I’ve exploring other forms of stick-figure drawings beyond my usual Microsoft Paint medium. I’m now doing commissioned crayon drawings for a certain toddler:
Most of my life, my age has been underestimated. Growing up, my sister and I were often mistaken for twins (I’m two years older than she is). I once confused one of my co-workers in college by telling her I was going to be a senior. I meant a senior in college, she thought I meant a senior in high school. Last year I was often mistaken for my employers’ daughter instead of their nanny. Likewise, an older lady tried to charge me a children’s admission to a corn maze two autumns ago. You had to be 12 or younger to get the children’s admission–I was 23.
I have found there is a correlation between how old a person is and how young they guess I am. I was bored enough today to draw you a graph:For the most part, people in their 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s will generally place me at least in my lower 20’s. However, as we start looking at people in their 50’s, my estimated age starts dropping. Ask people in their 60’s or older and suddenly I’m a young teenager again. I’m not exaggerating–when my husband and I went to visit one of our support congregations, several older women told me that they thought I was 13.
My parents always tell me that someday I’ll appreciate looking younger than my age but it can still be frustrating now to have people assume I am a child when I graduated from college and got married almost 3 years ago. Due to this frustration, I have started devising ways of making myself look older.
1. Wear fancier clothing.
The problem with this plan is that either I’m a) running around after children or b) lounging around my house. Neither option is a big motivator to try to wear nice things. Either way, I’m prone to ruin the clothes.
2. Grow a beard.
Having a beard helps my husband look older. When I suggested this plan to him, he just told me that it probably wouldn’t have the effect I intended.
3. Wear clothing that announces my age.
When I was growing up, my mom would make my siblings and me a shirt every year that said “I am [insert age].” However, something tells me that wearing a shirt announcing that I am 5 isn’t the same as wearing shirt that announces I am 25.
4. Steal someone’s baby because babies always make you look older.
Haha, just kidding about the stealing part–I know enough people with babies that I’m sure someone would let me borrow their child (well, maybe they won’t after seeing this picture. . .).
5. Dye my hair gray.
Just to really confuse people.
Do you look young for your age? What do you do try to make yourself look older?
Sidewalk chalk is something that falls into my “Amazingly Cheap, Not Messy, and Fun” toy category. What’s not to like about it (well, besides when the dog eats a piece and proceeds to drool pink slobber over everyone)? It’s fun for toddlers and children, and you can make games like hopscotch. Consequently, chalk is something I feel should be in every family’s toy collection. Since my current nanny family’s sidewalk chalk had gone missing over the weekend, I decided to buy some more at Walmart. Little did I know that I was at the beginning The Great Chalk Search.
When I arrived at Walmart on my work day, I easily found the first few toiletries on the list. I felt optimistic that I could get the shopping done quickly as I headed to the toy aisles to look for chalk. However, I could only find one type of chalk in the seasonal toy aisle–a stupid package that had the chalk stick in 3 or 4 different colors so that you can draw in rainbow colors. All I wanted was some plain, single colored chalk.
Puzzled, I wandered over to the outdoor toy section. There wasn’t any chalk among the bicycle helmets and baseball mitts. I then wandered over to the seasonal items section. Again, no chalk mingled in with the picnic supplies and pool toys. Starting to feel frustrated by my lack of success in finding simple sidewalk chalk, I (finally) found an employee to ask. She replied, “I’m pretty sure that it’s in the toy section. If not, it should be with the seasonal items. Or the garden supplies.”
“Are you sure?” I asked incredulously. After all, I had already checked the toy aisle and seasonal items. On the other hand, I did have a tendency to not find items nestled in the rows and rows of stuff.
“Yeah, I think so,” the employee said.
Gritting my teeth, I pushed the cart back to the toy aisle. I then proceeded to walk down all four sections of the toys. Not only was there still no chalk, I realized that the toy section’s organization made absolutely no sense! Toy groupings didn’t match, some toys were found in multiple locations, and giant, expensive toys easily overpowered basic, cheap toys. The perfectionist in me started feeling twitchy.
I gave up on the toy aisle and went to the gardening section. Once again, I walked down all the sections–still no chalk to be found. Now starting to clench my jaw with annoyance, I walked back to the seasonal items section to check every aisle. I could find pool noodles, lighter fluid, and giant bubble wands but not a single piece of chalk.
