If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sorts
You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets
Now depending on where you know me from you may or may not think I’m qualified for the role of Mary Poppins. I’ve been told my social media presence is angry and sad quite a bit but then I feel like when I interact with people offline they take away a completely different picture of me. Supposedly I take on a completely different demeanor around kids–a happy version of me that would be completely foreign to anyone who has only ever known me round the facebook water cooler. Would you believe that I actually worked as a live in nanny my senior year of high school and managed to not scar the children for life? Well as far as we know and you can’t prove anything!
I like to think I’m good with kids. Growing up I had a natural gravitation toward those 3 years younger or older than me on average. With older children I became a sort of oddity–that kid who talks like she’s much older but is totally oblivious to things popular among her peers. With younger kids I just had this natural instinct to befriend and mother them. It probably stemmed from my assuming role of mother hen to my brother. I was a built in babysitter for my mom from age 7 onward so what were a few more younger kids hanging around?
I turned 13 the summer we moved to California from Virginia. I was still privately pretty mixed emotionally about the move; on one hand it was a sort of fresh start my mother, brother and I probably desperately needed on a symbolic level but at the same time I had just finally started to find my place amongst my peers after literally the worst year of my life to that point. Having to find ways to reconnect with kids my own age all over again in a totally new environment was not something I was looking forward to. It was late July (I think) and it was hot. Mom still had to go to work but school wasn’t in session yet and that left me to find ways of entertaining my brother (now 6 years old) during the day in an empty house.
Rather than venture out looking for anyone my own age I wound up meeting every human under the age of 10 in the neighborhood and quickly became an ad-hoc entertainer for all of them the rest of summer. They became my brother’s friends and my pre-pre-pubescent posse of sorts. It was useful for my pocketbook moving forward since I wound up getting plenty of actual babysitting jobs out of the package. Pretty much all of my highschool extracurriculars involved young kids now that I think about it. I worked in the library but most heavily with the children’s librarians and the after-school “tutoring” program. I put tutoring in quotes because it really had very little to do with tutoring; we were an unofficial afternoon daycare service for low-income families. Basically it was a room where kids who had no where to go showed up after school and ran around goofing off, doing their homework and occasionally seeking help from the teen volunteer sitting at the head table.
Then in college when I was in a particularly down part of my life I started seeking out babysitting jobs to make a little extra cash. I didn’t need the money. Well okay when you are a broke college student you always need the money but there are better ways of making it. I deliberately was looking for steady nannying gigs because I knew that being around kids was always something that made me feel…better. Something about nurturing was like another form of therapy for me; especially with children who embraced imaginative play. I definitely preferred babysitting situations where we’d do craft projects, baking experiments or just run around making up games. One of my favorite tricks was to bring chalk with me and create real-sized board games where each block of sidewalk was a spot and then have the kids use themselves as the moving pieces. Tabletop meet asphalt.
I suppose this is on my mind because if you’d asked me back when I was 13 what my life plan was I’d have said mother by the age of 27. Which means I should be on my way to pregnancy number 1 by now and that’s definitely NOT on the table at this point. In fact I’m fairly positive that when I do have kids I’ll be adopting instead of incubating my own. A lot of people balk at that assertion–”Dont you want kids of your own?” Whether I make them myself or not I’m pretty sure they are still my kids insofar as any person can belong to another one anyway. I’ve just come to this decision for a variety of reasons but most importantly I realize that while I may seem like an angry militant feminista online sometimes I have the capacity to love pretty intensely and I can feel that way about any child who needs a parent or a guardian. If I know I’m capable of that why not use it to make the lives of some real children actually better rather than make more? Actually if it weren’t for the crap pay/job security and the lack of animated dancing penguins, and I’ll admit a certain level of intellectual snobbery in regards to career choice, I might have considered a career as a Nanny. I know, I can hear those of you who only know me from my facebook rants sighing in relief that I didn’t go that way….
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