Everything I Need To Know – I Learned From A 15 Month Old

If you had asked me four years ago if I would ever have a job as a nanny I would have squirmed in disapproval and laughed a hearty laugh. At age 20 I was convinced I hated kids and was never going to have one of my own. A lot of this stemmed from the young feminist mentality that is popular at that age thanks to the FDA approved birth control contraceptives in 1960 (Hooray Women’s Studies 101) and the coolness factor of being a young independent woman (Hooray Beyonce).

Kids are whiny and selfish and are in constant need of attention. Basically I didn’t like kids because I was busy being one. While a lot of that mentality still holds true, (I still haven’t come around to the idea of birthing my own specimens EVER) I now find myself living in Chicago and paying them billz with money received via child care.

How did this happen to me? How did this hypocrisy occur? And would 20 year old Alison be super pissed?

I conclude the third question as a no, and here is why. The things that I thought separated me from understanding children are actually the things that brought me closer to them.

I remember when my boyfriend’s best friend had a baby, and as a proud Godfather my boy took me over to see the little offspring. I was terrified to hold her. Terrified that I would be the one to kill her and probably didn’t touch the darling until she was around two years old. I reasoned that when she was two, I could potentially drop her and she wouldn’t die.

Before that, I had a terrible terrible high school job as a babysitter at a recreation center, where eating disordered moms would plop their spoiled children for a half hour so they could make their Pilates class. This sealed my initial judgment that I hate kids. Here I was introduced to disobedient brats with an unlimited amount of germs. In hindsight, I realize that their ugliness most likely stemmed from my limited segments of time with them and the fact that they, just like me, really didn’t want to be in a babysitting room. After all, they had just spent all day at a daycare and had had no real time with their actual parents.

I never wanted to be that parent. I’m not even gonna say mom here, I simply mean a full-time working parent .It takes two to tango, and to me both parties are at fault. Alas, this has become the standard, and a difficult one at that. Women are more or less equal, and should be allowed to work and work out and have babies and a career and everything their hearts desire. Men too. But I know one thing that I don’t think many others do, and that is how to be brought up right. My parents did me right in this world, and that was largely because they made the decision that once they had my brothers and me, their lives would stop once ours began. Or, rather, our lives became theirs, not just a part of it.  A huge sacrifice for a job well done, and that is why I sit here today and proudly proclaim that I can’t do it. I can’t have kids because I will never get to the point where I will give up my plans and my life for someone else’s. And, in my sincere opinion, that is the only way a kid should be raised. If I can’t do what my parents did, then I don’t want to do it at all.

Maybe someday I will reach that point. It almost saddens me that I can’t, as it saddens me that my dreams don’t lie in the simplistic ideals of a white picket fence in a suburban town. My dreams, alas, are bigger. No kids for me.

But I am getting off topic here. I am a nanny now, how can that be? After my three years in babysitting hell and only about two broken years of exposure to a kid who I had an invested interest in, how did I change my tune?

For the money, bitches.

When I was first looking into moving out here, I was terrified of the job search as anyone would be in my situation. I needed a job that could pay me right, not be too stressful, and had flexibility. I needed the dream post-college “I’m a starving artist” job, and ha no idea what it could be. I had one girl in Colorado tell me about nannying. Immediately I turned sour. Good God no. I would be awful with kids even worse with the parents. (Bare in mind that I assumed all parents were like the Pilates ladies of my rec center past). “No,” said my friend, “my old nanny job was really cool. They paid me $12 an hour to basically play with their kid while they were home. I could leave whenever I wanted, come over whenever I wanted, and make mad money.”

Beside the kid part, the other aspects seemed pretty good. Also, it would be during the day so I could have nights for rehearsals and shows, and did I mention the mad money?

So, I tweaked my resume, (emphasizing my rec center experience and milked my mom’s first grade teaching status) and set off to Chicago with a dream in my heart to nanny.

