Familia Número Dos!

I have been MIA for a while. I apologize. I have been settling into my new house and getting ready for school! But before my classes start tomorrow, I wanted to tell you all about the second, and very lovely family I had the honour of meeting and working with for the last part of my summer.

The Wong family, as I had mentioned in an earlier post, was very easy to connect with. I went for my interview and they explained that they were awaiting the arrival of baby number two! The news excited us all and we began to make arrangements for my work times. Wendy had planned on having a c-section. Because if her limited mobility within the first month or so, she knew she would have difficulty moving around and picking up baby. She asked me to work the night shift with her from 9:00pm – 7:00am. I have worked with many newborn babies, but never had I fully worked a night shift with newborns. Boy, was I in for an interesting experience.

The first night came and I will never forget the struggle that both Wendy and I had. Baby and mommy spent three days in the hospital prior to coming home. Milk had come in for baby and so started the cluster feeding. If you are unaware of what this is, I will tell you that, in short, it is when a baby eats nonstop. The phase comes as goes as growth spurts happen and let me tell you, it can be stressful. I wasn’t even the one breast feeding and it was stressful for me. Baby would feed for about 45 minutes to an hour and In less than 20 minutes, he was ready to eat again. Needless to say, the first couple nights, we did not get any sleep. Eventually we did put baby on formula so he would sleep a little bit longer (formula is much thicker than breast milk which meant he wouldn’t get as hungry as fast).

The good that came from it? Wendy and I were able to have very meaningful chats while baby was feeding. We told stories to each other, made each other laugh, and lent listening ears to relieve the stress that was in our daily lives. The fact that Wendy felt comfortable opening up to me about very personal things made me feel very warm and accepted in their family circle.

Wendy’s husband, David, also became a person of great conversation. We both shared a big interest in music. Musical talents and common favourite artists and genres consumed our conversation, again making me feel welcome and at home.

The last family member that I was able to get to know was Madison. Madison is their three year old daughter who is so very cute! I would spend a couple hours with her on Saturday and Sunday late-afternoons and we would color, chalk up the sidewalk with hopscotch and pictures of the sun, and would indulge in our love for Frozen and pretend we were Anna and Elsa and sing all our favourite songs. The instant I met her, we were attached and a love began to form.

I really felt like I became a part of the Wong family in the short time I was with them. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to work with!

Time for Goodbyes

I spent a wonderful two months with these boys. All three captured my heart in a way that I can not even explain. Is it possible to love children so deeply that aren’t even yours? Cause seriously, that’s what happened.

I promised you guys this story, so here goes.

WARNING! A box of tissues may be necessary if you’re the emotional type.

It was my second last day with the kids. Their mom had been easing them into the fact that I would be leaving and a new nanny would replace me. Sam went to sleep without a fuss, as did Luke. I always put Nathan to be last and about half an hour later than the other two. Nathan and I would talk before bed and reflect on the things he did and learned. We had just finished our talk and I was walking out of his room when he asked, “Can you just cuddle with me for a little bit?” He patted the bed and moved over to the other side to make room for me. Knowing it was my last full night with him, I agreed. I lied next to him to see what he would do next. He propped himself up on his elbows and looked at me with a sad look. “Mommy said that you won’t be here anymore. That makes me really sad. But I won’t cry.” He paused. “Are you sad that you won’t see me anymore?”
“Of course, Nathan! I’m going to miss you and Luke and Sam so very much!”
He seemed relieved to know that I would miss them. “Y’know, you can cry if you want to. I’ll just cuddle with you until you feel better,” he gave me a big smile and put his arm around me. He sigh. “Melinda, I just — I just really really love you.” Cue heart melting.
“I love you, too, Nathan,” I held myself together. There was no way I’d let him see me cry. We laid there together for a minute and before he dozed off, I told him to be good for the new nanny like he had been for me. He promised he would listen, but only if the new nanny had a happy face. I assured him she would. “It’s time for me to go now, bud.” I started getting up. He sat up and hugged me one last time. “My last day will be Sunday, but we will play lots and I’ll bring you a treat, okay?”
“YES!” He exclaimed. “I promise I’ll be good!” He knew I only awarded treats for good behaviour. I walked to the door and just before I closed the door, he said, “I love you!” one last time. I told him I loved him back and closed the door.

These boys taught me so much and I fell in love with them. The joy they gave me is unexplainable – there are no words that could full express my experience. I will forever cherish them. ❤

Wake up!

