Monday, April 18, 2011

Was There Blood?

So (shocker), it turns out that nannying for two different families, one with three boys under the age of four, and the other with a boy and girl (ages 3 and 1), is rather, shall we say, overwhelming.  Particularly at the beginning, i.e., right now.  Last week, I worked Wednesday for the three-boy family with the mom at my side, learning the routine.  Thursday, I was on my own with them all: two-year-old playdate, four-year-old school pick-up, and two-naps-a-day-10-month-old included.  And oh. my. goodness.  To say I came close to as many meltdowns as the four-year-old is not an exaggeration.  I just have 19 years on him of learning to breathe deeply and think Zen thoughts.

Here's an introduction to "my" boys (I wish I could share their real names, because they're awesome, but it's not ethical, so nicknames are what you're getting.  Deal with it.)

Little Monster: my four-year-old, precocious, hundred miles an hour, big boy helper, tantrum-throwing, pleaseGodgivemepatience buddy.  Little Monster is, in a word, FOUR.  He wants neither of any two choices offered.  He wants the other lunch choice than the one he picked as soon as it's on his plate.  He loves to go outdoors but will dissolve into a full-on tantrum as we prepare for any outing.  To his credit, he is learning, quickly, that I am not a nanny to be messed with.  When I say, "LM, come touch my hand by the time I get to three!  One...two...thr-", he's there.  Usually.  And if he's not, well, we're leaving the playground/park/museum immediately.  And I do mean immediately.  And when I say, "LM, we do not have tantrums at the table.  If you are going to tantrum, go sit on the thinking bench until you are done.", we sometimes stop a tantrum in its tracks.  With a little coaching, this boy gets it:
"But I don't wannntttt grilled cheeeese...!!!"
"LM.  Listen to me.  Do I like that tone of voice?"
"Exactly.  That is your whiny voice, and I really don't like it.  Tell me what you want in a wayyy better voice."
"Caywin, I don't want grilled cheese for lunch.  I want a jelly sandwich."
<Pause, while I wait, patiently but expectantly, eyebrows raised, for the magic word>
"Of course, LM!  Awesome job using your not-whiny voice.  I'd be happy to make you a jelly sandwich."

I live for those moments.  Trust me, there are a. lot. of moments that go more like this:
"LM, we do not tantrum at the table.  Please go sit on the bench if you're going to tantrum."
<Requires assistance getting to bench because tantrum has rendered legs nonfunctional.> the distance, from the bench...:"WaaahhhhhhIdon'twanttobeonthebenchhhhhhhh!!!!!!!"
<Two to five minutes of crying go by, while I studiously ignore LM, unless it involves snapping my fingers at the bench and raising my nanny eyebrows to indicate, without a single spoken word, "Get your bottom back on that bench, NOW.">
<Quiet sniffles.>
"LM, sweetie, why are you on the bench?"
"Because I was having a tantrum at the table."
"That's right, sweet boy.  And you weren't doing what...?"
"Listening to you."
"Exactly.  So what are you going to do from now on?"
"Listen to you."
"Right.  And when I tell you to do something, what do you say?"
"I say, 'Okay, Caywin.'"
"Perfect.  Come on back to the table for a hug and some grilled cheese."

Bumblebee: my two-and-a-half-year-old, always smiling, talks too fast and incoherently for me to understand sometimes, stuck so beautifully between toddler and little boy, sweet, sweet bee.  Bee is the middle child.  He is easy-going, easily distracted from potential trouble-making (as long as LM isn't there to be modeled after), and is quickly worming his snuggle-bug way into my heart.  Bee is lucky to have parents that understand how easy it is to get lost in the shuffle as a middle child and so has two carefully scheduled activities per week, during LM's pre-K hours.  On Tuesdays, he goes to an art class where he comes home with elaborate, feather-covered, paint-dripping creations that must be hung on the wall.  Immediately.  On Thursdays, he has a playdate with another two-year-old from around the block.  They play wonderfully together, sharing toys as well as can be expected.  Whatever LM is doing, Bee is watching like a hawk in order to mimic.  Thus, cutting off tantrums ASAP is crucial because, dear God, two tantrum-ing kids is a circle of hell that Dante better have written about.

"Hey Bee!  Let's get your shoes on to go to the park!"
"...unintelligible...thoes (shoes)...unintelligible...Ross at the park!"
<I take a guess.  I'm often wrong.  And then I guess again.  And again.>
"Let's...get your shoes on so you can meet Ross at the park?"
"Awesome!  Let's do it!"

The great thing about Bee is that when I'm lucky enough to catch him as he's planning to do something against the rules, we can often redirect rather painlessly.
<Bee running for the couch, covered in flour, eyes gleaming with a plan.>
"Bee!" I grab him under the armpits and swing him side-to-side into the kitchen.  "Look at all the flour on your shirt.  Let's get nakeddd!" <giggles ensue> Floured shirt is quickly removed.  "Want to toss it into the washer for me?"
See?  Simple.  Phew.

Bean: my 10-month-old, toothless grinning, wispy blondie baby boy.  Bean is such an easy-going baby, it's unbelievable.  Try as I might, I cannot prevent his older brothers from ever knocking him over or playing too roughly with him, but even when they do, the tears last for literal seconds, and then they're over after a few kisses and raspberries.  He naps like a dream, and loves nothing more than to give huge, open-mouthed kisses.  His giggles are belly laughs and his smile melts my heart.  I will always, always love my Monkey, but Bean is healing a hole in my heart faster than I could have ever imagined.

To end this EPIC post (sorry, guys), I will leave you with my current favorite (and most memorable) conversation with these boys that I've had yet:

As I'm getting the two younger boys strapped into their enormous, unwieldy double-stacked stroller, LM comes up to me as I'm crouched down so he's directly at eye level.  He focuses hard on my face, and then asks, while pointing to my nose piercing, "What's that?"
"It's called a nose ring, sweet-pea.  See how I have earrings in my ears?  It's like an earring for my nose."
<Pause.  Clearly there is some serious thinking going on.  I wait patiently.>
"Was there blood?"
I swallow my giggles hard.  "No, there was no blood.  It hurt a little bit, but not much."
"But there was no blood?!"
"No, LM, no blood.  Sorry to disappoint."


Sarah said...

Will you be my nanny?

Margaret said...

Gah, I love kids! I love hearing about your strategies, and your warm, yet firm limit-setting. I think what you call "Nanny eyebrows" I call "teacher eyebrows" -- sometimes that firm look is so effective if you believe it is going to work! As in, "Seriously, I just saw you grab that pencil off José's desk, put it back ASAP and we'll move on.", or for you "get back on that bench". Your kids will learn so much from you! And I am glad you are healing after leaving Monkey.

Wiley said...

Yeah, you are a badass nanny.

Cait said...

Haha, thanks you guys. Eyebrows are where it's at.