Tag Archives: nannying

The Packet

I have been raising children for the privileged classes for too long.

We enrolled Felix in the local preschool program. The soft start date was the week after Labor Day.

All summer I have been waiting for the Packet. Every other child I’ve sent off to preschool has gotten the Packet. A handbook, a parent directory, 42 pages of mission statements, disclosures, policies, carpool procedures, sample snack menus, curriculum breakdowns, teacher biographies, the Silmarillion, and instructions for the automatic door of your shiny new minivan.

It occurred to me yesterday, as August rolled in, that I had no real idea about any of the preschool details.

Where in Hades was my Packet?!

And then, this morning, in the mail: a slim envelope addressed To the Parents of…

Four simple pieces of info: start date, parent orientation date/time, child’s orientation date/time, early drop off/late pick up information session date/time.

I think public preschool and I are going to get along just fine.


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.

After School Mango

I come into the kitchen to fix a snack for little O. J is balancing on the counter, his knobby nine year old left knee up on the granite, right toes in their gym socks dangling close to the floor. He reaches with one arm and steadies himself with the other.

“Can I get that for you?” I ask him dryly. He turns to me with a toothy grin and pushes himself down, landing on the hardwood with a thump.

I take down the paper lunch sack from the shelf, opening it to sniff. The faint, grassy tang of a not yet ripe mango rises up.

J peers into the bag, looks up at me quizzically.

I take it out, give it a squeeze. The skin is smooth, green, just blushed with rose and gold. The flesh underneath firm, but not hard.

“Is it okay?” J asks.

“I think, for us, it’s perfect,” I answer.

“Okay,” he says earnestly, “I was worried it was too late.”

“Get me a plate?” I ask, and he gleefully complies, humming under his breath, mangomangomango.

I grab a cutting board, knife, my familiarity with this kitchen superior even to my own. I have been using this one longer.

Two slices, straight through, alongside the broad seed, two quick pares to pull the flesh off its outer rim. I slice the skin from the slim arcs, dropping the pieces onto the plate J slides alongside me.

Three slices, diagonally, left to right, three slices, diagonally, right to left, cradling the oblong bowls of fruit from the sides, careful not to split the skin. Invert the flesh, slide the knife along the inside of the skin, and the pale yellow chunks drop onto the plate.

Hands sticky, I snag a cube. Still a hint of crisp under-ripeness, a sour note to balance the cloying, fragrant sweetness.

J looks up at me, eyes bright, smile anticipatory.

“It’s just right,” I say. He grabs the plate, taking it out to the table where his homework binder waits.

His little sister cruises into the room with her Polly Pockets in tow. She spies the plate of mango.

“Can I have some?”

“Nope,” grins J. “It’s not ripe. You don’t like it. C and I like them crunchy.”

Remembe(red): describe your favorite fruit or vegetable: the first time you tasted it, where it came from, where you were, what memories it brings.

Confession: mangoes are not my favorite fruit. But when I thought about fruit and memories, this little scene came back to me, a little moment with a child who, while not of my body, is certainly of my heart.

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.


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.


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!”

“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?

Well Hung Bug

Some of you may be familiar with my son’s prior penis-related humor. You don’t need to be, but that was a damn funny post.

At Betty’s house, there is one of those Pottery Barn Kids playroom tables with the roll of paper for coloring. The crayons are almost always spread out, since both Felix and Betty love to color.

Betty’s got a really great grasp on coloring and simple drawings. Her fine motor skills? Excellent.

So, she drew a bug. It’s clearly discernible. A blue kind-of circle with antennae and legs in the proper sorts of spots. She told me all about it, as I sat there at the table with them, bouncing wee Elmer on my knee. Once she’d explained her drawing to me, she took off for a new section of the paper, leaving Felix furiously scribbling thunderstorms in aquamarine.

Without any fanfare, he comes over, looks at Betty’s bug, and draws an elongated V shape in its middle.

I innocently inquire, “What’s that, lovey?”

“I drew the bug a pee-nus,” he replies, his expression preciously earnest.

I totally deserve a medal for keeping a straight face and saying breezily, “Oh, that’s nice, sweet pea.” Because I’m a cool, enlightened parent who uses anatomically correct words in a mature and responsible fashion.

Praying that Betty didn’t hear. Because I’m sure her parents would love that.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t snap a picture of it for posterity, or call his father to describe the incident, out of earshot.

And seriously?

Well. Hung. Bug.

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 Ran Away

Parenting is hard.

I know. Duh.

Nannying? Not easy.

Parenting whilst nannying? Coming home every night and parenting more?

Lately? I have not been sleeping well. I wake in the angry hours of the morning, unable to settle back to sleep.

It’s getting a little bit “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” in my head.

As an aside, that movie scares the everliving crap out of me. No lie.

This morning, after waking around 6:30, having gone to sleep, restlessly, around 3AM, I made breakfast for my small boy, dressed and pottied him, packed a bag for him, and slipped us out of the house while Mark was still asleep. I drove the forty minutes to my parents’ house, deposited him with them, stayed for a donut and a cup of coffee, and then?

I ran away.

Right now? I am sitting in a Barnes & Noble, enjoying free wifi, a mocha and some artichoke quiche, inhaling the scent of new books. It is lovely. I got a hair cut, from scalp massage to blow dry, I got a pedicure with paraffin treatment (hot wax on your feet? way excellent!) and a manicure, and I went shopping for jeans. On top of getting to shop for denim? I actually found a pair that makes the junk in my trunk look halfway decent.

I am tempting fate.

But it is so delicious.

And, having played? I will not be such a dull Mama when I return to my life.