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Therapy Fund

I have decided that when and if I have children I will begin a therapy fund. It is only natural. I also feel that whenever a baby enters this very interesting world, there should be a mandatory law that every child should have one of these. It is really quite simple. And trust me, my future child will likely be laden with “perfectionistic” tendencies and crazy hair!

Hospital and doctor co-pays are going up. Who the hell knows where they will be in the far away future. I figure that since no one really knows what he or she is doing precisely as parents (there really is not a one size fits all manual), there needs to be a plan in action to act as a sort of insurance for these little beings. Ha.

A couple of days ago, I was at work. I was working with a 4 month old infant. I feel that I am relatively competent and knowledgeable when it comes to childcare; however, the baby was really upset and had a psychotic break…for an hour.I truly felt terrible because the baby seemed very anxious and when I picked her up and tried to comfort her, she would stiffen up. Poor thing! The thought running through my mind? “OMG, this poor little munchkin is going to relive repressed thoughts about me when she is 23 and finally in therapy!” The screaming was incessant. I thought my head was going to fall off. I thought she would never stop. I tried thinking about what it would be like for me to be a parent. I abruptly saw my biological clock in my mind’s eye become smashed by a Mack truck. Really. How do parents do it? I know many of you who are reading my blog are parents. Let me personally tell you that you are truly amazing. And once again as I was bouncing around the room gently trying to comfort her, I thought for sure that this inability to soothe her would one day become a full-on year’s worth of therapy sessions when she finally turned 18.

So ultimately, I covered all my bases: eat, poop, gas, bored, tired. I thought for a moment that she possibly deliberately set out to ruin my life.  Then, by the end of the infant’s psychotic snap an hour later, she finally fell asleep. Also, even if she was not really tired, she sure as hell did a wonderful job making herself utterly exhausted. This is just one reason that I believe there should be a well-established therapy fund for all children upon birth. I am sure that incident scarred her as much as it did me.

My last nanny job was an interesting one. I had never met parents quite like these ones. The mom arrived home one day from a long day at work and was surprisingly very happy. Usually she was pretty miserable, as I would be, working as an engineer. During our “PowWow” as she liked to call it, where we have a half hour to catch up, “stategize” (because she always seemed to have an issue with me or something I did… )as she called it, play with the baby together, etc., she excitedly told me that the baby now had a Gmail account!

I wondered for a moment. I was amused and concerned simultaneously. Why? Why would a parent create an email account for her 9 month old infant? When I inquired, she told me that she was fearful that there were not going to be any Gmail accounts left when the baby was a teenager. She proceeded to tell me what the email address was.. maybe in case I got a sudden urge to send her a random email? Either way, this also explains how one person’s neurosis is another person’s therapy patient. Upon further contemplation, however, who knows.. she IS the engineer. Maybe she is right!

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DON’T MAKE YOUR NANNY SWIFFER THE STAIRS and other do’s and don’ts

If you have a nanny or are thinking of getting one…here are a few personal cardinal rules for you keep in mind. This is only my opinion so please take it with a grain of salt!

Do:

  • Have clear expectations and a contract written out where both parties agree on the terms
  • Have chocolate in the house at all times..it’s a necessity, not a luxury
  • Put away your thongs and other items that are in no way necessary for me to see unless you ask that I do your laundry, which I truly do not mind doing; then we can have a mutual agreement that your undies are ok for viewing.
  • Allow your nanny to take your child(ren) outside for fresh air, to the park, library, play dates, etc.
  • Appreciate the fact that nannies need breaks too, so it is inappropriate to calculate an EXACT percentage rate detailing what percentage of my time is spent caring for your child, doing chores not relative to the child’s needs, and how much break time your nanny should have; please know that I will provide the best possible love and care for your child, but breaks are very helpful throughout the day.
  • Brush your cats and dogs once in a while so that the child and I could be mistaken for unleashed animals when we leave the house
  • Have a separate office if you decide to work form home as it is very awkward when the “office”, living room, kitchen and dining room are all open concept and we are all sitting in the same room in silence expect for my random kid song out bursts that are nonetheless awful. Go the nanny cam route if you are that concerned.

