Cribbed In

So far in my posts, things are positive; the kids say ridiculous things, they teach me lessons, etc. But this post, even though it bars on the edge of scary for a split second, I assure you, it has a happy ending!

Ah, nap time. The time of the day where two out of three children sleep soundly and I get one on one time with Nathan. He had decided that we would read books this afternoon. Half way through Where’s My Mother?, I hear Luke wake up. He’s notorious for waking up and falling back asleep five minutes later so I ignore him and continue reading to Nathan. The crying stopped for a couple minutes, but then came the blood curtailing scream. I jumped off the couch and rushed upstairs to his room. Everything looked normal and I relaxed a bit, until I noticed a limp leg stuck in between the crib bars. You’ve got to be kidding me. How did he manage that? The screaming continued until I knelt down to him and talked to him. Making light of the situation so he would calm down I ask him how on earth he got his leg stuck. With a little giggle and a sniff of his nose he replied, “Yuuuuuh.” Hmm. What to do. I examined the leg to see if I could easily pull it out, but it was stuck three quarters of the way up his thigh. My guess was he had been standing or jumping and his foot slipped between the bars and BAM! Stuck. Sigh.

I tried to gently turn the leg to push it back through the bars, but at every touch, Luke cried out in pain. Nathan, being the not-so-sympathetic older brother rebuked Luke saying, “See, Luke! This is what happens when you wake up early from your nap and don’t sleep all day! I think you’re going to have to stay there forever!” (You older siblings. Pfft)

I made the executive decision to just push the leg out, despite the pain Luke would be in. One, two, THREE! A window shattering scream was heard and in the same second Luke was in my arms as I cuddled him to get him to stop crying. I took him to the bathroom and ran some cold water over his leg; a bruise was already appearing. After some comforting, I had a clingy toddler on my hands for the rest of the afternoon. But after a bruised leg and a lesson to not go near the crib bars, I don’t think Luke will ever be ‘cribbed in’ again.

Baby Cuddles!

What’s more rewarding than rocking a baby successfully to sleep, you may ask? Why, the cuddles you get while doing the rocking of course! There’s something heartwarming about a baby’s head nestled in your neck, completely comfortable. Bliss.

Sam was the cutest little chubby baby you ever saw. Sometimes mistaken for the Michelin Man, the five month old baby was a content baby that was a cookie cutter baby. If he was hungry, he would cry. If his diaper was dirty, he would cry. If he was overtired, he would cry. Other than that, absolutely nothing but his giggles and attempts to master the confusing language of the giant humans could be heard from him. Every now and then I would hear a little whine, but nothing a little baby talk couldn’t fix. Silly thing is, even at five month old, Sam was able to give me something I really needed.

It was 9:00am. My shift started earlier than normal (I usually worked from 12:00pm – around 8:30pm) which meant it would be an exhausting day. Except, I was already exhausted. At 9:00am, seriously?! you say? I was exhausted because the night before, my current ex-boyfriend decided to pull the plug on our relationship and I was absolutely devastated. Up until now, I had thought our relationship was fine (every girl’s mistake, right ladies?). Plans had been made to visit his family at the end of the summer and we were so very much in love – at least I was. Not getting the explanation or closure that I fully needed, as you could expect, I got no sleep. I tossed and turned and before I knew it, my zombie-self was up and at ’em ready to face another day. I was so numb. It took every ounce of me to not call a sick day. I pulled up to the house, took deep breath, wiped the tears from my face and walked into the house. Luke greeted me with a huge hug and I could hear Nathan stomp through the house yelling, “IT’S MY NANNY!!!” (Nathan never called me by my real name until the day I left. But alas, that is another story for another time.) Why are they so energetic? Is it nap time yet? Sigh. Like i said, exhausted.

Nap time finally rolled around and Sam decided that he needed some help getting to sleep. Great. I opted to leaving him till last. I put Luke in his crib, and off to sleep he went. Till now, I had been fighting back tears. The boys did a great job of distracting me as we put giant floor puzzles together and read Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch over and over and over (I’m not even kidding). Nathan had outgrown naps, but I usually allowed him one 20 minute Super Hero show on account for his good behaviour. I set him up with his Ironman cartoon and proceeded to carry Sam upstairs to put him to sleep. Sam fussed a little as he fought sleep and as he whimpered, I joined him. The pent up hurt I had been holding all morning just flowed out. I felt pathetic. Pull yourself together, Melinda. You are pathetic. You are supposed to be comforting the crying baby, not the other way around. Sam finally fell limp in my arms and that was my queue to set him down and get on with the household chores. Except, the gentle rocking and the way Sam was snuggled into my arms was somehow comforting me now. I decided to plant myself in the rocking chair and pull myself together. I knew it would be short lived because once Nathan’s show was finished, he could come looking for me to play cars with him.

