nanny


In the past two months Buddha has grown by leaps and bounds (literally sometimes) and I realized that his babyhood is slowly fading away and that I better freaking write all this down so I can remember later on. Plus, I have this secret fear that there’s something wrong with him (a result of his traumatic birth) and by documenting his milestones and development I’m thinking I can catch something if there actually is something to catch. Which there probably isn’t and I’m being paranoid, but whatever.

Anyway. His verbal skills are improving. Not so much the quantity of new words but the quality of them. Practically every day he surprises me by pronouncing something just a little bit better than he could the day before. He does, however, say two new very distinct words one of which is “cat” which surprisingly enough he pronounces perfectly. The other is “brahbeh” which is how he pronounces Barabas. (The fact that he’s Jewish just makes this even funnier.) One of the neighbors has a dog, whom she lovingly named Barabas (She’s Winifred’s boss otherwise I’d totally interrogate her about it.) and Buddha likes to chase the pup around calling out “Brahbeh! Brahbeh!.” Also, we have figured out that apparently all those times when we thought he was saying and signing “fish” he was actually saying “nurse.” Heh. Poor kid.

His musical inclinations are incredibly obvious. He is constantly singing. His baby babbles are almost always to a beat or rhythm and often times have a bit of a tune. It’s delightfully amusing to just sit and watch him eat his food whilst belting his heart out.

His problem solving and logic skills, while fascinating to observe, are unfortunately requiring us (me) to be super hard-core vigilant. Last week he figured out how to reach up and turn the knobs on the stove, so we had to take them off and put them in a drawer so he wouldn’t be able to turn on any of the burners. Well, just today he pulled a fast one on me. We have several baby gates set up so that when he’s in the living room, he’s sort of in an enclosed space and can’t venture into the laundry room, or any of the bedrooms or bathrooms. Unfortunately the kitchen and dining room aren’t separated from the living room by any doors or walls. Well, mister Buddha walked over to one of the baby gates and grabbed one of the step stools that we have set up for Bunny so he can get over them, and then proceeded to push it all the way across the room, into the kitchen and placed it directly in front of the stove. Before I knew it, he was standing on the stool and pushing the buttons that control the oven. Less than a half hour after I told him no and removed both him and the stool, I found him with a different stool in front of the stove. Well this time, in his glee he managed to fall off and ended up making a total face plant on the kitchen floor which split his lip. After he was sufficiently calmed down and contentedly sucking on a teething toy to soothe his lip, I again removed the stool and figured that maybe this incident would have taught him a lesson.
No such luck.
Apparently the logic of that is still a wee bit too advanced for him because later on in the afternoon I had to remove him, yet again, from his perch in front of the stove.*sigh*
Overall though, he’s not really a high maintenance kid. Most definitely not like Bunny, anyway. Yes, he enjoys pulling Bunny’s t-shirts from their hangers and taking all the socks out of his drawer but generally speaking, he’s not overly mischievous – just incredibly enthusiastic and insanely merry. He delights in the simplest things. From how a straw pops up from one of his cups to how he can open and close to drawers, to just running around and giving people hugs. He’s truly an extraordinarily cheerful little guy. On many occasions I’ll hear him giggling only to see that he’s simply cracking himself up.

What a kid.

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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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I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before but notes are a big part of my job. Every day, when I get to Calamitous Casa, I look for a note on the kitchen island counter. Very rarely does Winifred forget to write me one. Each note has instructions for me and directions for the day as well as daily “projects” for me to accomplish in, you know, my spare time. And at the end of the day, I am expected to provide a detailed note as well. In addition to the time and duration of his naps, this note needs to document the different set foods that Buddha has eaten and the times at which he ate them, for when she comes home, she likes to know the whats, whens and hows of the day. This also comes in handy for me because she likes to randomly call and check in and when she does, I can quickly find the note in progress and let her know how the day is going. For the most part, I am very good about writing things down as they happen, but, every once in a while, I remember that I’ve let a few hours slip by without jotting down what has gone on and I’ll try to retrace our steps. Lucky for me, though, Winifred generally likes to call when she’s on her way home. This gives me a good 10 – 15 minute window to make sure that messes are cleaned, toys are picked up, diapers are changed and any other tasks are completed before she arrives. This is so that there is nothing off when she comes in, or at least anything attributable to me. On days when Dr. Doormat is at home, in his office, we help each other out. Sometimes she calls and checks in with him first; other times she calls me, but regardless, we like to give each other the heads up regarding her current mood and anxiety level. On days when she’s rushed and stressed, we brace ourselves and hurry to try to limit any fallout. On days whe she’s calmer, we share sighs of relief and continue to hurry, albeit less frantically, to limit the fallout. As with Bunny, dealing with Winifred is a complicated game of risk management and crisis control. One day when I had forgotten to write Bunny’s eating times and was trying to remember exactly when Bunny had chowed his pre-approved, 100% organic, all natural fruit puree, Dr. D faux-chastised me saying,

“Don’t you know? This has to be very precise.” After which we shared a grin and he muttered.

