Category Archives: Being the Nanny

Mickey Mouse and the Giraffe

Mickey Mouse and the Giraffe
as told by CDG with Felix & Betty

I should start by saying that I asked them each what they would like to tell a story about. Felix said, “An animal. A giraffe.” Betty thought hard before answering, “Mickey Mouse.” From here on out the kids’ additions will be in their respective colors.

Once upon a time Mickey Mouse went looking for a giraffe. He found one named.. Felix, what is his name?

Felix!

So Felix the Giraffe and Mickey Mouse decided to get some ice cream. They were on their way to the Ice Cream Parlor when they saw… Betty, what did they see?

An Ice Cream truck.

But the ice cream man said… Felix, what did he say?

“We have NO VANILLA!”

So, Mickey Mouse and Felix the Giraffe kept on walking towards the ice cream parlor. They went around the corner and discovered… What did they see, Betty?

A polar bear!

Which gave out a terrible ROOOOAAAAAAR!!! And Felix the Giraffe ran away. Mickey Mouse asked the polar bear, whose name was… Betty?

Betty!

“Why did you frighten my friend?” Betty the Polar Bear answered, “I didn’t use my words.” So Mickey Mouse and Betty set off to find Felix the Giraffe. When they got to… where were they, Felix?

The train tracks!

When they got to the train tracks, they saw that Felix the Giraffe…

Was on the other side of the tracks but the train was coming so they had to wait! And then they got him by the tail!

Now that Mickey Mouse and Felix the Giraffe and Betty the Polar Bear were all together, they continued on towards the ice cream shop for a treat.

And they all had vanilla. With sprinkles. And no sauce.

How Do My Mommypants Fit?

A little snug, really, even though I’ve been wearing them for a long time.

I’m telling Cheryl’s readers about it today over at Mommypants.

Comments here are closed, but I’d love to hear your thoughts over there.

I Love You, Too, Baby.

I had a rough day last Friday.

The kind of day that makes you call for a do-over. I’m usually miserable at work, but I fake it through the day with a little help from my friends. This day had it in for me from the get go.

So we got to lunchtime. On top of the daily shenanigans I deal with, I was tired, sick from the antibiotics I’m taking to fight the probable Lyme infection I got from a tick I’m pretty sure I picked up at my place of employment, and dealing with three children who were hell-bent on being as loud and uncooperative as possible.

And who did I take it out on? Who bore the brunt of my misery and frustration?

My son.

I lost my temper. I yelled. I made him cry.

And then I hid in the kitchen, avoiding my own poor behavior and guilt, until nap time.

A half hour later we all sat in Betty’s room, the big kids ready for their naps, watching me a little warily–was I likely to go lose it again? I was about to open a book of Frog and Toad stories when Felix hops off of Betty’s bed and hugs me, kissing me softly on my cheek.

“Does that make you feel better, Mama?” he says.

Then he stands up, takes my face in his hands and looks me in the eyes. “I love you.”

I held onto him like a drowning person. This little person, this boy, my son, simply amazes me. So I let all the awful stuff go. In that sweet moment, I let it go.

“I love you, too, baby.”

In Which the Double Standard is Revealed

I have a son. A rough and tumble, goofy boy, who instinctively knew the sound a car made when he got his first toy car at six months old.

Pixar Cars, Thomas the Tank Engine, all varieties of diggers, dozers, and construction vehicles, garbage trucks, and school buses populate my house. The majority of the children I’ve loved over the last twelve years are boys; Miss E being the glaring exception, and even Miss E and I often had trouble relating to one another. We were magnets with like polarity.

So, we know he’s all boy, my Felix, but I am not a pusher of “traditional” masculinity.

His best friend right now is Betty, a girly-girl of the first water. An owner of sparkly shoes, tea sets galore, tiaras, dolls, teddy bears, and no less than four tutus. Not surprisingly though, Betty likes to play cars with him sometimes. Equally not surprising to me is that he likes to don a tutu and some sequined sneakers and dance with her.

He likes her headbands and her hair clips. He does, however, prefer blue, green, or red when given the option.

And I don’t give a damn. Some days, when my bosses come home, both kids are twirling in tiaras, with hair clips and sparkly footwear. They chuckle, but I sense an uncertainty in them, as if they’re not sure whether to encourage it. It’s my issue as his mother, and they follow my lead – they tell him he looks great.

Somehow, though, both kids have stuck to their respective sides of the gender-color divide when it comes to table ware. Felix prefers the blue and green sippies, plates, and flatware, and Betty typically chooses pink, purple, and yellow. I don’t fuss about it.