Sure enough, Nathan came running upstairs and I finally laid Sam down in his crib to continue sleeping. The day continued on as normal; the two little ones eventually woke up leaving me one hand short, but nonetheless surviving. Heartbreak would have to wait till later. Eight o’clock neared and an empty washing machine, full dish washer, and three sleeping children marked the end of my day. The parents came home and relieved me. Had it not been for baby cuddles, the day would have been, without a doubt, harder than it was. Best thing about baby cuddles? You can’t give cuddles without getting them back.

Having a rough day? I’m telling you! Baby cuddles is where it’s at, man!

“Make my day!!”

Small Disclaimer (only because I must): All names have been changed to protect the identity of this wonderful family! (:

It was lunch time and the hot dogs – without the bun of course – was cut up into small pieces and placed in front of Nathan and Luke. Luke, the one and a half year old, pointed to the fridge and said, “Yuuuuh??” Ketchup. Right. Almost forgot. I grabbed the ketchup and squirted a glob on both the boys’ plates and the face stuffing began. Luke, the glutton that he was, scarfed down his hot dog within seconds leaving his poor cucumber all by itself. “Luke, you have to eat your cucumbers before you can go play,” I told him with my stern, motherly voice. He understood. I looked over to check on Nathan’s progress only to see that he still had a full plate.

Nathan, the three year old, was the particular one. Everything had to go his way and had to be just right. You know the type. He constantly frustrated me with his ‘preferences’ and today was no exception. “You got ketchup on my hot dog and I wasn’t ready! I’m not eating it,” he pouted. I walked over to him and tried to explain that it was okay because now he didn’t have to do it himself and that it was like a magic trick. He could now stab his hot dog with his handy dandy fork and voilà! there would already be ketchup on his hot dog (kid reasoning, right?)! One point Melinda, zero for Nathan. I was victorious; he started eating.

Commercial break. It’s funny how a little ‘reasoning’ and misdirection works on a child’s mind. They are so innocent and for the most part, buy into anything you try selling them. It’s almost as if they are dumb little robots that walk around and make messes all day. But, dumb they most certainly are not! I prefer to use the word ignorant. No child in their right mind would choose broccoli over a bowl of ice cream given the choice for lunch. I mean, obviously ice cream tastes better. So smart choice. Except, as an adult, you know it is not. They are ignorant to the fact that ice cream will leave them with a tummy ache and the munchies twenty minutes later as opposed to the healthy broccoli that would hold them over till supper time (okay, dumb example, but you catch my drift). The toddler mind is one that is so simple, yet we still are dumbfounded when they say or do ridiculous things.

Luke had now finished his cucumber and indicated that he was full and would like to go play. I let him out of his high chair and away he waddled. Nathan, still working in his final 2 pieces, paused to drink some water. He gulped down the rest of his cup and asked if he could have more. Proud that he was almost done his plate, I excitedly said, “Yep! You can have some when you finish those last two pieces!!” I flailed my arms a bit to get him excited to finish. He looked at me, paused, put his sippy cup down, and said, “Ah c’mon! Make my day!”

One point Nathan.

God’s Impeccable Timing

Ironically, after having applied to a ton of families, very few replied – and the few that did wanted someone more long term that could stay with their family beyond the summer months.

Again I have some background to this. Y’see, I am a very futuristic planner. I like knowing that everything is taken care of in advance. Being the proactive student I was, I applied for a job (Summer camps vacation bible school in NEWFOUNDLAND! Awesome right?) that would take place in the final months of my summer vacation (July 10 – August 26). I got accepted for the job and had to plan accordingly. My nanny job would only be able to last for 2 months. This made my job search a little harder, but with lots of prayer, God finally provided me with something that would work.

So like I said, the families had applied to didn’t seem to work. With my summer days passing by quickly, I was starting to get discouraged. Then one day, I received an email from a super nice lady who wanted to interview me. Before setting a day to meet up, I reluctantly informed her about my situation and her quick replied relieved my stressed as she explained that her situation. Would work perfectly with mine. Her current nanny had gotten into a severe car accident and would not be returning to work. They were also planning on moving to Edmonton and had someone who would be more permanent move with them July 7. They just needed someone to cover a month and a half until that time came. Talk about perfect time frames, right?!