DON’T:

  • Leave out your self-help for marital problems books (awkward!)
  • Give chores, such as checking on cat water, swiffering the stairs to your bedroom, taking out the garbage and recycling, and filling and emptying your dirty dishes) unless that is part of the arrangement ahead of time.
  • Make your nanny rate your child’s diapers on a scale of 1-3 according to how much pee has accumulated in any given diaper
  • Send 40 page emails with charts, numbers, flow charts, power points and diagrams
  • Forget your nanny is a human being
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The Recycling Bin

At first I was skeptical of this family. You will soon see why.

I had been seeking a nanny job. I was pondering what to do at this point in my life. I decided that I would like to nanny again and really be a part of someone’s family. I love and cherish watching the infants in my life grow and reach developmental milestones. I perused Sittercity, a website I thoroughly recommend for caretakers and families, and came across this family who seemed relatively normal on “paper.” I applied! At the time, the baby was 5 months. After speaking to the mom for the first time on the telephone..a phone call which lasted well over an hour, I was a bit apprehensive. She outed herself as a type A personality. She did not have to verbalize that. It was relatively clear! I wondered if I should just hang up the phone, act natural,pretend we had a bad connection and change my email address. I am an all or nothing kind of girl… move on to the next family. She was a little intense and I was scared…but then again, I am also an intense person, I rationalized. I chalked it up to being a first time mom. We decided we should meet. We had a time and day all picked out.

I was pretty excited to meet this potential lunatic. I figure people could say that about me, so I didn’t want to judge right away. No, really, ask my friends. My ADHD provides me with a perfect lunatic persona.

It was a very hot and very sweaty sort of day in August. At the time I did not have a car so I was T-ing it to her home. I got off the last bus and tried to get my bearings. I was sweating like you could only read about! I knew the area pretty well; plus I had my phone’s fabulous technology and was rocking the walking GPS function! Each time my phone’s GPS voice told me I had arrived at my destination, I knew it was not the destination. There was an old shack with a huge cross on the front. Maybe the universe was trying to tell me something? Should I try church again? Damn! I hope this is not a sign. The brush in the front was overgrown. Perfect for a creeper to hide out. I had seen many Datelines and 20/20 episodes where people suddenly vanish and are never seen or heard from again. I knew this could not be the house. My wandering mind thought… should I knock on the door? Should I get my attack whistle ready? Wait…crap…I don’t have an attack whistle. Maybe this was a serial killer posing as a family? The lunacy continued in my mind. I double checked the email that the mom had sent to me with the address. I called her up and she described the condos that they lived in. I could vaguely see it up ahead. I figured that the, gasp, sometimes flawed GPS technology had led me astray. I didn’t think I was going to die anymore. Thank God because I was starting to sweat even more in the summer heat and bright sunshine! I trudged along. Past some shady areas on Trenchcoat Rowe, where all of the most shady characters in Massachusetts seem to take up residence. I walked along and saw the beautiful green condo in the distance. It was beautiful, yet surrounded by all sorts of bizarre lots, auto body shops, alleys, and such. I counted the empty nip bottles on my walking journey to their home. There were so many I lost count. I love the greater Metro Boston area! So many paradoxes!

I arrived and there it was in the distance. On the front was a giant 80. She had given me the wrong address…sigh.  She had typed 40. Is this an omen? Again my paranoid mind continued to obsess as sweat came was dripping off my body. .

