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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Darth Vader and Dorothy

I will never forget this one day at work. It both makes me laugh and leaves me a bit disturbed. Here's what happened. This is another story from the files of "Mike" (the father) and "Zack" (the 6 year old).

This all happened when Zack was nearing his 7th birthday. I have the kids doing their homework and Zack finishes rather quickly since he didn't have much. Since I'm still helping the others with their homework I send Zack upstairs to play. Now...you need to understand...Zack is a very loud, very active and very different little boy. Different you ask? Yes, different. I'm not sure how to put it but if you were one of his peers you'd probably know him as the nerdboy. Not that's he's really smart (he's average) but just in his mannerisms. Anyway...

It's been quiet for way too long. I haven't heard Zack doing much of anything. Time to check it out. I head upstairs calling for Zack. No answer. I look in his rooms and the other bedrooms. No Zack. Playroom-still no Zack. He is not answering me. So...since I know that he's here somewhere I start looking in the closets. I find him in his sister's walk-in closet. Okay...that's not too strange. I then notice that he is wearing his sister's old Dorothy costume and putting on a pair of her knee-high boots. Getting a little stranger. He is quite shocked to see me and it shows on his face.

I tell Zack that he needs to take off his sister's boots...they were not for play. I don't say anything about the costume but tell him to leave his sister's room. I'm trying so hard not to laugh and not to make any kind of "deal" out of this. I just go on as normal and head back downstairs.

After a while the time to check on Zack has come again. Back upstairs...(you'd think I'd lose weight with this constant routine of up and down and up and down. Not so lucky.) This time I find little Zack standing in front of the mirror in his bathroom, costume still in place, boots back on (that disobedient little turd!) and with the addition of a Darth Vader helmet. Just standing. Not moving, not talking. Just standing. And staring. Takes him a minute to even notice I'm there because he is so "interested?" in his own image. (Dorothy turned to the dark side!) I get on him about the boots and disobeying me. I hate that! He takes them off and I go back downstairs.

So, when Mike comes home I feel like this is something that he should know about. I mean, I have a brother and sometimes he would get dressed up in girl clothes but only when our older sister made him. It wasn't something he enjoyed or did secretly. Now, I know that kids go through an exploration phase that's usually between their 2nd and 6th birthdays. During this time, to find a boy or girl cross-dressing would not be abnormal. However, Zack, almost 7 at this time is doing this and, even more worrisome...he's doing it secretly.

I tell Mike about this and he just blows it off and said that on a recent vacation Zack had spent the better part of the day dressed up as a fairy. (Easy opportunity for a sarcastic remark.) Mike apparently has no worries about this. Of course...these parents don't worry about anything in their children's lives. Too much work.

Well, since I'm a bit concerned I ask a couple of counselors for their opinions. I also describe some of his other weird behaviors and mannerisms. Verdict in...this is not a good thing. Do the parents care? Apparently not.

Little Zack (and I do love him, don't get me wrong) is...well...one to watch. My husband always tells me that he's either going to grow up to be a serial killer or gay. Hmmm....I could see that. Maybe the next unibomber, I don't know. All I know is that this kid...needs a bit of guidance. Will he get any from his family? Nope. Will they take him to see a therapist? Nope. Again, too much work.

I have so many stories about little Zack...habitual pants-wetting (even at 7), will not wear a shirt untucked...it has to be so tucked in it is being stretched if he lifts his arms past his waist, continuous picking at and touching his rear, his love of spandex...and he does love it, his refusal to "put the toilet seat up" when he pees (so there is always pee on the seat) and countless others. Look for more stories on the life of Zack. He's a character and the saying "truth is stranger than fiction" is true anyday at his house...anyday.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Stupid Parents

You know what's frustrating? I mean really frustrating. Parents who don't give a rip about their kids. I've seen this all too often. Take for example this: the parents hire a nanny to do the "raising" of the children but then as soon as they come home and nanny leaves...it all comes undone. A few examples...

I was working to potty-train a little girl (we'll call her Becky) who was a just over 3 years old (that's too old but I was new to the family and the old nanny just didn't bother with it). She was such a precious girl but having waited this long to be trained...it made it really tough. Becky's mom (let's call her Sue) was a single parent and a very busy and successful career woman. Her career came first, then her social life and lastly, her daughter. So...this was a live-in position because I was needed 'round the clock. When Sue came home I would retire to my attached "apartment". Some nights Sue would need me to keep the baby monitor on for this reason or that. It was then when I came to realize why Becky was having such problems with her training. This is what I heard...

Becky: "Mommy...need to potty!"
Sue: "You do? Well...you can just go in your diaper." (She knew Becky was training)
Becky: "But Mommy...go poo-poo!"
Sue: "Honey...you just go ahead and go poo-poo in your diaper. It's all right."

WHAT?! I was livid! I'd been working so hard with Becky all week and here comes Sue telling her to go in her diaper?! Stupid woman! It all had to do with Sue being too lazy to take Becky to the bathroom and help her. What a nightmare!

So, the next day I made sure that I disposed of all daytime diapers. Sue wanted to use pull-ups for training...but let me just tell you...they don't work. They are too much like a diaper and they soak up any liquid. To learn...kids need to feel it and be uncomfortable. Anyway...this behavior continued from the mom. Becky would wake in the middle of the night (a big accomplishment for kids in training) and yell out to Sue. Well, Sue was just too tired to care that her daughter needed to learn a basic life skill so she'd just yell back to go in her diaper. (Becky was still in a crib (another mistake by Sue) so she couldn't get up to go herself. Looking back...Becky wasn't the one who really need the training...it was her mom who needed it most.

