Friday, July 8, 2011

It's Not All Sunshine and Rainbows...

There are days when being a nanny is the best form of birth control (short of being gay, of course).  Yesterday was one of those days.  The day's outlook didn't start off so well - I was running a bit late and my stomach was indignant about the two cups of strong coffee I'd just funneled into it.  When I arrived at the boys' house, Bean was already screaming because his mother was frantically trying to clip his nails before leaving for work.  Her face told me all I needed to know about how the day had been so far.  It was 8:35 AM.  Dear God, I thought.  Here goes nothing...

It started out with an awkward dodging of a "play date" with another nanny who cares for a 2.5-year-old boy.  I use the term "care" loosely, because our previous play dates have consisted largely of me watching four children instead of three, while she texts constantly and has long, drawn-out phone conversations in Hungarian.  The other day, she showed up at the house with the two-year-old and, inexplicably, his nine-year-old sister.  Suddenly, I had five children to take care of.  Joy.  So yesterday, I ignored her texts and phone calls and sent a vague reply about how the baby was napping so long that we wouldn't be able to meet up with them.  (This was actually true, Bean slept for two and a half hours.)

Further information: Bee is in the midst of potty-training.  He's been doing great so far, doing all his pees on the potty and the occasional number two.  When I helped him do his first pee of the morning yesterday, I noticed that his mother had put him in underwear instead of in a diaper (we've just been doing the remove-the-diaper-to-go-to-the-potty thing and then putting it back on when he's done).  Huh, I thought.  I guess she thinks he's doing well enough that he doesn't need a diaper at all...?

The morning dragged on, and by the end of lunch, Bee helpfully announced that he was tired so I promptly scooted him onto the potty and then into his crib for his nap.  "LM, you need to clean your plate before you may leave the table." (He had two cherry tomatoes left on his plate.  He'd already eaten four or five, thus, they are not a food of contention.)
"No!  I don't want them!"
"LM, don't speak to me like that.  I asked you to finish your lunch.  You have two minutes to eat those last two tomatoes."
**screeeeaaaammmmiiinnnggg child**
<Moments when you become an ineffective nanny: when you yell at a child to stop yelling.  Yeah.  Go me.>
I took a deep breath and said in a quiet, steady voice, "LM, I will not tolerate you screaming like that.  Either finish your lunch, or go sit in the stroller."  ("Sitting in the stroller" is a one-up from sitting on the bench because the stroller is in the entryway and is thus closed off by doors if necessary.  I use it when screaming is involved and the little guys are napping because otherwise, a tantrum-ing LM will keep everyone awake.)
**more screaming, in frantic, higher and higher pitched volumes**
"Okay, you've made your choice.  To the stroller, please.  Now."
Once in the stroller, still screaming, but slightly muffled, I cleaned up from lunch and let Bean play for awhile before putting him down for his nap.
Twenty minutes later, when LM had finally stopped screaming and had been quiet for three minutes, I opened the door.  "LM, when I tell you to do something, what do you do?"
"Listen to you and do it."
"That's right.  Are you ready to apologize and come out now?"
"NO!" **more screaming**
<deeeeep breath>
"Okay, you can stay in the stroller until you're ready to come out calmly."
Twenty MORE minutes went by until he was calm.  I repeated the prior conversation but this time, he apologized and came out to the living room.
"Caywin, will you play with me?"
"Honestly, LM, no.  You've disrespected me today and I don't really feel like playing with you after that.  You may play with your Legos by yourself this afternoon."

Now, you may not agree with how I handled that.  To each his or her own, I say.  I was being honest with him and quite frankly, when someone treats me that way, I'm not so keen on getting chummy with them over Legos.  I lay on the couch and prayed for the day to go faster.

The afternoon dragged on, with the little guys waking up too early (Bean) and too late (Bee) for us to do anything fun.  Bee did two more pees on the potty and each time I asked him to try to do a poo as well, even though he'd already done one in the potty that morning.  He insisted he didn't have to go, so I didn't push the matter.

As I was getting dinner ready for an overtired Bean and glaring at the clock, wondering why the boys' father wasn't home yet to help me with the dinner-time chaos, I glanced at Bee's pants from where he and LM were playing in the backyard.  He was suspiciously wet all down the front.  I sighed.  "Bee, did you pee your pants?"
"Yes!" he cheerfully replied.
"Bee, you need to tell me when you need to use the potty.  When you feel like you need to pee or poo, you come tell me quick as you can and we go to the potty.  When you're wearing underwear, you can't just go in your pants, understand?"
I put a hotly protesting Bean in his high chair and went to strip Bee of his pants before taking him to the bathroom to wipe him down.  As I pulled them down, I was greeted with the site of not just pee, but...well, you can guess.  It was everywhere.  It had run down his legs and soaked through his pants.  "Bee!  Why, oh why did you poop in your pants?!"
<Again, fine nanny moments: asking a potty-training child questions about "why" they go in their pants.  Because it's the only place they're used to going.>

From there on, it was chaos.  I attempted to carry a poop-covered Bee into the bathroom, prayed that LM wouldn't do anything too terrible while I wasn't watching, and ignored Bean's yelling.  I cleaned up Bee, gave him a bath, tried not to gag at the poop everywhere, put him in a DIAPER and pajamas, fed Bean his dinner, disinfected the tub, brought LM inside and instructed him firmly to, "Sit on the couch and look at a book.  That's IT."

Finally, finally, their father arrived home - forty minutes late.  I grunted at his apology and mixed a bottle for Bean, asked LM three times to calm down and stop running around the house hitting his brother.  On the third time, I stopped him, squatted down, told him to "Look into my eyes and listen.  If you do not stop this, you will go back in the stroller.  Do you understand?"  His eyes narrowed and I could see the spit being gathered in his mouth, ready to be aimed right. into. my. face.  I flipped.  This child, this monster, was about to spit at me.  I know he's four.  I know that he was mad.  But I also know that this had been the day from hell.  "Don't you ever disrespect me like that, LM! EVER!"  I marched him to the stroller, put Bean to bed, collected my money from their father silently and told him, yes, it had been like this all day, k thanks bye.

As I skedaddled, I stopped in the entryway where LM was still in the stroller.  I squatted down and looked him dead in the eyes.  "You will not disrespect me like that.  Ever.  Again."  He nodded silently and I left.

Like I said, you might read this and think that I'm the worst nanny in the world.  I certainly wasn't the best one yesterday.  But dear god, I would have to be the Dalai Lama before I would be enlightened enough not to lose my cool during a day like that.

Monday?  Be better?  Awesome, thanks.


The Nanny said...


2) You need a raise. TIMES TWENTYTHOUSAND.

3) I know without a doubt that you are an AWESOME nanny.

The Nanny said...

Also, my own nanny kid loves you more than me. win all the nannying.

Margaret said...

ah, kids are hard! Your sense of humor is key.

Cait said...

H., your nannyboy does NOT love me more. He merely tolerated my cuddling because he was feeling generous. You are his one and only.

M., thanks for the sympathy! I'm only able to laugh at that day now that it's longgg over.