m probably a little crazy too.

I don’t know what it is with ER and nannies, but there was yet another episode involving nanny issues last night. Apparently, Abby’s conversation with the nasty nympho nannies in the park didn’t scare her enough to swear them off for good and in Thursday’s ep she and her delicious baby daddy interviewed several prospective nannies. But of course they’re all freaks. Poor Abby just can’t catch a break. The only semi-competent woman there is a model gorgeous Brazilian babe. She may have to consider going the Nip/Tuck route and hiring a male midget if she’s worried about Luka sleeping with them like Sean slept with his prospective baby nurse. Then again, that’s probably not a good idea either seeing as Julia is having an affair with her miniature manny. You know what? Come to think of it, medical shows and nannies just don’t mix. And I should probably stop referring to fictional characters by their first names, as though they’re real.

I’m an ER addict. Never mind that the show has been around since I learned to read. It’s an oldie but a goodie and every Thursday night, without fail, I loyally sit and watch in amazement as my fantasty doctor lover (Goran Visnjic) and his fellow doctors slice people up and manage to look insanely sexy though covered in guts and blood. Tonight was no different, despite the fact that my mother and I are in the middle of Pennsylvania on our way back to the west coast. Now, recently, my favorite character, Abby (portrayed by the lovely and talented Maura Tierney) gave birth to a baby boy. Because it’s ER and all, the birth was predictably, very dramatic but they didn’t kill the tyke off like they did Carter’s baby so woo hoo for that! My insane and occasionally unhealthy love for newborns went into overdrive and for the past three weeks I’ve been looking forward to seeing cute little baby Joe on my screen. (Especially since it’s been nearly a year since Buddha was that age and baby fever has hit me hard this year.) So color me a little suprised when Abby mentioned to her hunkalicious slice of Croatian meat, aka Luka the baby daddy, that she’s interested in hiring a nanny. I instantly raised my hand and demanded to turn in my resume. After all, I was recently fired by the bitch from hell, aka, Baroness Bomburst, so I’m pretty much free to nanny any fictional, newborn children of my favorite television characters. Anyway, later in the ep after a rather disastrous mommy and me class Abby met up with a group of nannies at the park! Hooray! Yay for nannies! I felt very much like the ER writers were sending me a personal shout-out. Except not. Right from the get-go one of the girls shared her fear that she might be pregnant with her boss’s child to which another nanny informed her that “the only father who doesn’t want to bang his nanny is already doing it” or something along those lines. Uh oh. When asked if she’s a nanny, Abby replied yes and was then privvy to lots of juicy nanny gossip, involving how the girls use their bosses’ homes and cars and clothes etc etc and overall how they pretty much abuse their positions as caretakers. I was floored, and though I know the scene was supposed to be humorous, I felt a little offended. I have never stolen anything from my families. I have never used their clothes or cars or homes without their permission and I have never slept with any of the fathers or tried to. (Nevermind my intense crush for Big Bad Lawyer Daddy.) Not suprisingly, at the end of her day when her insanely sumptuous Croatian Sensation offered to rethink the nanny prospects, Abby declined, insistent that they could do it just the two of them. Oy. Glad she’s confident in her parenting skills and all but this nanny hate has got to go. I think there are more mature, responsible, loving nannies out there than the other sort and I’m a bit disillusioned that the portrayal of us on the show (my favorite show!) was so negative. I know that nannying has gotten quite a bit of press lately but have there been any good recent representations in the media of the dynamic between a nanny and a family? I’m curious, because I’d definitely like to see some.