(I don’t sweat the small stuff in general with preschoolers. I’m trying to teach good citizenship here, people. Be friendly, use your manners, pay attention to adults, hold hands when you cross the street, sit and eat a meal like a semi-civilized human.)

And we come to this morning, when Felix, disappointed because his favorite blue and green sippy was dirty, asked if he could have the pink and green one. I said yes without thinking. Betty burst into tears. “I want that one!”

I allowed as how Felix had asked, and that she could choose any other one, but not that one for this meal. She moved on eventually, but off-handedly commented during breakfast that she thought it was “silly” that Felix picked a pink cup.

Her mother replied, “Yeah. It is a little silly, isn’t it?”

 

And It’s Not Even Noon

So, here’s how today went. It snowed, just a little, not enough to make driving unpleasant, or so I’d thought.

An inch, powdery; a sugar coating for the dingy snowbanks and drift piles hemming in the roads and driveways.

But it was slick on the roads, slushy where they hadn’t plowed, and I was ahead of the sanders. Slow going. Despite leaving for work five minutes early, two-thirds the way to work, I was five minutes behind. And then, I hit traffic.

I commute on 13 miles of back roads, only crossing two numbered state roads, so “Traffic” is a relative term. On the last leg, I pass the turn for a regional high school. When the weather’s bad, but not bad enough to keep people home, there’s always a long line of cars waiting to make the turn, because they’re driving students who would otherwise walk, or stand outside waiting for a bus.

All I can say is, it must be nice, having the luxury to drive your teenager to school just because the weather’s nasty. Me, I’d have to put my kid out in the cold to wait for the bus, or tell him to wear an extra scarf for the walk. I have a job I have to get to, a job for which I’m now going to be late.

I’m ten minutes late, all told, by the time I get us there, unpacked from the car, into the house, out of our coats and boots, and upstairs to Betty’s room. No passive aggressive mention of my tardiness, which could, frankly, be good or bad.

Despite my lateness, I’ve got Felix and Betty dressed and breakfasted by 9, which is when everyone departs the house, leaving me to tend to Elmer, and hang out with Felix while Betty’s at preschool.

I take the boys up to Elmer’s room, get him changed, washed, moisturized, vitamined, and dressed, and kick back to let the boys play on the floor for a while.

Oops.

While I was changing Elmer, Felix was drawing with a pen and notebook he found in Betty’s room. he was drawing with a ballpoint pen on a mini notepad, on the white, yes, white, sofa in Elmer’s room.

Enter the streak of blue ink across Elmer’s pristine, textured white upholstery.

We’ll discuss the wisdom of a white sofa in a little boy’s room at another time.

Anyway, where was I?

ACK! Ink! On the sofa.

I scramble off to find some rubbing alcohol and a rag, but while I’m gone, Elmer decides I’ve abandoned him. Never mind he’s safely contained with Felix in a babyproofed room full of his own toys; he has been abandoned!

He’s a crier, folks.

So, I’m all panicky, Felix is worried because I’m worried about the ink, Elmer’s howling, snot and tears pouring down his little face, and the ink stain is ever…. so… slowly… starting to release and blot up.

I get the majority of the stain out, enough to contain the fury Mrs. C. will feel when she’s discovered someone’s sullied the white sofa. Hopefully enough to keep them from asking me to reimburse them for the cost of having it cleaned.

Because, yes, they told me once that I would be financially responsible for any damage Felix did to their belongings.

Sigh.

So, I scoop up the crying baby, soothe him, and realize it’s his naptime. I send Felix to play in Betty’s room for a few minutes while I settle Elmer down. It takes some time, but I finally manage to ninja him to sleep. I creep from the room on stealthy toes and collect Felix from Betty’s room.

We sneak downstairs.

“Mama, can we go to the playroom?”
“We can, but what do we have to do first?”
“Potty break!”
“Yep.”

“My pants are wet.”

So, while I was settling down the cranky, tired baby, who was crying because I had to neglect him for ten minutes to clean up a mess my three-year-old made while I was busy changing the baby’s diaper, my three-year-old had an accident.

And it’s not even noon.

At A Terminological Loss

Eventually, if you’ve got kids, a discussion of their private parts is going to come up. Whether it’s what to call their own when potty training happens, or how to refer to a sibling’s personal bits, or what Janey says about her vagina at preschool, the talk is inevitable.

Personally, and I’m just gonna put this out there, I’m all for unabashed use of anatomical terms. My son has a pee-nus, and he’ll tell anyone. I realize this approach is not for everyone. That’s not my point.

My trouble arises at work. I have two potty trainers right now, and for the first time in my child-rearing career, the people for whom I work are on a very different page, terminology-wise.

