Some words from a nanny

When I first met my kid, I was 21 and he was 5. Naturally, we hit it off instantly because we basically had the same mental age. Now, I am 23 and he is about to turn 7. We don’t see each other much since I stopped looking after him, but our relationship hasn’t changed one bit. I’m his favourite and everybody knows it.

His previous nanny had been with him since he was a baby; he was basically a part of their family. I was so nervous to fill his shoes. Kids had always taken to me pretty easily, but how was I supposed to compete with someone who had been such a huge part of his life? On my first day, I went to get him from summer camp and the first thing he said to me was, ‘Where’s Mark? Is Mark not picking me up anymore?‘ My heart broke for him.

I never had a nanny growing up. My mum went back to work part-time when I was born and then stopped altogether when my younger sister came along. Because she wanted to. She wanted to spend time with us and look after us when we were little. And I won’t lie, I would ideally do the same. But I know that this isn’t a luxury that all mothers can afford. I know that I may not be able to. And I know that some mothers just don’t want to. It’s a personal choice and it’s a parent’s prerogative to decide what’s best for their family and for their child.

If you have a good nanny, and you’re a good parent, you have nothing to worry about. Your kid will be surrounded by love and learn how to love. It’s an instinct to grow attached to people who care about us, and who we depend on. For children, this is even stronger. I was with my kid for three months before I left to do my Masters, and he loved me. He loved me because I cared for him. I cared for him in the deepest sense of the word. It wasn’t just a job. His dependence on me was beyond my making him dinner and helping him cross the road. I was a shadow mother, which is what a good nanny should be.

If your child doesn’t love their nanny, hire someone else. If your child loves their nanny more than they love you, that’s not the nanny’s fault; you’re doing something wrong. If they wake up in the night from a bad dream and ask for their nanny, you’re doing something wrong. Make time for your kid before your kid doesn’t have time for you.

I would say that the best time to do this is bedtime. Bedtime is my favourite time of the day. I am magic at it. Tucking my kid in and reading him a story, or making one up, and watching him drift off to sleep is the most satisfying thing. How much of a challenge he was during the day becomes irrelevant. He reverts back to the sweet, loving boy I so deeply cherish. I would be devastated if bedtime was taken away from me, but I think it’s important for a parent to do. I understand that this isn’t always possible. I get that sometimes it’s not possible to be back home for bedtime to tuck your kids in. But if you do make it in time, and your kid asks you to read them a story, don’t say no. I know you’re tired. I know you may still have work to do. I know you haven’t had dinner and you need to clean the kitchen before you catch up on emails and finish writing overdue thank you notes for you kid’s birthday party a month ago. But it’s 10 minutes, and it makes a world of difference to them. Believe me, I am more than happy to do it; I’m like the freaking sandman. But they would much rather it’s you.

I’m a great nanny. My kid loves me. He also loves the guy who came before me and he loves the girl who took my place. He’s a kid that has a lot of love to give, and I know that’s through having nannies. Growing up with different adults outside of his immediate family has shaped him into the weird and wonderful boy that he is today. He’s taken parts of all of us and we’ve all nurtured different things in him that we think are special. He is amazing, and I will forever be proud to have played a little part in that.

He’s a kid. He doesn’t listen and he cries and he throws water at me at bathtime. He tries my patience and he gives me attitude. But he is excited every time he sees me. He runs and jumps into my arms every time, without fail. I would never have thought that loving a stranger’s child would come so naturally. Like I said, I was only with him for three months, but we were family. On my last night, I was putting him to bed when he wrapped himself around me and said, ‘Why do you have to leave me? No one else has anyone leaving them‘. It broke my heart.

If you’d have told me three months earlier when I was picking him up from summer camp, that this little boy would love me as much as he loved the last guy, I wouldn’t have believed you. For a split second my cynical heart thought maybe this little boy is just fickle with his love, maybe he just loves whoever holds his backpack so he can ride his scooter really fast. My cynical heart trivialised this little boys feelings because I was heart broken and didn’t want to believe that he was, too. Imagine being that young and growing so attached to people, and then having to watch them leave.