Another example (different family). "Zack", a 6 year old in 1st grade has homework to do. It's about 5:30pm and he has to complete his homework before he can go play (he's wanting to go ride his bike outside). He is whining and whining and whining...and then his dad "Mike" walks through the door. So Zack starts whining to Mike about having to do his spelling homework and Mike just ignores it. Zack is now giving me the evil eye and telling me I'm stupid and don't know how to spell. (Please...) In a normal situation I would have nipped that in the bud ASAP but it's always a bit different when the parents are present. There's a certain line that I feel I have to stop at and let them take control. I tell Zack that if he doesn't stop the crying he's not only going to be grounded from his bike today, but tomorrow as well. I explain to him that it's getting late and growing dark outside. I tell him that he could have easily been finished with his work by now and out having fun but he chose to be stuck inside. He has to understand that he made that decision by whining rather than working. Well, I'm just about at my limit and Mike can tell (yet he does nothing to fix the situation). He tells me I can go home. This all took place over about an hour's time. (The homework could have been done in 10 minutes EASY.) So the next day I pick Zack up from school...the first words out of his mouth..."Nanny, after you left my Daddy let me go ride my bike!" It was that "Ha Ha Ha...I got my way" tone of voice. Arrgghhhh!

What are these parents so LAZY? Let me give you some free advice. If you spend a few minutes to discipline a child when it is needed over just a few weeks' time period...you will discover a very well-behaved child. I've tried to explain this to my bosses. Somehow, though they are all very successful and brilliant career people, they cannot get this basic concept through their heads and are about as dumb as dirt in the common sense of parenting department! They don't want to deal with the trouble of disciplining so...they allow their children to become the heads of the household and rule with their tiny little fists. Everything I was trying to teach Becky and Zack...completely undone in about 5 minutes' time. Why do these people pay me so much if they don't believe in what I do? Just plain stupid, I guess.

Sincerely Frustrated,

The Nanny

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Nanny Experience

The nanny experience is an interesting one. Complex, tiring, rewarding, frustrating...there is really no word that fully encompasses it. I have in the past had families who were fabulous...the kids were great, the parents were great...even the pay was great. However, this is certainly not the norm. Unfortunately. While I have lived and enjoyed those experiences, it's the ones that are not so "great" that make for enticing entertainment.

Let me give you a little background. I have been a nanny for more than 5 years. I have a bachelor's degree from a somewhat prestigious private university. I have loved kids my entire life. My general philosophy towards nannies...in a perfect world there wouldn't be any. I truly believe and have seen that no one can replace a parent. In this perfect world in which I envision, the mothers stay home (and are excited about it) and lovingly raise their children. They realize that there could be no job more important than raising the future of this world. Money, power and prestige would take a back seat to rearing those in which they have chosen to bring into this world. There would be no divorce and no death. No single parent families. A society in which a family could live easily off one income. What a dream!

Well, back to reality...there is divorce, death and the single parent. Even more devastating, there are families in which the children come last. Jobs are more important. Power is more important. Money conquers all the rest. Kids are just a detail. Parents refuse to sacrifice lifestyle for their children. Truth be told, in this world it isn't about how much you make, it is how much you require to live on.

A lot of people will say that they are working in order to give their children a better life. They may even somewhat believe this. This is a lie. What is more important? A multitude of toys (minus the parent) or a parent who humbly provides for their child. In today's world we have toys that can "teach" just about anything...language, math, motor skills. But can the toys provide love? Can they fill the space in a child's heart reserved for the parent? Absolutely not! No person will ever convince me that having both parents work is in the best interest of their kids. Trust me...I've heard every excuse.

Sacrifices are not easy. People like to have the best brands and the newest cars. Vacations around the world don't come cheaply. Dressing your kids in designer clothes so they will be "popular" costs money, right? You probably think you are doing "right" by your kids in providing these things. Wrong! It is so much more important to teach children about the value of money and the responsible use of it. It is better to teach kids to make friends based on what's inside a person rather than the clothes on the outside. It is important that kids learn that fun and creativity don't have to cost money, or at least not much.
A few suggestions for cutting back on lifestyle:

1. Get rid of the cable TV; it's not necessary and is not doing your kids any good! Teach them (and yourself) to love books.

2. Instead of fancy vacations, take the family camping; you will grow as a family and have more fun than you thought possible. Teach them about nature while you're out.

3. Drive older cars; you don't have to have the seat warmers and the newest model. Buy a car, pay it off and continue driving it. It will last longer than you could've imagined (assuming you take care of it).

4. Teach your kids about culture in your own city or town. You don't have to go to the Louvre in Paris. Go to local museums and galleries. They are often free or very inexpensive.

5. Want a steak dinner? Make a fancy meal at home. Taking the whole family out can be very expensive. Instead, let your kids help you decide upon a "menu" and set up a "restaurant" at home. They will have fun designing the menu and give them age appropriate jobs in the kitchen. No, five year olds should not be in charge of cutting up the veggies!

These are just a drop in the bucket of ways to say money so that it is not necessary for both parents to work. I could go on and on but let your own imagination run wild. Mine get enough exercise already!

I feel compelled to share with you about my thoughts on the family because I have seen truly dysfunctional families in every sense of the word! Families that could have chosen a different and better path. Families that could have sacrificed, but didn't. And with that out of the way...boy! Do I have some interesting stories for you!!! Check back soon!

Sincerely,

The Nanny
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