“As if she’ll know the difference.”

The first time I was lenient with what I wrote as his eating times, (She likes him to be fed every two hours.) I felt a little guilty. But then I realized; she won’t know the difference and it doesn’t really matter. Bunny is a healthy, growing boy and whether he ate his mashed bananas at 1:30 or 2:15 really isn’t going to make a difference, to him, at all. It will make a difference for her though. For she is Winifred; head of the household; wearer of the pants; Queen of Calamatious Casa and writer of my paycheck. If she is not happy, nobody is happy. Ultimately my responsibilites are to my children and the things that are in their best interest. If cheating a little can make their lives not quite as hectic and a little less anxiety filled then so be it. Writing the notes has become just a common, daily thing that I do to placate Winifred. All in all, it’s a relatively effortless task and it seems to help Winifred, so whatever. I’m game. I used to think that people who who did this sort of thing were spineless brown-nosers who just didn’t have the tenacity or courage to speak up, but instead resorted to catering to other people’s pointless whims. And to a certain extent, I was right. However, I’ve come to realize that choosing my battles, or more accurately avoiding them, can be just as important. So yeah, I fudge, I sneak, I side-step, I brown-nose, I *gasp* manipulate. Hell, I’ve gotten pretty damn good at it.

I don’t feel the least bit guilty.

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.

Things are really progressing fast. I’m heading to NY this coming Friday. I’m excited and nervous. The parents are an uber-wealthy, high-powered couple and I’m definitely intimidated. I knew they were fairly affluent to begin with. Hell, anyone who can afford to pay upwards of $30,000 a year on chilcare can be considered well-to-do, but I didn’t realize just quite how rich they actually are. And boy are they ever. The father is a businessman, which is really all I can say without revealing his identity. The mother is the president of a very large real estate company in the Northeast. They own two homes in the New York area and have a private plane with which they travel to and from their various abodes. The children, who are four and almost five attend an incredibly elite preschool and are pretty much already on their ivy league journey. I have absolutely no idea how to handle people like that. Dr. Doormat and Mrs. P, while not poor by any means, don’t have a fraction of the money that these people do. So I’m terrified. Scared that I’ll commit some serious social faux pas, that I simply won’t be sophisticated, smart, pretty etc. enough for such a family. That even if they do like me, I won’t know how to fit into such a foreign world. I feel like awkward Alice, trying to play croquet with a freaking flamingo knowing all the while that if she screws up she’ll be beheaded. Except that I’m being incredibly overdramatic and I know it. So I just have to keep reminding myself that while this job would be a great opportunity, I don’t need it, persay. If this whole thing goes to pot, I still have Buddha and Bunny … and my head.

I remember in highschool I took a Communication Arts class and we spent a good week covering the right way to behave in a job interview. I remember acing that class. But that’s about all I remember. I’m hoping some of it comes back to me because it looks like I’m headed for New York. The family that I’ve been corresponding with while I was away wants to fly me out for an interview. Eeek. I’m way excited. And super scared. Now I can be incredibly charming when I want to be but this interview is freaking me out. Maybe it’s because I make it a point to try not to care what people think of me and getting interviewed is precisely that – being judged. Yuck. Anyway, the current nanny sounds ridiculously perfect and I know that she is very loved so I’m a bit intimidated about filling her shoes. Furthermore, the mother happens to be British and sounds very prim and proper. And while I’m no stranger to particular mothers, she does have very specific ways of controlling her children’s lives. I hope I can pick up on her eccentricities fast enough. I know I can handle this job. Alright, alright, I’m pretty sure I can handle this job. The trick is convincing them that I can handle it. And so, I’m being thrust back to highschool, trying to make the popular kids love me at a new school. Generally though, isn’t that what job interviews are all about though? They’re just as much a test on social prowess as job skill. So, I guess I should really do some laundry because it looks like I’m going to be packing my bags for the third time this summer.