I’ve only seen him a handful of times since I left, and every time I do, I am amazed at how much he has grown and at the boy he is turning into. When I left, he could barely sound out words; I saw him a couple of months later and he was stumbling through full sentences. My heart literally swelled and I had the biggest smile on my face listening to him read. He is smart and kind and funny and weird and loving and I am so proud of him.

I looked after him for a few days this week as his new nanny was ill, and it was just like old times. He is just as naughty, but just as loving. His new nanny, Emma, has been with him a lot longer than I was, so I imagined I had been replaced in his affections, and fairly so. However, when I put him to bed on the last night, I wasn’t sure when I would see him again, so I asked. When I told him that I wouldn’t be there the next day, he said, ‘I think you should come back tomorrow, and on Friday, instead of Emma. And then pick me up for the rest of my life‘. I melted. I kissed him on the forehead and made up a story about a boy who lived in a coconut. He was asleep before I finished, but I watched him for another five minutes. And then I left.

Sometimes it hurts to love another person’s child.

Things to be left in 2013

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Mine was lovely; I spent it running after a two year old boy who has a penchant for smacking me on the bum, making up secret languages and playing hairdressers with a five year old princess, dancing to Beyonce with a 6 month old baby boy in my arms, and trying to stay sober enough not to tell anyone that the ‘friend’ my uncle had brought was actually his psycho fuck buddy who keyed his car three years ago.

my Christmas nails

my Christmas nails

I’m sure you are all obviously aware that a new year is almost upon us. Now, it’s no secret that we all like to associate the new year with new beginnings, new goals and expectations, and that these are rarely ever met. So, instead of the pressure of reaching for something new, I’ve decided that I will instead just leave things behind, because that has to be easier, right?

  1. W – it just has to be done. The time has come to stop relapsing, break the pattern, and move on. He was such a bellend.
  2. Cake – I fucking love cake. I already know this one’s not going to stick, but I’m going to try anyway. The 20 year old told me I would easily lose weight if I just cut down my calories. I don’t really remember the context of this conversation, so don’t quite know if he was being rude or offensive, or not so subtly hinting that I could lose a little. He still wanted to see me naked, though, so I’m not that bothered. Anyway, obviously his advice makes sense, and I’m too lazy for exercise, so we are left with no more cake. Note: this isn’t me setting out to get skinny, it’s just leaving behind cake. Another note: birthdays don’t count. 

    best birthday cake ever

  3. Vomming – induced by alcohol, that is. Obviously the horrific bug type can’t be avoided. Being a state on nights out, however, can. I’ve definitely gotten sloppier with my drinking in 2013. I think that after university, I thought I could drink the same way I used to, just far more sporadically. Wrong. You can’t. Tolerances do adjust. Beware. No more being sick and kicked out of clubs! 

    loving my 23rd birthday

  4. Unsafe sex – because, quite frankly, I’m bloody lucky I’m not knocked up or riddled with diseases. My heart flutters a little every time I feel a searing pain across my abdomen as my ovaries ready themselves to commit mutiny against the rest of my body, my eyes smile in relief every time I lie on the floor in the foetal position to keep myself from being sick; despite the fact that periods are ridiculous, I do look forward to them every month. I used to get yelled at regularly by friends for never being safe, and they were right to yell. It was dumb – being drunk isn’t an excuse! The many, many sober times were even dumber – don’t let anyone convince you that pulling out is an acceptable form of contraception. It isn’t. Though, it seems that even when I do try to be safe, it backfires on me. Life’s funny like that.
  5. Unemployment – it’s time. Although I still have no idea what I want to do, it is time. Suggestions for life choices are more than welcome. Environments that tend to be inhabited by hot, single men would be preferred.

I feel like leaving these things behind will make positive, constructive changes to my life. Obviously this means I shall partake in all five on January 1st.

Are you making New Year’s Resolutions? Is there anything you want to leave in 2013?