Now, my son is mostly concerned with his own business, and has expressed zero curiosity about Betty’s lack of visible equipment. Betty, on the other hand, is envious that Felix can pee standing up. She was also somewhat surprised that this could be accomplished at all, which leads me to believe that she’s never seen her Dad pee.

Perhaps I’ve been followed into the bathroom by so many toddlers, of both genders, over the years, that I assume every parent/caregiver is so trailed by their offspring or those in their care.

I dodged the question for the moment, falling back on, “That’s just something boys can do.”

Because, you see, I know they wouldn’t appreciate me introducing the word “penis” into her vocabulary, mostly because they refer to her girl parts as her hoo-hah. Yikes.

I am at a loss.

I Am the Brute Squad

I was walking into a local Dunkin’ Donuts this morning, with Felix and Elmer in the stroller. I have a highly maneuverable Britax model, and after all these years, I can negotiate most entryways with some semblance of grace.

That said, when people are kind enough to hold doors for me, I am always grateful, and I say so.

Today, two gentlemen held the outer and inner doors of the Dunkin’ Donuts for me. Gent A says, “You need your own doorman!”

I laugh a little, and agree, “I do!”

Gent B says, “You need a daycare.”

Wait! What?

I, who never think of the snappy comeback in time to use it, drew upon my inner Andre the Giant, and replied, “I am the day care.”

His expression made my day.

He wasn’t being nasty; I mean, he held the door for me, but who says that?

The Codman Estate

A few weeks ago, Mrs. C., and I took the kids to the Codman Estate & Farm to see some animals and get a little fresh air.

It was a ridiculously gorgeous day, and they had a blast running around the Estate. They saw some cows.

They found sticks!

They frolicked by the old mansion!

It was lovely and inexpensive and low key. Three of my favorite things!

Full Time Day One

Of course, I woke up with a sore throat. My morning voice sounds like Kathleen Turner in Jewel of the Nile, but the cough? Way less sexy.

My small boy woke up on the wrong side of his big boy bed, and insisted he would get dressed at Betty’s house. So off we went, we driving in the rain to music like the soundtrack to a film Wes Anderson hasn’t made yet.

October has come in with a vengeance – wind, rain, and cold. I’m thrilled! I love when the darkness comes earlier. Cold and darkness don’t frighten me. On the contrary, they draw out my best instincts. They ignite my great passions, words, food, music. My creative energy is always higher in the dormant half of the year.

All I have to do now is harness enough physical and mental energy to be creative.

Despite being stuck inside while the wind gusted and the rain fell, the day passed uneventfully, which was blessing. It has been a long time since I’ve had a ten hour workday.

Of course, uneventfully meant two poop accidents, one swiftly delivered time out over slapping, and the baby not napping more than twenty minutes at a time, each of the three times he was put down. Parenting, even (especially?) for those of us in loco parentis, is always eventful.

I Am The Luckiest

A haiku from February of 2006. I’d forgotten I wrote it. Given the delightful response to my last post? Especially still true.

Haiku on Soup and Ben Folds

ev’ryone should have
a blog. mine makes me happy
like soup and ben folds.

It’s been a long week in my real life, and after the last few posts, I need to recharge the creative batteries. It’s late, too late for me to be awake, and tomorow, Saturday, I’m off to spend the day on Lake Sunapee with Big Brother J, Miss E, O, and Felix.

Those kids. They break my heart. Big Brother J emails me occasionally, just to say hi, or invite me to crash his holiday weekend. Because he misses me, and maybe more importantly, he misses Felix.

An eleven year old boy who still wants to spend time with the preschooler who worships him?

I am more proud of him than I can properly express.

And O? gets on the phone to me every now and again, and just chats away, as if it were just yesterday that he and Baby Felix and I were stopping on the walk home from preschool to get a snack in Starbucks and talk about his day.

They’re just a little bit mine, and they own me. Not exactly like the owning between my son and I, but so close. The line is razor thin.

This pride? This huge love that I carry around for these children of my heart? This is why I struggle with my current job. Maybe all my huge love has been given out. Maybe all I can be for these new children is a glorified babysitter.

In the dark, spiderwebby bits of my heart? I don’t want to love these new children that much. I’ve loved other people’s children so hard it broke my heart to walk away. I was shattered. To leave them, without letting any of the rage and pain of the separation seep through into our conversations in those last weeks, squeezed my entire being dry. The fallout left me bruised and wary for more than half a year.

These late night ramblings clearly show that I am still somewhat bruised. Somewhat battered. No longer the brittle shell I was during the winter, though. So, I can happily pack up the minivan and head north to bask in the huge love again. And only be a little blue when I have to leave them.

I don’t want that huge love again.

But to have had it?

I am the luckiest.