Y’know those times when you are just so tired and the kids just don’t seem to ever give you a break? So you cave and plop them in front of the TV to watch a movie so you can catch up some sleep? I have been guilty of this. *insert shame face here*

It was day five of my 12 hour shift day stretch and I was exhausted. The kids had been driving me up the wall all week – it was a wonder how I hadn’t pulled my hair out yet. I sat on the couch to quickly catch my breath and found myself nodding off. Snap out of it! No sleeping on the job, Melinda! I squeezed a tad bit more energy out to get off the couch, but as soon as I got up, I knew I would need to sit again soon. I went to the kitchen, cut up some pineapples and strawberries and called Nathan over. I had just finished putting the two little ones down for their nap and decided that I would let Nathan watch a movie and have a snack so that I could sneak in a quick power nap. Nathan chose The Incredibles (the fascination with super heroes he had was insane) and we began to watch. I dozed off pretty quickly. Knowing I had to still keep an ear out for him, I pulled the mommy-nap. For those of you who are not familiar with this concept, it is the art of power napping while still being conscious enough to sense your child’s movements.

Being in my half-asleep mommy-nap stage, I felt a slight movement and then a sudden closeness of another person. Thinking it was Nathan just moving closer, I kept my eyes closed. It wasn’t two seconds later that he leaned his face in close up to mine and exclaimed, “Wake up!!” My eyes shot open. “Why are you sleeping, sir?” I told him I was tired to which he replied, “Well the super heroes need you to watch them so that they can have strength to save the world!”

Needless to say, my sneaky plan had not gone well.

Plot Twist!

In my previous post, I listed off some reasons why I love being a nanny and aspire to be a teacher. And while I mean every single word of it, I’m gonna throw you a little curve ball here. I don’t think I would ever hire a nanny to take care of my kids. Call it what you may: hypocrite, phoney.. So before we get ahead of ourselves, let me tell you why I would prefer to send my tiny humans to a daycare and not hire a nanny. Please note that I am talking about full time nannies, not the occasional babysitter.

In a daycare setting, the number of children is much great. The average classroom holds roughly 15-20 (depending on support and popularity). As a nanny, you only have a handful of children; maybe two or three if you’re lucky. In a daycare, rules are set, responsibility is given, and disciplinary actions take place. And the same could be the said about a household. However, the degree at which these are held are very different. So what makes them different?

Setting. It all boils down to where this all goes down. A nanny and teacher may have the same expectations of a child, but one is enforced outside the home and the other inside. Your child knows that at school there are certain things he or she can do, and at home, there are things they can’t do. They establish between home and daycare, therefore establishing a difference between mommy and daddy, and the teacher. With a nanny, home is home. Why is this bad? Well in short, the nanny becomes the makeshift parent (see what I did there ?;) )Their rules are enforced daily. You could argue that as long as the parents and nanny are in good communication, it doesn’t matter. Ah, but it still does. While the same rules are enforced, they will be enforced slightly different. Your child will view the nanny as a third parent. There is another person raising your child at the most crucial age.

Before you throw a kitchen sink at me, let me just reiterate that this is just my personal opinion. For me, it boils down to not wanting someone else to be raising my kids. I do understand that reality kicks in as jobs are a must because let’s face it, children are expensive. I would just prefer to send my child to a daycare, and leave home life to me and my husband! Also, social interactions are a plus it’s daycare! Just saying..

Top 5 Reasons

So I have bored you with my silly stories of interaction with these kids for quite some time. I thought I’d give you a break and list off the mains reasons why I absolutely love working with kids. After all, we know that childcare isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. Here’s what keeps me going:

1. Kids love like no one else

Have you ever had a child tell you they love you? Those cute puppy dog eyes that stare straight through to your heart and just melt? If you haven’t experience this, let me tell you: it’s something fierce. Mercy. Best part is, you know they fully mean it.

2. Kids learn fast

Trying to explain something to someone can be frustrating if they don’t seem to understand you. But when they finally get it, there’s a sense of accomplishment. For me, watching a child learn and fully understand something after I have taught it to them is SO rewarding. It’s almost like you can hear the click in their heads once they get it. Awesome!

3. Kids are great teachers

In addition to watching kids and learning metaphoric lessons through the things they do, they also teach us literal lessons (even if sometimes we have to pretend like we didn’t know it or that they are completely wrong). For instance, did you know that spiders have 8 leg and ladybugs only have 6 and that’s because spiders are boys and boys are better so they get to have more legs than the ladybugs because they are just girls? This was a lecture I got from three year old Nathan.