I traveled up the elevator and as I am getting off and turning the corner, the mom is waiting. I already was extremely frustrated at her for the wrong address. And now she was standing there looking all cute and skinny and pretty. She was in this cute little summer skirt and super friendly…. hmmmm

They had just moved from Cali back to Boston. The place was pretty chaotic, so I was empathizing how hard that must have been for them to move across country with an infant in tow. I looked into the little pink padded “play yard” and there was one of the cutest little muffins! She was just hanging out and playing and had a comb over type of infant ‘do. The mom of the mom, who I shall call Granny was sitting in there with her.I said hi, she seemed disinterested.

A few interesting things that I noted right away. Although this mom looked nothing like me (she kind of looked like a little Mariah Carey) I did notice that she had the same tattoo as I did! Right on the top of her foot she had a daisy! I have one too, a bit smaller, but basically the same thing. She also had piercings in her ear, more non-traditional ones, like I had. She was a true hippie at heart. Like I am! I immediately started feeling less nervous, less sweaty and more confident in speaking about myself, my qualifications and asking important questions.

We ended up chatting for almost an hour and a half. It was interesting, funny, and concerning all at once. She definitely had my sense of humor. We talked about the “sleep training” concept and how she was able to develop an ideal schedule for the baby through this proven method. I was fascinated as I had heard some feedback on this model and it was highly successful. In fact, the baby was on a three nap/day schedule and slept completely through the night for 12 hours. Bananas! Wouldn’t every parent in the universe want that? Then she told me, excitedly, that when she decided on the nanny to hire, if she was unable to conform to and respect her baby’s sleep schedule she would have to kill them and their entire family .. even their high school boyfriends, she said with an odd laugh. Obviously she was joking, but that was definitely something that I thought was an odd first meeting sort of conversation. I didn’t know how to respond, except laugh. It was actually sort of funny..in a way that I cannot really explain. I got the point.

We continued to chat. Just as I was getting ready to leave and processing her thought-provoking family killing spree, she was saying that it was nice to have someone respond to her posting in a personal way and not just a generic response. You know…such as “Hi Family..I am interested in your position.” I addressed her personally and her needs in my application. She also appreciated that I responded to her scheduling needs and that I applied knowing that my schedule would meet her needs.

She then shared with me that one night while perusing applications (and admittedly after some wine) she came across a potential nanny saying that she would love to work for them except she could only do certain days and certain hours (which did not meet the schedule requirements of said position.) The mom, with a straight face and soon-to-be sarcastic undertones, said that she replied something to the effect of:

“I think you may be a good fit for our family. For the times needed that you are unable to do I guess I will just take the baby to work and put her in the recycling bin for the day.”

She laughed and I laughed. This woman is interesting, I thought. I kind of like her though. I liked her honestly and sense of humor. A little twisted, but honest nevertheless. I was hired almost immediately!

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Elmo

Last week I was feeding the baby. We sat at the kitchen bar. The baby was in her high chair as I sat in the swivel chair spinning side to side. On the front of one of the fruit and yogurt pouches was a picture of the infamous Elmo. Out of instinct, I looked at the baby, pointed to the pouch and said “That’s Elmo.” The baby said “Mo.” She immediately repeated it over and over. I would also like to add that she does not yet say “Mama.” So one can see that would be a sore subject when I excitedly told her mom that day that she said Elmo.

I should have known that teaching her the word Elmo would be a bit problematic and scandalous as the family for whom I work is a sort of hippie-esqu bunch. They are the type that walk along the granola-lined hippie road to happiness waving peace-sign flags in tie-dyed bandanas.  I, too, relate to this, as I feel that I have am made up of big part hippie; however, I often say in my mind: “Hi I’m Lynne and I’m a TV addict.” Regardless, Elmo, television, moving pictures of any sort, do not encompass any aspect of their home or their lifestyle. As a matter of fact, they do not even own a television. In my opinion, not owning a television is sort of overrated. I mean, everyone needs smut TV outlets. Everyone needs to remember how their lives could be worse by watching the nightly news repeating, back and forth, to their spouses “How terrible! Can you believe that? That sucks!” Everyone needs to watch endless reruns of “Criminal Minds” and Lifetime movies on a rainy (or sunny, who’s judging??) Saturday with a box of tissues.

