Thursday, 20 December 2012


Sasha and Ezra's dad is a nice guy. He always says thank you very sincerely when I leave for the evening. He's patient but firm with Sasha, which I've been trying to emulate more lately because she seems to respond so well to it. He's generous about money, offering to pay me extra when he gets home late (or early) and making it clear that if there are any supplies I buy for doing activities with Sasha he will reimburse me.

But in a lot of ways I feel like we don't really connect. Perhaps part of it is that we're farther apart generationally than I am with Sasha's mom (or Athena's parents). Perhaps part of it is that we have some different approaches to indulging Sasha's very frequent demands to spend as much of her time as possible staring at a screen. Perhaps part of it is that we just don't chat much when I hand the kids off to him and so we don't really know much about each other's lives.

But I think another reason I feel like we're operating on different wavelengths is because I suspect he had very little involvement in the nanny hiring process. I don't think he knows how I advertised myself.

This family and I connected through one of those online caretaking directories, and there were a few things I made clear in my profile about myself that I hoped would be attractive to the right families: one is that I value diversity education and cultural competency (which is all liberal-code for "I am queer," or at least "I'm supportive of queer folks," if you didn't know). Sasha's mom totally got this, but Sasha's dad is a different story. Another thing I made clear is that I am deliberately car-free and prefer not to drive clients' kids around. I have my license and could do it in an emergency, but the main reason I was so clear about this on my profile was less about liability and more about my comfort level with driving. I literally cannot picture myself ever owning a car, much less using one as my primary mode of transportation. Car-free families exist, and our city is particularly bike-friendly; lots of car-free families live here. (The family HB nannies for is car-free; she bikes the kids around on their massive family bike, which has two toddler seats mounted to it.) This not-driving-your-kids-around thing was so important to me that I made sure to reiterate it in every interview I had with families.

This week when we got home from taking the bus to the science museum, I told Sasha's dad as I handed the kids off to him that Sasha had a great time riding the bus and that she was a champ walking to and from the bus stops, which were each about half a mile from our destinations. He nodded and then started going on about how the bus is inefficient and the city is really "spread out and designed for cars," which I personally believe, as a person who has commuted all over the city exclusively by public transportation and bicycle for a year and a half, is total bullshit. He pointed out that he doesn't want the kids in the house all day when summer vacation gets here (which I totally agree with) and then suggested getting me a zip-car membership, or leaving one of their cars for me. I get that he wants me to take the kids to the pool, to a nature reserve, to the park, to a community center, to the children's theater, but those are all places we could get to by bike if we had the proper equipment, or by bus if we have a little more patience.

When I got home, frustrated and unsettled by the conversation, I basically sniffled and sighed to HB about how I wish we had our own kids so we could really do things our way. Nannying someone else's kids, in someone else's house, and trying to meet someone else's expectations, is sometimes challenging and unfulfilling.

At least summer vacation is a good six months away, so I don't have to deal with working around the driving thing quite yet.


Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Until recently, HB and I have never taken care of kids (besides her nephews) together. She goes to her nanny job, I go to mine, we reconvene in the evening to recount the adorable, the frustrating, and the ridiculous.

The approach of the holidays (and the apocalypse) have been throwing everything out of orbit, and consequently our nannying schedules have been different enough from usual that we've had a few opportunities to visit each other during our shifts (with the families' permission).

Last week HB biked all the way to Sasha and Ezra's house with me, and I introduced her to Sasha's mom. While I feel kind of weird around Sasha's dad, I'm super comfortable with her mom and figured she'd be delighted to meet HB -- and she was. "You're totally welcome to hang out any time, you'll have to meet Ezra when he's not napping! And Sasha loves people, I bet she'd love to meet you!" So later that very same day, HB and I met up (Ezra in the Ergo on my chest) and took him, with ponytail and flowery hairclip and baby flannel, to a kid-friendly cafe to play in their kid corner.

A day or two later, I biked to the science museum after handing Athena back to her daddy so I could hang out with HB and her two little charges, Jay and Wren, who are three and one. Afterward we biked them home, fed them dinner, and got them ready for bed together.

This week, since school's out, I took Sasha and Ezra on the bus to the science museum, and HB met us there, meeting Sasha for the first time. (Sasha, for once, was exceptionally compliant and well-behaved, and had a blast.)

We have also done a couple of rounds of evening kid-sitting together, once for Jaden and once for two new charges, Colby and Molly.

The point of all this: I am impressed by how well HB works with the kids. She is patient, respectful, flexible, and attentive -- sometimes more than I am, and I'm the one in school to be a preschool teacher. She goes out of her way to really see things from the kids' perspectives. An illustrative moment (pun totally intended) was when Jay was coloring a picture after HB had said, "We need to clean up and get ready for bed," and when Jay said, "I need to finish coloring this," instead of pulling the crayon away from him (which I did once on a different occasion, and then immediately regretted and felt awful about), she listened to the word "need" and let him finish. When he felt done, he happily cleaned up and got ready for bed.

I'm also surprised and delighted by how well we work with each other with the kids. As a team. Without needing to discuss it, we naturally pick up on each other's thoughts and intentions and needs, and step up to support each other. When one of us announces the approach of a transition time (snack time, bed time, time to go) the other is right there as backup. When the kids run in opposite directions, we arbitrarily pick a kid each and stick with them through whatever activity they're doing, without any confusion or anxiety or need to communicate much about it. Later we just come back together and fill each other in.

I take it as a very good sign that someday we will parent our own (hypothetical) kids together as an effective, efficient team.

High fives,

Sasha Says, ep. 10

referring to a Bratz coloring book: "I can't look at this too long. It's scary. It will give me nightmares."

Sasha, demonstrating a tenuous grasp of major characters, themes, and plot of the Harry Potter books:
Sasha: "Wanna know who's on my top good list? Dumbledore."
me: "What list is Snape on?"
Sasha: "My bad list. And so is that teacher I hate... Trelawney."
me: "What about Dobby?"
Sasha: "Sorta in between my good list and bad list."
me: "And Voldemort?"
Sasha: "He's in between too. Because he was friends or something with Sirius Black and he's on my good list so Voldemort's not totally bad."

"I always see my mom's -- [whispers] boobs." [I assume she's talking about breastfeeding.]

A block from Sasha's house: "Is that your house?"

One of my favorite things is that Sasha doesn't have all of her letter sounds down quite yet. She still says the "T" sound in place of the  "K" sound, and a "D" sound for a "G" sound. So one of the things I love to hear her say is Professor McGonagall's name, which sounds like this:

"Mitt Donadall"


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Sasha Says, ep. 9

"I had a scrape that was really blooded."

Referring to her newly-pierced, currently infected earlobes: "My ears are affected."

"The guy who mows our grass is Haspanish. Wanna know his secret?" She leans in conspiratorially and whispers: "He's cute."

Out of absolutely nowhere: "YMCA: Crazy."

"Don't get into my privacy!"

"I have a couple boyfriends. One is named Q*. And my other one is named Milo*. And my second one — I don’t have a second one."

High fives,

*not their real names