4. Kids move on

Timeouts, silent treatment, confiscations, and spanks (if you’re a believer in) , can sometimes leave you feeling like the bad guy. Especially when it just does NOT go over well and all hell breaks loose. However, you can be assured that soon, the toy that you confiscated will be forgotten and replaced by another. And they will come talk to you eventually. Kids are the only creatures I know that take the saying ‘forgive and forget’ literally.

And last, but not least, 5. Kids make me feel like a kid again

Now, I know what you’re thinking! This girl is still a kid too! I couldn’t agree more. But, I am old enough to know that independent life is really not all it’s cracked up to be. When I’m with these kids, I can let loose and not have a care in the world other than making sure the colour of the turtles shell is correct (I mean c’mon, you have to make sure it’s the right colour, or colours for that matter). What child do you know that’s worried more about how much their colouring books costs instead of making sure the blue marker works?

So there you have it. This is why I have chosen this job and absolutely love it. As an aspiring elementary teacher, these are just a few of the reasons why I will choose to put with the little rascals every day.

Why do you love working with kids?

So Rewarding

When I started working with this family, it wasn’t too hard to fit in. The parents were super nice and the kids were outgoing for the most part. The only thing I found was I spent less time with Luke (middle child syndrome maybe? 😉 ) causing him to sometimes play strange. The first day I had arrived, Luke had already been put down for his afternoon nap. Expecting to wake up to mommy four hours later, he was surprised to have me pick him up out of his crib. Let’s just say that didn’t go over too well.. For the next couple days he was fairly distant, which I fully understood. I knew he had to have some sort of liking for me, though, because when it came time to play, he would eagerly grab my hand and drag me to whatever it was he wanted to play with. But I still felt a little bit of distance from him. The other two boys got a little bit more attention: Nathan got one on one time while Luke and Sam were down for their naps and Sam got tons of attention through feedings and the occasional I-need-attention moments. Luke, unintentionally, was shafted since he was able to slept from the time I got there till almost super time and when he was awake, I didn’t have much time to spend just with him since there were two others that were also dependent on me. Needless to say, it took a couple of weeks for Luke to warm up to me being there when he woke up from his naps. It wasn’t until the final week that things started to change.

Luke was energetic and loved to play so once he was awake from his nap, he was rearing to go. His crying would stop immediately as opened the door to his room; he knew I’d let him out and then we would go play, usually at the park (weather permitting). One day, I went to get him from his crib after he had woken up. I lifted him out and went to set him down, but he clasped his legs around my waist and tightened his arms around my neck. This is new, I though to myself. I stood there holding him for a second before asking him if he wanted down. He nestled his head into my neck and said ‘no’. Intrigued, I stood there and we snuggled until he was ready to be put down. This happened repeatedly for a couple days and soon it became my shared moment with just Luke. We would have our five to ten minutes of snuggle time and then he was ready to go play. I liked being able to bond with him this way. Then one day he took our snuggle time to a whole new level.

As usual, I picked him up and held him for a bit. However, this time, I decided to go to the living room and sit on the couch. He started to squirm and pushed himself away from me. Saddened by his apparent rejection to our bonding time, I asked him if he wanted to snuggle. He said, “Yuuuh!” and grabbed my hand and pulled me off the couch and indicated for me to lift him up again. I picked him up and he pointed to the couch and said sternly, “No!” His tone of voice made it pretty clear that it was his way or the highway. Turns out, snuggle time could only happen if I was standing. No sleeping on the job with this one! Despite my regulations during this time, it felt rewarding. Luke had finally warmed up to me and if felt great!

That’s My Nanny!

In a previous post, I had hinted to the fact that Nathan never called me by my first name until the very last day that I was with this family. While this post is not the story of what happened the very last day, I thought it might be amusing to hear about the names and instances in which he used these names.

The very first time I noticed him call me a different name was about a week after I had started. I was a live out nanny and so it was no surprise after a while that every day I would ring the door bell at 12:00pm on the dot. Every time I rang the door bell, I heard the excited stomps get louder and louder as Luke anxiously tried to open the door for me. This particular day, I rang the door bell and as usual, Luke came running to greet me. As he opened the door, I heard a second set of foot steps following. It was Nathan and before be turned the corner he began to shout, “Luke! It’s my nanny! It’s my nanny!” Luke jumped into my arms and Nathan came scooting around the corner. Nathan came over to me and hugged my legs and said, “Hi, nanny. I’m so happy you’re here! Let’s go play now!” I couldn’t help but giggle at the funny-soundly, yet very accurate title he had given me.