My friends rolled their eyes. They knew there was no way I could pull it off or be remotely happy. What was I going to do with a kid? I admit, I had to google diaper changes and debrief on first aid, but hell I am 23 and cute as a button. I am trustable. I am nice. I am… available for hire.

But it didn’t matter, as I never initially got a nanny job. I was swindled online, and interviewed by a crazy man who wanted me to teach his 1 year old French, so I settled for a hostess position and gave up my nanny dreams.

That is until January, when I got en email from a women looking for a potential nanny. I was perky during the interview with the super cool mom, sweet to her kid, and boom landed the job. One kid, 10 bucks an hour, 15 months old.

But now the real challenge: being alone with him.

I really really didn’t want to fuck this up.  And I really really didn’t know what to do.

I can now honestly say now, that this baby has changed my life. I am good with him. Hell I am great with him. I am great with kids. As it turns out all the attributes that I thought I hated are in fact precious gems and philosophies in which I live my life. I understand the importance of a schedule. I understand the importance of innocence and imagination. I understand the importance of fun and although patience is usually my most tedious of virtues, I also understand the humor a child can provide. One may look at his naughtiness as frustrating, but I look at it as down right comic genius. Children have the best comedic timing, and they really do say the darndest things.

To me, this child can do no wrong (accept take a nasty dump). I’m no push over (“Don’t touch that button. Don’t touch that button. Don’t… ok, no more.” “Wahhhhh” “So sorry. Too bad.”) but with this job, it puts a whole new perspective on everyday troubles. This kid doesn’t care that I’m skinny or pretty, he cares that he is loved. He doesn’t know about my money stress or my fear of failure, he knows that I am funny and can sing. He doesn’t care about success, though he is always proud when I hug him for finishing his lunch. At the end of the day I go home feeling happy and excited to keep living my life. His youth and humor bring mine back, and I am now a newly restored “kid person.”

My first big lesson as I have lived out here in the big city: live your life as a child would want you to.

And to end this blog I present to you:

Everything I need to know – I learned from a 15 month old.

  1. Be Proud of Your Small Accomplishments – any time you finish a project or a meal feel free to shout, “All done.”
  2. Enjoy the Simple Things in Life – Like how high your voice can scream and how fun it is to be really really dizzy.
  3. Drink Plenty of Liquids – be it in your mouth or dumped on the floor.
  4. Always Test Your Limits – go ahead and see how many times you can go for the electrical outlet.
  5. Know When to Say “No.” – How about all the time?
  6. Love Your Parents. – Unconditionally and always.
  7. Dance Like No One Is Watching –except that everyone is watching, because your moves of shaking your bottom and stomping your feet are pretty sweet.
  8. Get In Touch With Your Emotions – Cry when you fall, smile when it’s yummy, and laugh only when you find it truly funny.
  9. Talk Through Your Problems – Because anything can become a telephone when you put it to your ear and start chatting.
  10. One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure –or something to stick in your mouth.
  11. Don’t Worry About How You Look – what’s the point of wearing shoes, brushing your hair, or matching? Those who love you will think you are adorable no matter what you wear.
  12. Show Off What You’ve Learned – like a new word.  “Uh-oh, Uh-oh, UH-OH, uh-oh, UHOHHOHUHOH”
  13. Don’t Get Embarrassed When You Crap Your Pants
  14. Use Your Imagination – a box and a blanket can easily become an unstable chair and a thing to wrap tightly around your neck.
  15. The Grass Is Always Greener – yes, desire the hot coffee, laptop computer, and television remote over any bin of toys you possess.
  16. Everything Is Right In The World When Mickey Mouse Is Around.
  17. Lift With Your Legs – babies are fucking heavy
  18. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – But if you cry sometimes, you just might find…you’ll get what you want.
  19. You Have the Right To Protect Yourself – point to your nose, point to your ears, point to your chin, but poke someone else’s eye.
  20. Ask For Help If You Need It – or don’t and see how long it takes you to climb onto the couch.

– One El

“Just because it’s said with helium, doesn’t mean it’s funny.”


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