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. ❤

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?

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.

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.

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.