Really, I should have given up at this point. But I wanted to have chalk when I played outside with my nanny kids and I didn’t want to disappoint the toddler who so sweetly asked me last week, “Iaeij e sojiea calk?” (that’s in toddler-ese. The translation is, ” May I play with chalk?”). Plus, it was ridiculous that I couldn’t find something as basic as sidewalk chalk.
By this point, I was rapidly becoming less annoyed and more flustered. I had now wasted 15 minutes in Walmart–15 minutes that I was getting paid to work–looking for sidewalk chalk. I had already asked for help. I wanted that chalk! Trying to cling to my dignity and not throw an adult sized tantrum under the florescent lights, I headed to the last section I could think of that would have sidewalk chalk–the office supplies (not to be confused with the craft section. I had checked that aisle the week before for sidewalk chalk).
I found the children’s art supplies in the office section. I carefully scanned the various colored writing instruments. There, nestled among the colored pencils and markers, was a solitary pack of sidewalk chalk.
It wasn’t what I really wanted since it only had 5 pieces. However, I knew at that point, after spending nearly 20 minutes searching aisle after aisle for simple sidewalk chalk, that I should just grab it and get out. Of course, I still had the entire grocery section of my shopping list to complete.
And that’s how I wound up shopping at Walmart in a flustered, unfocused haze–which I’m sure was the layout designers plan to begin with.
When I made the jump from daycare worker to nanny, I entered an occupation of hazy definitions. Nanny duties vary from family to family, so it’s difficult to create a specific job description for a nanny. However, I have noticed that there are two main impressions of what a nanny job is: Glorified babysitter or Pseudo-parent. While babysitters can certainly get tough gigs and it’s nice to get acknowledged by other parents that my job has validity, neither impression is accurately explains how a nanny functions within her* employer’s household.
I am not a glorified teenage babysitter. Since I work consistently within my employers’ households, I have much more influence on their children’s behavior. Because of my constant presence in the home, I also have to be prepared to handle some terrible behaviors that can come out of children. Even the best behaved children have bad days, meaning I will eventually have to deal with a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad day and all the naughtiness, tantrums, and tears that come with it (admittedly, sometimes the tears are on my end).
But what about babysitters who care for children in their homes several days a week? While these babysitters can certainly have a lasting influence on a child’s upbringing, there is another aspect of my duties that sets my job apart–assisting the daily running of my employers’ household. In both of my nanny jobs, I have helped with chores like laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cooking, and shopping (and then I come to my home and do it all again. Or realize that I have to do it all again–whether or not I actually complete my household chores is debatable). Likewise, I have also been responsible for getting the children to and from school, taking them to practices and playdates, and driving them to an occasional hair appointment. There is no calling the parents to come home when children fall ill. Of course, what’s a nanny job without nursing a sick kid every once in awhile? Once I can convey to people what my job entails, they begin to realize how much responsibility I have within my employers’ homes. However, sometimes this leads to the comment that it’s work like a stay-at-home mom (or dad) would have.
I don’t necessarily disagree with the fact that I do many tasks that a SAHM would preform. However, I am not these children’s mother. At the end of the day, I go to my childless home and take a break from the chaotic world of children. Likewise, I always eventually leave my job and a good parent would never, ever leave their children behind like I did last summer, will again this summer, and again the summer after this. Consequently, I don’t want the children I care for to see me as a third parent–it would lead to abandonment issues.
For the most part, I don’t think the children in my care see me as a parent. Arrivals make this evident. When I come into the house, it’s a very mellow occasion. I might get a smile and hello, and on a really good day I might get dragged into whatever project they are working on, but that’s all. When mom or dad comes home, there is a dash to the door with joyful shouts of “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” or “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” And really, it makes me glad to see these kids reserve this outpouring of affection for their parents.
But where does this leave me as a nanny? I work in someone else’s household and help raise their children. I have many anecdotes about the joys and frustration of child rearing and household managing, but it’s hard to find a support system for my work. I’m not a daycare worker or teacher, I’m not a mother. And when I see a blog post on the internet about how hard it can be to be a parent or a Facebook status lauding teachers for their hard work, I’m never sure whether I can truly relate to the post or not. It can get lonely in this nanny-career limbo. So this morning I googled “nanny blogs.” I found a wonderful blog about being a nanny and all the joys and complications that come with it. Perhaps this is where I can find my working niche!
What similarities and differences do you think exist between babysitters and nannies? How about between parents and nannies?
*I realize that men can be nannies as well, but it is a profession primarily dominated by women. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll refer to nannies in feminine forms.