Eight out of ten times, Nathan was good about following directions, be it picking up his toys, finishing lunch, or being nice to his brothers. He never gave a verbal confirmation of following such directions, but usually went ahead and did what he was asked. This day was by far an exception. I had just finished making lunch and was ready for the boys to come eat. I called down the stairs telling them lunch was ready. I heard Luke as he huffed and puffed trying to run up the stairs followed by Nathan’s big, slow stomps trailing behind . I strapped Luke into his high chair and turned to Nathan and said, “Alright Mr. Slow Poke, time for lunch!” He stopped. He looked at me and charged toward me. “YESSIR!!” he replied.
“Sir? I’m not a ‘ma’am’?” I giggled. Well this was new.
“Nope. You’re ‘sir'” he confirmed. Well alrighty then! ‘Sir’ it was.

Another one that was amusing to me was ‘the silly singing bean’. I think this was a play off of a silly name I had called him one day. It might also have had to do with the fact that I was pretty much always humming or singing something to myself as I went about my day with the boys. Nathan had been hyper all morning (and no, not from sugar intake. He’s three; basically a walking, talking tornado with two legs) and started mimicking Luke who was still learning to talk. He had mastered all of three words: ‘Yuuuh’, ‘No!’, and ‘Heeeeeeey’. Nathan started saying the same thing in the same voice while dancing and jumping about the living room, arms flailing and everything. I paused and looked at him – he paused and looked back. “You, little mister, are a silly jumping bean today!” It wasn’t until the following day that his dad had asked me why he called me ‘the silly singing bean’ when he referred to me that night after I had left. He told his dad that he never wanted his ‘silly singing bean’ to leave. Talk about possessive! 😉

Kids say the darnedest things!

Go Find Your Happy Face!

I am just going to put this out there: I am a big face of timeouts. I do also believe that there is a time and place for physical reinforcement (although I would never spank a kid that was not my own, so parents, calm yourselves). When I say there’s a time and place I mean, if my kid ran out into them middle of the street I probably would grab his or her arm and give them a little swat. Reason being, the consequence of running out on the road would have been a physical one: getting smooched by a car. The same thing were to happen if I saw them reach for the hot stove. If they talked back, their consequence would not be physical, therefore, a time out would be given. The saying, ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,’ is what I have incorporated into my disciplinary actions. The only thing I have to add is consistency.

Nathan was very particular about everything. The food on his plate couldn’t touch each other, the pillow had to be just right when we sat down to read a book, and it has to be that Spiderman episode. He was one of the sweetest little boys you would have ever met, but if something didn’t go his way, well shoot. You better brace yourself for a temper tantrum.

At first, it was hard to find a way to deal with these tantrums. At one point, he had even resorted to hitting me to try and get what he wanted. I am in no way a pushover, though. So tantrums didn’t sway me from the get go. I would just get angry and ignore Nathan until he stopped whining. Some parents might use this tactic and hey, if it works for you, all the power to ya. However, I don’t like leaving children in the dark with ‘because i said so!’ as the explanation. I am also not a fan of yelling at kids so that is why I resorted to ignoring him so that I, in response to his tantrum, wouldn’t have my own. I had to find a way to keep my cool, but still be able to discipline and properly explain things in a calm, collective, grown up way.

Then one day it hit me!

“Can we read a book?” Of course I wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to do such a thing. We had been play cars ALL afternoon and I was at the end of my rope crawling on my knees back and forth around the dining room table.

“Sure we can!” I replied, “Right after we put away all the cars!”

“No, you clean it yourself.”

“Nathan, you were playing with the cars too. Come help me put them away and then you can choose a book to read.”

He crossed his arms and pouted.”NO!” I walked over to him and got down on his level.

“Nathan, we have to clean up the mess of cars before we can read a book, okay?” He pushed his lip out a little bit further. I gasped! “Nathan!!” He perked up. “Uh oh! You lost your happy face. What happened?”

“I don’t want to clean up,” he stomped.

“i don’t like playing with grumpy little boys. You’re going to have to go find your happy face before we do anything else.”

