Friday, May 27, 2016

On Being A Nanny:

a picture of the cake we made on my last day

Had you talked to me year and a half ago you would have noticed that I had no idea what I was doing with my life or in what direction I was heading, but I was trying to figure it all out so I could start anew. It was around the time I applied for Teen Vogue Fashion University (which is what led me to solidify my career goals). It was also when I was interviewing for several nanny positions - mostly because I knew they paid well and I figured I would enjoy it since as a preteen I had had fun babysitting for family friends. I knew there would be moments when things would get frustrating and that it wasn't going to be an easy job, per se, but the way I imagined it was entirely different than it actually was.

pre-first day selfie aka what I wore on my first day // on a walk with A in October 2015

I must have gone to 30 interviews before I interviewed with A's mom. I remember they used to live in this tiny little blue house about 20 minutes away, and the interview took place in her living room while A was playing right in front of us. I remember the outfit I wore - a pink blouse with lace on the sleeves and brown corduroys - and the details of our conversation. I had brought a folder with references and sample lesson plans that I had made for my Girl Scouts troop meetings. I also had a binder with CPR/First Aid info, several information worksheets I had made on photoshop, and ideas for fun activities we could do that would be age appropriate. (If you're thinking of applying for a nanny position, I highly recommend you do this. I would even be more than happy to send you the documents I put in the binder.) She told me she had never hired and nanny and I told her I had never been a nanny. I remember thinking it was fate and that I would get hired. A few days later, on a Wednesday she told me I was hired and that I would start the following week.

A playing on the swings circa Summer 2015

At first, being A's nanny was a bit of a chore. She was only 16 months old and the fact that a random stranger (me) was arriving at her house and spending several hours there terrified her. They also had a dog named Archie who was very protective and would growl at me all the time and eat my crayons so as to bug me to the point where I wouldn't come back, probably. I must have tried a dozen Pinterest tricks to try to get A to nap during my first few weeks, but she would just scream and scream until she fell asleep every time. It was frustrating and I felt awful and like I wasn't trying hard enough. As time wore on she got used to me and things started getting better. I would bring little pompoms and she would  enthusiastically stick them in a jar and sometimes I would fill the jar with water and bring construction paper and a brush so she could "paint" with water, so as not to create a mess. She always LOVED painting, even now. And for a while, we had these little dance parties in her bedroom every single day because she always wanted to listen to Shake It Off, probably because I played it so much at first that she took a liking to it. That summer, we took daily walks to the park every morning and it was always my favorite part of the day, even though she always cried when we left the park. Then in the Fall, they moved to Orem for a few months and the atmosphere was different.  It's funny how location changes everything, even when all the same people are there. Rather than taking long walks to the park, we ended up mostly just going to the backyard to play on the swings everyday and the job felt more relaxed and less structured than it had been at their old house. I'm not sure why.  It was a particularly fun time though because A had grown up a bit and we could have better conversations. She went through this phase where she wanted to talk about monkeys all day. So what we would do is look at pictures of monkeys making silly faces and then we would face each other and try to imitate them, the sillier the better, until we were in stitches, laughing. It was the cutest thing! And she would zealously show me what she did in her tumbling or dance classes every day.

the early days with A, sorting tiny pom poms and "painting" with water

I ended up taking a month off in December. When I came back a month and a half later, A was so grown up! She went from being a bald baby to a little girl with a short blonde bob. Shortly after, they moved to their new home in Vineyard and I continued being her nanny. These last months were the best of my entire experience. A was particularly chatty and at this point we were very close. She would talk about princesses every day, particularly Rapunzel or as she called her, 'Punzel. And she was always trying to convince me to give her fruit snacks or cookies, depending on whatever was visible to her on the snack shelf in the pantry that day. She was vibrant and always wanting to do something fun. We spent a lot of time playing tag in the living room and having picnics on the balcony, so as to make lunchtime more exciting. One thing I always tried to do was encourage her to learn. As a nanny, I feel like that's the most important thing you can do. When she was obsessed with a particular picture book - her Sophie book and another time, The Little Prince- and she begged me to read it over and over and over again, I did just that (because she was passionate about it and encouraging that is SO important). And when she wanted to paint every day, I made it a point to tell her that her paintings were beautiful or impressive or clever because of X, Y, or Z. She liked a painting by Van Gogh that she saw in one of my books, so the next day I brought more examples and I taught her some basic facts. And when she wanted to do yoga, I taught her more poses she didn't know yet. She was such a smart little girl, so very eager to learn. I'm sure one day she'll make an extraordinary student.

Going on my very last walk with her the day before my last day was a very melancholic experience. It reminded me last summer, three houses ago, when we would go on our daily walks to the park with the dog in tow. Except this time we were having a conversation about My Little Pony while we walked, something that never would have happened last year when nothing she ever said was comprehensible. Now,  I'm not naive enough to say that everyone should be a nanny. I firmly believe that not everyone has the right personality to take care of and nurture a child, but I will say that being a nanny is an extraordinary, life-changing, and perspective-changing experience. It feels odd to call it a job, but  in all honesty, it was the best job I've ever had thus far. I was blessed with the opportunity to get to know this little girl, to gain her trust and affection, to watch her grow up a little bit, and to get the opportunity to teach her and influence her. When I would walk in the door she would run up to me, shouting my name with the hugest grin on her little face, asking me if I wanted to play and I'll never forget that. And sometimes, her mom would always tell me that A was asking her if I was coming all day because she was so eager.  She was just a little child, but she genuinely appreciated my company and it felt so special to have that.

these selfies !!!!! They showcase what our relationship was like haha

On my last day, we made cake together, an idea that was prompted by a conversation we had had before when she was talking nonstop about birthdays and I asked her if she preferred cake or presents and she exclaimed, "CAKE!!!!!" so excitedly. I had written A's mom a letter about how lovely A had been the last year and a half. Leaving was definitely the hardest part, harder than dealing with those early days when she wouldn't stop crying before her nap time, harder than all those times she threw a tantrum over leaving the park, harder than the time she lost her shoes on a walk and we spent an hour looking for them, harder than the time she wet her pants and the time she fell playing outside. I have to admit, I cried when I drove away even though I know I'll see her again a couple times this summer when I do some evening babysitting for them. But babysitting is not like being a nanny, it's easier and the kids are usually asleep. It's not the same. A's mom is a school teacher so that's why she won't be needing me in the day over the Summer, and then in the Fall I'll have moved to NYC.

snapshots from my last two days being A's nanny

I'll miss that sweet girl. If I could've been her nanny forever, I would have done it in a heartbeat. x.

Have a beautiful Friday!

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