I went for the interview, met the lovely lady and her husband, and to my surprise, her three kids. Yes, three. Their ages? Three and a half, one and a half, and five months (talk about not being short on the child reproduction side). Needless to say, I would be tested and tried by these three rascals for the next month and a half. I got hired on the spot and was scheduled to start the following Monday. God came to the rescue with His impeccable timing and so began my full time mommy job!

My Job Description

My anticipation grew the second I decided I would be a nanny for the summer. First, I partnered up with Google to find the best way to get paired up with a family and soon found NannyServices. I created my profile, bragged about myself in the info box as you would on a resume, and clicked publish. And so began my job search. I narrowed my search to Calgary, AB and started reading the job descriptions each family had. To my surprise, most of the posts seemed to be fairly uniform: family with 2 kids, ages 3 and 5, looking or a nanny for the summer. A salary was posted and that was that. Hundreds of posts describing why their family was the perfect family to become a part of and what I would be expected to do.

Needless to say, the search started to become tedious. Now you say to yourself, Well it’s easy! Just choose a family and go!, right? Well, not quite. Y’see, there are many of factors to consider before applying to a family. I’ll list off the most important ones that mattered most to me:

1. Ages and amount of children

While I am studying to become an elementary school teacher, I still LOVE babies. So ages newborn to 4 are my preferred ages. I also decided that 3 would be the max I would take on (ambitious, I know!).

2. CPR certified, Babysitting license, College degree

Now you may think, Well, duh! Uhm, not duh. Lol. Not all families require them. Some require one or the other, if not all three. In my opinion, it’s a little ridiculous (but that’s a topic for another post). I will tell you that I obtain none of these qualifications and have been perfectly fine (Food for thought: Should all parents be required to have said qualifications before popping out babies? Hmm.).

3. Salary

I am a struggling university student, okay? Every pay cheque counts; the bigger the better!

And lastly, 4. Schedule, availability, and length of job

If you have an already busy life, there comes the challenge of finding a family whose schedule matches yours. Luckily for me, I do not have friends that I hang out with on a daily basis during the summer. So, aside from my observation of the Seventh-Day Sabbath every Saturday, I was pretty much open to any time table that lasted no longer than August.

There were other things like having a drivers license, or being okay with pets in the house – both of which I could check off. So there we have it: a hefty profile filled with all my accomplishments and a ton of families to weed through and choose from. I went ahead, found a couple families that I thought would work out, emailed them all and awaited replies to see who else agreed that we’d make a great match. I waited to find out who would have me be their full time makeshift parent.

My Inspiration: The Makeshift Parent

This summer I decided to take a different route in the type of work I did. I became a nanny. I’ve always loved kids and had a passion for taking care of them so I thought to myself, Why not do it for a living?

Let me just give you some background here. I am a second year Elementary Education major at CUC. As stated before, I have a love for kids and want to be a part of educating our future. However, this is not the end to my lifetime goal. With my BEd degree, I will have the qualifications to run a third level day home. Being a nanny for the summer would not only look great on my resume for my degree, but would give me grounds for experience when I one day (God-willing) start my own child care business.

Now that you know a tad about what I am doing (and essentially what I’ll be blogging about), here’s the why. Ever since I can remember, I was surrounded with kids. Always being the oldest of my parent’s friend’s kids (aside from my older sister by almost 4 years) I always seemed to be left in charge. “Melinda, make sure you keep an eye on them!” repeatedly came from my mother’s mouth as she went about socializing with her friends. Years later, now just shy of 20 years old, those words have become my own as I take care of youngsters daily. I love watching these kids: their silly facial expressions, their temper tantrums over spilled Cheerios, and their happy dances; I watch them learn as they struggle to find the missing pieces to the massive floor puzzle scattered across living room.

Being a nanny is nothing short of rewarding. However, in the 10-12 hours of supervision I provide for these kids (why parents take on jobs that require this much time away from their kids is beyond me) I become their Makeshift Parent. Every need they have, I cater to. Every want they have, i do my best to satisfy. Every scrape and bruise meets my lips as I kiss the pain away. At nineteen years of age, I have somehow managed to have kids without the relationship drama or painful birthing experience. Awesome right?

So there you have it. The makeshift parent who loves being a parent despite all the frustration, exhaustion, and mess. It’s a learning process for me every day, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Disclaimer!

I am experimenting with blogging. I am by no means a creative writer, but I hope to convey my words in such a way that they amuse you to some extent. Some posts will be stories, other posts will be my thoughts, and some will be stupid randomness that has absolutely nothing to do with anything. So without further adieu… (:

Ps, I have a confession. My cover photo is not, I repeat, not of the kids I took care of. Those are in fact, my cousins. Lol.