So the baby’s mom scrunched her face up and said something to the affect of “You don’t even know Elmo!” She was clearly not as amused nor as excited as I was. I laughed on the inside. The next day, I was holding the baby by the large balcony windows. We like to look outside and gaze at the Prudential, the cars and trucks, and the homeless people walking by with their stolen store carriages filled with bottles and cans that they strategically collected throughout the yuppie neighborhood. Next to the huge window stood the Christmas tree. On it, ironically, hung an Elmo ornament. The baby looked at it, pointed and said “Mo.” I decided this was a problem, although I found it very ironic. We practice saying Mama for hours each week to no avail. I think she is already rebelling against her angst-ridden mom! I knows she knows how to say Mama on the inside! I just know it! She is being sneaky in her avoidance. So yesterday we took a stroll to the library. It was nice out, a little fresh air. We walked by the giant, smelly recycling center where all of those people with their empties line up each morning. We walked by the poor homeless guy who usually seems to have wet pants. He likes saying “Hola Mami” as we stroll by. I contemplate bringing him an AA meeting book next time. We walked on.

We get to the library, settle in, and sit by the crates of board books. The baby looks inside one of the bins as she tries to pull her little body up. She makes eye contact with a book balancing on the top… with Elmo on the front cover. “Mo!” So it’s official, their little hippie-ette has been commercialized. And their hippie nanny needs to ensure that the baby can say “Mama” asap or she may be out of a job. It’s that serious.

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Living the dream….

So here’s a little about my blog. It’s simple although nothing is truly simple about how complex I make my life. Here goes. The purpose of my blog is:

  • to entertain and educate parents, friends, childcare providers, nanny employers, current nannies, and really anyone who gives a crap about what it is like to be me, Nanny Lynne
  • to actually provide useful information through memoir-y chronicles, actual factual information based upon my education, recent research/reads, etc. , and ultimately a bit of humor

Please remember that these are my humble (and not so humble, let’s be honest friends) opinions, thoughts, experiences, and perceptions.

The truth is that my job is kind of funny. Different families bring all sorts of different learning experiences and opportunities to my proverbial family dinner table.  Taking care of children is one of the most important lines of work. I love my job. I also do not know how parents do it 24/7. really…give up my precious freedom and sleep? I will totally pass on that for now.  Choosing to have a partner would be enough for me to give up part of myself and sacrifice all of my selfish needs.

When a family hires and works with childcare providers it is essential to truly connect with one another. It also is extremely helpful to have a similar philosophy of caring for a child and supporting how children learn.  Ultimately, there is truly a humorous edge on every day that I am employed in this very interesting profession. I struggle with the idea of whether or not it is a profession? I always considered this work to be more interim, temp or on-call work. However, I have realized in the last year that whether I am a short-term or long-term nanny, it can be a “profession” in which you actually have some freedom on choosing the types of benefits you would like. The fact is that being part of someone’s family and getting paid for it is kind of nice. It’s like you are getting paid to be a friend, except that is weird. Soooo bad analogy. Every profession and job within that profession has its ups and downs and its own sense of complete lunacy and wackiness at it’s very core.

Today for example..and actually many other days before today, I have pondered the idea of a nanny blog. I love the idea of a communication notebook of sorts. However, some people take it to the next level. Working for two engineers allows me to realize that some families are more..um…uptight, anal, type A personality than others. I roll with it… but I am not going to lie! I have fun. Since my Type A tends to come out daily, maybe there is a part of me that actual relates? I am pretty uptight at times and truly anal in particular situations.

I have a log that I fill out everyday. My next entry will discuss this. I will also share how I determine and record the level of urine is in every diaper change I do and how I am expected to rate it from level 1 (almost dry) to level 3 (very wet).  So until next time, hang tight and prepare to be concerned, amused, skeptical, and aggravated. Every day is a culmination of one mystery after another.