He waltz upstairs and i heard his door slam. Within seconds, the door creaked open and he shouted down the stairs, “I found it, Sir. Can i come clean up the cars and then we’ll read a book?

It worked. To be sure it wasn’t just a fluke, it used it for the next couple days. Soon enough, he was giving himself time outs telling me that he needed to find his happy face or else he would turn into the Hulk. Lol. Worked for my kids, maybe it’ll work for yours!

Rant Alert!

CAUTION! This post may or may not offend certain people, but the fact that it does, probably means it’s on point. Let me know what you think after you’ve read this. I do realize this is a touchy subject, so I apologize in advance if this is by any means offensive. I also apologize because this will be a very long winded post. Brace yourself.

Want to know what really gets me going? Seeing lazy parents. You know the type I’m talking about. The ones that go to McDonald’s six out of seven days of the week for two out of three meals of the day because their kid screams and they don’t want to deal with. Or the ones that shove a screen in front of their child’s face every waking moment so they can do other things since, y’know, they couldn’t be bothered to play with them instead. Now before I go any further, let me clarify two major things. One, no I am not a parent and do not claim to know all the answers. After all I am only two decades old. However, I have, in my young age, dealt with all ages from literally right out of the womb to 15 and 16 year olds. I have seen and observed the progress from which children have based on their up bringing and early childhood education. Two, I am in no way saying McDonald’s is 100% bad or that technology should not be introduced to children. I just want to convey the message that everything needs to be given in moderation from the get go. As the saying goes before any anticipated disaster, ‘nip it in the bud!’

If you are already a parent (or a makeshift one like me), or have been in some way exposed to infants, you’ll know what I mean when I say that babies are smart. At just the ripe age of a year, they already know that getting a finger caught in the door causes an owie. They also know that jumping off the couch will put mommy on edge, but they do it anyways with that sly grin of defiance each time. Babies are also creatures of habit. Even before they hit solids, they know the routine: they cry and mommy comes to the rescue by breast feeding (or giving a bottle). They eat and back to sleep they go.

Now that we’ve established that babies are smart, we need to realize that we, as adults, should be even smarter. It takes a hard working, persevering parent to tach your kids good and bad at an early age. The earlier they learn, the deeper it is engrained into their minds and the more likely it is to stick with them as they get older. Let me explain what I mean. For instance, Johnny (this is a fictional child that I just created) is a picky child. He refuses to eat the rice and broccoli you just lovingly slaved over (I’m really reaching far into my skills of exaggeration here. Bear with me.) and meal time has now turned into a frustration. Now there are two ways you can approach this. You can choose to hop into the car and abuse the powers of the poisonous fast foods OR you can choose to not be lazy and teach your child that what you have cooked for the family is what everyone will be eating. You may have to enforce this by working through teary-eyed, forced bites or your child may opt to not eat anything. And that is okay! Trust me when I say, one or two skipped meals with NOT cause your child to starve to death. A little starvation will not hurt them, but will indeed teach them that they eat what is in front of them or they go hungry. Again, your child is smart and knows what hunger is and feels like. If that’s what they choose to deal with until the next meal, then so be it. They will be fine. (This also may have to happen more than once depending on your child. So be prepared.)

Here’s another example. The other day I was walking through Target and saw a woman pushing her, what looked to be a, six or seven year old child in the convenient carts provided at the wonderful store. This was all normal until I saw that the mother was turning on her cellular hotspot so that her child could watch Netflix on the iPad he was holding. Uhm, wut?! *insert unimpressed face here* Has this child not learned that it is okay to go shopping with mommy for 3 hours and not have a device glued to their eye lids? Better yet, has this mother failed to recognize that herself? Now, I see nothing wrong with allowing your kids to play a game on the iPad for a half hour during the day; and I don’t think there is anything wrong with a movie or TV show here or there. But when it comes to the point where you, as a parent, fail to teach your child the importance or reading, or colouring, or heck, even just simple quiet time, you have become lazy and in essence, begin to fail as a parent in my eyes. I won’t go into the details of the effects the over use of electronics have on your child because I can almost guarantee you have heard about them all. But the fact that you know about them, yet still use your every day personal problems and business as a justification to do this to your child anyways is where this becomes a problem.

So parents and fellow nannies,
Get off your butts and entertain your children! Teach them. Love them. Learn from them. You can’t do that with French fries popping out of their cheeks and their eyes glued to a screen.

Comment if you agree or disagree.